Archive for August, 2008

McCain’s VP Pick and why it matters

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Sarah Palin (R-AK) is not even a full one term Governor.  Her executive experience is very very weak.  She doesn’t hold a candle to Senator Biden’s battlefield foreign policy experience.  She is a BRILLIANT pick.

Governor Palin took on a sitting Governor from her own party in the primaries and beat him.  She then took on a former Governor from the Democratic Party and beat him.  She ran on a “clean government” platform.  That sounds familiar to most everyone but rings particularly true with Kentuckians who last year kicked out another Republican “clean-government” politician.  Here’s hoping she doesn’t let us down.  I have to think that in the rough and tumble world of Alaskan politics if there were any skeletons they would already be known.  Especially considering she has taken on the biggest and baddest of the Alaskan lobbies, the oil industry, and has won…repeatedly.

The Palin VP pick isn’t about pandering to disgruntled Hillary supporters.  Senator McCain could’ve picked Kay Bailey Hitchison and satisfied the female criteria and brought along all kinds of Federal Government experience.  Governor Palin’s pick is 100% about bringing real and demonstrated change to Washington.  Here’s is a woman lacking in any real political experience.  The only foreign policy experience she has is in working with the native nations of Alaska and her Canadian border.  She does, however, stick to her principles.

While serving as Commissioner on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission she learned of a Republican member behaving inappropriately.  Wikipedia has this on the controvery:

Governor Murkowski appointed Palin Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission,[14] where she served from 2003 to 2004 until resigning in protest over what she called the “lack of ethics” of fellow Alaskan Republican leaders, who ignored her whistleblowing complaints of legal violations and conflicts of interest.[4] After she resigned, she exposed the state Republican party’s chairman, Randy Ruedrich, one of her fellow Oil & Gas commissioners, who was accused of doing work for the party on public time, and supplying a lobbyist with a sensitive e-mail.[15] Palin filed formal complaints against both Ruedrich and former Alaska Attorney General Gregg Renkes, who both resigned; Ruedrich paid a record $12,000 fine.[4]

THAT, my friends, takes stones.  THAT, is a big time move by a newcomer in big time politics and the very thing that Senator McCain was looking for in a VP candidate.

So…standing up to lobbyists?  and their political cronies?  CHECK.

Pro-Life?  Check.

Pro-Second Amendment?  Check.

Welcome to the ticket Governor Palin.  I’m FINALLY alittle excited about this election.

A quick return to Georgia

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Michael Totten is in Tblisi and talking with the people who know the region.  His reporting is always excellent and I can’t wait till I can toss some coin his way.  Please remember, he is on no one’s payroll.  He has to cover all his own expenses so reporting like what you will read here is worthy of your cash.  Please support him.

With Americans wrapped up in our political conventions, a hurricane threatening our gulf coasts, and who is screwing who in Hollywood both figuratively and literally the Georgia story has faded from our headlines.  I’m glad I can get caught up with Totten’s reporting.

The Senator from Illinois

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Welp…this is history.  All politics aside (we’ll have enough of that over the next couple months) this night is a historic event on parallel with…well…it’s WAY up there.

Just a generation ago we struggled with the racial divide in our country.  Forced bussing to integrate schools.  Young African Americans being killed for no other reason than a hatred that corrupts the very soul.  We still struggle with that hatred but, as we have seen leading up to this evening, it has been beaten back to the dark recesses of our country where it belongs.

Tonight for the first time in history a major American political party has nominated an African American to the highest office in the land.  This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans.  It’s about the American spirit shining through strong.  It’s about the American People coming out of a world where personal identity was defined by skin color.

Tonight I’m as proud of my country as I have ever been.  God Speed Senator Obama.  Congratulations.

Monitoring DNC Convention

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

This is a BLAST!  Didn’t know I could so much at a keyboard. 😉

http://www.denverpost.com/livecam Denver Post Livecam of Civic Center Park where the yahoos gather before their “demonstrations”

http://co.scanamerica.us/index.php?county=Denver Denver PD scanner so you can hear what the cops are doing.

All the hoo-haa happening inside the Pepsi Center can be found anywhere so no links there.

This is gonna be GREAT!

Georgia Ministry of Foreign Affairs blog

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

http://georgiamfa.blogspot.com/

Not much on the action inside Georgia of late as Russia seems to be consolidating it’s forces inside Georgia proper.  Lots of diplomatic moves around but aside from our moves to send in humanitarian supplies…and perhaps a couple of SOCOM operators for intel gathering…there has been no action as expected.

