The Duffel Blog: If you have ever been in the military, especially if you were an NCO, you will get some awesome belly laughs from the fictional but could be true satire on this site.
The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and brinkmanship.
Syria: Al-Qaida group changes shape of civil war - It seems increasingly clear that the Syrian Civil War is starting to morph into a more regional conflict. I would expect that before next summer we will star to see more overt regional alignments and the conflict will start to spread. Give it another 18 months and we may very well start to see the fighting spread outside of Syria. I would expect that Lebanon would be the first foreign country to see significant fighting spread onto it’s territory although I can picture a scenario where Iraq is also the new battleground given the weakness of the Iraqi government and their inability to control the violence there.
Israeli Strike Coming?: Absent serious movement on getting Iran to open its nuclear program to IAEA scrutiny and given the apparent seriousness with which Israel takes the threat of Iranian possession of nukes. It is not out of the realm of the possible that Israel will conduct a preemptive strike to stop or slow down Iran’s march to being a nuclear state. Israel must be careful though and have very evidence to back up their claims or they risk losing international support. Then again, I am convinced that most western countries would be glad to see Israel do something that they are unable to do themselves because of domestic political considerations.
Assassination pushes Libya towards civil war two years after Gaddafi death: Libya, who everyone liked to think was squared away, is not, as many of us warned when Gaddafi fell. Radical Muslims are not going to just allow the establishment of anything approaching western style democracy unless they can be the power behind a democratic facade. We are seeing that again and again in the Muslim world.
Afghan special forces commander defects with guns to insurgents: I wonder how much Schadenfreude the Russians are feeling right now as they watch American and Western strategy collapse in Afghanistan? I also wonder when the political and chattering class will understand that you cannot win in in the traditional sense in Afghanistan. The best we can achieve is to reduce the threat posed by Afghans and Afghanistan based radical and be prepared to go in their for another short term ass-whipping as the situation dictates. To eliminate the possibility of threats emanating from that god-forsaken country would require a Carthaginian solution. As in a “they made a desert and called it peace” type solution.
Saudi Arabia severs diplomatic ties with US over response to conflict in Syria: If nothing else this is an interesting development. It also begs the question of what exactly the house of Sad is doing in regards to Syria. I have heard of them supporting several “initiatives” but not of them doing anything concrete. To paraphrase, methinks the Saudis doth protest too much. Syria is their backyard and if they want a mes cleaned up there then they should by god build a coalition to do so. The US is no longer in the position to play World’s Policeman, a fact many on the world and the US seem very reluctant to accept.
Report: Iran may be month from a bomb: The question is not when can Iran build a bomb, it is when can Iran build a miniaturized bomb? Just having the bomb signifies ability but development of a small device, and it does not have to be high-yield, signifies intent to use it. I don’t think any serious strategic thinker believes for a minute that Iran’s intent is only to develop a nuclear weapon but also to have the plausible ability to use such weapons as bargaining chips to strengthen their position in the Middle East and pursue their long-term goal of regional hegemon. I also think that they would use on if they calculated that the benefit or destruction caused by one outweighed the risks of retaliation. The biggest problem with nuclear weapons is that the major Nuclear powers are afraid to use them. This fear of using them, which the US telescopes, emboldens rogue states. The Iranians have no reasonable expectation that someone like Obama would really nuke them if they used an atomic weapon. Talk is cheap, and they know it.
Car bombs kill scores in Baghdad, in sign of crisis in Iraq: The war in Iraq has never stopped. It just fell out of the news because American troops were not dying there anymore. Figure the conflict there to last another 10-15 years at a minimum or until another strongman comes to power who is ruthless enough to his boot to everyone’s necks.
Obama orders curbs on NSA spying on U.N. headquarters: What was all that in 2008 about if Obama is elected the whole world will like us again? It certainly appears appears that he has made enemies out of countries that were once our friends with no good reason for doing so. It is a binary solution set, either Obama is stupid and incompetent or he is deliberately going out of his way to be a disaster. I have not figured out which yet.
