Time for Some Pilot Shit

One for us?

 

Well, we’ll see.

 

I’m with her on that, I want those big brass ones clanking so loud they’re heard from Peking to Tehran, and if they are not, the movie deserves to fail.

Then there is this, which, in truth is both annoying and offensive.

I have to admit I’m quite weary of this pandering. We used to make films for Americans, and the world loved (and still loves) them. Why this bullshit.

But OK, it does give us an excuse. Tony Daniel over at The Federalist reviews the FWS’s (Topgun) original OIC Dan Pedersen’s book.

In his engaging and succinct memoir Top Gun: American Story, Topgun’s original commanding officer Dan Pedersen argues that “what matters is the man, not the machine,” and because of this truism, pilot training will always be far more important than the technology of jet fighters for winning battles in the sky. At present, says Pedersen, “Something is rotten in Washington, and one day, sadly, we will lose a war because of it.”

Pedersen claims that the Navy lacks relatively cheap fighter jets for training such as the old F-14 Tomcats (the “Top Gun” jets in the movie) and others. He cites a price tag for the new F-35 as $330 million per plane. The service can’t buy and maintain a large number of trainers at those prices, he says. As a consequence, much of fighter pilot training must be done on simulators, which, in Pedersen’s view, are an inadequate substitute for real flight time.

More ominously, Pedersen says the Navy has once again been beguiled by the siren song of technological triumphalism and has lost the will to properly instruct pilots in dogfighting techniques. This was precisely the situation during the early years of Vietnam, and it led to devastating American losses, and ultimately to the creation of Topgun, the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School (the Navy spells it “Topgun,” without the space between words).

Unfortunately, claims Pedersen, bureaucratic rot and self-destructive rivalry and jealousy have set in in the years since the 1969 founding of that “graduate school for fighter pilots.” Pedersen suggests this is partly due to blowback from the 1986 movie Top Gun, and the lasting cultural cache it bestowed on the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School as a result.

Topgun is no longer located at Naval Air Station Miramar (which is now owned by the Marines), but was moved inland in 1996 to Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada. Although Topgun still operates as an independent command, the school has been largely subsumed within the Navy’s Strike Warfare Center at NAS Fallon.

Do read it all, he makes a good case, in an argument that has been going on since the early sixties. For the most part, he is correct, give me a properly trained man, with close to the same capabilities and he will triumph, but technology is also important. Say if Sidewinder had had the problems that Harpoon did, now what? Because the F4 did not have a gun.

We abandoned dogfight training because of the Navy’s faith in missile technology. Most of our aircrews didn’t know how to fight any other way. Yet our own rules of engagement kept us from using what we were taught. The rules of engagement specifically prohibited firing from beyond visual range. To shoot a missile at an aircraft, a fighter pilot first needed to visually confirm it was a MiG and not a friendly plane. . . . Yet three years along, the training squadron in California was still teaching long-range intercept tactics to the exclusion of everything else. Our training was not applicable to the air war in Vietnam.

And that was one of the major problems then…and now as well. We do not fight as we train. We train some of the best warriors in the world, and then our ROE force them to fight with at least one hand behind the back. The Marquess of Queensbury is long dead, and our opponents don’t fight by his rules. Time to take the gloves off.

I’d be far less opposed to using our forces if I had any idea that they would be used to win a victory, and then leave. No more of this nation-building crap, You got yourself into a war with the United States, you got the hell beat out of you, now it’s up to you to fix it, or not, not our problem. The world ain’t no china shop. It’s a place where actions have consequences and many of them are fatal.

That’s my take, anyway. Will I see the movie? Depends on what Vicki said above. But probably not in a theater, my local ones have crap sound, and if jet engines don’t shake the joint, what’s the point?

America is greater than ‘just OK’

Gene Vieth over at Cranach yesterday referred to a column by Marc Thiessen, that I had missed. It’s a response to that silly video op-ed in the NY Slimes on Independence Day about how the US is just OK.

