Syria

Things that happen in foreign countries produce strange effects in the media. If you’re a Fox person, you hear one set of talking heads. If you’re an NPR person, you hear another, and so on. There’s still a little bit of overlap, but the usual partisan divides are a little less marked here, but this doesn’t mean that the ideologies aren’t more forceful, just that they are cryptic to the usual news consumer.

For the most part, cable news has already gone wall to wall on the 2016 election. This is sociopathic. The print media and NPR seem to be all about Syria. Last week it was the refugees, this week the Russian involvement.

So we hear some intelligent-sounding, informed-sounding experts with fancy job descriptions saying almost completely the opposite things about Asad or whether the US has an interest. Then there are commentators who think they know a lot, like David Ignatius, warning the president not to cede Syria to the Russians! You know, the columnists who are disguising their hackery in wonk’s clothing.

The fact is these debates are cloaked in so many cognitive dissonances, it’s hard to keep them straight. Largely it has to do with that 21st century American obsession with the Double Half-Decaf Half-Light Mocha Cappucino in a tall cup mentality. We want to have what we want, but we want it “our way” with the atmospherics to match. We want to enjoy our $5 coffee—more than hundreds of millions of people live off of in a week—but we want it to be “organic,” “fair trade,” and with no peanuts.

Similarly, we want our wars to be noble, for the purposes of democracy, without hurting civilians, without any possibility of ethnic cleansing, the propping up of dictators, and the threat to us must not be that it would do something that would make us homicidal (like raising the cost of that coffee to $10!) but that it would mean another 9/11 at home. Fuck you rest of the world, we don’t want to bomb you. We want all of globalization’s fruits with only attention to risks at home.

So, we want to prop up Syrian “moderates.” Moderates are shit at civil war. Have moderates ever not been purged in any civil war, ever? What the hell is a Syrian moderate anyway? Stupid. We want there to be democracy. Great, then they’ll have elections in ethnoreligious blocks and try to buy each other off with the foreign aid money for a while before they start shooting again.

We also don’t want to risk any civilians getting killed so we do nothing that will end civilians getting killed. We don’t want there to be ethnic cleansing so we force people with blood feuds and revenge on their mind (and weapons!) to live next door to each other. Literally!

I understand that nothing will persuade the American public that there’s enough of an American interest in Syria that it would be worth sending in the Marines and having them force transfer groups into ethnic enclaves and blow up everyone who gets in their way. But unlike most of the pundits, I also understand that our unwillingness to do this means that we aren’t serious about an actual solution, we are serious about crying about how the mess won’t work out according to our ideals.

I don’t know enough about the micro-level dynamics of the Syrian groups to draw a map or say what to do with every inch of territory or every subgroup. But it seems to me that you need a coastal Alawite state, a Sunni state, a Kurdish state, and some other map alterations, maybe moving some Druze areas into Lebanon or (gasp!!) Israel. Then you need some kind of neutral zones enforced by someone less limp dicked than the UN—maybe the Russians can guard the Alawite frontier. Whatever.

Yes, ideally, we could all live next to each other and celebrate our common humanity, but when one group is killing your friends and family in another group that gets hard. Sometimes separation is what’s needed.

As for Asad, you can’t put Syria back together with him in charge, but you can’t put it back together anyway. He might as well be used to build a rump Alawite state on the coast. You need an authoritarian state to bring these anarchic lands out of the dark ages anyway, unfortunately. Do not hold any fucking elections.

After all of this is done, if we need to land the 101st in Raqqa fine.

Explaining how this affects US interests isn’t easy. But this situation has already destabilized Europe and if we let the whole country collapse, it probably means the end of Jordan and Lebanon, even more trouble in Turkey too. How does that affect us? Well we do business with Europe and even though not as much oil comes from the Middle East as most people think, it still more or less sets the price world wide. Whether all of that meets your worthiness test is up to you to decide, but don’t tell me it doesn’t affect you. It does.

There may be no solution to insurgent warfare. Counterinsurgency may be fraudulent. It may be that there is no clean way to fight a war and that in order to beat insurgents you have to be much more ruthless than our current politics allows. But politics change. Especially when a long string of military failures confronts an electorate.

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Stop Biden Your Time

Americans like decisiveness in presidential candidates. While I’m sure we’d all claim to admire and respect Biden’s decision to consult his family in the wake of his son’s death, decisiveness is what’s needed.

There are a lot of reasons why Biden hasn’t been a great candidate in the past and unlike Hillary he has to run largely on the Obama administration’s record, where Hillary, at least implicitly, gets some 90s nostalgia. Many of these can be overcome, but waffling on a decision to run can’t.

This is a critical election. Perhaps not as critical as 2008, but still more critical than most. The balance of power on the Supreme Court for a generation is at stake. If Biden was the best candidate for the Dems if he was in last summer, he won’t be the best if he doesn’t get ASAP.

