Archive for the 'War' Category

Moral clarity, one way or the other

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Benjamin Netanyahu:

Who wants civilian casualties? Who wants to accelerate and escalate? We’re forced to do it. And what would you do? What would anybody do? You know, you just have to put yourself in Israel’s place. And if you’re a leader, put yourself in my place. And ask a simple question, what would you do?

If you look at the historical antecedents, the answer is very clear. Israel is acting with great restraint because there’s no other country that’s been rocketed like this, with thousands of rockets. We’ve just had close to 2,000 rockets and mortars in the last few days, on every — just about every one of our cities…

Well, the only parallel, history parallel is Britain, rocketed by the Nazis in World War II. I don’t — you know, if we start drawing parallels, what Britain did compared to what we do, we’ve been showing a hell of a lot of restraint. So if there is any complaints, and there should be, about civilian deaths that they belong, the responsibility and the blame belongs in one place, Hamas. I don’t think anyone should get that wrong…

you know, in the Middle East, it takes two to tango, sometimes three and maybe four. The point is that there’s one side that is clearly bent on escalation and one side, that is Israel, that is bent on defending its people, as any country would under similar circumstances…

I’ll tell you what my experiences have been. I’ve been in war. I’ve been in battle. And when you take a surgical operation, you can’t guarantee when your soldiers are being fired from Hamas homes, that is, Hamas is targeting people with — from private homes. And you hit them back. Of course, some people are going to be hurt. That’s totally different from deliberately targeting them. We asked these civilians, before we went in, we said, please leave. We text them. We call them on cell phones. We drop leaflets. We told them where to go. And those who left were safe.

Now, those who didn’t leave, you know what they didn’t leave? Because Hamas told them to be there, because Hamas, while we try to avoid Palestinian civilian dead, Hamas wants Palestinian civilian dead. The more the better, so they can give you telegenic fodder. So this is the cruelest, most grotesque war that I’ve ever seen. I mean not only does Hamas target civilians, ours, and hides behind their civilians, theirs, it actually wants to pile up as many civilian deaths as possible.

Meanwhile, you have the NYT (HT: Noah Pollak), Code Pink, and many others — ah yes, the anonymous “youths” have reappeared — arrayed against Israel. Strange times indeed to find ourselves, Alan Dershowitz and Bill Maher on the same page.

Check back in 2016

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Commentary:

almost everyone agrees that there is very little chance of the Taliban’s capturing any Afghan city, let alone Kabul, after the departure of ISAF forces later this year. They do control large areas of certain provinces, but they lack the capacity and perhaps even the desire to take any of the country’s cities.

Okay then, that’s settled. But just to be on the safe side, let’s check back in 2016, which will be ten years after this story.

Then and now

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Within the lifetime and personal memories of many Americans still living, most everyone knew farmers and soldiers. As late as America’s entry into World War I, over 42% of Americans still lived on farms. Your grandparents knew farmers and soldiers. It’s hard not to know a farmer or have spent time on a farm when 4 out of 10 of your countrymen lived their lives in agriculture.

Similarly, everyone knew soldiers not so long ago. WWI drafted 2.8 million Americans, when America only had 50 million men in total. WWII took 10 million draftees, and there were 3.4 million between Korea and Vietnam. One way of looking at Vietnam, for example, is that the draftees were as many as all boys in the United States who turned 18 in 1970 — a pretty large group of Baby Boomers. And none of these figures include the men who enlisted — surprisingly, perhaps, the total number of Vietnam veterans is over 2,500,000. So for a long time in America it has been true that most Americans knew something of farming and the military in a direct personal way.

No longer. As a statistical matter today, there are almost no new soldiers or farmers in America. Annual military recruits amount to 175,000 a year and decreasing in a country of over 300,000,000. And it’s even worse in agriculture. There are lilterally almost no new farmers in America today. At the time of WWII, farming still occupied 18% of the labor force – it’s less than 2% today. Every single year America loses more farmers than it creates. Many (perhaps most?) young Americans probably have not one single friend who becomes a farmer or soldier today. This probably won’t change on the agriculture side; however, with the way things are going in the world, with the chaos and the aggressive military budget cutting, it is possible. perhaps even likely, that things might happen to halt the trend on the military side.

