Category Archives: Unconventional Warfare

Three Spy Stories

Courtesy of John Schindler, here are a few Russian spy stories, because we all need a break from the Russo-Ukrainian War.

2016, May: Portuguese Spy & Russian Illegal

Schindler has the basic facts:

Spy-vs-Spy-fullLast weekend, in the latest development in the secret espionage struggle between Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin and the West, a major Russian spy was arrested in Italy. On Saturday, Frederico Carvalhão Gil, a senior intelligence official from Portugal, was picked up by Italian police along with his Russian intelligence handler, whom he was meeting clandestinely in Rome.

Suspicion usually leads to investigation, and when investigation warms up, it can lead to investugation. Depending on what the investigation finds, the spy is either turned or rolled up. Carvalhão was rolled up.

Once SIS realized Mr. Carvalhão may have gone rogue, he was moved to a less sensitive position at work, where he had access to fewer secrets and was placed under surveillance. By last autumn, he was being watched and his phones were tapped as his employer looked for evidence of his betrayal. They soon discovered that Mr. Carvalhão made regular trips across Europe, which SIS assessed were actually clandestine meetings with the SVR to pass secrets to the Russians outside Portugal. That was less risky than meeting Russians on his home turf, as the career spy knew from his own service with Portuguese counterintelligence.

This culminated in the top secret operation in Rome last weekend which led to Mr. Carvalhão’s arrest. In coordination with Italian partners, SIS watched his movements as he took a flight to Rome last Friday, in preparation for the next day’s planned meeting with the Russians. That clandestine rendezvous was spoiled for Mr. Carvalhão when Italian police appeared at the Roman café, downtown on the Tiber, to bring him into custody on espionage charges proffered by Lisbon. He did not resist arrest.

And there was a bonus:

Neither did the Russian he was meeting. In an interesting twist, his SVR handler was not in Rome under official cover, posing as a diplomat or trade representative—the default setting in espionage circles. Rather, his SVR handler was what the Russian term an Illegal, meaning he was operating without any official protection. He therefore was subject to arrest, whereas a Russian spy pretending to work at their embassy could claim diplomatic immunity to avoid police detention.

An illegal is quite a catch, in espionage terms. More explanation at the link. Most intelligence officers abroad in hostile nations (at least Russians and American ones) are covered as diplomats for their own safety; Sweden estimates a full third of the accredited Russians there are spooks.

2015, January: Russian Illegal, New York

In January 2015 the FBI rolled up another Russian illegal (John explains the terminology at the link, but in the Russian service “legal” and “illegal” spies roughly correspond to our “official cover” and “non-official cover” officers. They’re all terms of art, because of course espionage is always illegal, everywhere, whether your guy is an immune diplomat who can only be PNG’d, or just a schmo that you can toss in prison). Evgeny Buryakov (almost certainly not his real name) was tasked on economic targets and was under observation for a long time before a counterintelligence dangle brought him in. Schindler has the espionage angle, and recommends Eddy Elfenbein on the financial angle.

2010: Interview with a Soviet Spy

herman_simmThis 2010 interview in the German magazine Der Spiegel is, unshockingly, in the German language, and in an Estonian prison. Herman Simm betrayed his country to the Russians, as it turned out, because a corruption accusation put his nose out of joint.

Here is an excerpt, our translation. We pick it up after the traitor,  Simm, has denied any fellow-feeling for Russians, and insisted he always felt himself Estonian:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: So how did you let yourself be recruited by the SVR, the successor organization to the KGB, in 1995?

Simm: At that time, I had lost my job as a police chief due to false accusations. Among other things, I had bought four Russian armored cars for 93,000 crowns for the Police, and suddenly, they’re saying that I should not have paid, because the vehicles already belonged to Estonia. But the Russians had gotten all their collected materiel out of the country, and we needed the cars.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: And then you flew to Tunisia?

Simm: I was frustrated and needed some space. In front of the Hotel Kaiser in Sousse, where I stayed, my later case officer Valery Senzov spoke to me. I knew him from the old days in Talinn. He said he was on vacation, and we went and had a beer. I was astonished how well informed he was about me.

Imagine that. A chance meeting with a foreign intelligence officer who’s remarkably well informed about you. And Simm was a lifelong cop, if not a spook himself. Think he didn’t know what just happened?

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Did he recruit you right then?

Simm: No, only on the next meeting. He said, we need your help, you’ll be paid, and think about it, we have other possibilities, too. He didn’t directly threaten violence against my daughter, but I knew their methods and had no doubt about it.

Classic KGB tradecraft right there. Note, though, that Senzov never threatened Simm. Simm did that himself deep inside his own head. The whole threat-to-the-daughter thing? Smells to us like a rationalization, not a reason. In that, it’s typical of this interview: a self-serving paean to a crapweasel, by his ownself.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: And suddenly you made a career in the Defense Ministry.

Simm: If you call it a career. At the beginning I sat all alone in an office…

Awwww. The poor little backstabbing weasel, his sense of self-importance was not sufficiently stoked. #firstworldproblems to eleven.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: …and rose to be Head of the National Security Administration. Was it hard for you, to work for the Russians at the same time?

Simm: At the beginning it was very hard to smuggle information out. But the higher I rose, the easier it got.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How does a spy live, what does he feel?

Simm: It’s like a continuous ride on the a knife’s edge. I was already nervous if I encountered the same person twice in one day.

Anyway, whole thing here, Google translate there.

This English book excerpt has more on Simm, including some tradecraft. It suggests he — and possibly others? — was a “human landmine” planted in NATO as Russia retreated.

Every titbit he gathered was passed on in the classic spy manner. He placed films, and later memory sticks, into small juice cartons of a particular brand and colour and left them in rubbish bins in designated parks to be picked up.

He was cautious to a fault. Each dead-letter box was used once only. Meetings with his handler took place in ten different countries.

He is, in the end, an illustration that while “the spy’s reward” is not always one in the neck, or a blindfold and a last smoke, it tends not to be any more rewarding than that of any other criminal….

[T]here came a time… when he feared the Estonian authorities were on to him and he was under surveillance. He was right. The net was closing around him.He asked the Russians to get him out. They had promised him a comfortable retirement in Moscow with the rank of colonel and now was the time to deliver.

But the Russians refused. By now he had retired from his Defence Ministry job and no longer had the high-level access he had once enjoyed and exploited so successfully on their behalf. He had served his purpose. They ‘hung me out to dry’, he said.

Ha, hah. You [bleeped] up. You trusted your case officer.

It was a call from his case officer — who was already in the bag, and chose to defect and cooperate rather than face prison — that sent him to his last personal meet. Instead of his case officer, he met lots of Estonian cops. He’ll be a very old man when he gets out of prison, broke and untrusted by anyone, on any side. That KGB colonel’s pension? That dacha and the bank account in Moscow? Didn’t exist, chump.

Some More Lessons of Ukraine

We were going to have one document, but that seems like it would be shorting you.  So there’s a little more today.

The Battle of Debaltseve

This 2015 battle was a Russian attempt to do something that their ancestors, the Red Army of the Great Patriotic War, did thousands of times: reduce a salient into a pocket, and then reduce the pocket. The failure of the Russian offensive at that time let to an unstable cease-fire. This is a Ukrainian docmuentary about the battle (obviously, one-sided). It’s mostly in Ukrainian with English subtitles. (Some foreigners — Americans, including Phil Karber, co-author of yesterday’s report, and a Frenchman — speak in English).

At one point, the Russian commander on the ground insisted that the Ukrainians were encircled, and the Chief of the Russian General Staff reported that to the Russian President, who then told the public. Problem was, no one had told the Ukrainians. The Russians agreed to a ceasfire, but it was a ruse. At the appointed hour, the Russians celebrated the cease-fire with a massive offensive — artillery barrage and ground assaults. The Ukrainians planned a withdrawal.

In something that has never happened before, the withdrawal plan leaked because a parliamentarian posted it on Facebook. The plan did not get to the Russian forces in time to hinder the first withdrawal columns, but later columns were hit by the redoubtable Russian artillery. The small unit commanders had to hastily reroute their withdrawal.

The results of the battle, then, are mixed, despite the Ukraine putting the best possible shine on it. In the end, the Ukrainians withdrew and prevented the Russian attempt to encircle them and defeat them in detail. But the Russians wound up in possession of the salient’s burnt-out ground, and the surviving civilian inhabitants, if any. This was a common outcome on the Eastern Front in 1942-44, as better-led Nazi units frequently wriggled out of Soviet encirclement attempts, but the tactical superiority of the German Wehrmacht availed them little against the sheer Red numbers in the end.

