Assembly or Retreat

Caption: A Russian national flag (L) and partly seen flag of Russian airborne forces (R) fly above a former Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye, near the Crimean capital Simferopol, on March 27, 2014. Ukraine asked today the UN General Assembly to deter the risk of any future Russian aggression by adopting a resolution denouncing its annexation of Crimea. AFP PHOTO/ DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV (Photo credit should read DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Well, have you noticed we live in interesting times. Yep, I live out here where the US Cavalry used to prowl. You remember them, right. The guys who ran away from Sitting Bull died with their boots on at the Little Big Horn. Wasn’t the smartest fight we ever got in, but they did their best and the general was right there with them.

Lke Tom Clancy said, “If you’ve ever seen a classic John Ford western, you know who the cavalry are. They are the ones who hold the line on the lawless frontier. They are the soldiers who come to the rescue.”


Times have changed, Bill Kristol writing in Time put it this way, as his indictment

The message is clear. The problem is its content. Obama certainly isn’t sending the message that Colin Powell, after the Cold War, wanted America to send: “Superpower lives here.” Obama’s message, by contrast, is: “Superpower once lived here. No forwarding address.”

Putin understands Obama’s message. He knows he’s won Crimea. The question is whether he’ll win Ukraine.

He thinks he will. He’s dealing with the Obama administration, after all. He looks at the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, he witnesses the failure to enforce the red line in Syria and the subsequent successes of his friend Assad, he chortles at the relaxation of the sanctions on Iran and the desperate desire to cut a nuclear deal, and he sees Obama’s defense cuts. And he reads the New York Times, where David Sanger reports, “Mr. Obama acknowledges, at least in private, that he is managing an era of American retrenchment.”

So Putin sees retrenchment. Putin sees retreat. And Putin sees that Obama is unlikely to reverse course.

Pretty much what I see as well. And it doesn’t make for a peaceful forecast. To be fair, Obama is correct, Russia is a regional power. The problem is, that region is Europe, and that’s where the game is being played. Russia isn’t trying to invade Canada.

The other day, I defined a superpower, here. The definition of a regional power is one that can exert great power over a short distance. Russia, perhaps alone in Europe, qualifies. The only other contender is the United Kingdom. And they, like we, run into the rule that nuclear powers can’t fight each other, simply because it can get out of hand too easily. That’s what won the cold war, it’s also why Cuba is still communist, everybody recognized the rule.

Given that, Poland, and the Balts are likely safe, although it’s a thin cover. In military terms I’d call it concealment, not cover. But it’s worked before, at least for a while.

Bill Kristol continues

In late 1979, with the seizure of American hostages by Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter was mugged by reality. Carter then tried, however haplessly, to change direction. But Barack Obama is no Jimmy Carter. Will Obama increase defense spending, as Carter did? Is he likely to launch a military excursion, as Carter did, over the objection—and then resignation—of his dovish secretary of state?

Carter, whatever his problems, was more hawkish than most in his party. In this he followed in the footsteps of every other Democratic president in the past century. Until Barack Obama.

It’s been a bit bewildering, even disorienting, to watch Obama get mugged by reality and refuse to press charges. But of course he doesn’t want to press charges. He doesn’t believe in an international system in which the American role is to lead. Former Saudi intelligence chief Turki al-Faisal was asked by the Financial Times recently about Putin and Obama. He explained: “While the wolf is eating the sheep, there is no shepherd to come to the rescue of the pack. This is where we find ourselves today.”

[Emphasis mine]

And that’s all true as well.

Russia is hardly a juggernaut. It’s troops are conscripts, not the combat veteran volunteers we in America and Britain are accustomed to. But in the bad old days, NATO had a saying “Quantity has a quality of its own”. It’s still true. And that calculus, ain’t on our side. Great Satan’s girlfriend reminds us:

European powers in recent years have shelved entire divisions and weapons systems. The British Royal Navy doesn’t operate a proper aircraft carrier. The Netherlands in 2012 disbanded its heavy-armor division, and France and the U.K. each now field a mere 200 main battle tanks. France has cut its orders of Rafale combat jets to six a year from 11. This isn’t even a Maginot Line.