Another charming fellow

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

Ibrahim al-Asiri:

The 32-year-old, originally from Saudi Arabia, is a leading figure in the Yemeni-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and has been the brains behind a number of high-profile aircraft bomb plots. These have included the so-called “underpants bomber” who tried to blow up a plane as it approached Detroit airport on Christmas Day 2009, and the ink cartridge bombs uncovered at Dubai and East Midlands airport the following year…

Asiri’s fanaticism is such that he even blew up his own brother, Abdullah, in a failed attempt to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s head of security. Asiri built a device that was concealed in his brother’s rectum and detonated by remote control from a mobile phone. Abdullah was killed instantly, although the Saudi official suffered only minor injuries.

Intelligence officials believe Asiri is now trying to develop a device that will escape detection by even the most sophisticated scanning equipment. His latest technique is to use an explosive known as pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN, which has no odour, and therefore foils sniffer dogs and X-ray machines.

Telegraph: Travellers at Heathrow were subjected to “vigorous” body searches…It is feared that Western jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq, including hundreds of Britons, have been recruited as would-be suicide bombers.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Monday, June 30th, 2014

NYT

More on WWI

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Max Boot:

The 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, has come and gone, prompting a lot of reflections on the significance and implications of World War I. Even if Gavrilo Princip’s shots were only the excuse, not the real cause, of the Great War, it is hard to exaggerate their significance.

The conflict swept away the entire Ottoman and Habsburg empires along with the governments of Germany, Austria, Turkey, Russia, and other states. It led to the creation of the modern Balkans and the modern Middle East. Nazism, fascism, and Communism – all the great ideological ills of the 20th century – would never have become as virulent as they did absent the devastation wrought by the 1914-1918 conflict. There would have been no Stalin in power, no Hitler, and there would have been no World War II – and hence no Korean War or Vietnam War

Today’s bad guys are on the march and the West dutifully fails to notice. Ah well.

100 years ago

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Read page 5 of Churchill’s book here. Think this age could measure up at the rate we’re going? HT: PL

The post postwar era

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

VDH has a disturbing piece about how the uniquely successful last 69 years have now been more or less squandered. Wretchard has a good companion piece on who showed up when the adults left the room. Finally, we take a quick look at the utterly disgraceful role played by the media in abetting this senseless tragedy.

Revisiting tulipmania

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Once again we return to the grooveyard of forgotten oldies to reproduce a piece, this time from the spring of 2008, when oil was approaching $147 a barrel. If the to-date highly successful maniacs in Iraq can figure a way to cause oil chaos, no doubt they will. So far the speculators are on the sidelines, meaning things will get pretty crazy if they all suddenly rush in on the same side of the trade. Stay tuned.

Back in 2008, Hedge fund operator Mike Masters’ Senate testimony on oil speculation, recommended for our review by Dan Dicker in the piece below, reads as quite an indictment of so-called Index Speculators. By the way, the Index speculators are “Corporate and Government Pension Funds, Sovereign Wealth Funds, University Endowments” and other investors who probably thought that sub-prime was the New, New Thing a few years ago. They are by far the largest participants in commodities trading now, though they were a small fraction of trading only a few years ago:

Commodities prices have increased more in the aggregate over the last five years than at any other time in U.S. history. We have seen commodity price spikes occur in the past as a result of supply crises, such as during the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo…unlike previous episodes, supply is ample…What we are experiencing is a demand shock coming from a new category of participant in the commodities futures markets…Index Speculators…distribute their allocation of dollars across the 25 key commodities futures according to the popular indices: the Standard & Poors – Goldman Sachs Commodity Index and the Dow Jones – AIG Commodity Index…

Demand for futures contracts can only come from two sources: Physical Commodity Consumers and Speculators. Speculators include the Traditional Speculators who have always existed in the market, as well as Index Speculators. Five years ago, Index Speculators were a tiny fraction of the commodities futures markets. Today, in many commodities futures markets, they are the single largest force. The huge growth in their demand has gone virtually undetected by classically-trained economists who almost never analyze demand in futures markets.