 Lessons Learned from the Russian Ukrainian War

This file is a draft of Phil Karber’s lessons learns presented at a Historical LL Workshop last July.

rus-ukr-lessons-draft.pdf

If WeaponsMan.com gets hit by a truck, or jammed by little green men in an EW van with Cyrillic labels on its knobs and dials, at press time it was also hosted here:

https://prodev2go.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/rus-ukr-lessons-draft.pdf

Karber identifies several “surprises”:

  1. First, the war itself was completely unexpected.
  2. Second, Western neglect of Russian “New Generation Warfare” has come home to roost, and this Russian doctrinal concept is not a mirror of any Western idea or doctrine, but something that must be understood on its own terms.
  3. Lack of western, even, interest in the military aspects of the war.

Karber observed parts of the war from the Ukrainian side and makes no pretense of being an impartial observer. Factor that in to his analyses and conclusions. Principal conclusions include:

  • This war, like the Russo-Japanese war in 1905, the Spanish Civil War in 1936, and the Yom Kippur war in 1973, is a glimpse of what potentially is to come.
  • However, the US has held American observers back from observing as was done in the 20th Century wars.
  • It’s only a proxy war on one side, because the West is not supporting Ukraine much. Despite that, Karber observes four things he thinks might be trends (while warning about the risk of perceiving any change as a trend):
    1. UAVs everywhere, always;
    2. A revolution in artillery and other indirect-fire lethality;
    3. ATGMs vs. Armor;
    4. Weakness of the Infantry Fighting Vehicle and other light armored vehicles.

Naturally, each development has met a counter. For example, when the Russians want to violate a cease-fire, they take down ceasefire monitoring drones of the OSCE using electronic warfare.

Of these, perhaps the most interesting are the artillery developments. Like World War I, 85% of casualties are caused by artillery (on both sides; the Ukrainians are not rolling over for their former slavemasters). Karber discusses the Western and US unilateral disarmament on DPICM warheads. Russian artillery trends include:

  • Multiple-rocket-launcher area fires. Russian force balance has changed from one MRL system to four artillery tubes to a 3:4 ratio: in effect, a trebling of rocket artillery over the last 30 years. Russian MRLS tactics deemphasize the precision strike favored by the US and NATO.
  • Both sides use the 2S1 Gvozdika SP artillery piece unconventionally in direct-fire mode — The Russians

in the dual role of both indirect Howitzer and as an assault gun. In this latter direct fire role it is used as an over-watch system targeting at a range of 1 to 6 km Ukrainian strong points and suppressing anti-tank defenses. In interviews with the author, numerous Ukrainian anti-tank missiles and anti-tank gun operators have noted their reticence in opening fire against Russian armor because of the expectation that they themselves will immediately be targeted by the Gvozdika.

…and the Ukrainians, as an analogue of the World War II tank destroyer — a non-tank light vehicle that fights tanks by stealth and speed (because it can’t go toe to toe).

Other weapons, including BM-21 Grad rocket launchers, are also employed deliberately, at least from time to time, in direct-fire mode.

  • Decentralization of Artillery. At least on the Russian side, Artillery batteries are being task-organized into tank and motorized-rifle battalions.
  • Increased Range of Artillery. This can be decisive in counterbattery fire. It’s no fun being outranged (as US forces in I Corps in Vietnam were by Russian-made M1946 130mm guns in the DMZ).
  • Importance of Counter-Battery Radar. The Russians use their latest technology. President Obama promised our equivalent, the AN/TPQ-36, to Ukraine, but reneged. Instead the US provided a 5000-meter-max-range anti-mortar system, one with an Achilles’s Heel:

Ukraine’s counter-mortar experience should teach the U.S. and NATO a valuable lesson. Because it is an active emitter, the Russians are able to accurately identify its location; and because it is a towed system and a computer requires a half-hour shut-down, it cannot be moved rapidly and thusly is highly vulnerable to the very counter-fire it is intended to suppress.

The U.S. supplied 20 counter-mortar radar. At least 20% of which have been lost: 2 lost to counter- fire; and 2 lost in the overrun of the Debaltseve encirclement, one of which is now being used by separatists against the Ukrainian 24th Mechanized Brigade

Kaber faults, in part, “seriously flawed” American policy set at the highest levels, which is what happens when you put policy in the hands of van drivers and campaign speechwriters, and people selected primarily for their sex or race.

His conclusions are bleak: if we’re reading him right, the increased lethality of modern weapons gives the advantage, for now, to defensive fortifications and positional warfare.

Or, prepare for World War I phase II.

Karber and Potomac Foundation colleagues have prepared seven more reports, of which two are available to the public:

  1. Gen. (ret.) Wesley Clark & Dr. P.A. Karber, “Non-Lethal Military Aid to Ukraine,” (8 April 2014);
  2. Dr. P.A. Karber, Beyond Minsk II: Prospects for a New Russian Offensive (presentation), (12 May 2014).

Links are as provided by the Potomac Foundation. We have the .pdfs should the Little Green Men take the PF off the net.

Ukrainian Conflict and Electronic Warfare

Joe Gould at Defense News noted in 2015 that one area where the modern Russian army has soundly beaten Ukraine is in the electronic realm.

“Our soldiers are doing the training with the Ukrainians and we’ve learned a lot from the Ukrainians,” said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges. “A third of the [Ukrainian] soldiers have served in the … combat zone, and no Americans have been under Russian artillery or rocket fire, or significant Russian electronic warfare, jamming or collecting — and these Ukrainians have. It’s interesting to hear what they have learned.”

Hodges acknowledged that US troops are learning from Ukrainians about Russia’s jamming capability, its ranges, types and the ways it has been employed. He has previously described the quality and sophistication of Russian electronic warfare as “eye-watering.”

Russia maintains an ability to destroy command-and-control networks by jamming radio communications, radars and GPS signals, according to Laurie Buckhout, former chief of the US Army’s electronic warfare division, now CEO of the Corvus Group. In contrast with the US, Russia has large units dedicated to electronic warfare, known as EW, which it dedicates to ground electronic attack, jamming communications, radar and command-and-control nets.

The Russian EW campaign is not conducted in a vacuum, but coordinated with other arms and services.

In a fight, Russia’s forces can hinder a target’s ability to respond to, say, an artillery attack, allowing them to fire on an enemy with impunity. Ukrainian forces would be unable to coordinate a defense against incoming rockets and missiles, or release counter battery fire.

“If your radars don’t see incoming fire, you can’t coordinate counterfire,” Buckhout said.

This capability was once developed by the USA as well, but was among the many big-war capabilities abandoned for the “peace dividend,” the ongoing redirection of national resources to the comfort and benefit of the idle. This change has been reinforced by fifteen years of combat in a low-threat environment against an enemy without sophistication.

For example, even the Army’s highest EW priority today, “Multifunctional Electronic Warfare (MFEW), is intended to provide an offensive electronic attack capability.” But that is not a capability aimed at a peer competitor — instead, it will be able to degrade low-level un-hardened communications, “to jam cell phone, satellite and GPS signals.” That is, if the legendary military procurement system can bring it in somewhere near on time and on budget. And
“on time” is — we are not making this up — 2027.

This war is a valuable instructional period, as was the Spanish Civil War, yet it may go neglected by the institutional US Army the same way that war was. There may be no benefit for us by the lessons that US “trainers” are learning from their Ukrainian “students.” Indeed, it seems like most of the useful learning is coming our way. It can’t be used, immediately, with a national command authority that is focused on the military as a tool for social engineering, and that treats defense issues as an opportunity to surrender, apologize, or surrender and apologize.

One of the Ukrainians’ skills, surviving from their Soviet days, is an ability to operate even when under EW attack, even when denied the electronic spectrum. That’s very interesting to the USA, which is completely spectrum-dependent, yet has taken few measures to be prepared to seize and defend the spectrum. It certainly shines another light on the Soviet-era insistence on pre-coordinated, precise plans.

Other Ukrainian improvisations involve use of artillery in direct-fire AT overwatch (which the Russians are also doing, so it’s unclear who did it first), and sophisticated use of counterbattery radars for reconnaissance.

Conclusions

Russian operations as early as the Georgia War in 2008, and including the invasion of Ukraine and to a lesser extent operations in support of Russian client Assad in Syria, have showcased the emergence of a new and more capable Russian Army. Today’s Russian Army owes more to Russia’s historic mastery of chess than to its one-time production of ill-trained peasant mass levies.