Iran blames France for failure of nuclear talks: Perhaps the West should be thankful that France is not following the lead of the US in trying to achieve an agreement at seemingly any price. I have the distinct impression that the US Administration will settle for even a very flawed agreement if it means they can use such an agreement domestically to distract from the raft of problems facing Obama at home. History has shown that appeasement is at best porr policy and at worst disastrous.
U.S. weapons reaching Syrian rebels, Syria: nearly half rebel fighters are jihadists or hardline Islamists, says IHS Jane’s report: As far as foreign policy stupidity goes, arming the Syrian rebels is right up there with deposing the Diem brothers in South Vietnam was in 1963. I can think of no other act more guaranteed to put American weapons in the hands of America’s enemies unless we were to ship them directly to Al Qaeda. I am starting to seriously think Alex Jones has the right of the criminal stupidity and treason of the current administration. It is that, or they are criminally stupid. Combined these two stories can only cause a person to shake their head in disbelief and bewilderment.
Obama says Iran shouldn’t misinterpret U.S. response to Syria: That’s right, don’t take my manifest weakness and indecisiveness in the Syrian affair as proof of my weakness. Isn’t that like a guy standing in your orchard with cherry juice on his chin and a handful of cherries claiming he was not stealing your fruit? They say actions speak louder than words, this debacle is the proof of that saying.
Obama defends Geneva chemical weapons deal as Syria claims ‘victory’: ”I win” say the guy laying covered in blood in the alley as the mugger walks away with his wallet and cell phone.
Muslim Brotherhood spokesman arrested in continuing Egypt crackdown, Egypt troops storm Islamist stronghold near Cairo, Egypt Brotherhood Ban Opens Way to Wider Crackdown: I am beginning to think that maybe I was wrong about Egypt degenerating into civil war. I certainly hope so. It seems that the Egyptian military is being very proactive and has rounded up everybody capable of building an effective MB resistance movement. Now all they are doing is policing up the small scale agitators as they pop up on the radar before they can reach the big-time. One thing we have not really heard about though is how well they are doing in the Sinai. I suspect that is because thing there are not going so well. The MB is too close to support from Hamas in the Sinai. It seems that the Egyptian military can give lessons in how to suppress an opposition group. They seem to be very good at applying the right mixof violence and legal measures.
Netanyahu Is Said to View Iran Deal as a Possible Trap: The Israeli Prime Minister brings up some very relevant points. How far can the rest of the world really trust Iran? I would guess not very far. The old saying holds true, if I ran has nothing to hide why are they hiding it if there nuclear program is peaceful as they say?
Kenya Police Begin Assault to End Mall Seige After 68 Die, ‘We’re in control of Westgate’: Kenyan police retake mall, all hostages believed free, CNN Reports that three of the attackers are American citizens: Terrorism is still a threat and will remain so until Islam itself changes. From reports the Kenyan military responded as effectively as possible to this Mumbai style attack and did well to keep the death toll as low as possible given the nature of the target chosen by the terrorists. I am frankly surprised we have not seen more of these type of attacks. The death toll is lower but the terror these style attacks sow is all out of proportion to their actual results. I am also not surprised to hear that some of the attackers are reportedly US citizens and other Westerners, there is a growing muslim population in the US and west from which terrorists can recruit.
Gunmen kill students as they sleep in Nigerian college: Islam is the religion of peace huh? I guess that is religion of Rest In Peace you stinking infidel kaffir. What amazes me is that after 20+ years of Islamic Terrorism and 12 years after 9/11 there are still people that think Muslims can be reasoned with. My question is what outrage do they have to commit to get the rest f the world to wake up to the danger of Islam? Apparently, medieval Emperors, Popes, and Kings saw the danger of Islam more clearly than do we “enlightened“ moderns.