Index Speculator demand is distinctly different from Traditional Speculator demand; it arises purely from portfolio allocation decisions. When an Institutional Investor decides to allocate 2% to commodities futures, for example, they come to the market with a set amount of money. They are not concerned with the price per unit; they will buy as many futures contracts as they need, at whatever price is necessary, until all of their money has been “put to work.” Their insensitivity to price multiplies their impact on commodity markets.

Furthermore, commodities futures markets are much smaller than the capital markets, so multi-billion-dollar allocations to commodities markets will have a far greater impact on prices. In 2004, the total value of futures contracts outstanding for all 25 index commodities amounted to only about $180 billion. Compare that with worldwide equity markets which totaled $44 trillion, or over 240 times bigger. That year, Index Speculators poured $25 billion into these markets, an amount equivalent to 14% of the total market…

One particularly troubling aspect of Index Speculator demand is that it actually increases the more prices increase. This explains the accelerating rate at which commodity futures prices (and actual commodity prices) are increasing. Rising prices attract more Index Speculators, whose tendency is to increase their allocation as prices rise. So their profit-motivated demand for futures is the inverse of what you would expect from price-sensitive consumer behavior.

You can see from Chart Two that prices have increased the most dramatically in the first quarter of 2008. We calculate that Index Speculators flooded the markets with $55 billion in just the first 52 trading days of this year. That’s an increase in the dollar value of outstanding futures contracts of more than $1 billion per trading day. Doesn’t it seem likely that an increase in demand of this magnitude in the commodities futures markets could go a long way in explaining the extraordinary commodities price increases in the beginning of 2008?

There is a crucial distinction between Traditional Speculators and Index Speculators: Traditional Speculators provide liquidity by both buying and selling futures. Index Speculators buy futures and then roll their positions by buying calendar spreads. They never sell. Therefore, they consume liquidity and provide zero benefit to the futures markets.

Masters’ recommendations to Congress are fairly sweeping:

Number One:…Congress should modify ERISA regulations to prohibit commodity index replication strategies as unsuitable pension investments because of the damage that they do to the commodities futures markets and to Americans as a whole.

Number Two: Congress should act immediately to close the Swaps Loophole. Speculative position limits must “look-through” the swaps transaction to the ultimate counterparty and hold that counterparty to the speculative position limits. This would curtail Index Speculation and it would force ALL Speculators to face position limits.

Number Three: Congress should further compel the CFTC to reclassify all the positions in the Commercial category of the Commitments of Traders Reports to distinguish those positions that are controlled by “Bona Fide” Physical Hedgers from those controlled by Wall Street banks. The positions of Wall Street banks should be further broken down based on their OTC swaps counter-party into “Bona Fide” Physical Hedgers and Speculators.

There are hundreds of billions of investment dollars poised to enter the commodities futures markets at this very moment. If immediate action is not taken, food and energy prices will rise higher still. This could have catastrophic economic effects on millions of already stressed U.S. consumers. It literally could mean starvation for millions of the world’s poor.

Some prefer a laissez-faire approach to market imbalances such as this. But it was the decoupling of futures markets from delivery acceptance obligations that caused tulipmania after all. Thoughtful regulation of futures markets is not in itself unreasonable, just as it is not in the stock market. Personally, we’d prefer public floggings of the offenders.