There are still deep vulnerabilities to be exploited, but the US DOD and US Army do not seem to have the leadership to do so, or to prepare to do so in the immediate future.

Some American Thoughts on Russia’s “New Generation War.”

russian_rangerettes

You’ve come a long way, baby! Russian movie portrayal of the Red Army.

Both of these documents were sent to us by a retired senior special operations officer who is employed in an influential position in operations planning. The authors of the first (and more recent) document recently did a stand up in front of, if we have this right, Joint Ops at the Pentagon. So you’re learning here what American colonels, generals, and senior policy civilians are learning about our Russian rivals.

“Rival” is, we think, the right word; so far, Russia sees itself as in competition with the democratic West, and not entirely at war. In fact, Russian leadership, which was Soviet junior leadership during the Cold War, seems intent on a new Cold War with the same broad spectrum of rivalries: political, economic, propaganda, and military via proxy wars. We have not seen a return to terror sponsorship on the level of  the pre-1992 KGB and GRU, but we can’t tell whether that’s because: today’s Russia actually eschews this as a tactic, either on moral or practical grounds; today’s Russia is better at doing it undetected than the USSR was; or, increased surveillance of terrorists and their sponsors heightens risks for state sponsors. (If we had to pick one we’d go with #1, Russia is not sponsoring terrorists, because Russian policy does not permit that at this time. But we don’t have evidence for that).

The first article is a nine-page extract from Army Magazine, the usually low-value trade mag of the Association of the US Army, an organization that young lieutenants are dragooned into joining. But it’s by two serious guys, Professor Phil Karber, a reformed Marine who’s been a heavyweight in US Army ground forces strategy for over 40 years, and LTC Josh Thibeault, a typically overeducated (heh) Operations Analyst.

(U)Russia’sNew-GenerationWarfare(ARMYMagazine,Jun16)

(Note that we made three small corrections in the file, a typo in the filename, removed a blank tenth page, and ran it through our own OCR. If you are planning on sending this around anonymously, get the Army version from the Early Bird or “they” can trace you to WeaponsMan). Here’s an edited excerpt:

Russia represents a real threat, to real allies, on real terrain. Though Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions might be unknowable, we do know what his game plan is.
It’s called “new-generation warfare,” and it targets Western weaknesses, not strengths. New-generation warfare differs from Western views of hybrid conflict in that it combines both low-end, hidden state involvement with high-end, direct, even braggadocio superpower involvement.

Russian new-generation warfare is manifested in five component elements:

– Political subversion.
– Proxy sanctuary.
– Intervention.
– Coercive deterrence.
– Negotiated manipulation.

Contrary to Western politicians, the Russian leadership understands these military options and plays them like a Stradivarius.

Karber and Thibeault do examine each of those in depth, and review such newly evident Russian competencies (many of which, in fact, the old Soviet Army was not at all weak on) and their consequences for US Army RDT&E, strategy and doctrine. These areas including electronic warfare, unmanned aerial systems (new, as is the way the Russian Army uses them), tank and IFV developments, air and missile defense.

Russian artillery is particularly well-developed. Always a historic strength, new technology has made this artilllery more effective, accurate and lethal, and Karber and Thibeault project a bit of what might happen to American units if they were hit as two Ukrainian mech battalions were hit two years ago, in July 2014. (The authors don’t mention this, but the units were moving as agreed with the Russians under a cease-fire agreement).

Russia launched fire strikes with long-range artillery and multiple rocket launchers employing top-attack munitions and thermobaric warheads against two Ukrainian mechanized battalions in the open. This intensely concentrated fire strike lasted only a few minutes yet inflicted high casualties and destroyed most armored vehicles, rendering both battalions combat-ineffective.

The T-64 improved Bulat tanks of the Ukrainian 1st Armored Brigade burn, 13 July 14

The T-64 improved Bulat tanks of the Ukrainian 1st Armored Brigade burn, 13 July 14.

In combat situations like this, when up to 30 percent of a unit is killed or incapacitated, command and control breaks down and the unit is unable to treat its own wounded, much less reconstitute itself and continue its mission. The Army needs to develop reconstitution teams at the brigade level that will re-establish command and control, provide triage and other medical support, and quickly coordinate reconstitution. Likewise, units at all levels must frequently train in mass-casualty scenarios.

It’s an interesting idea, but the reconstitution team can’t work as long as the artillery continues.

Needless to say, fifteen years of desultory low-intensity warfare against rifle- and RPG-armed primitives in plastic flip-flops has not prepared the United States Army to fight against a competitor like this. (And what is a Russian capability today is a Chinese capability tomorrow, and a global second-tier state’s capability in months or a year. We are not the only ones studying these battles).

Meanwhile, we have a leadership adept at social engineering, but incompetent at war planning or even weapons procurement. What the Russians did to those two Ukrainian battalions, the US can’t do, because the US has unilaterally disarmed from thermobaric and cluster munitions. The article’s conclusion on that:

Russian artillery maintains an approximate 3:1 size advantage over the Army’s artillery, and they have a capability advantage as well with their use of dual-purpose improved conventional munitions and submunitions. For the Army to be competitive, the DoD must repeal then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ 2008 directive to comply with the provisions of the Ottawa Treaty, which resulted in the removal of all submunitions from the Army’s inventory.

Note that, while Gates is often thought of one of Obama’s lousy defense officials, when he made this lousy decision he was still one of Bush’s lousy defense officials. This is a defense problem, not a partisan problem.

One more thought: military planners love infantry fighting vehicles. You know who doesn’t? Infantrymen. After seeing what protection a BMP provides, Ukrainians ride on top. In Chechnya, Russians rode on top. In Vietnam, American mech infantry rode on top. None of these things can resist artillery fires. Which right now the US unilaterally has disarmed itself of, believing that navigation satellites (subject to other Russian and other weaponry) and air supremacy were permanent conditions of US deployments.

And one final thought, on aviation. The Russians swept the Ukrainian fast movers and helicopters from the sky. Flying this high could be deadly (20 August, 2014):

So could flying even lower:

Ukrainian helicopters were reduced to flying 3 to 5 meters above ground or treetop level to avoid the larger surface-to-air missiles from the self-propelled systems, but ambush teams of two to five manportable air defense systems, cued by the integrated air defense network, shot them down. Without adequate suppression of enemy air defense assets or hardened bases and defenses, Ukraine was powerless to stop this.

Some other interesting tactics have been emerging, too, but this is a start. As we said, there are two articles; the other tomorrow or Thursday (we have to hunt it up).

Smitten with the Hammer of Drone

Doesn’t quite ring the way Hammer of Thor does, does it? But US forces/agencies droned another Taliban Emir-of-Schmo character over the weekend.

While the Administration and its suck-ups in the press are exchanging bouquets over this, it’s hard to see how this changes anything. We’ve been decapitating terrorist organizations and Islamist insurgencies for 15 years now, and about all we’ve done is teach these mohammediots the importance of a chain of command, a succession plan, and leadership cross-loading.

Sure, it’s fun to see the FOOM and watch the car, to steal an image from Al Stewart, “flicker its souls to the wind.”

Mulla Akhtars car2

Actually, that is kind of cool. Gotta love Hadji — he brings his own Tannerite to his cremation. FOOM is in da house! Do we have a close-up? Here’s the ace first responders of Balochistan province on the scene:

Mulla Akhtars car

We picked this up from The Sun when we were slumming there looking for When Guns are Outlawed stories. Here’s what they say:

The US targeted drone strike took place near Ahmad Wal in Balochistan, south-west Pakistan at around 3pm on Saturday.

His death was confirmed by Afghanistan’s spy agency this morning.

It is likely to be a huge blow for the Taliban as it triggers another leadership struggle.

Our emphases, there. Feh. Somebody will do take his place, and if we keep knocking off the bozos, sooner or later they’ll come up with someone good — probably sooner. The average Afghan will never solve quadratic equations or appreciate the 3rd Brandenburg Concerto, but he’s bred for war. So the long-term promise of this kind of attack is probably nil at best, and potentially negative. We’re only doing it at all, so that people don’t look too hard at President Internet Tough Guy’s real record on Islamic extremism.

Not that it isn’t satisfying in its own way:

Mullah Akhtars Crispy Corpse2Is it just us, or does the guy in the robin’s-egg blue shalwar kameez look like he’s saying, “Damn it, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a miracle worker!”?