Question About Refugees

Famous White House Press Corps journalist Helen Thomas fell from grace for this exchange:

After a visit to the White House, David Nesenoff, a rabbi and independent filmmaker, asked Thomas on May 27, 2010, whether she had any comments on Israel. “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,” she replied. “Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not Germany, it’s not Poland,” she continued. Asked where they should go, she answered, “They should go home.” When asked where’s home, Thomas replied: “Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else.”

Jews who were refugees from Europe had managed to survive the Holocaust. Those who did would find that they had nothing to go back to because the reward for denouncing them was their property, especially in Poland. Germany had more slowly dispossessed its Jews prior to the outbreak of war. So, they fled to Palestine in the Levant where a small rump of their kinsman were doing okay.

Let’s leave aside the question of the almost one million Jews that were exiled from Arab lands after the founding of Israel and just ask this: if it was illegitimate for the Jews of Europe to flee and take root in the Levant, how can it be legitimate for the Arabs of the Levant to flee and take root in Europe as they are doing by the hundreds of thousands today?

Would any of the leftists who are shaming anyone who wonders about accepting refugees even in these numbers shame a Palestinian for saying what Thomas said? Most of the same are in varying degrees antisemitic, anti-Israel, or antagonistic to Israeli policy.

Ironically, this same policy of importing massive numbers of Muslims into Europe is creating a huge increase in the Jewish population of Israel through emigration. If not for Israel, these folks would have to figure out a way to get into the United States or else have ride it out the way they did before for millennia.

The Sundering of American Jewry

J.J. Goldberg wonders “Why Does Everybody Sound So Anti-Semitic All of a Sudden?” Without conceding the premise, I agree with his conclusion that the leadership of major Jewish institutions having plunged everyone into a hopeless battle to get utterly defeated, knowing that it would cause a breach in the community and not caring, is to blame. The blowback would have been worse if they had succeeded, but maybe the internal acrimony would have at least been somewhat more justified.

It’s a fine line to walk between the singling out of Israel, the distortions, double standards, and general dislike of the Jewish state found in the media on the one hand and the legitimate criticism of things that it does that aren’t good for the Jews. Expecting John Q. Public to understand this distinction becomes more and more impossible the more this kind of thing happens.

I take a backseat to no one in terms of recognizing the malignancy of the Iranian regime and the need to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons and that has been documented in our archives here since 2002.

The Jewish community is divided, worn out, bitter, and confused in varying mixtures depending on where they stood on this issue. This is too bad, because I think we need to be on yellow alert for another Intifada.

If I were in charge of Iranian strategy right now, I would support another Intifada and be semi-open about it. Just enough to get the Jewish right to foam at the mouth that they told you so and divide the community further.

Mr. T and the Royalist Rumble

Thesis: Mr. T will remain in command of the GOP nomination until someone  out-alpha’s him in a direct confrontation. This will be made exceedingly difficult by the gargantuan field and the banality of his intellectually fallow opposition. Irrespective of that, we might as well analyze how any one of these folks could  alter the race as we await the next potential elimination ceremony  second GOP debate.

There are three broad categories of conservatrons running this year. The Establishmentarians, the Disestablishmentarians, and the “Who, Huh, Whas?”.

Lets start with the “Who, Huh, Whas?” in no particular order:

Rick Santorum — There’s no Mitt for this creeper to be a “non” to this year. Buh bye!

Lindzey Graham — Never recovered from getting pwned when Mr. T read his personal phone number out loud. Buh bye!

Jim Gilmore — ????????? Related to the Pink Floyd guitarist???????? Or the Hall of Fame hockey center????????

George Pataki — Didn’t know he was still alive. Seems like a nice guy.

“Bobby” Jindal — Failed Louisiana governor who disgraces himself by forcing his ethnic  “otherness” to lay behind a vapid persona that is half pill popping 50s housewife and half Beaver Cleaver. Proof positive that, outside of spelling bees, subcontinent Indians will never be the “new Jews”. Buh bye!

Rick Perry — Pinned and eliminated by Mr. T via the “smart glasses” wisecrack. No longer sullying the national image of perry, a delightful beverage made from fermented pear juice; perry is especially tasty if one can find rare perry pears that are no good to eat but have tons of tannins!

Now for the Establishmentarians, in no particular order:

Marco Polo — The thirsty, once upon a time GOP “savior” with a compelling personal story of being a first generation Cuban-American who, through hard work and perseverance, has become a Senator and is now working tirelessly to assure that no other poor children of immigrants will ever have the same opportunities that he had. Still waiting for him to do something.

dummScott Walker — Failed Governor of Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the brain that controls his lower extremities became out of sink with brain in his head when he hit the national stage. My pick for the next elimination. Even the Kochs aren’t yet willing to commit their posion-the-earth warbucks to this dunce no matter how ably he peed on Organized Labor in Madison.