Lightning speed, from nowhere

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

WRM: “The rise of ISIS/ISIL is a disaster that must be examined and understood. How could the U.S. government have been caught napping by the rise of a new and hostile power in a region of vital concern? What warning signs were missed, what opportunities were lost — and why?” No one had heard of these people a month ago, and all of a sudden they’ve taken over half a country and have a major social media powered PR machine. They’ve even got branded clothing lines as well as snuff films. It’s hard to believe that no one saw this coming. (BTW, what’s up at the State Dept?)

Fiddling would be an improvement

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

A lunch in DC:

It’s a great, great honor for us to welcome, as our luncheon keynote speaker, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco. I want to begin just by congratulating – we have a chance to meet and talk for a little while here this morning privately, and one of the things we talked about was the fact that he is the, as I mentioned this morning, only head of state who’s been to both the South Pole and the North Pole, the Antarctic and the Arctic. And we talked a lot about the Arctic and Antarctic because the United States assumes chairmanship of the Arctic Council next year, and we’re already beginning to think hard about that agenda, which will be even more critical given some of the things we’re talking about here today. So I wanted to thank him for his leadership in making those two journeys, which are an important statement about his commitment…

In 2009, when scientists first began to discover that carbon pollution was dramatically disturbing the chemistry of the ocean and causing it to acidify, Prince Albert brought together a group of 150 scientists from more than two dozen countries to alert policy makers around the world about the troubling findings. Thanks in part to his commitment and sense of urgency, last year the International Atomic Energy Agency established a new international coordination center in Monaco in order to better understand the global impacts of ocean acidification…we have long considered Monaco a critical partner in the effort of protecting our ocean, thanks to Prince Albert’s leadership, everything from acidification to marine protected areas.

More of this at PJ. Meanwhile, on the other coast: “nobody ignored the science. I don’t remember anyone saying the moon wasn’t there, or that it was made of cheese.” For response to the latter, see this.

Oh yeah, and as for the rest of the news…..

Final point: both Bret Stephens and Mark Steyn, and even in a way Doug Schoen note that the pace of the disasters in the real world is speeding up markedly (and will continue to do so in our view over the next two years).

The ISIS ad campaign

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Here’s a bragging and recruitment video from ISIS. It is very disturbing, featuring as it does many murders. At 3 minutes in, it praises the “see you in New York” guy whom we referred to the other day. Not to worry, however, it’s all holy struggle. HT: PL

One meaning of “see you guys in New York”

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

The ISIS leader told US soldiers as he was leaving imprisonment in Iraq that he would see them in NYC. Maybe it was a joke, but on the other hand, these guys aren’t fooling around. We think there is a actually pretty good chance ISIS/Iran/etc could get away with blowing up lower Manhattan in a nuclear martyrdom operation. What follows is our post from April 24, 2006, The Logic of Nuclear Terrorism is that Retaliation becomes the Crime. It’s as true today as it was then.

Get away with nuclear terrorism? Absurd, you say. Ridiculous. Unthinkable. Well, think again. We have written on this subject before, but were reminded of it again when we read Zbigniew Brzezinski’s piece in the LAT yesterday. The piece argued against attacking Iran (in almost identical terms to a London Times piece today), and included this:

[T]he notion floated by some who favor military action that Tehran might someday just hand over the bomb to some terrorist conveniently ignores the fact that doing so would be tantamount to suicide for all of Iran because it would be a prime suspect, and nuclear forensics would make it difficult to disguise the point of origin.

Brzezinski seems to be wrong that setting off a bomb in NYC would necessarily be “suicide for all of Iran.” Brzezinski’s reasoning is incomplete and self-serving, ignoring many factors, including the length of time required to do a forensic analysis, the probability of the analysis proving inconclusive, and the role of the media, among other factors. Let’s leave aside (or perhaps not) that this analysis comes from a foreign policy team so feckless that they let America and 52 hostages be humiliated for 444 days without taking effective action. Let’s take a look at what the US plans to do in the realm of “nuclear forensics” in the case the big one goes off in front of the New York Stock Exchange, via NYT:

The Pentagon has formed a team of nuclear experts to analyze the fallout from a terrorist nuclear attack on American soil in an effort to identify the attackers, officials have said. The team, which can draw on hundreds of federal experts, uses such tools as robots that gather radioactive debris and sensitive gear to detect the origins of a device, whether a true atomic weapon or a so-called dirty bomb, that uses ordinary explosives to spew radioactivity. The objective is to determine quickly who exploded the device and where it came from, in part to clarify the options to strike back, the officials said….