Mansour became Taliban leader in July 2015 after replacing Taliban founder and spiritual head Mullah Mohammad Omar.

via Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour confirmed dead.

So here’s bad cess to the old boss, and hello to the new boss, whom Beltway armchair strategists (the only kind to be found in that location) have concluded will somehow be less hostile or effective than the crispy critter illustrated above was. Good luck with that.

Wonder why they’ve never tried to assassinate our President?

Anyway, the whole accomplishment of this attack is this one insignificant Sumdood, about to go into this one pine box.

Mullah Akhtars Crispy Corpse

Note the fine Pakistani workmanship on this fine sharia-compliant casket.

What makes the Taliban our enemy is not men. It’s ideas. But we’re only attacking men.

Prague 1938: The Doomed and the Saved

jan_syrovy_may_1938

As you can see from the cut-off margin and wavy horizontal line, we’ve got to go back to the drawing board on this scan.

We have been working to scan a story from the 30 May 1938 LIFE magazine for the site. The cover of that magazine shows “Commander of the Czech Army,” whose actual title was General Inspector (or Inspector General), Jan Syrový. A tough-looking guy, he had fought on both sides in World War I, like many Czechs and Slovaks, abandoning the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s weak claims on his loyalty, and going over to the Russians. The Russians had their own problems, but allowed their Czechoslovak POWs to form the Czechoslovak Legion, which started small but would ultimately be a brigade-sized unit of three infantry regiments. Syrový lost his right eye fighting alongside the Russian Army during the ill-fated Kerensky Offensive. (The Czech Legion took their objectives, but few of the Russian units did). Around the time this photograph was taken, Czechoslovak defense leaders had mobilized their reserves — 70,000 men — under threat from Germany.

At the time, Munich was still in the future (by then, Syrový would have bene elevated to Prime Minister, over his own objections), but in May, the Czechoslovaks were still hoping for support from former allies Britain, France and the USSR; in the end they would be betrayed by all three nations, Britain and France cutting the Munich deal for the death of Czechoslovakia (with Czechoslovakia conspicuously unrepresented), and the USSR writing the rump of the state off in the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact of 1939.

In the LIFE issue, we saw the photo immediately below. The LIFE caption was:

German Refugees. In this hand-decorated Prague cellar of an abandoned factory Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany find the safe haven Prague has long offered their race.

german_jewish_refugees_in_prague_2

That struck us pretty hard. Note the tied-down swastika on the map of Germany, and the weird cartoon figures… not sure who they’re supposed to be. LIFE had more to say about the refugees, including some fairly deep background. As we read it, the realization sank in that these people were almost certainly murdered in the next few years. Seeing the picture, we know what the happy musicians could not: the Nazi menace was coming their way.

Generations before Romulus and Remus found their Roman wolf, Prague on the Vltáva River was an old established village that had been inhabited continuously since Paleolithic men scrabbled caves in its riverbanks some 15,000 years ago. Modern industrial Czechoslovakia thus has not only one of the oldest capitals in Europe, but one of the most beautiful. The curving Vltáva (pronounced Vultava) splits the city in two as the Seine splits Paris.

Prague has an ancient and honorable reputation for liberalism. Its university is the oldest in Central Europe. The martyrdom of John Huss not only foretold the Protestant Reformation, but started a wave of Czech nationalism among the nobles of the Bohemian court. Like other medieval cities. Prague kept its Jews in a ghetto, the Josefstadt, but they were not molested. They had a separate Jewish town hall, with a Jewish clock that still ticks on its steeple. The 14th Century synagogue where the Golem was made is still in use. Prague’s Jewish cemetery is the oldest in Europe.

Currently Prague is an asylum for thousands of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. At the left LIFE’s photographers show several of these in an abandoned factory in Prague’s Strašnice district. Their faces are purposely turned from the camera for the protection of relatives still in Germany. They manage to exist on an average of 11¢ a day donated by Czech workers’ unions, but because of Czech unemployment they are not allowed to accept jobs. All of them are ready to enlist in an anti-Nazi brigade should Czechoslovakia be invaded by Germany.

It was depressing, reading this, reading the cautious optimism on the crumbling pages, and knowing what became of the Jews of Prague and other Czechoslovak cities (herded into ghettos, relocated to KZ Theresienstadt (Terezín, Czech), relocated to KZ Auschwitz-Birkenau, murdered like rats. Especially the kids. When a transport came in, the old, the sick, and the children went straight to extermination.

We looked on that picture, and the accompanying legend, and despaired. They never got the chance to “enlist in an anti-Nazi brigade.” The list of European nations and statesmen who sold them out is a long and bleak catalog of shame. To that must be added the shame of the United States in not accepting these refugees — for unlike the ISIL advance parties currently roiling Europe, these people were actually refugees in the classic sense of the word.

The day after hitting an emotional rock bottom over this long-forgotten little tragedy, in one corner of The Greatest Tragedy Show on Earth that was the Second World War, we stumbled on this report by Kemberlee Kaye at the great law blog, Legal Insurrection. It’s all about this guy, a master of English pluck… and English understatement.

Sir-Nicholas-Winton-memorial-service-holocaust-hero-saved-children-world-war-ii-2-e1463766689273-620x435

Nick Winton was a young stockbroker who found himself in Prague on holiday about a year after that Life Magazine, and he decided to do something. Something was getting permission to bring unaccompanied refugee children from Prague to London from the Nazis (which turned out to be easy, as they were looking to get rid of Jews), from the Foreign Office (which turned out to take one visit and compliance with a list of conditions) and the rest of midcentury British bureaucracy (which was a little more complicated).

At one point, he resorted to forging a letterhead to convince authorities he wasn’t just one guy, but head of a large and potent organization. He did all that he could.

He saved 669 children; the parents who put them on the train, and most of the rest of their families in Europe, vanished forever into the Nacht u. Nebel of the Final Solution.

And what did he do then? Like most men his age, he served in the war, and afterward, moved on with his life. What is different about his rescue is what he didn’t do — he didn’t tell anybody. Apart from a brief mention in a flyer for a 1950s campaign for local office — he lost, by the way — he never brought it up. He did it, and that was enough. It was in 1988, almost fifty years later, that his wife found an old scrapbook — and discovered Nick Winton’s secret.

After that, he was showered with honors, none of which he sought. Last week, there was a memorial service for Sir Nicholas Winton, who passed away last year, leaving alongside his own progeny perhaps as many as 15,000 “descendants” among his foster children.

Winton didn’t do this alone, of course, and that is one reason he never blew his own horn. He actually ran the operation from London, and had a team of helpers — all long since passed away — on the ground in Prague. So do bear in mind that it was a team effort, if you go (as we are about to recommend!) to Kemberlee’s story and Read The Whole Thing™, and watch the two embedded videos there (one from the Beeb and one from CBS’s 60 Minutes, but they’re not like all the others…).

 

Military PC Roundup: It’s Getting Thick Out There

Priorities

Priorities. Totalitarian movements and graphic designers — a match made in heaven. Or the Other Place.

There are times when you cannot accomplish the mission with the resources in hand. You’ve all seen the scene from Downfall where three sweating generals are trying to explain to a shaky Hitler that the Third Reich not only can’t pull off a victory, it’s down to a few hectares of shell-ravaged Berlin. Hitler’s furious at the generals, but the fact of the matter is, no human can deal with that kind of resource imbalance.

Kind of like the situation the Poles faced in September 1939, or the Norwegians in April 1940. Fight, or fold? You’re going to lose either way… there are reasons to make either decision, and it’s probably an emotional call that rationalized ex post facto.

Priorities

Priorities. Because all that matters is skin color, genitals, and who/what you bump ’em with.

Naturally these decisions come up not only on a national scale, but on squad level as well. Do you fight like a lion and probably die trying to save Hill X in Korea from 10,000 screaming Chinese, or do you surrender and probably die in captivity?

It is, however, a rare decision. Most of the time, though, you do have a choice. When military commanders complain about resources, they often are complaining about something completely different. History abounds in examples where seemingly inferior resources still delivered a win. The problem is less one of absolute resources, than of resource allocation; of priorities.

American officers are complaining about being resource constrained right now.

We’ll stipulate that the other services have similar complaints. Is it resources, or is it priorities?

