Archive for the 'War' Category

Inversions

Monday, July 28th, 2014

How strange. We now live in a world where the editorial line of the Washington Post is more or less unfit to appear in the HuffPo when it comes to Gaza. More at the WaPo and at PL on our inverted world. BTW, we thought Wretchard was getting a little too dramatic when he transitioned from the various wars to Ebola — then we saw that the CDC is stonewalling USA Today regarding the failures of its medical “do not board” rule for airlines. That’s reassuring! Have a nice day.

Era of potential realignments

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

Haaretz, of all places:

The draft Kerry passed to Israel on Friday shocked the cabinet ministers not only because it was the opposite of what Kerry told them less than 24 hours earlier, but mostly because it might as well have been penned by Khaled Meshal. It was everything Hamas could have hoped for.

The document recognized Hamas’ position in the Gaza Strip, promised the organization billions in donation funds and demanded no dismantling of rockets, tunnels or other heavy weaponry at Hamas’ disposal. The document placed Israel and Hamas on the same level, as if the first is not a primary U.S. ally and as if the second isn’t a terror group which overtook part of the Palestinian Authority in a military coup and fired thousands of rockets at Israel.

On Saturday, the State Department distributed photos of Kerry’s meeting with Qatar and Turkey’s foreign ministers in Paris. The three appear jovial and happy-go-lucky. Other photographs show Kerry carousing romantically with the Turkish foreign minister in the pastoral grounds of the U.S. ambassador’s home in Paris, as if the Turkish official’s prime minister didn’t just say a few days ago that Israel is 10 times worse than Hitler.

The secretary of state’s draft empowered the most radical and problematic elements in the region – Qatar, Turkey, and Hamas – and was a slap on the face to the rapidly forming camp of Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, who have many shared interests. What Kerry’s draft spells for the internal Palestinian political arena is even direr: It crowns Hamas and issues Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a death warrant.

It’s not clear what Kerry was thinking when he presented this draft. It’s unclear what he had in mind when he convened the Paris summit. It can only be seen as surreal. Along with foreign ministers from Europe’s major nations Kerry greeted with regal honors Hamas’ Qatari and Turkish patrons, ignoring what Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority might have had to say.

Wow, Israel’s NYT slams the administration hard. And in other news, the crazed illegal immigration situation draws large protests in Massachusetts, and elsewhere among traditionally loyal D’s. In some ways our current situation is a disaster, but it does open the door for realignments among people who can think like adults.

Bonus fun: Netanyahu goes off on the nutty Presbyterians.

Why not promote them………and other matters

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Jim Fox, the leader of the Mid-Iowa Boy Scout Troop 111:

The scouts and their leaders were on a 21-day trek from Iowa to Alaska – a trip that had been three years in the planning. As their vans were moving through a checkpoint into the United States, one of the scouts snapped a photograph. Agents stopped the van and ordered all the passengers to get out. They told the underage photographer that he had committed a federal crime. It was unclear which agency with the Department of Homeland Security’s CBP agency was involved in the incident. “The agent immediately confiscated his camera, informed him he would be arrested, fined possibly $10,000 and ten years in prison,” Fox told Des Moines television station KCCI. During the search, one of the scouts tried to retrieve a bag from the roof carrier. When he turned around, Fox said an agent had a loaded pistol pointed at the child. “He heard a snap of the holster, turns around, and here’s this agent, both hands on a loaded pistol, pointing at the young man’s head,” Fox told the television station. The scoutmaster wrote a detailed account of the incident on his Facebook page. He said he tried to watch the agents search the van but was ordered to return to his vehicle. An agent followed him and told the youngsters “that the next one to leave the van would be handcuffed and detained.” “The agent in charge informed me of the potential charges against (the) scout and informed me it is a violation of federal law for any American to take a picture of a federal agent or any federal building,” Fox wrote. Fox said he and another member of the troop were interrogated by agents – forced to answer questions about their background. They also wanted to know why the Boy Scouts were hauling “excessive amounts of lighters, matches and knives,” Fox said. After a lengthy delay, the Scouts were released

Too bad they were released, or we’d might recommend that the agents be promoted 1500 miles south to stem this disaster. And in other news, “killing bald and golden eagles remains a felony punishable by a $250,000 fine and prison time…In 2009, the agency first instituted a permit system to allow exemptions from prosecution—for five years—for wind farms and certain other projects that inadvertently harm or kill eagles. Last year, it extended the duration of permits for ‘non-purposeful take of eagles’ to 30 years.”