He points out that at our founding we were an incredible outlier, we were the only country in the world where the people were sovereign. Most had kings, emperors, sultans, or other various satrapies indicating that the key to ruling was power over the people. The closest was the United Kingdom, which about a century before had changed from the king ruling, to the king reigning and parliament ruling. But even today, as we’ve seen parliament hasn’t got the memo completely that the people are sovereign. But their people know, and at some point so will parliament.

Marc notes that as recently as 1938, there were only 17 Democracies in the world, he doesn’t note, but it’s also true that by 1940 they all spoke English as their native language. In the early part of World War II, Great Britain wasn’t quite as alone as it sometimes is said, the Empire was there for them, but that was it

Herman Wouk’s Captain Henry in The Winds of War comments that at church parade in Argentia Bay, they were witnessing the changing of the guard. He was right, that moment marked the end of almost 150 years of the Pax Britannica, at the end of that war, we would see the beginning of the first 75 years of the Pax Americana.

Gene linked to the Daily Oklahoman, probably a good paper, but paywalled so here is a different link to Marc’s column. Here’s a bit of it.

For most of our history, American democracy was a global outlier. In 1938, on the eve of World War II, there were just 17 democracies. It was not until 1998 — just two decades ago — that there were more democracies than autocracies.

That dramatic explosion of freedom didn’t just happen. It was the direct result of the rise of the United States as a global superpower. The U.S.-powered victory over Nazi tyranny in World War II and our triumph over Soviet tyranny in the Cold War defeated the hateful ideologies of fascism and communism, and unleashed a wave of freedom that has spread across the world. Today, 4.1 billion people live in democracies. (Of those who do not, four out of five live in China.)

The unprecedented expansion of liberty has produced unprecedented prosperity. Last September, the Brookings Institution reported that “for the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind … some 3.8 billion people, live in households with enough discretionary expenditure to be considered ‘middle class’ or ‘rich.’”

None of that would be possible without the Pax Americana guaranteed by U.S. military. Americans liberated a continent, rebuilt much of it from the rubble of war with the Marshall Plan, and then stood watch on freedom’s frontier and prevented a Soviet tank invasion across the Fulda Gap. And today, the only thing that stops North Korea from invading South Korea or China from invading Taiwan is American military might.

So, let’s be clear: Every country that enjoys democratic governance today owes its birth of freedom to our Founding Fathers, and the continued existence of their democracy to the U.S. military.

That is exactly so. Some countries have become wealthier per capita than we are. To me, that’s fine, we’re not doing all that badly, and they got that way by outsourcing much of their defense to the United States. We developed the concepts that were driving Britain to liberty, figured out how to make it work, and wrote it down, for all to learn. And then we (mostly) lived by what we had written. This may be the only place on earth that whenever the chief executive gets frustrated and complains that his country is ungovernable, he is reminded that it is a feature, not a bug.

As we listen to those foolish freshman Congresscritters spout their anti-Americanism, keep that in mind. They do it here because where they or the ancestors came from, they would be imprisoned or dead already. They owe their ability to bad mouth this country to the founders, and so do most of the people in the world.

Marc concludes with this:

The men and women who flew those fighters and bombers over the Mall last week make it all possible. They provide the critical foundation of peace and security upon which our freedom, and the freedom of all the world’s democracies, is built. Maybe Luxembourg scores better on some measures, but no one is counting on Luxembourg to secure the peace of the world. Trump was right to shine a spotlight on our men and women in uniform and to remind those who have lost sight of it that the United States is not simply the greatest nation on Earth; we are indispensable. Without us, the world would be mired in the darkness of totalitarianism rather than the light of liberty.

That is better than “just OK.”

Damned straight it is.

In a related note, The Lean Submariner reminds us that 2019 is the centennial of the American Legion, which is one of the stalwart defenders of American freedom. He tells us about it here.

Asylum, and the Colonel

A couple notes.