    • ITEM: there was plenty of money, time and resources to produce this buzzword-rich “Army vision”[.pdf]
    • ITEM: Sure, there’s no spare parts, no aircraft or ships, and definitely no concept of employing them if we had ’em, but no nation before has ever had such a well-illustrated DOD Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan [.pdf] (It contains the note that, “Preparation of this report/study cost the Department of Defense a total of approximately $570,000 in Fiscal Years 2012-2017.”)
    • ITEM: dod_human_goalsThey probably didn’t blow a whole half-million on the “DOD Human Goals.” (.pdf) Everyone who signed this broadsheet of bubbly blather? Whatever their priority is, it’s not national defense.
    • ITEM: There has never been a SHARP briefing canceled because of budget cuts, unlike lower priorities, like, say, rifle qualification, which gets canceled all the time. (SHARP is this year’s buzzword for SJW drafted sensitivity training that teaches a bizarre theoretical framework that all Army men are rapists and all Army women helpless victims. Check out the official website of Army Rape Month for more information).

      Not Just the Army: The Navy Celebrates Rape Month, Too (with extra sodomy?)

      Not Just the Army: The Navy Celebrates Rape Month, Too (with extra sodomy?)

  • ITEM: There are unlimited resources to enforce PC at West Point, including Orwellian “Respect Boards.”
  • ITEM: There were plenty of resources to blow on a navel-gazing Army Posture Statement. (The .pdf is here). Our assesment of posture? Supine.
  • ITEM: Aimless Ash Carter has had the money to resource, we are not making this up, a new defense policy of “no intimidating“.
  • ITEM:There seems to be plenty of money for “yes men and fan boys.”
  • ITEM: No one in Washington speaks for soldiers or vets, but the Saudi terror financiers and promoters behind 9/11 have eight sure-I’ll-sell-out-my-country lobbying firms on retainer — and all Washington insiders of both parties happily take their blood money.
  • ITEM:
    More reeducation. The diversity beatings will improve until everyone loves Big his brother.

    More reeducation. The diversity beatings will improve until everyone loves Big his brother. Uh, ze’s brother? Hir brother? Oh crap, no we have to report for more reeducation.

    we got lots of women elevated to high places, like command of the new unarmed LCS, USS Manchester (motto of the LCS fleet: “Dindu Nuffin!”), one of 53 functionally unarmed ships whose function is, apparently, to provide command opportunities for Valuable Diversity Beans® like, well, the new commander; and arguably, to provide potential enemies with their fair share of targets. Another lady has assumed the command of NORTHCOM. The Pentagon these days prides itself on choosing the best available woman or minority for the job.

  • ITEM: Not far enough: inept National Security Advisor Susan Rice, herself a Valuable Double Diversity Bean®, says that intel leadership demands women-and-minority quotas. Hey, it worked for her.
  • ITEM: If he wants a pardon, or just wants keep getting those sweet checks from his lobbying-firm masters, David Petraeus knows what he needs to do. Suck up. So he does.
Every month is gay pride month these days.

Every month is gay pride month these days.

It’s even happening to our allies. The Great Buggernaut has rolled over Britain’s partner to our NSA, the Government Communications HQ, with its major leadership focus lately being spent on a groveling apology about having been unkind to gays in the past. Hey, they’re fabulous in defense jobs: let a thousand Blunts bloom.

But we’ve found a failure in the system, a rift in the ether of social-justice space time. You see, at West Point, the super fabulous Women of Awesome are, shockingly, ghettoized in women’s sports teams. Surely Army football would finally Beat Navy for the first time since what, the Eisenhower years? if they simply put some of that Grrrl Power in the offensive line. (It would certainly be the most watched Army-Navy game ever!)

Now, perhaps, you see why, despite the USAF being unable to generate one lousy twos-ship of jets out of a squadron, or the USS Manchester and her feeble sisters off to sea, unable to launch anything more warlike than a firmly worded statement,the priorities of the current leaders of the Department of Defense are perfectly ordered, once you understand what matters along the Acela Corridor.

As we sail off into the bright sunlit uplands (which suggests a navigation issue, but never mind), always remember, comrades, the DOD motto: Diversity is our Vibrancy!

hrs_Hispanic Heritage Month Poster 2012 Final

Have you ever noticed, there’s a month for everybody but one endangered minority? Warfighters?

How the IDF Fell from Grace

IDF EmblemOne of the most professional and best militaries in the world is the Israeli Defense force, the IDF. Once, great admiration for the IDF was nearly universal in the United States. In the last 40 years that’s changed. Nowadays, elite American opinion is hostile to Israel and her military (although that may be one of the areas where elite opinion is at variance with that in flyover country). But taken in the mean, now Israel and especially its armed forces are respected, and liked, less than they were forty or fifty years back. Why?

We certainly found, personally, that the IDF was not very interested in international fellowship. Militarily, they made it pretty clear that they had nothing to learn from the US. Just give them supplies and let ’em task our satellites, and then, shove off. (One acquaintance who went there, expecting to make long-term friends and contacts, came away soured on the whole region, and cursing the Israelis as “just another bunch of Arabs, minus the goat molesting.”1)

They had an unseemly air of entitlement to American support, because we owed them for the Holocaust or something. They were extremely prickly and hard to get along with. Contacts with liaison and exchange officers were the sort of “correct” that they are with an officer from an competitor nation. You were a lot more likely to make friends with the Egyptian or Jordanian guy. (US courses open to foreign officers are carefully scheduled so as not to have an Arab and an Israeli guest in the same class, just out of an excess of caution).

It seems to us that it was the institutional, academic, and chattering-class Left that led this devaluation of the IDF, but that’s just who, not necessarily why. 

Two things seemed to turn the American Left against the Israelis: the first was Israeli operations in Lebanon in the 1980s (where the Marines and SF had all the liaison problems cited above, and more; for some reason, communicating through Israeli-sponsored Christian militias seemed to work better than direct contact, but it was damaging to our relations with the other factions). The American Left didn’t care about military-to-military relations problems, though: they succumbed to propaganda about atrocities, often Pallywood fabrications.

Vladimir (later Ze'ev) Jabotinsky, in British uniform during WWI.

Vladimir (later Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, in British uniform during WWI.

The other thing was, from the point of view of American left-wingers, especially Jews, the fall of the Israeli Labor Party and the elevation of a coalition of the “wrong” Israeli leaders. Explaining Israeli politics is beyond the scope (and the capability) of this blog; suffice it to say that the Labor Party in its various manifestations from pre-’48 to 1973 was the dominant political force in the new nation, and it was a European socialist party, well left of the European center, and came out if the Fabian ethos of ur-Zionist Theodor Herzl. The party (coalition, really) that ultimately unseated Labor and its allies, the Likud Bloc, came from a different strain of Zionism altogether. “Reform Zionism,” whose founder was Vladimir Jabotinsky, was a less pacifistic, avowedly non-socialist, more individalistic and libertarian, less communitarian, and overall, more muscular Zionism. To Likudniks, it was only logical; to Laborites, it seemed un-Jewish. This was compounded by the different paths taken by Labor and its guerrilla movement, the Haganah, versus the proto-Likud irregulars, the Stern Gang and Irgun Zvai Leumi, during the late Palestine Mandate. The Haganah made common cause with the British mandatory power in the Second World War,considering occupation a problem but Naziism a more pressing problem. This is a sensible and rational position.

But the Reform Zionist groups did not believe the enemy of their enemy was their friend. From the standpoint of citizens of an occupied land, however light the British yoke might have been compared to the Nazi version, it was still a yoke, and no man worth the name cares to be yoked.

The Labor Zionists sponsored an underground-cum-guerrilla force, the Haganah. They also had most of the underground trappings of a state. But the Haganah did not fight against Britain during the war. The Reform groups, today remembered as the Stern Gang and the Irgun, existed to fight for independence, not to support negotiations for it.

Personally, it is hard to see the actions of Stern Gang or Irgun as equivalent to the actions of SS or al-Fatah. Consider the three actions most commonly cited as terrorist attacks: Stern’s assasination of Lord Moyne in 1944; Irgun’s destruction of the King David Hotel in 1947; and Irgun’s execution of three British captives in that same year.

In respect of those three, we would say:

  1. Does anyone think an occupying power’s viceroy is off-limits? Moyne was certainly no Heydrich, Terboven or Seyss-Inquart, but he held the equivalent position of those three satraps, all of whom were targeted in planning by SOE sponsored assassination teams (the Heydrich team deployed and succeeded).
  2. The hotel was not a protected site, it was being used as a command post. Technically, as a matter of legality, it was a target under any reasonable construction of military law.
  3. The execution was not a murder, but a reprisal for British executations of Irgun operatives.