Final thoughts: Joan Rivers, and in lighter fare, “By Grabthar’s Hammer…what a savings.”

Tranquility Base

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

No, not that Tranquility Base of 45 years ago. (Amazing how quickly going to the moon made for boring TV.) Bob Tyrell describes our new tranquility base, and the twist is that he’s actually a little hopey changey himself, certainly more than Mark Steyn, who sees endless violent cycles of Lather, Rinse, Repeat ad infinitum. (BTW, he displays a picture that really is worth a thousand words.) Bonus fun: Roger Simon discusses the lovely UN that gets $6-7 billion or more a year from us. Bonus question: how many refugee camps can you name that are older than the states of Alaska and Hawaii, and the countries Tanzania and Republic of Congo? Is the number more or less than the total number of countries in Africa? Guess first then peek.

Final comment: Baba Booey!

Let’s change the subject

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Jalopnik:

On assignment for the Wall Street Journal, I was in San Francisco to drive the original Bullitt chase scene in a new, 2011 Ford Mustang V6. In the passenger seat was Loren Janes, the fabled Hollywood stuntman and McQueen double who had driven the movie’s most exciting scenes. Loren had graciously flown up from Burbank for the day to take the ride. What’s more, I had a CD of the Bullitt soundtrack to set the mood. The result is in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal.

Loren is a very level-headed guy who spent years doing crazy things for a living. Really crazy things. He pulled off hair-raising stunts in more than 500 movies-nearly all of them household names. He also has added excitement to more than 2,100 TV episodes. You realize that without guys like Loren, movies over the past 50 years would be rather static. When I asked Loren if anything scares him, Loren said matter-of-factly: “Not really. I’m asked that often. I’m not really afraid of anything, and I’ve never broken a bone. I’ve been a gymnast, a Marine, a diver and Olympic athlete, which was great preparation for stunt work. I was always comfortable in the air.”

Today’s post isn’t about jazz, but it’s certainly about cool. For those who share my fascination with Bullitt or have always been curious about stuntmen, especially those who began their careers in the early 1950s, here’s what Loren said to me during our conversation leading up to our drive on Sunday:

“I first met Steve McQueen while working on the TV show ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive.’ Steve was the star. Apparently, there had been two stuntmen there Steve didn’t like, and they were both fired. They called me because they had scenes to film and I lived about five minutes from the studio.



“When I showed up on the set, I walked past Steve, who was sitting around. We were both taken with how much we looked like each other. He asked me to get him a coffee. I wasn’t happy that he was treating me like a gofer. I walked up to him and said, ‘I’m going to make you look better than you can make yourself look. Just don’t blow my close-ups.’



“As I walked away, I could hear him scream to the director or someone, ‘Fire him.’ Apparently they had said to him in response, ‘No, no, he has to do the stunt first. We’ll fire him after if you want.’ 



“When it was time to do the first stunt, the coordinator told me Steve wanted it done as athletic as possible — meaning realistic and seemingly impossible. The stunt called for me to go through a low window in a barn, roll off the ground, leap up, vault over two horses, land on Steve’s animal and ride off.

“I spent some time walking the set to make sure the ground was clean and that there were no surprises. I moved the horses a little closer together and moved a rock that I could use to spring off to go over the horses.



”When the director yelled, ‘Action!,’ I went through the window, did my somersault, ran 15 feet to the horses, leaped over two of them, landed on Steve’s horse and took off. Steve couldn’t believe it. I worked out daily on parallel bars and other gymnastic equipment in my backyard, so vaulting over the horses wasn’t a problem.



“On my way back, I brought him a coffee, and he laughed. From that day forward I worked with him on every movie he made, including his last, The Hunter, in 1980, where I had to hang off the Chicago elevated train traveling at 55 mph.

Bullitt is on TCM today, and TCM is one of the few best hopes for a revival of the American values of several centuries. What would you prefer, VDH links to the upending of obvious choices between good and evil?

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.