Most alliance members are also dangerously demobilized: Germany last year announced plans to cut its troops to no more than 180,000 from 545,000 at the end of the Cold War. The French military has shrunk to 213,000 from 548,000 in 1990. The U.K. now has 174,000 armed forces, down from 308,000 in 1990.

NATO countries have also been deferring maintenance of major equipment and cutting back weapons inventories. Such neglect, normally hidden, became apparent in 2011 when Britain and France ran out of precision-guided munitions during NATO’s Libya campaign.

Remember, we don’t have much of a committment to Ukraine, just an agreement to consult. Which is just as well, cause we’d have a devil of a time getting much there, and our supply line to Afghanistan goes through Russia. And Europe buys most of its natural gas from Russia as well.

But, supposedly we are leaving AFPAK, and a sensible energy policy would let us make up most of Europe’s shortfall in energy, but we have to decide. We know what the President believes but, the people of America are sovereign.

Should the bugler sound ‘assembly’ or ‘retreat’?

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Obama’s Unserious Foreign Policy And America’s Permanent War Footing

This is by Angelo Codevilla, and I find I have little to add to it. Other than that I agree. One might also consider how much it will cost in treasure (and lives) to restore the world to proper functioning. No one else can do it, and the world will be much worse if it is not done.

Ordinarily I tell you to enjoy these but in this case think very hard about the road ahead, and decide where you think we should be heading, and how to get there.

Obama’s address on the State Of The Union showed the lack of seriousness about international affairs by which his Administration has been making the world ever more dangerous for Americans. The passages on war and peace, like the rest of the speech, consisted of patent untruths loosely related to Administration programs – the former meant to justify the latter.

Whatever one might think of Obama’s domestic agenda, these couplets reflected a serious intent to advance it. Thus, because ”climate change” is the cause of Western drought and Eastern floods, Obama will impose new restrictions on the use of fossil fuels; and because “reform” of unemployment insurance will get people back to work, Congress must extend the term of current insurance for 1.6 million people. People with an interest in such things know to disregard the nonsense and to take the agenda as seriously as it is meant.

Continue reading Obama’s Unserious Foreign Policy And America’s Permanent War Footing.


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Lions, Bulldogs, and Men with Umbrellas

English: Barack Obama Deutsch: Barack Obama

English: Barack Obama Deutsch: Barack Obama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Steven Hayward talked this morning on the Power Line blog about Uhlmann’s Razor which he defines as “When stupidity is a sufficient explanation, there’s no need to have recourse to any other.” He was talking about 404care, but it’s at least as valid in foreign affairs and defense.

We’re hearing lots of stories about the administration’s disdain for and attempts to demoralize the military, you know the forced leadership retirements, and a bunch of other stories, including the one about the navy jack patch. Do we really think that Obama, who appears to live to be either making a speech, or on the golf course is really laying awake at night, dreaming up ways to hurt the military?

Obama hasn’t shown me any particular brilliance, of course I might have blinked, but as a Nebraskan I do know a bit more about SECDEF Hagel, common Nebraska opinion is that it would not take a large bag of hammers to be wiser than he is. Let’s try, while easily admitting these fools are driven by ideology, to remember they are not the smartest people in Washington D.C., let alone the universe.

Mostly what we see is what we would see in any organization if it was being run by a group of people who have no conception of leadership, stewardship, or any business sense. Let alone a smidgen of knowledge of how to plan a two car funeral.

That said, one of the areas where they are doing actual damage to the country is in foreign policy. Their weakness has been noted by every one in the world and they are acting accordingly. I don’t really see a way to fix it til 2017 but it is happening.

What we and the world are getting is a preview of what is going to happen if America leaves the stage as the leader of the free world. The last time a similar thing happened was after World War I when Britain was exhausted and America didn’t understand yet that we were the heir. It led to trouble, you’ll recall.

Along that line, Bill Whittle has something to say about that period as compared to ours as well.

Take Heed.

Maybe Pain Will Teach You Millenials Not To Vote For Your Own Serfdom

I don’t know if any of you know of Kurt Schlichter. I’ve followed him almost as long as I’ve had a twitter account. His trademark hashtag is #caring, and it’s pure snark. He also writes for Townhall which is rather amazing, as you’ll see here. Unfortunately, I suspect very few liberal millennials read here, if they did they’d either be whining or converted by now. But there is a lot of truth in Kurt’s article here, so enjoy. Actually, I hope that this is a fair prediction of the future, because otherwise it is likely to be worse.