Get your fiscal house in order: China warns US as superpower expresses concern for $1.3tn of investments: I wonder what back door threats the Chinese are throwing at the President. I also wonder how much the Chinese think the US is supposed to care if the Chinese lose money because they were dumb enough to buy US securities. One thing is certain, the next time an AMerican government takes advice on governing from a communist nation will be the first time.
Destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons begins, U.N. says: The fact that Assad hs not beat around the bush at all and been very open since the attacks in August starts to convince me more and more that I was right and the regime was not responsible for the attack. Eliminating his own chemicals is kind of shrewd if that is true because then it means that the next time the rebels use chemicals they cannot plausibly pin it on a regime that eliminated their own chemical weapons in full view of the rest of the world.
Iran insists on ‘absolute right’ to enrich uranium: And the media thought that Rouhani’s election would change things with Iran. When people understand that the Iranian president is a figurehead and the real person in charge is the Ayatollah?
This post is Non-History but still relevant to the Blog. I tend to do quite a bit of internet searching in the course of writing and just general news reading. Because I do a lot of book reviews on her I tend to spend a lot of time on publisher webpages and bookselling websites.
This post mainly concerns a new service I have recently become aware of. Bookbub is a site that purports to only send you recommendations for books that you want to read at deep, deep discounts. The site is a startup based out of Cambridge, MA and seems to be trying to be Groupon for books. They must have some pretty good venture capital behind them as they are putting sponsored links and ad up all over the internet.
Here is the part that gets me. They determine the recommendations for you based on a gene pick you make when you join FOR FREE!, of course. They then direct you to their hot deals page which lists cheap books that you can download from the original retailer. They do not feature any non-fiction books and I am curious what kind of titles they will send me as i have fallen on the sword and signed up to see what they offer.
Browsing their hot-deals section it looks like they mainly offer self-published stuff that has been discounted so it sells. I did not recognize a single author name on the science fiction page and I have been reading SF for 30+ years. When I dug into past deals some names I knew such as Andre Norton, Stephen Arsenault, and David Drake showed up. All the famous authors had very old books featured. The kind that they throw on the market periodically to keep sales going.
From what I can see, bookbub is a vehicle for self-published people to get their name out there and for established authors to get their old stuff new awareness. I am reserving judgment for now on how relevant the recommendations are and I may even get a few of the deals because their are some excellent authors out there who only self-publish. I am also curious if my email address will be sold and then I will get even more spam (I did not use my normal email address for that reason). I will give this a few weeks and see what comes of it, then report back.
Right now this looks like someone came up with a good idea and is monetizing it. It remains to be seen whether it is worth my time to keep watching it.
The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and brinkmanship.
EGYPT: 36 KILLED IN PRISON TRUCK ESCAPE ATTEMPT: As predicted, Egypt appears to be slipping into a Civil War. How long until McCain starts saying we need to arm the MB there to protect them against the Military that is trying to keep Egypt secular if not exactly Democratic?
In Egyptian village, Christian shops marked ahead of church attack: What do the Christians have to do with the military – Muslim Brotherhood conflict/argument? I see these attacks as the MB using the opportunity of the unrest to get rid of a minority they despise anyway. If the current conflict escalates to Civil War, expect Cristian persecution to get worse. If the military was smart they would be courting the large Christian community right now.
Egypt crackdown may not crush Brotherhood: Accordinbg to Reuters the MB is so resilient that is cannot be shut down. I would suggest that if the Military is prepared to be ruthless enough the MB can indeed be shut down. There are plenty of hisorical examples of how to silence dissent, Bolshevism and Fascism being wo of the most ruthless and more successful recent examples. Don’t forget the lessons from Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge which effectively ended all resistance to the regime and had to be deposed by oitside invasion. One thing history teaches is “never say never,” there is always a way to achieve political ends.