A senior military official, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose details of the program, said the threat reduction agency successfully conducted an exercise in October involving hundreds of people from many agencies. The participants, he said, included field workers gathering radioactive samples, nuclear analysts in laboratories working on the data and intelligence experts.

Do you understand what nonsense is currently the standard procedure of the United States in response to a suitcase nuke going off? “Hundreds of people from many angencies” will get their paws into this matter. For how long and when will they gather radioactive samples? How many committee meetings will there be, how many conference calls? What happens if the experts can not all agree? What happens if the plutonium actually came from old bombs spirited out of the Ukraine or Russia? What happens if Iran claims that materials were stolen? What happens if a Pakistani or Indian group claims responsibility? What happens if in a month the “hundreds of people” form the following conclusion: there is an 86% probability that the nuclear material originated in Iran?

If you are the president, do you act on the 86% chance? What about the 14% probability that you are wrong? And by the way, what is it exactly that you intend to bomb? Some military facility? Qom? Teheran? With what intensity? Will the destruction be proportional, or larger? Why?

On top of all these problems, consider what the worldwide media would have been doing for the days or weeks or maybe a month between the New York bombing and the completion of the forensic analysis. Imagine the 24/7 coverage of candlelight vigils, expressions of sympathy, and interviews with young children and old women by CNN, Fox and all the rest in Teheran and around the world. Day after day of wailing and calls for no more war, and pleas by the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury and various Imams and rabbis. To top it off, just imagine listening to Jimmy Carter or maybe Zbigniew Brzezinski himself calling for restraint.

Imagine the CNN graphic as the investigation proceeds: “Countdown to Doom.” How many times would we have to watch Failsafe and Dr. Strangelove? How many retired generals would be on the op-ed pages of the NYT and on the cable news? Do you doubt what we would hear from Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Noam Chomsky, George Clooney or Richard Gere?

All these horrors, on top of the horror caused by the New York explosion, are the reasons that things must be prevented from going that far.

The logic of nuclear terrorism is that retaliation becomes the crime. That is one reason why the Chirac Doctrine is preferable to the “nuclear forensics” approach with its “hundereds of people” doing all manner of analysis for a protracted period of time. Jacques Chirac has made it clear that if a WMD goes off in Paris, he has nuclear missiles with a return address to Mr. Ahmadinejad, no questions asked.

The United States should be similarly forthright in saying, for example, that in the event of a catastrophe, the likeliest suspect can expect instantaneous retribution 100x or more powerful than that visited upon this country. We can think of no reason for strategic ambiguity that serves the interests of the United States. Indeed, there is an ancillary good effect that the promise of destruction has on the “likeliest suspect” — that country would have an increased interest in policing others. We are not claiming that the approach suggested here is perfect; rather that the current policy of the United States, with its ambiguities and delays, makes it more likely that the Iranian Supreme Leader, ISIS, or others might reasonably conclude they could get away with an unspeakable act.

2014 Update: Wretchard has some related thoughts.

Knaves and fools

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Max Boot covers one part, the ISIS part. (David French has a good piece too on the Iraq of six years ago.) Scott Johnson covers the knaves angle with a chilling DOJ email. Every day we think it’s hard to believe we’ve fallen this far this fast, and then comes the next day with even worse.

Update: this piece by David Ignatius shows a degree of contempt we would have thought unimaginable a short time ago.