Some sooths:

  1. Much more talk about accepting Ukraine into NATO.
  2. Much more talk of irregular military operations inside Georgia.

Accepting Ukraine into NATO should be a no brainer at this point.  Russia’s invasion of Georgia had some sound reasoning behind it at first.  We used the same reasoning for moving on Grenada back in the day.  Americans were effectively being held prisoner in a foreign land and we went to get them.  We didn’t, however, make Grenada the 51st state…or the 58th state if you are Senator Obama.  Russia has made it clear by their actions that they have no interest in withdrawing or abiding by anyone’s attempts at a cease-fire.  If they are willing to do it in Georgia under the guise of protecting Russian citizens, it’s not that far of leap for Ukraine to be next.

What really concerns me is the potential for a low level asynchronous fight developing in Georgia brought about by the destabilizing force that is the Russian Army.  We have already heard rumors of South Ossetian and Abkazian paramilitary types plundering and looting.  I think that is a trial balloon.  If there isn’t much of an outcry about that, and I don’t believe there will be, then expect the car bombs, IEDs, and all the rest we have come to expect from the Barbarians.  With that kind of war going on in Georgia there is no way the American people are going to even consider American forces getting involved.  If American forces aren’t involved then there is no NATO or UN response.  If you disagree, please tell me which of the European powers are going to step up and taken on the Red Army.  Make no mistake, while rumors abound about the downfall of the once powerful Red Menace, Soviet Military Doctrine was a formidable foe and while Russia has suffered some economic woes over the past 20 years they are on their way back.  I can see no European Army capable of dealing with them and even if they did would they risk their heating oil with winter staring them in the face?  A Russian force in Georgia means control of the pipelines.

Decisions

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Russia has now expanded her operation well beyond anything approaching “self-defence”.  Decisions have to be made.  Sides have to be taken.  John Barry of Newsweek has made up his mind.  As have I.  Mr. Barry’s piece is dead on.  It’s time to act before Ukraine or the Balkans are next.

Appeasing Russia

The historical reasons why the West should intervene in Georgia.
John Barry
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 6:45 PM ET Aug 11, 2008

Is that “appeasement” we see sidling shyly out of the closet of history? Are we doomed to recall the infamous remark by a Western leader that it was “fantastic” to think Europe should involve itself in “a quarrel in a faraway country between people of which we know nothing”? As the United States and the Europeans feverishly debate how to respond to Russia’s onslaught on Georgia, are the ghosts of Europe’s bloody history rising from their shallow graves?

As those of a certain age will recall, “appeasement” encapsulated the determination of British governments of the 1930s to avoid war in Europe, even if it mean capitulating to the ever-increasing demands of Adolf Hitler. The nadir came in 1938, when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain acceded to Hitler’s demand to take over the western slice of Czechoslovakia—a dispute Chamberlain so derisively dismissed.

It is impossible to view the Russian onslaught against Georgia without these bloodstained memories rising to mind. In history, as the great French President Charles de Gaulle remarked—no doubt plagiarising someone else—the only constant is geography. And through centuries of European history the only constant has been that small countries, doomed by geography to lie between great powers, are destined to be the cockpit for their imperial ambitions. That’s held true since the Low Countries’ agony under Spanish power in the 1500s. And the lichen has not yet spread over the gravestones of Europe and America that mark the toll of the two European wars of the 20th century—both having their roots in struggles between rival empires to assert power over the luckless nations of central Europe.

This time, the cockpit lies further east. In the wake of the cold war, the West providentially summoned the nerve to push NATO eastward to incorporate the former Warsaw Pact vassals of the Soviet Union—presciently doing this while post-Soviet Russia was too weak to resist. But once Moscow got its breath back, anyone with historical wit could foresee a revived Russian push for influence in central Europe. Many argued against this NATO expansion, calling it “premature” and “sure to inflame Russia.” The usual arguments. Those naysayers might now look at the Russian offensive in Georgia, and ponder how much greater this crisis would be had it involved, say, Poland or Hungary or the Czech Republic. At least central Europe is now under the umbrella of NATO Article 5 guarantees.

Instead, what we see are conflicts at the new margins of the West’s sway: Ukraine, the Balkans, now Georgia. These conflicts have one common factor: a resurgent Russia determined to exploit local grievances to beat back Western influence—in shorthand, democracy—on its shrunken frontiers. Using, in all cases, precisely the argument (a Russian right to protect its citizens, in Serbia its co-religionists) that Hitler used in the 1930s. The Sudeten Czechs were Germans, after all. Just as the South Ossetians now are, well, sort of Russian—having at any rate been issued Russian passports.