Israel has not helped itself with its espionage against the US (which has, of course, been reciprocated; if you were President, you, too, would want to know everything about a generally friendly nation whose actions have the potential for igniting world war). The Pollard case, and particularly the way diplomatically-covered Israeli intelligence officers collected US secrets and remarketed the information to the USSR, may have been a tactical win for the beleaguered Jewish state, but it burned bridges that the small and narrow nation may need some day. Mobilizing American Jews to try to spring the traitor didn’t, in the end, get him out even a day early, but it did give ammunition to the creeps who claim every Jew has “divided loyalties.”

Jonathan Pollard, caught on surveillance video stealing documents.

Jonathan Pollard, caught on surveillance video stealing documents.

Was that price worth what they got for it? And, what did they get for it? They sent a message to agents worldwide that they’d go out on a limb for them. That helps when recruiting spies, and making every future recruitment easier; and it’s priceless when already-recruited spies go wobbly or get cold feet. (“If, God forbid, you get scarfed up, we’ll never give up on you. Look how we stood by Pollard!”) Conversely, having a boastful White House official out an intelligence source to his buddies in the press for sheer self-aggrandizement, not only condemns the source to languishes in a third world prison, but makes every future recruitment harder, and gives current spies cold feet. Only the highest echelons of Israeli national security know if the lasting damage the Pollard case did to Israel’s security support with the American press and government elites was worth it. And if it turns out it to have been damaging, well, that’s a bell that can’t be unrung.

But if political/military/intelligence relations with the IDF and Israeli intelligence services are a challenge, it’s nothing compared to the way that large segments of the American public — including a vocal subset of American Jews — have turned on the beleaguered levantine nation. There reason appears to be (in our opinion, misplaced) sympathy for the suffering Palestinians. The Palestinians are the authors of their own misery; they, and the Arab nations of which their ancestors were once citizens, have marinated in hate and bile for so long that even the bloodthirsty leaders of al-Fatah, one of the world’s cruelest terrorist groups, are not murderous enough for them. Only Hamas, worshipers of death who would totally sympathize with Carthaginian baby-offerings to their moon good Baal, are sufficiently rebarbative to humanity to be acceptable to Palestinians.

The IDF Blog notes that a current pop hit in the Palestinian territories is “Let the Bus Roof Fly,” a song about the joys of blowing up civilian and school buses, with these charming lyrics:

Turn them into body parts. Roast them, bringing joy to the hearts of the steadfast people.
We want the blood to fill the streets, and the blood to intensify the pain.

The band’s name? We are not making this up: The Promise of Islamic Art.

Still from Let the Bus Roof fly.

Still from Let the Bus Roof fly.

Great partner in peace you’ve got there.

It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to see that this standoff has no good outcome for the Palestinians. They think they’re going to get their own Islamic State out of this, and their only possible outcomes are constrained by the Law of Wars of Identity.2 Meanwhile, the only way the Israelis have a good outcome is to arm themselves to the teeth and to deter their enemies. This was hard to do when the enemies were leftist pan-Arab terrorists who sought victory, but survival; it’s even harder when the enemies are nihilistic savages who only fear death because it will upend their plans to kill more, and are completely undiscriminating about whom they kill.

Yet, many Americans favor the terrorists in this equation. That is absolutely silly; the Israelis are, thorny though they might be to deal with at times, our brothers; the Palestinians seem to be trying to opt out of our species.

In the meantime, the last factor that has taken the gloss off the IDF in the USA has been its perceived inability to defeat the roiling Palestine insurgency/underground/crime state. That this is not possible, without a campaign of Biblical proportions (and sensibilities), is a fact that has no traction on minds that, mostly, never have thought about fighting. That the IDF has been spectacularly successful in the main task of any national army, deterring national enemies, gets taken for granted. Despite several of Israel’s neighbors and more distant Arab and Islamic nations’ maintaining a formal state of war with the Jewish state, none of them has actually attacked since their last fruitless and bloody attempt in October of 1973 — 43 years ago, a time out of mind for the median Israeli, who’s only about 30 years old, let alone for the Arab, who is a teen. (Conversely, the median American is nearly 40, extrapolating trends noted in reports on the last US census in 2010). In the mind of today’s Israeli, Arab national attacks on Israel are as historical as the Holocaust, if not the Egyptian Captivity: they’re just one more historical pummeling the ancestors took. This may explain why some Israelis think, act, vote and lead as if it can’t ever happen again, which must frustrate the living daylights out of their professional military officers.

There is considerable risk in assuming that a dormant volcano is actually extinct.

Notes

  1. Mind you, that is a big deal to the goats. If only their votes counted, no doubt they’d be all in for liberation from their perverse Arab captivity.
  2. We define a War of Identity as a war in which the combatants fight not for territory, resources, or national advantage, but because of a fundamental hostility to what the adverse party is. These wars are ultimately not rational in origin but emotional, and so they are not as susceptible to rational, negotiated, diplomatic solutions as are, say, resource wars. This includes most religious and race wars, although sometimes the race angle is comorbid with a territorial, power, or other more-rational angle. Hognose’s Law of Wars of Identity, first formulated about 1987, is this:

In any War of Identity there are only three possible outcomes:

  1. One side defeats and exterminates the other (the Punic Wars; many antiquarian wars);
  2. One side defeats and assimilates the other (white man’s conquest of the New World; Islamic conquest of Hellenistic Mediterranean cultures);
  3. The war stabilizes at an Equilibrium of Violence that is de-facto acceptable to both sides.

The Arab-Israeli conflict, whether defined narrowly on the Palestinian issue or broadly across entire warring races of men, is a natural candidate for Outcome 3. This acceptable equilibrium can be at a higher or lower level of violence from time to time, but attempts to push the system into disequilibrium ultimately fail; they’re damped out by the adverse party’s reaction. Neither side has the power to impose Outcome 1 or 2 (the Israelis may have the potential for that power. The Arabs do not).

The Next European Hot Spot?

estonia-flag-mapJohn Schindler has a broad piece in The Observer on the future of Estonia. There are two separate visions of Estonia, he notes: one of the current existence of the nation as a free and democratic country, and one as it where it’s spent most of the last three centuries: as a terrorized slave state to Russia.

The problem is that the second vision is that of the current leadership in Russia, who see the Soviet Union not as a blight on history, not as a mass murderer that made Hitler’s butchery seem trifling by comparison, but as a highwater mark of Russian empire that must be regained for Russians to sleep soundly at night.

In those three hundred years, he notes, there are 360 as a Russian slave state of one kind or other. He doesn’t mention it but four years under the Nazis wasn’t a walk in the park either — although, apart from the doomed Estonian Jews (whom many gentile Estonians assisted the Nazis in exterminating, to the nation’s lasting shame), most Estonians were better off under Hitler than under Stalin or any of his successors.

Talinn today

Talinn today

Although Estonia is protected by NATO membership, as neither Georgia and Ukraine were, that is cold comfort considering the country’s tiny size. The huge neighbor to the east is capable of overrunning Estonia, if it chose to, as it did in 1940 and 1944. Making matters worse, the Kremlin has made its aggressive intentions alarmingly clear. Not long ago, Moscow delivered a diplomatic message to Tallinn in very undiplomatic language, announcing that Russia “is in a state of permanent war” with Estonia.

That war is real, if not yet overt. Russian propaganda, espionage, and covert action against Estonia, a toxic brew that I have termed Special War, is an everyday occurrence. Moscow uses spies and agitators to destabilize its smaller neighbor. Estonia’s Russian minority—a quarter of the country’s population—is a particular concern. Although many younger ethnic Russians assimilate, becoming fluent in Estonian and integrated into the country’s economy, this is no universal phenomenon and the number of disaffected Russians in Estonia is a security worry particularly because the Kremlin aims anti-Tallinn propaganda at them 24 hours a day.

Estonia’s eastern border region, around the city of Narva, is heavily Russian and a cause of concern to NATO. Cynics have noted that hardly any Russians in Estonia choose to move to Russia, though they easily could, yet some ethnic Russians are clearly disaffected. Fears of a Donbas-like semi-invasion, with Russian forces crossing the border to “save” ethnic Russians from “fascist” foreigners, are plausible.

This is, of course, exactly what Hitler did with the Sudeten Deutsche Partei of Konrad Henlein. Russsia always understood that move, which is part of why they planted their diaspora in the small nations. (Another reason was that the USSR was always Russian-ethnocentric, and they valued talent among subject races as little as Hitler had done).