Syria’s darkest hour: Hundreds of children’s bodies piled high after nerve gas attack near Damascus leaves up to 1,300 dead; Syrian forces bomb area of alleged chemical attack: If this was nerve gas and if it was Assad then no doubt calls for outside intervention will increase. All that is known right now is that many people died and we don’t know why except the word of the rebels. I highly doubt that if it was gas that government forces did it. It smells more like a bait and switch to me. The timing of the attack when UN inspectors arrive seems too good to be true for the rebels. I suspect the rebels did it and are trying to pin it on Assad. Then again, I think of the two sides in this civil war, the rebels are the least savory. The more I think about the claims of chemical weapons and the account of no visible wounds on the dead it makes me wonder. There are many things that can kill without visible wounds and concussion is one of them. If Sarin was used we would expect to see victims who had foamed at the mouth, vomited, voided their bowels, and wet themselves among other symptoms according to the CDC. A hallmark of nerve agents is loss of motor control leading to an anything but peaceful death. I get the sense that many people want to find evidence of chemical use and that the UN will find it whether it is really there or not.
Israel strikes Lebanon after rocket attacks: Expect Israel to get even more twitchy about defending her territorial integrity as the Middle East continues to implode around her. I would expect the Israelis to retaliate quickly and harsly to any provocation by Islamic or other militants.
Egypt security deploys as Morsi supporters rally: The Egyptian meltdown continues.
John Kerry: Syria’s use of chemical weapons ‘undeniable’: The Western Drumbeat to intervene has stepped up. It would be idiotic for the West to get more involved in the Syrian Civil War than they already are. But then, when has the stupidity of an action ever stopped policiticians from doing it anyway?
Arab League Cautious as U.S. Gears for Strike: From the article-“The Arab League demanded an international response to what it called the “heinous crime” of last week’s alleged chemical attack near Damascus that activists and rebels said left more than 1,000 Syrians dead. But the U.S.’s major Arab allies have stopped short of offering public support for a strike without international backing, reflecting broad unease in the region about another Western military intervention.” So they want the west to do something but won’t support it and are too afraid of their own people to do something their damn selves. If this is not an argument for accelerating efforts to end reliance on Middle East oil so we can let the Arabs rot I don’t know what is.
U.K. Parliament Rejects Syria Action: At least the British Parliament and British people are apparently smart enough to recognize that R2P is not a good justification for war. The only good justification for going to war is national interests.
Suez Canal Authority says attack attempted on container ship: Now if attacks on shipping going through te canal increase and actually get effective then I can see a justification for securing the canal zone.
Lebanon turns to apps to avoid growing violence linked to Syria: I guess there really is an app for everything.
Special report: We all thought Libya had moved on – it has, but into lawlessness and ruin: Now, is anyone surprised that Libya is falling apart? WHat is it with people that think you can cut the head off of a despotic regime and Democracy will flower on the barren ground left behind? Democracy is not just a sytem of government, it is a way of thinking and a tradition.
Syria said Tuesday it has accepted Russia’s proposal to place its chemical weapons under international control for subsequent dismantling: Let’s see, John Kerry makes an off the cuff remark, Russia Jumps on it as a serious proposal, Russia then gets Assad to buy into it, and the US Administration is left tap-dancing trying to justify attacks whose raison d’etre has just disappeared. If the Syrian CBRN crisis has not showcased how inept and amateurish current US foreign policy is, I don’t know what else could. Perhaps we should threaten to attack Venezuela over their recent power outages as causing unneeded human suffering.
Assad did not order Syria chemical weapons attack, says German press: That there is no smoking gun evidence that Assad is involved does not surprise me. In fact, the timing of the attack when the UN Isnpectors were in Syria seems too pat to me. I am increasingly convinced the rebels did it and are trying to pin it on Assad and Western intel agencies are going along with it. The only question I cannot answer is why the intel weenies would do so.
Jihadis gain ground in Syrian rebel movement as moderates grow desperate: This is not a new development. The Jihadis have been gaining in strength all along, probably becuase they are willing to be more ruthless than the moderate and secular rebels. It is just a matter of time until the Jihadist elements totally supplant the non-jihadis as the leadership of the rebel movement.