Reality vs. scripted reality

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Well, they may be liberals at the editorial board of the Washington Post, but at least they’re not children. Wretchard’s tone is more to our liking, however, not to mention that of Michael Walsh, who is saying things we’ve been saying for a decade. Things are going the way we generally predicted, but the pace of the disintegrations is staggering. Meanwhile, what is going on in the department of scripted reality? Things like getting George Will fired and a badly timed and obviously long-planned sob story reality show to push a chosen narrative for election 2014. It’s now reality vs. scripted reality, and scripted reality is losing badly.

The shape of things to come

Monday, June 9th, 2014

JPod has a very insightful piece about the pop culture fairy tale the country has lived through in recent years. It’s an amazing thing to contemplate the power of a story to shape facts — again and again — into something they are not. So now we have the Bergdahl story, the true narrative of which is obvious, and impossible to fit into the never-ending fairy tale plotline the media prefer. In such a situation, it is illuminating to see who are the people still trying to do so. Of course we have the NYT editorial board, suggesting that shady “operatives” are coercing soldiers to make up bad things to say about the fellow. The NYT also made other assertions that even CNN (or at least Jake Tapper) will have nothing to do with. And the WaPo, or at least certain reporters and editors, continue to pretend all is well in fairyland: “With Bergdahl handover, proof that successful deals can be made with Taliban.” Good luck with that! And the LAT continues bravely to spin. The next couple of years are going to be interesting for the media spin machine, since there are going to be plenty of situations that, try as they might, they just can’t put a happy face on.

Question

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Statement: “a view that was shared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” Oh really? Question: with D-Day so recent, why doesn’t it occur to one of these guys to resign?

D-Day up close

Friday, June 6th, 2014

S.L.A. Marshall takes us there for a moment:

Not seeing the captain die, Williams doesn’t know that command has now passed to him. Guiding on his own instinct, the coxswain moves along the coast six hundred yards, then puts the boat straight in. It’s a good guess; he has found a little vacuum in the battle. The ramp drops on dry sand and the boat team jumps ashore. Yet it’s a close thing. Mortar fire has dogged them all the way; and as the last rifleman clears the ramp, one shell lands dead center of the boat, blows it apart, and kills the coxswain. Momentarily, the beach is free of fire, but the men cannot cross it at a bound. Weak from seasickness and fear, they move at a crawl, dragging their equipment. By the end of twenty minutes, Williams and ten men are over the sand and resting in the lee of the sea wall.

Five others are hit by machine-gun fire crossing the beach; six men, last seen while taking cover in a tidal pocket, are never heard from again. More mortar fire lands around the party as Williams leads it across the road beyond the sea wall. The men scatter. When the shelling lifts, three of them do not return. Williams leads the seven survivors up a trail toward the fortified village of Les Moulins atop the bluff. He recognizes the ground and knows that he is taking on a tough target. Les Moulins is perched above a draw, up which winds a dirt road from the beach, designated on the invasion maps as Exit No. 3.

Williams and his crew of seven are the first Americans to approach it D Day morning. Machine-gun fire from a concrete pillbox sweeps over them as they near the brow of the hill, moving now at a crawl through thick grass. Williams says to the others: “Stay here; we’re too big a target!” They hug earth, and he crawls forward alone, moving via a shallow gully. Without being detected, he gets to within twenty yards of the gun, obliquely downslope from it.

He heaves a grenade; but he has held it just a bit too long and it explodes in air, just outside the embrasure. His second grenade hits the concrete wall and bounces right back on him. Three of its slugs hit him in the shoulders. Then, from out of the pillbox, a German potato masher sails down on him and explodes just a few feet away; five more fragments cut into him. He starts crawling back to his men; en route, three bullets from the machine gun rip his rump and right leg.

The seven are still there. Williams hands his map and compass to Staff Sergeant Frank M. Price, saying: “It’s your job now. But go the other way — toward Vierville.” Price starts to look at Williams’ wounds, but Williams shakes him off, saying: “No, get moving.” He then settles himself in a hole in the embankment, stays there all day, and at last gets medical attention just before midnight.