Indeed, the Eastern Europeans understood it, half way, which is why they ethnically cleansed their German “minorities” — scare quotes used because in 1918, if not in 1938, there were more ethnic Germans than ethnic Czechs in Bohemia and Moravia, for instance. (That’s why the Czechlands were joined to Slovakia in 1918… so that the Slavs could outvote the Germans if it came to that). After the ethnic-German citizens’ disloyalty to the Republic in 1938, of course they were expelled at war’s end. Their descendants still have their noses out of joint over this today, but they’re the ones who invited in Hitler and Heydrich, and who profited by it as long as it ran.

And Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia — and many other states — should have done that with their rump populations of disloyal Russians in 1992. (Unlike the Sudeten Germans, the ethnic Russians are a small minority in the Baltics, except in some specific localities).

Remnant of Russian occupation: a prison where enslaved Estonians quarried rock for Russian masters has become a summer playground.

Remnant of Russian occupation: a prison where enslaved Estonians quarried rock for Russian masters has become a summer playground.

However, most security experts think Mr. Putin is not that foolish, since any movement of Russian troops across the frontier of a NATO country risks a shooting war with the West. More likely is a miscalculation leading to an armed conflict that neither side really wants.

“Most security experts” have their head up their respective recta if they think that Mr Putin gives a hoot in hell what NATO thinks, or does.

In September 2014, an Estonian intelligence officer was abducted at gunpoint by the Russian Federal Security Service, the powerful FSB, in the border region. The Estonian was standing in his own country when he was taken hostage and arrested by the FSB. This was a classic sort of Russian provocation that served to embarrass Estonia, and the hostage was dispatched back to home after a year’s incarceration that featured conviction by a Russian kangaroo court. Tallinn will not tolerate such brusque Kremlin shenanigans again, and if the FSB tries another such provocation, Estonian authorities will fight back. What happens then?

Would NATO really go to war to save little Estonia from its rapacious neighbor with several thousand nuclear weapons?

Schindler, are you remotely serious? Merkel is in the process of dismantling her own country. Ditto her American counterpart. They would be running around trying to find a Russian lieutenant to bow and apologize to.

Do you even think President Obama would retaliate for an attack on Americans or America? He would blame America first. That’s what he always does.

Meanwhile, he (and the three presidents before him) have also gutted the US military. The Air Force is dropping missions because even after cannibalizing units and aircraft left behind, operational squadrons can’t get 50% of their aircraft even partly mission-capable — on paper. If we can’t maintain low tempo strikes against primitive desert savages, how are we going to fight a modern conventional military?

There are certainly doubts in Tallinn about the sincerity and toughness of President Obama, but those are found in every eastern NATO capital these days. Neither does this November’s presidential election fill the Atlantic Alliance’s “new members,” who know the Russians well, with anything that can be called confidence.

“Trump hates NATO and wants to hang out with his pal Putin while Clinton wants to give the Kremlin another ‘reset’ even though the last one failed,” explained a senior NATO security official, expressing a common sentiment.

Translation: the US is not remotely serious about foreign policy.

The nations of Eastern Europe would be better advised to band together in a regional alliance, where everyone understands what is at stake, than to rely on inconstant NATO. Who’s going to aid Estonia, or Poland, or Hungary? Canadian princeling Justin Trudeau? Our amateur-sportsman-in-chief? Britain’s David Cameron, who wants to wear a French maid outfit for Brussels?

Estonia is doing all it can to provide for its own defense. Like almost no members of NATO, the country spends the “required” two percent of GDP on defense and the country’s armed forces, which rely on conscription to provide sufficient numbers of soldiers, are small but well trained and equipped. Russia could subdue Estonia but it would not be a walk-over like Crimea.

The lesson of 1936-39 is that France could have stopped Hitler cold in the Rhineland. The Czechoslovak armed forces could have given at least as good an account of itself than the valiant Poles did; surrendering to save lives was their gateway to 50 years of slavery, and they suffered great barbarities and butchery anyway.

That said, the willingness of fellow Europeans to defend Estonia is in doubt. On the weekend, President Ilves cited W. H. Auden, terming recent years “a low, dishonest decade,” with too many NATO and EU partners averting eyes to the real and growing nature of the Russian threat. History did not end in 1991, as so many advanced thinkers wanted to believe. History is back in the form of an old foe, a growling bear from the east with conquest on his mind. That bear can be deterred but only if neighbors band together to do so convincingly.

Wow, he’s recommending the same thing we just did — a new regional alliance, to replace a failing hemispheric one.

Update

Apparently Vladimir Vladimirovich is listening to Schindler. Russian-NATO confrontation in the Estonian ADIZ. First up is an Ilyushin Il-38 “May” spyplane. It’s marked VVS Rossia: Military Air Forces of Russia.

Il-38

The May was escorted by a pair of Sukhoi Flankers. All aircraft were operating in international airspace with disabled transponders. The missiles on the Flankers appear not to have been training ones, but live.

It’s interesting that this Flanker, Red 93, does not wear Russian Air Force markings. Instead it’s marked VMF Rossia — “VMF,” for “Volga Military Fleet,” indicates it’s a Russian naval bird. The red-banner-waving marking on the cockpit appears to be a Guards badge, an indicator of elite status in Russian units all the way back to Tsarist times. SU-27

The May and her escorts were intercepted by a pair of forward-based Eurofighter Typhoons of the Royal Air Force, based forward to deter just this sort of adventurism. It worked, apparently, as the spyplane altered course and stayed outside Estonian airspace.

Russian jets pressure EstoniaFrom left to right — May, Flanker, Typhoon, Flanker. Image shot by the pilot of the other Typhoon.

The show wasn’t over, though. Another pair of Flankers joined in, also with transponders also off. But the spyplane continued outside Estonian airspace, now dragging six fighters — four friendly, two adversarial — behind. Of those, the only two conforming to international law and squawking were the Typhoons.

Spyplanes like this are operated by the US and China as well as several other NATO and neutral nations, and need not penetrate target-nation airspace to gather actionable intelligence. Inside the plane, electronics intercept signals — communications, radars, telemetry — that are vital for war planning, but are also used in peacetime simply to keep tabs on a nation of interest. Estonia having rejected Russian serfdom, it will always be a nation of great interest to Russian intelligence officers, who gather their information on sea and on land as well as from the sky.

Update II

The US is asleep, but non-NATO Sweden is paying attention. From Aviation Week:

STOCKHOLM – Sweden’s investment in new Gripen fighters and diesel-electric submarines is being driven forward by increased Russian aggression in the Baltics….

Maybe the Russians are just trying to bankrupt the Baltic region with increased defense spending. Heh.

The Russians have also got Sweden and Finland to consider joining NATO (they’re not going to do it yet, and they won’t do it unless they do it together; Sweden in particular does not want to do it at all, but it’s amazing that it’s even up for discussion in the proud neutral state).

Concern about Russian aggression in Ukraine has forced Stockholm to reconsider the 200-year-old policy of neutrality in armed conflicts, but the left-leaning government is eager to avoid any move that could antagonize Moscow.

The Swedish government is a coalition of left-leaning Social Democrats and pro-Moscow Greens.

 

A Comic (strip not ha-ha) Take on Cuba

Flag_of_Brigade_2506We’ve been generally opposed to the opening to Cuba, principally because anything that enriches the prison island enriches exclusively the jailers. Slavery, historically, has benefits, just not for the slaves.

Not everyone feels this way (obviously), but then, not everyone identifies with the men of Brigada Vienticinco-cero-seis.

Reason Magazine, the libertarian outlet, sponsored a tour of the island (or, at least, Havana) and probably produced a dozen wall-o-text articles with the Asperger hyperfocus for which the breed is known. But we don’t know because we weren’t in the mood for dialectic. Instead, we want rhetoric, and even more, imagery; and there, Reason obliged by sending along cartoonist Peter Bagge. Bagge did a visual report that made it clear that he’s ambivalent about the whole thing, and doesn’t underestimate the bestiality of the Castro dictatura. Yet, he sees hope in individual Cubans. Here’s one page:

cuba cartoonOf course, you don’t know what you don’t know, and we’d bet an all-inclusive stay in the Isles of Pines Resort of Woe that that “well-to-do ceramicist” is a daughter of the nomenklatura. Anybody want to take that bet?

You ought to respect Bagge’s hard work and go to Reason and Read The Whole Thing™. His equation of the begging dogs, goats and people creeped us out, but we know what he’s talking about. He’s dead-on on the “invisible” (to any one in denial) racial chasm in Cuba, but that’s not especially Cuban; every Latin American nation has some version of this, and every one lies about it, especially to themselves.