The European urge to appease Russia will be strong. In the ’30s, ghastly memories of World War I dominated the political debate. Besides, Western governments’ most pressing need was to recover from the Depression. Who wanted war or the threat of war? Now, Europe relaxes after near-50 years of cold war, and struggles to avoid recession after the subprime banking crash. The more things change …

Just as their forebears in the 1930s sought refuge in the League of Nations, the United States and Europe duly take the Georgian crisis to the United Nations. But the U.N. is, by definition, as impotent now as the League of Nations was then. Russia can, and clearly will, veto any resolution of significance. And what power, other than words, could the United Nations deploy anyway? Sanctions? Against Russia, which supplies Europe with most of its energy, just as winter approaches?

Whether Russia intends to fully invade Georgia is unclear. It’s plausible that Moscow has not made up its mind, and is waiting to gauge the West’s response. Two things are clear. Russia’s bombing campaign against Georgia is now targeting more than military targets. At the least, Russia seems determined to set back Georgia’s economy for years. It also seems clear—from what Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s able ambassador at the U.N., said Sunday—that Russia is demanding, presumably as part of the price of a ceasefire, the ousting of Georgia’s pro-Western leader, Mikheil Saakashvili. He would be wise to remember what happened to a pro-Western leader in nearby Ukraine; Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned and nearly died.

So what can the West do? The Europeans are unlikely to do anything beyond hand-wringing. The first responses in the comment columns of Britain’s leftish newspaper The Guardian show its readers closing ranks around the comforting but irrelevant thought that this is all somehow George W. Bush’s fault. Besides, with post-cold-war defense budgets now barely visible to the naked eye, the Europeans lack the capacity to intervene. They don’t have even the transport aircraft.

The United States, on the other hand, does have the capability to actually do something. Not to expel Russian forces from South Ossetia—that ethnic tangle is best left to negotiation—but to guarantee Georgia’s sovereignty and independence. Georgia’s right to self-defense is unquestionable: it needs no U.N. resolution to say that. Washington has every right to send “peace-keeping” troops into Georgia if Saakashvili requests it. The 82nd Airborne, its brigades newly returned from Iraq, could be mustered as a guarantor force. Numbers are not critical. What matters is the message: the Soviet-style attack on Georgia will not to be dismissed Chamberlain-style. President Bush racheted up the rhetoric Monday afternoon, when he blasted Russia for invading “a sovereign neighboring state … Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century … The Russian government must respect Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

And if the West does not react forcefully to protect Georgia? Russia, and all the nations on its periphery, will draw the obvious lessons. Will Putin follow history and demand next a Russian right to move troops into Estonia, a NATO member, to “protect” its Russian population?

There are few lessons safely drawn from history—except that of George Santayana: “Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”

Russia pushing the envelope on “Self-Defence”

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

AFOE and Wu Wei are saying Russian troops have left South Ossetia and moved on Gori which has been the staging area for Georgian forces before moving north into South Ossetia.  Russia has also massed troops along the Georgian border with another autonomous region, Abkhazia.   Other reports point to the Black Sea fleet moving toward the Georgian coast.

This is beginning to look more like the land grab I feared it may have been.  Why even attempt to blockade a country that might have 10 ocean going vessels when your published beef is with ethnic russians being persecuted?  Ole’ Putty-Pute is pushing the limits here.

Yeah, I’m giving them ALOT of room here.  History would dictate that this is just another Russian land grab.  Please, Russia, prove me wrong.  Europe won’t stop you.  The UN won’t stop you.  These burgeoning democracies you are aching to stomp will fight valiantly and fall under your tank treads.  When all is said and done it will be America that will be forced to draw the sword.  The question is, will we?

The Russian Bear shows it’s teeth

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

**UPDATE**  Grim has an interesting post at Blackfive.  He tosses his lot with Georgia in this fight.  Good arguments.  He argues that it’s more about what it means to be an ally than what Georgia may have done to precipitate the Russian assault.  Very much an interesting proposition.

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While the US wrangles its way through an election process with Dimwit Versus Dimwit the rest of the world carries on with the usual tomfoolery and wretched wickedness we should expect.  China has started it’s own game show, the GWoT carries on with the US kicking a serious load of arse as expected, NATO continues to lose the fight in Afghanistan (fear not Euros, the US Marines are coming to clean up your mess), and most recently and frankly most concerning the Russian Bear is showing it’s teeth again.