1. The American Spectator like the Australian Spectator and the original Spectator is now behind a paywall. I like all three but do not consider them worth $70+ to £100 per year, so you will not see any more articles featured here from the various Spectators. Sad, to see them fade into irrelevance, as they try to survive, but we all do what we must. Frankly, if I were wont to spend money on political commentary, it would be the original, which is a much better magazine than either of the overseas versions, which while good, are but pale imitations of the original.

2. Tommy Robinson showing that he knows what America is about far better than the UK’s ambassador to the US has applied to the US, and President Trump, for political asylum. Given the scum that we are letting sneak in on that scam in the last few years, he should be roundly welcomed. What could be more American than standing up and defending a bunch of lower class girls who are being trafficked?


And speaking of what America is, the Colonel, Kurt Schlichter, has some thoughts on that and the presidential race, in Townhall, as always.

You gotta hand it to them – it’s an innovative strategy to run for President by taking the position that your country is garbage and that its are people deplorable monsters. It’ll be interesting to see how the Democrats fare on their “America sucks!” platform. The last week has seen Team Donkey take brave stands against the flag and celebrating our military, and you would half expect them to next advocate something insanely suicidal, like taking your health insurance or forcing you to pay for illegal aliens’ doctors.

Oh wait, that happened too.

Who are these lunatics? Do they really think this is going to play in America as well as it does in Chicago, Manhattan and Scat Francisco?

They do.

But it’s not.

Not that they would know it, since they don’t know any real Americans. The current Democrat Party consists of hipster geebos, race hustlers, pierced campus mutants, bitter middle-aged divorcées who teach high school, tech twerps and uninvited foreigners who shouldn’t even be here. The libs will be shocked to learn that real Americans love America.

Their platform, carried out by the carnival freakshow that is the Democrat Party and its allies in the media and in the woke corporations, is part of a greater strategy. It’s to denigrate and then destroy what makes America America, to steal our story from us and replace it with a bogus legacy of oppression and misery. They want to impose upon us a new narrative of a morally stained America unworthy of respect or gratitude, and guess who will be the heroes of that new narrative…

Not the armed Americans who shot the British king’s thugs.

Not the heroic pioneers who civilized the West.

Not the captains of industry who took a primitive backwater and made it the most prosperous and freest nation in human history.

Not the warriors who won at Gettysburg and Normandy.

Not you.

The colonel is completely correct, as usual. I find every single Demonrat candidate the time round to be retchingly horrific. Biden used to be at least amusing, but they are, every one of them, vermin whom I wouldn’t talk to on the street, or let into my house, let alone be in charge of the government. I was a shaky Trump supporter, before the election (‘actions, not words’, don’t you know). Mr. Clinton’s wife convinced me to vote for Trump, as she did many others. But compared to this murder of frauds, she would have been great.

Just think if Joe had been smart, brave, and tough enough to look over at the other weirdos, losers and mutations on that stage and say, “Are you people crazy? A Biden administration will not take your health insurance. It’s not going to open the borders and it’s not going to ask Americans to pay for illegal aliens’ – yeah, illegal aliens – health care. We’re not doing reparations or free college for gender studies majors or climate panicking. Oh, and America is the greatest nation on earth.” He would immediately win over the people who have doubts about Trump but a certainty about the America-hating nimrods that AOC’s party is pushing – the certainty that these idiots can never be trusted with power.

Luckily for Trump, it won’t happen. Good-Guy-To-Have-A-Beer-With Joe is long gone, like the wrinkles he had Botoxed away in preparation for this last disastrous White House run. Joe was the Democrat’s final chance to run a major candidate who likes America and likes Americans. Now one of the two major American political parties is all-in on hating the USA and hating you.

And so, here we are well over a year before the election, and yet we know the next year plus will be:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing
.

Loud, Proud, and Rowdy, and on a Mission

243 years ago today, a document was read out by the town crier in Center City Philadelphia. That document was and is America’s Mission statement. This is it:

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Seal_of_Virginia.svgOf course, it had been building up to that point for years, the shooting had started over a year earlier, when an unlawful government in Massachusetts tried to disarm the people. but in truth the roots were deeper still than that. If one were to look at the Massachusetts state seal, one would find Liberty, with a sword in one hand and Magna Charta in the other, or one could look at Virginia’s state seal.