But we see Cuba not as liberalizing in any measurable way. Instead, it is pursuing the China/Vietnam model — limited economic freedom with an entrenched overclass even more corrupt than America’s, and absolute political oppression. That oppression, at this point, mostly serves to keep the children of the overclass entrenched. It’s no surprise that official Washington, which tends towards an America realigned on this Master/Serf model, is all for this. (One of the Reason junketeers was Acela Party Senator [nominal Republican] Jeff Flake, who seems to have found Cuban-style dictatorship completely to his taste).

Meh from Jeh, Trash from Ash

Let’s play “Shot, Chaser, Hangover!” with national security. After all, all of official Washington is playing games with national security; why should we be left out?

Shot: Meh from Jeh

Sent to all hands in the Department of Homeland Security, including the utterly demoralized ranks of ICE, CBP and so forth:

Dear Colleagues,

Today, I am pleased and proud to release our new mission statement for the Department of Homeland Security:

“With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values.”

Is it just us, or does that conjure images of a previous homeland-obsessed political movement? Is he going to be engraving that on ceremonial daggers, next? It’s an idea that has some history to it, after all.

Heil Jehler

But let’s at-ease the cynicism for a bit and let the Token Black Guy Great Statesman speak:

In March, I asked you to help me write a single, short, and simple statement of who we are as a Department—what we stand for, and what our values should be.

I asked, and you answered. We received nearly 3,000 entries from all across DHS. As we reviewed your suggestions, we saw a lot of similar themes: honor, integrity, service, and strength. I am impressed by the thought that went into each proposal, and by the values our Department shares. And, I was pleased to consult all three former Secretaries of Homeland Security in developing this statement.

So this is the product of a committee of three thousand and three? That is, 3,003 government workers? Boy if that’s not a path to insight, what is?

I’d like to thank each of you who submitted a statement for your time, your creativity, and your thoughtfulness.

However, he didn’t use any of your submissions, if you read the statement carefully. Homie made up his own.

This statement, which will be on display at DHS facilities, is a reminder to all of us of who we are and why we serve.

If we are to succeed in our security mission, we must work together—a Unity of Effort. We have many employees and many components, with many complex responsibilities. But we are one Department, and it’s the unity of our efforts that keep our homeland secure.

Unity. Like one people, one nation, one leader kind of unity? Your boss would like that, and it’s all about pleasuring pleasing the boss, right?

Hey, there was this great Roman symbol of unity, how a bundle of sticks tied together makes great strength. Forget its name. Sure, it’s been used before, but nobody is using it right this moment — go for it, Jeh.

This statement is intended for all our components and all our approximately 226,000 personnel across the entire Department. My hope is that our people will see it as the capstone of our Unity of Effort initiative, and our unifying mission statement for now and long after I am Secretary of Homeland Security.

Thank you for your time, participation, and most importantly, thank you for your service.

Sincerely,
Jeh Charles Johnson
Secretary of Homeland Security

So there it is, ICE-men and Border Guards Greeters. You have been Unity of Effort-i-fied. Welcome to TSA World.

Chaser: Trash from Ash

Meanwhile, in the Department of Defense from Bad Thoughts and All The Latest “Isms,” we have Ash Carter hard at work on his first and only priority: social engineering. Speaking to the Air Force Social Justice Academy, from the USAF official report of his remarks:

“Some regions of the world are exceedingly messy, but we’re not daunted or confused, because we have our North Star,” he added.

…The secretary said this is why he is pushing for new ways to recruit and retain the best and why the United States military seeks to be inclusive.

“From the first classes of female cadets, including Brig. Gen. Allison Hickey and your own superintendent, Lt. Gen. (Michelle) Johnson, to the first female combat pilots, including my former assistant, Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, to Gen. Lori Robinson, who tomorrow will become the first woman to lead a combatant command, the Air Force has proven time and again that we are strongest when we draw from the strength of our entire nation,” he said.

The official remarks do not include excerpts from the Q&A with cadets that followed, but the Navy Times (a social-justice-forward, anti-military Gannett paper) did. Carter shot down questions on tranny troops:

“The question of principle we’ve sort of settled — what matters is people’s ability to contribute to our military,” Carter said when asked about the military’s transgender policy in a question-and-answer session with cadets at the Air Force Academy. “The only barriers we should ever erect to that principle are ones in which there are practical issues that we can’t work through.”

He went on to equate trannies with women, something that more than one airman has done towards the end of a night of heavy drinking:

“The Air Force has proven time and again that we are strongest when we draw from the entire strength of the nation,” Carter said. “Females, after all, make up half the population. It would be foolish to pass over qualified people for any reason that has no bearing on their ability to serve with excellence.”

Yep, we have seen the future and it’s going to be fabulous. Carter also indicated that drones are the future of the USAF. Drag queens and drones… lord love a duck. We’ll have an air force ready to fly anywhere in the world and win, if we can just get the enemy to agree to having the war decided by a lip-synching Combat of Champions!

You know, the PX at Bragg still doesn’t have tranny porn in the checkout aisles.  Can’t Ash crack down on those H8ers?

Hangover: What a Bugout Buys

Hoist high this Jolly Roger, and set yourself forth to roger with extreme jollity....

Meanwhile, how’s actual lower-case homeland security and defense going? A knuckle of coupleheads from the Associated Press have a story in various places (link is to the anti-military Gannett Military Times) about how success continues to elude our Iraq bugout. Unexpectedly.

The Obama administration grappled with a renewed show of force by Islamic State militants on Wednesday as they advanced again toward the ancient Syrian crossroads of Palmyra and exposed the Iraqi capital’s frailty through a series of deadly car bomb attacks.

Naturally, because it’s the Associated (with terrorists) Press, their prime concern is the political impact on their Supreme Personality of Godhead. But when these crumbs advance, a lot of bad stuff happens. And since our departure, bad stuff has happened to good people, and good stuff to bad people, with some frequency, in Iraq.

In Syria,

[T]he U.S. hopes President Bashar Assad and his Russian backers can hold off a fresh offensive near Palmyra several weeks after they pushed IS out of its world-famous ruins and neighboring city. The militants on Wednesday seized a key rocket-launching site about 40 miles away, according to media reports and activists, effectively isolating government forces in Palmyra from supply routes elsewhere in the country.

Now, remember, the US got into this war in the first place because the Administration thought that some posturing against “President Bashar Assad and his Russian backers” would look good. Now the White House is in the they-think-it’s-subtle, looks-to-us-like-it’s-stupid position of wanting Assad to win but without helping him because, as always with these foreign-affairs naïfs, it “wouldn’t play well” with voters and donors at home.

“We certainly do not want to see ISIL expand the territory that they control and we certainly do not want to see ISIL put at risk once again such a historically and culturally significant city,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

But Earnest said the U.S. wouldn’t coordinate defense efforts with Assad’s military or Russia in the event the city faces another capitulation.

So, slightly more earnest Earnest, “we oppose them but not to the point of doing anything.” This awkward position goes completely unnoticed by the two AP drones, who then droned on to write this:

And it would add further evidence of the militants’ surprising capacity to inflict losses on its enemies, after killing a U.S. Navy SEAL last week in Iraq. The special warfare operator, Charles Keating IV, was part of a quick reaction force that moved in to rescue U.S. military advisers from a firefight started by about 100 Islamic State fighters about 14 miles north of Mosul.

If in 2016 you’re writing about “the militants’ surprising capacity to inflict losses,” you need to get your 27-year-old know-nothing ass out of DC and pay a visit to the war, where a better class of Americans has been manning the ramparts between civilization and barbarity for a decade and a half now. The Russians bombing ISIL for Assad have actually done more to keep America safe than any of our current cabinet secretaries, let alone any of the decadent bums of the Associated with Terrorists Press.

But hey, the Partisan Political Police under James Comey have good news:

The developments overseas contrasted with more positive news at home, as FBI Director James Comey declared that fewer Americans were now traveling to enlist with IS as its brand suffers in the United States.

Whereas a couple of years ago investigators saw six to 10 Americans heading to the Mideast each month to join the fight, Comey said that number has averaged about one a month since last summer.

“There’s no doubt that something has happened that is lasting,” he told reporters.

Because, if we’re too nationally and institutionally limp and enervated to fight against Islamism, we can take pride in not fighting for it quite as much.

Lord love a duck.