Crisco Kremey — The Mayor of Tromaville, New Jersey whose bold leadership style (see him in action at 2:14 mark) backfired when he attempted to kill the Toxic Avenger (witness the mayhem at the 1:15:00 mark) against the wishes of his constituents, most of whom just wanted to get home on time. Kremey is bellyflopping in the polls, but is perhaps the only candidate that has the sense to know that he must be the bigger dog against Mr. T to have any chance of winning. Belligerence is Mayor Kremey’s strength and he has promised to “go nuclear” in the debate. One suspects CNN only gave him a mulligan to enter the varsity debate because a Crisco Kremey/Mr. T showdown would be the Bobby Bacala/Tony Soprano fist fight of politics, and CNN knows good infotainment when they see it. Mayor Kremey’s problem is that he’s an Angry Warrior and Mr. T is a Happy Warrior. There’s an old boxing truism: Never Hook with a Hooker. Indeed. But, Kremey has nothing to lose. Should be an interesting exchange.

John Kasich — ????? Third Baseman for the 1983 Cincinnati Reds????? Still waiting for him to do something.

Jeb!utante Bush — The Establishmentarian’s Establishmentarian that Mr. T has turned into an Antidisestablishmentarian. Jeb!utante is proving to be the “smart” Bush Bro to the same degree that Zeppo was the funny Marx Brother (Poppy is Chico, Barbara is Groucho and ‘Dubya is Harpo, by the way). Would this walking and talking mediocrity have ever been Governor of Florida if he wasn’t a Bush? Jeb!utante possesses this peevish, patrician angst as if he is just too good to be slinging mud with Mr. T or do any of the other workaday grime work that it takes to become President because he’s already used his daddy’s network to raise a bazillion dollars. As I wrote earlier, the “you’re not a real Conservative!” attack is a failure because real conservatives have done nothing but facilitate giveaways for the rich, and that is all Jeb!utante is proposing. If your ideas are stuck in the 80s, at least have the sense to learn from Hot Rod Roddy Piper if you wanna’ take on Mr. T. C’mon, dude! If I were one of his Money Guys I’d be worried. For the pertuative favorite this douche bag just doesn’t have it.

Randy Paul — This pseudo-intellectual carpet head’s libertarian “brand” should offer an effective opening against Mr. T. The gestapo tactics it would take to round up and deport eleven million illegals are horrifying, right? Randy’s Libertarianism isn’t about caressing the egos of basement dwelling trolls with skim milk-hued skin that want to feel they are nobly fighting some Big Brother that is surely watching them send boring e-mails, hack into porn sites and Beat the Meatles to those Jennifer Lawrence pics, right? It’s about the Constitution!, and the protections to privacy and property that it extends to everyone in this country, even those with brown skin who are here illegally, right?

Mike Hucksterbee — The folksy theofascist. This man has always terrified me. Getting most of his support eaten by his Disestablishmentarian doppleganger (see below).

Now for the Disestablismentarians:

Ted Cruise — Having been out A-Holed, now attempting a Forrest Gump strategy of “me tooing” with Mr. T (and even Hucksterbee when he is trolling for white resentment over the marrying of the homos in Kentucky) in hope that he can snag T’s support should Mr. T fizzle. A play not to lose strategy that will fail because Mr. T won’t fizzle on his own and, meanwhile, Theodore has made himself invisible. At least everybody in Congress still hates you the mostest, Teddy.

“Uncle” Ben Carson — The not-thinkingman’s Evangelical whacko. Cannot expand beyond the non-Hucksterbee evangelicals unless he can take on Mr. T and does not appear to have the vim to do it. Unlikely to go anywhere though, and he could gain the most if Hucksterbee is eliminated.

Karli Feeoria — The female Mitt Romney, only she was a failure as a businesswomen and a loser as a candidate. The liberal media is getting all goosebumpy over this insipid ad where she notes that she is proud of every wrinkle on her face. They think she is being clever by saying she is getting under Mr. T’s skin by raising in the polls. Really? She’s barely out of the “Who, Huh, Whas?” Part of Mr. T’s appeal is that he boasts that can take on vicious female board room commandos (AKA, stalking horses for Hillary). Karli has been telegrahing her punches all week, Mr. T will correctly point out her mammoth failures as a businesswoman and that will be that. It’s nice to know that a woman can be equally as much of a worthless, empty suit as a man. Bravo, Karli!

Mr. T — Still Master of His Domain.

Overall, I expect Crisco Kremey to have the best shot to take down Mr. T, but Kremey is so far behind in points at this stage that he is going to have to swing wildly. He may have a punchers chance; however, in the midst of any fight there is another wonderful boxing truism: Who would you rather be? In this case it’s Mr. T or Mayor Kremey. The answer is obvious: Mr. T!