Because this marked the start of the second of the three cousin’s wars and was the English Civil War, all over again. Again the cause was the rights of freemen, and this time not amongst the relatively calm precincts of England but here where men had learned to breathe free, and already knew the timeless cry of the American to his government, “Leave me alone!”

And so came one of America’s most heartbreaking wars, where we gave up that of which we were most proud, our Britishness, to preserve our English rights. It was hard, and it pretty much ended here.

Tom Paine had it pretty much right when he said, “You can’t conquer an idea with an army.” I’m sure that a few shades of Stuart kings agreed with him. Where that idea went is a modern legend.

4 July 1776 fired off a crazy rocking rolling ride that hasn’t stopped ‘stirring things up’ on a global scale.

Advancing arrogance into an art form with a remarkable relentless risque commitment to liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, and laissez-faire values. 

America differs qualitatively from all other nations, because of her unique origins, nat’l credo, historical evolution, and distinctive political and religious institutions.

Great Satan is magically especial because she was a country of immigrants and the first modern democracy. 

Loud, proud and rowdy – early America forecast future stuff with a provocative lingo that still fits today. “Don’t Tread On Me!” “Liberty Or Death”, “Live Free Or Die” 

Great Satan’s superiority of the American xperiment is reflected in the perception among Americans of America’s role in the world. That American foreign policy is based on moral principles is a consistent theme in the American hot diplopolititary gossip – a phenomenon recognized even by those who are skeptic of such an assessment. 

This inclination to do right has been virtually unique among the nations of the world – and for this very reason – America has been totally misunderstood. How could a nation so rich, so successful actually, really be so unselfish and so caring?

Unconvincing (and either historically igno – or deceitfully dishonest – either term will do) critics cry Great Satan must have darker motives! America must be seeking imperium – to dominate everyone else, suck up all the oil, to trade and rob blind for America’s selfish purposes. 

People from more grasping, less idealistic societies find it nigh impossible to accept that America honestly believes that giving everyone opportunity is the real roadmap for abundance and happiness everywhere – not merely in the magical Great Satan.

Americans honestly believe that securing other people’s freedom is actually like the best guarantee that America can keep her own. […]

Creative destruction is Great Satan’s middle name. It is her natural function, for she is the one truly revolutionary country in the world for more than 2 centuries. 

She does it automatically, and that is precisely why creeps and tyrants hate her guts, and are driven to attack her. An enormous advantage, despots fear her, and oppressed peoples want what she offers: freedom. 

Amazingly, some suspect states, illegit leaders and some people have not yet comprehended that America’s primary intention is to preserve and keep our own land and liberty and all it’s prosperity and that America will do anything and go anywhere to make it happen.

From Great Satan’s Girlfriend, Thanks, Courtney!

So, sit back, enjoy the hotdogs and beer, the tanks on the Mall, the music and the speechifying. We’ve got some problems that Tom Jefferson and the boys in Philadelphia would understand, we’ll get them sorted eventually, I reckon. Meantime the band’s playing our song.

happy-birthday-americaFirst published on 4 July 2015 at All along the Watchtower.

And now we watch with interest as the British themselves join our Revolution against a Parliament grown overpowerful that has become a threat to freedom itself. Godspeed to them, we pray that we aren’t entering the time of the fourth of the cousins’ wars but Americans and Britons will be free.

“A Salute to America,”

 It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

Well, we’ve forgotten a lot of what the founders said. But we remember how John Adams said to celebrate Independence Day. And it seems the President shares our taste.

Yeah, Mabel, there’s gonna be tanks, tanks on the National Mall.