On leaving Williams, Price’s first act is to hand map and compass (the symbols of leadership) to Technical Sergeant William Pearce, whose seniority the lieutenant has overlooked. They cross the draw, one man at a time, and some distance beyond come to a ravine; on the far side, they bump their first hedgerow, and as they look for an entrance, fire comes against them. Behind a second hedgerow, not more than thirty yards away, are seven Germans, five rides and two burp guns. On exactly even terms, these two forces engage for the better part of an hour, apparently with no one’s getting hit. Then Pearce settles the fight by crawling along a drainage ditch to the enemy flank. He kills the seven Germans with a Browning Automatic Rifle.

For Pearce and his friends, it is a first taste of battle; its success is giddying. Heads up, they walk along the road straight into Vierville, disregarding all precautions. They get away with it only because that village is already firmly in the hands of Lieutenant Walter Taylor of Baker Company and twenty men from his boat team.

From 30 years ago: All of these men were part of a roll call of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore; the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland’s 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England’s armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard’s “Matchbox Fleet,” and you, the American Rangers. Related: Lovat had asked his personal piper, Bill Millin, to pipe his men ashore. Private Millin pointed out that this would be in breach of War Office regulations. “That’s the English War Office, Bill,” said Lovat. “We’re Scotsmen.” And so Millin strolled up and down the sand amid the gunfire playing “Hieland Laddie” and “The Road To The Isles”…

Now

Friday, June 6th, 2014

TIME:

“It’s better to kidnap one person like Bergdahl than kidnapping hundreds of useless people,” the commander said, speaking by telephone on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “It has encouraged our people. Now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird.” The commander has been known to TIME for several years and has consistently supplied reliable information about Bergdahl’s captivity…

Those close to the leadership and the detainees are feasting on “whole goats cooked in rice” — a special meal usually reserved for celebrations. “I cannot explain how our people are happy and excited over this unbelievable achievement.” (He too has been known to TIME for several years). “This is a historic moment for us. Today our enemy for the first time officially recognized our status.” The news of the detainees’ release, says the commander from Kandahar, spread like a wildfire. “Besides our field commanders and fighters, our leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is so happy and is anxiously waiting to see his heroes,” he says.

No comment.

Pick your spot, or spots

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

VDH

As Richard Nixon became increasingly paralyzed by Watergate in late 1973, the enemies of Israel felt that it was an opportune time to launch their so-called Yom Kippur War. The next year, the negotiated armistice in the Vietnam War collapsed, and the North Vietnamese seized the Mekong Delta and prepared for a final offensive against South Vietnam. In 1979, after two full years of Jimmy Carter’s reset foreign policy — and after the president’s “malaise” speech and the surreal attack by the aquatic rabbit — various risk-takers concluded that the United States had decided that it either could not or would not intercede against aggression. In short order, the Chinese invaded Vietnam; the Sandinistas seized power in Nicaragua, and Central America descended into a Communist miasma; the Iranians took U.S. hostages in Tehran; terrorists stormed Mecca; the Soviets invaded Afghanistan…

Aside from al-Qaeda–sponsored terrorism, there are lots of hot spots around the world that could flare up…Ukraine, the Baltic states, and the rest of the periphery of Putin’s Russia; Taiwan, the air and sea space surrounding Japan, the Vietnam-China border, the 38th parallel; Cyprus and the Aegean; the hostile neighborhood of Israel; Iran with its defiant nuclear efforts; and on and on. Some authoritarian rogue state or terrorist in the next 30 months may well risk aggression, on the expectation that never in the last half-century has there been a better opportunity to readjust the status quo.

NYDN: Delivering an address on a stage hung with a banner that read “America cannot do a damn thing,” Khamenei Wednesday sneeringly declared…“They realized that military attacks are as dangerous or even more dangerous for the assaulting country as they are for the country attacked,” Khamenei said, adding: “They have renounced the idea of any military actions.”