This past week, after a bit of minor clashes between South Ossetian separatists and Georgian forces, Russian forces poured into South Ossetia under the guise of protecting Russians “trapped” in the area.  This is a very lopsided fight with Russia having the military might to crush Georgia outright and it looks like that’s the plan.  Russia has secured the capital of South Ossetia, struck “strategic targets” within Georgia proper, and this morning comes news of bombing runs over Tbilisi International Airport and a unilateral cease fire on the part of the Georgians.  I’m thinking that just gives the Russians sometime to regroup where and if necessary.

I think this looks very bad not only for Georgia but for the eastern Europe over all.  This is a resurgent Russia extending her claws back to the old satellite states.  Russia has been concerned with the expansion of NATO for many years.  I’m not exactly sure why however.  All NATO membership offers members is American support.  With the political climate here in the State’s, while we are obligated to support an ally in NATO one has to wonder what that “support” might entail.  Perhaps a visit by a high level official?  Maybe a weak rebuke to the attacker?  There is absolutely no way the American Congress is going to vote to send American Forces into another fight unless there is a direct attack on American interests.  Those interests will have to be either American forces being attacked, large numbers of Americans being taken hostage, or attacks on the American homeland.  Without those kinds of interests being attacked I fear that NATO is going to be out of luck and will be shown, again, for the worthless organization it now is.

The attack of Russia on Georgia is reminiscent of the original takeovers during the build up of the old Warsaw Pact countries.  Some vague rationale for the “defense of the Russian People” followed by an overpowering attack and annexation.  This is a great concern to anyone who might have even a passing interest in International Relations.

Here are some great links to information on the situation:

And the usual suspects for Analysis:

Why CounterTerrorismBlog?  That’s really easy and Laughing Wolf at Blackfive hit upon this in his analysis:

Seventh, I think Russia is very well aware that this would also have a strong negative effect on the War on Terror. Destabilizing Georgia will create the potential for a strong and even prolonged pulse of people and supplies along the “Jihad Road” headed both East and West. That this would also tend to cause destabilization in western China as well as in the Balkans works well for Russia. It allows them to regain or seize control of sections of the Balkans, and block moves by the U.S. and parts of Europe to bring order and nurture some emerging democracies. It also causes problems for current ally and long-term rival China. Russia has never mistaken short-term advantage via working with China for anything other than what it is, and if they can weaken or hurt China even as they use China against the U.S., all the better. Final thought, if you break up the alliances, much of what we have done and are working on will fail. It is not inconceivable that Russia may also be looking long term at even further expansion.

I can’t add anymore to that.  If anything should wake up the Europeans, that should do it.  Of course it won’t because they all seem to think they can pay off the barbarians.

Bottom line to all of this is the dreaded second front has opened.  In this new age of warfare we can no longer consider “fronts” as lines of troops and strategic movements.  “Fronts” these days will fall back on a more philosophic approach to how the fight is fought which dictates what kind of warriors you bring into the theater.

The Terrorism front is an asynchronous war best fought with what Americans might call our Special Operators.  Lines of Armor and battalions of Infantry are usually pretty inefficient in an Asynchronous fight.  While they can certainly take and hold territory, they are not equipped to deal with insurgent style tactics.  Thanks to General Petreaus that is changing and with startling results.

Unfortunately we can’t take his COIN strategy and implement it in a more traditional war such as what we are facing in the Balkans at the moment.  There we have uniformed forces taking orders from recognized National governments, rather refreshing isn’t it?

Before Amir starts waving his Liberterian flag with “foreign entanglments” and all that, let me toss this out.  Since the collapse of the Evil Empire we, the US, have been making deals with the former Iron Curtain countries.  First was Poland, then in quick succession was Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Georgia, and Ukraine and that list comes right off the top of my head.  Some of those countries have found their way into NATO.  Georgia and Ukraine are vitally important to Russian.  That is pretty much the ONLY reason Georgia didn’t get in during the last round of discussion.  Should Russia get the itch for their Balkan seaports what’s preventing them from going after Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia?  The action would be about as dramatic as it was the first time and NATO would be forced into a very VERY bloody affair to “fix” the problem.  Article 5 is going to be a thorn for the US.  If we are to hold true to President Washington’s fear of foreign entanglments then we will be leaving these countries out to dry and assisting the resurgent Russia back to her glory days of the Evil Empire.

Some folks may be okay with leaving our allies out to dry.  If that is the case, let’s be prepared to let them know ahead of time that should they be attacked that they are on their own.  At least then, they can prepare by digging the graves for their people.