John Ellis writes in PJ Media:

Whatever else people want to say about our president, accusing Donald Trump of not going all out on everything he does can’t be said with any level of sincerity. Granted, President Trump’s commitment to the task at hand is often a thorn in the side of leftists. The upcoming and revamped July 4th celebration on the National Mall is the latest presidential action that’s triggered the left’s Trump derangement syndrome.

Titled “A Salute to America,” Donald Trump is pulling out all the stops for this year’s festivities. Among other things, according to the Washington Post, the Blue Angels will do a flyover, as will Air Force One. Not to mention that the fireworks show will be one of the longest (and largest) in history. To be sure, The Washington Post’s editors and writers (as well as a litany of other leftist rags) have worked themselves into a proper tizzy over Trump’s desire to celebrate this country’s birthday with a bang.

Which of course is why its so much fun for us Normals. Watching the left and the media (BIRM) freak out is part of the fun. Of course, if they understood what being an American is all about, they’d be cheering too.

As a kid growing up in Pensacola, Fla., I attended many Blue Angels shows. The shows at the beach were great. But the shows at the Pensacola Naval Air Station took it to a whole other level for me because they featured old WWII planes, tanks, and other military equipment that the attendees could enjoy before, after, and, I guess, even during the show.

The first time I saw the ‘Blues’ was at Purdue Airfield at their practice session. The feel of having an F4J go over your head at 300 feet and barely subsonic lasts a lifetime.

While climbing inside old bombers and looking down into the tanks, I pretended I was a soldier fighting commies (I grew up during Reagan’s America). The ability to explore the various military equipment not only aided my imagination and was fun, it was also educational. Inspired to study history, I would later pore over books detailing America’s involvement in various wars. This explains why I asked “why not both” a few paragraphs above. I would love for other children to have the opportunity to enjoy learning about America’s military might.

Of course, it also helps explain why the left is so bent out of shape over President Trump’s “A Salute to America.” If more and more kids become interested in American history and America’s military might, leftists will have an increasingly harder time convincing younger generations that socialism is a good idea. Leftists will oppose anything that makes America look good.

Sadly so. But those goofy sadsacks ain’t gonna stop the rest of us from celebrating the birthday of the greatest nation evah!

Let’s Party, America. It’s our 243d Birthday, after all.

 

Drones and Droning

So Trump stupidly put a drone at risk and then chickened out of blowing some radar and missile sites up as retaliation. Is that the story? Yeah, well, tell it to the Marines.

Yep, we lost a drone, a big expensive one (it’s bigger than a 737), but what was it doing there. You don’t need that sort of capability to take some pretty pictures. If I had to guess, I’d guess (and I have no knowledge) it’s an elint bird, probing the Mullah’s defenses and getting them to emit. And they did. Some Iranian colonel isn’t going to take it on his responsibility to shoot down an American aircraft, unmanned or not. That just ain’t how you become an Iranian colonel. Wonder what we learned! I heard yesterday that we carried out a cyber attack on Iran last weekend. I doubt they are unconnected.

As for the rest, I fit somewhere in here with Steven Hayward of PowerLine who says:

Iran likely believes that the United States lacks the political will, and maybe even the means (aside from unusable nuclear weapons), to conquer the regime. A singular retaliatory attack of limited effect, however, serves Iran’s purposes, which include destabilizing the global oil market, raising the price of oil, roiling its neighbors in the Middle East, and causing domestic political trouble for Trump. Maybe there is even a plan that involves unleashing Hezbollah to attack Israel. Throw in some assassinations and terror in other Sunni Arab nations and Iran can accomplish a lot.

Everyone today is saying that Trump looks weak, foolish, or vacillating for calling off a retaliatory strike and then talking so candidly and publicly about it. I think the opposite: Trump has laid out a clear red line that was not clear prior to the tanker attacks and drone shootdown: You kill Americans, you will be hit back. If Iran now makes a public attack in the Gulf that kills Americans, Trump will have the upper hand politically. Neither Iran nor our vacillating allies (and our Democratic Party) can say they weren’t explicitly warned.

Along that same line but taking it further is Bookworm over at Watchers of Weasels.