You Millenials voted for Obama by a margin of 28 percent, which will make it a lot easier for me to accept the benefits you will be paying for. We warned you that liberalism was a scam designed to take the fruits of your labor and transfer it to us, the older, established generation. Oh, and also to the couch-dwelling, Democrat-voting losers who live off of food stamps and order junk from QVC with their Obamaphones.

You didn’t listen to us. Maybe you’ll listen to pain.

I have been told that being hard on you Millennials will turn you against conservatism, that I should offer you a positive, hopeful message that avoids the touchy problem of your manifest stupidity.

No. There’s no sugar-coating it – your votes for Democrats have ensured that you are the first generation in American history that will fail to exceed what their parents attained. Embracing liberalism was a stupid thing to do, done for the stupidest of reasons, and I will now let you subsidize my affluent lifestyle without a shred of guilt.

I’m a 48 year old trial lawyer living on the coast in California – I should have “Hope and Change” tattooed on my glutes. I’d have an excuse to be lib-curious, but you Millennials? Why do you support an ideology that pillages you to pay-off Democrat constituencies? Your time in the indoctrination factories of academia trained you in a form of “critical thinking” that is neither. Somehow, you came to embrace the bizarre notion that conservatives are psychotic Jesus freaks who want to Footloosisze America into a land of mandatory Sunday school and no dancing.

But liberals, in contrast, are nice. Obama is cool. You chose petty fascism with a smile. Not a lot of thought went into it. Facts, evidence – these were mere distractions from the feelings-based validation that came from rejecting us wicked conservatives.

What did you get? The chance to be forced to buy health insurance you don’t want at inflated rates so my rates can be lower. You get to pay more out of your monthly barista take – liberalism ensured that the tanked job market foreclosed a real career – so that I get to pay less out of my lawyer checks. Thanks, suckers.

Maybe Pain Will Teach You Millenials Not To Vote For Your Own Serfdom – Kurt Schlichter – Page full.


Reflections from the Comments

noseart_us_04Yesterday, on my post Rattlesnakes and Kings Trevor Nagle made a comment that brought something out that we should talk about some, because it is important. Here is his comment.

November 4, 2013 at 11:06 am This isn’t an Obama thing at all, rather a several decades move to reduce the individualism expressed by servicemembers on their uniforms. In fact, we saw this under Bush Sr. in the move to prohibit unit and squadron deployment-specific patches on flight suits and flight jackets. We saw it in 2000 with the prohibition of multicolored t-shirts allowed under flightsuits. The effort is not POTUS-specific, but the continual ebb and tide between allowing individualism and insisting on uniformity. As an aircrewman, I resented the changes we saw under Bush Sr. and Clinton, but it really wasn’t ever about the Man in the Office, so much as senior leadership reacting to situations that could be (errantly, in my opinion) chalked up to as attitudinal displays of individualism in the military. And in hindsight, it never really was that big of a deal….and neither, I’d argue, is this.
A couple of things here, I like Trevor, and I respect his teaching on leadership a lot. His blog is a wonderful source of information.
Also, I looked at this story for a while before I decided to write about it for exactly the reason he said. I chose to go with it in part because it gave me a vehicle to talk about some American history that we don’t talk about all that much, and to tie it into the present day.
That said, I think part of our trouble, maybe a large part, is that we immediately assume the worst of our opponents lately. That’s true on the left, and it’s becoming more and more true on the right as well.
We seem to be starting on the path of demonizing each other, and while I try not to do that, I do it some too. Part of the reason, is that I just plain get tired of listening to the abuse directed my way, and decide to throw some back. I’d like to say I’m going to quit, but I’m probably not, at least not always. And that’s a sad thing.
Part of the reason America has worked in the past is that we have always assumed that while the other guys may have been stupid, or misguided, greedy, or many other things; almost never have we questioned his patriotism. Now we are starting to do that, I understand it, because in some cases, I do too. But it is a very bad thing if untrue, and worse if true.
In this particular case, I suspect Trevor is correct. As he says at some times our military has encouraged (or tolerated) a lot of individualism, witness the nose art from the aircraft in World War II, at other time it has projected a uniformly (pun intended) drab image. It’s sort of a fashion in the military that comes and goes. It matters and can lead to resentment but it’s not earthshaking and even the guys involved know it.
We are in this country dealing with very important things, which include the proper sphere of the government. In some ways we are very like the generation that crafted the Constitution. We may well be deciding the course of our country for somewhere between the next generation and the next century. It behooves us to think rationally, not to mention long, hard, and objectively about these matters. These are issues, and this includes Obamacare, that will fundamentally affect how America looks and performs far into the future.
We need to try to not be distracted by trifles, like whether the SEALs wear a patch with the Navy Jack, or their unit crest or whatever. It’s not a mission critical thing for them, let alone a strategic issue for us as the United States.
We need to keep our heads clear and our eyes open, and live up to the vision our founders had of a free, happy people who could prosper, in this vast and bounteous land.
Now that we have that straight:

Back to the battle.


Why Won’t The GOP Let Us Have a Normal Debate? Why!?

Obama greets Harkin the day after healthcare b...

Obama greets Harkin the day after healthcare bill passed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Jonah Goldberg has an article up at National Review Online. In it he makes the point that many, many establishment Republican are carrying water for the lying methods used by the Democratic party (exclusively) to foist this abortion of a health care bill on us. Enjoy


Greg Sargent thinks it’s unseemly and ill-mannered for Republicans to focus on the fact that a great many people are losing their health insurance because of Obamacare. He does make a few very reluctant concessions. For instance:

Critics of the law are right to ask whether it is having an adverse impact on these millions of Americans. And the White House could have been clearer in laying the groundwork for this political argument: It wasn’t sufficient to say people who like their plans will be able to keep it, which is narrowly untrue.


And this:


Well, let’s see if we can lift the veil of mystery. For starters, Obama’s statements were not  ”narrowly untrue.”  They were broadly, knowingly and entirely untrue. He repeated them over and over again, often straight into the camera. It’s nice that Greg Sargent concedes now that the president “could have been clearer.” But “could have been clearer” implies that he was a little clear about how this would work and just didn’t clarify enough. The truth is the complete opposite. He wasn’t even deliberately unclear. He was clearly dishonest. Obama was stridently deceitful. Seriously, watch this video compilation of Obama’s repeated and vociferous statements about “keeping your plan” and tell me he was just failing to be sufficiently clear that millions of people wouldn’t be able to keep their plans:

This raises a larger problem about the wonkosphere. Ross Douthat is right when he tweets:

“Furor over ‘if you like your plan …’ is a reminder to everyone in Wonkland (where everyone knew it was BS) that most ppl don’t live here.”

I agree that everyone in wonkland knew it was BS. But what does it say about the liberal wonks that they either never said so when the legislation was being debated or said so very quietly under their breaths. I’m genuinely curious, did Sargent or his colleagues at the Washington Post report that what Obama was saying — never mind the impression he was leaving — was a lie, or even “narrowly untrue”? I mean did they report it when it might have hurt the law’s chances of passage, not afterwards when all lies are retroactively absolved as the price for social progress. 

Indeed, what is so infuriating to many of us is that is that now that it’s the law of the land, Obamacare supporters act as if all of the lies were no big deal and no serious person believed them anyway. But as anyone can tell you, if Obama had been honest about the trade-offs in his signature piece of legislation, it would never have become his signature piece of legislation. So please, don’t tell me the lies don’t matter.

Indeed, this might help unravel the mystery for Sargent. Republicans (or at least a great, great many of them) know that this law glided to passage with tracks greased with b.s.[...]

And now, when the Democrats’ lies are proving politically inconvenient, we’re told that if Republicans were smart, they’d accept the law and engage in a sober conversation about the very real trade-offs in the law liberals lied about for years. 

I’m not arguing that the GOP shouldn’t capitulate to the law simply out of spite (though spite is underrated in this circumstance if you ask me). [...]


Quite a lot more at Why Won’t The GOP Let Us Have a Normal Debate? Why!? | National Review Online. Go there



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