Trump cultivates a different, albeit equally unpredictable and dangerous, image: He’s the attack dog, constantly barking ferociously, anxious to charge his enemies and rip out their jugulars. The only thing holding him back is the leash that his more mature advisers are able to tug on, just barely, in order to restrain his killer, otherwise-unmanageable instincts.

This seems to be a successful pose. After all, it was his insouciant, killer dog bomb-dropping during a dinner with Chairman Xi that probably brought Kim Jong-un to the negotiating table. On the one hand, Kim is the premier of a despicable, deadly totalitarian system, and has apparently participated fully in that system, whether because he believes in it or because it’s the only way to stay alive in a tank full of fanatical communist alligators. On the other hand, Kim is also a guy who was raised in the West, who likes his creature comforts, and who doesn’t want to die. He worries that Trump might kill him and that’s an incentive to negotiate. […]

Anyway, in theory, if the Mullahs genuinely believe in their own shtick, they’re chomping at the bit for war. Trump, though, at least in my estimation, is gambling that they do not believe in their own shtick. Like so many leaders of fanatical cults, they’re good with sending others off to die for the cult’s benefit, but less interested in doing the dying themselves.

With the events of the past 24 hours, Trump just sent a clear message to the Mullahs: “If it were entirely up to me, the mad dog, any time you cross me in any way, you will die. This time, you got lucky because my advisers were just barely able to hold on to my leash; next time, I guarantee you, you won’t be so lucky.” If that is indeed the message Trump sent and the Mullahs received, it’s a good disincentive for calculating killers who, like so many of the men on death row, are happy meting out death to others but are incredible cowards when they are called to face the Grim Reaper.

Meanwhile, Scott Adams saw an even more brilliant spin to Trump’s conduct over the last 24 hours. (You can hear what he has to say here.) My potted summary is that (a) the U.S. was probing Iran’s defenses and a single drone, no matter how expensive, was a small price to pay for that information; (b) Trump forced the Mullahs to imagine their own deaths (which is kind of the same point I was making); and (c) by saying that the deaths of 150 civilians was what dissuaded Trump from acting this time, Trump sent the message to ordinary Iranians that he cares more about their lives than their own rulers do. Combine that with the crushing economic pressure Trump has placed on Iran since he jettisoned Obama’s awful agreement, and you’ve got the Mullahs thinking very carefully about what to do next.

The emphasis is mine, and it may be important. Think about how that would feel to the average Iranian, who has managed to live through decades of the Mullah’s nonsense, who now finds out that he lived through last week, not because of his leader;s brilliance, but because the American president himself, personally, decided killing him was too high a price to pay to take out a couple of missile batteries. Used properly, it might just be a powerful message.

And that brings me back to Steven Hayward:

Trump also said today that if there is a war with Iran, it would be “obliteration like you’ve never seen before.” If Trump means it (and I hope he does), it means that if Iran is determined to have a real, open war with us, we mean to win it. Or course we are not going to invade and occupy Iran like we did with Iraq. But it is a good thing for Iran to wonder whether the crazy man Trump might inflict serious damage beyond a mere pinprick retaliatory strike over a drone.

It reminds me of the simple clarity of my late professor of strategic studies, Harold Rood:

All those ponderous words and phrases like “sufficiency,” “deterrence,” “qualitative superiority,” “essential equivalence,” and the rest are obscure in meaning and even when explained, leave the ordinary sensible mind with the impression of flim-flam. To be tempted into asking some simple question like, “who’s going to win if there’s a war” is to brand yourself pitifully naive at best, or at worst, a throwback to some earlier days when wars were won or lost by the side that was strongest and best prepared to wage war.

As a “throwback to some earlier days,” I suspect Trump is giving the Iranians some reason to worry about their next step. This is one of those moments when Trump’s brash, crude, and indiscreet style of governing-by-tweet actually serves the interests of the country very well.

My Professor of Aerospace Studies said much the same. And yes, I slept quite well last night, I think the President has the whole thing under control.

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