 

The Most Retarded Thing I’ve Read Yet On The Iran Deal

Is this. I’ve had a lot of respect for Rabbi Weiss’s work with “Open Orthodoxy” but maybe he should stick to his wheelhouse.

His basic point is that by letting Iran gain billions through the lifting of sanctions it will develop suitcase nukes, provide them to terrorists and/or use them on New York. Therefore the deal is bad. He asks us to imagine 9/11 with suitcase nukes.

Let’s put to one side the whole issue that this deal will prevent Iran from developing the technical capability of developing suitcase nukes, something no other country except the USSR and US has done, even though other nuclear powers possess the technical and financial means to do so.

What’s left is a basic ignorance about nuclear weapons that pervades not just the debate over the Iran Deal, but almost all conversations about them in general. The basic idea is that all nuclear weapons are the same. They are not.

The smallest nuclear weapons tested are very small. So small that if they were detonated in the densest parts of New York City, they might only damage one building. At the other end of the spectrum is the largest bomb ever tested, which was 50 megatons, or over 1,000,000 times more powerful than the smallest weapons.[1] That is not a typo. 1 million times.

The Russian “suitcase nuke” was not really the size of suitcase like you’re being asked to picture, but was about 50 pounds. The American versions were human portable, but in huge packs. And their yields were either the same as the Davy Crockett on the low end, or 6 kilotons at the very highest. That’s about 1/3 of the yield that hit Hiroshima.

If they’re going to use a car, they can go bigger, but then we lose the scare factor of the “suitcase nuke.” A typical “suitcase nuke” detonated by a new nuclear power without sophisticated expertise (and, presumably without testing the device, since that would be detectable in numerous ways and breach even the permanent parts of the Iran deal) would struggle to do the damage that crashing planes into the World Trade Center did.

This is not to suggest that this is some kind of small inconvenience that can be brushed off, but that the scale of the damage we are talking about here is not the city-killing yield of ICBM launched thermonuclear devices. In other words, terrorists can inflict this much damage now without nuclear weapons.

Which leads to the problem with nuclear weapons. They are traceable. Isotope analysis would reveal where it came from. And if that analysis revealed Iran as the source, I very much doubt there would be an Iran for very much longer.[2] The United States still has its nuclear deterrent with much more powerful weapons than anyone except China and Russia with much more sophisticated delivery methods than anyone including China and Russia.

If the Iranians wanted to inflict 9/11-like damage on us, why not unleash terrorists with conventional means, do the same amount, and deny plausibility instead of simply stirring up a hornets nest? There’s no response to this that makes any sense and none that in any way is relevant to the “deal.”

If Iran were on the cusp on developing thermonuclear weapons mounted on ICBMs, I would be all for taking them out. But all nuclear weapons are not the same. And if they gave up their program, which is basically what’s happening here, I’d be all for that too.

The reason we don’t want Iran to have even small nuclear weapons has nothing to do with Rabbi Weiss’s idiotic scenario. It has to do with Israel and the Gulf States that are both closer to Iran and so small that even a small attack could cause their collapse. We also do not wish the different strategic dynamics that take place between nuclear states to constrain our actions and our allies actions in the Middle East.

The idea that Iran might deploy a small nuclear weapon on New York is vanishingly unlikely, magnificently stupid, and completely irrelevant to this deal. I think it’s far more likely that ISIS will launch another 9/11 style attack without nuclear weapons or that nuclear weapons are fired in South Asia, East Asia, or in the Middle East simply because the United States retains its powerful nuclear deterrent and the identity of the party who fires a nuclear weapon remains in its traces. There is no false-flagging it.

Maybe in Weiss’s mind the money flowing to Iran will let them develop megaton strength suitcase nukes, but that’s just bad science fiction.

[1] The “Davy Crockett” has a yield of 20 tons. The “Tsar Bomba” was 50 megatons as tested, but designed to be up to 100 megatons.

[2] Iran has a population of about 80 million today. A countervalue strike with just 5 of the US’s B-83s would reduce that population by 10% immediately and injure the same number. Lawlessness, starvation, poisoning, untreated illness, fallout, and other after effects would probably increase that total substantially. Just 5 of our weapons would probably cause Iran to collapse. This is a pretty effective deterrent. Now consider if we fired 50 such weapons.

We caused both Afghanistan and Iraq to collapse and suffer hundreds of thousands of casualties after 9/11 and we did it by conventional means. So, even leaving aside the moral right to respond with nuclear weapons we would gain, we have a conventional deterrent as well.

I Have Come Here to Chew Bubblegum and Kick Ass, and I’m all out of Bubblegum!

No! No! No! No! No, Jeb!utante Bush! You don’t take on Mr. T by making a silly commercial about how he isn’t a Real Conservative.™ The “real” conservatives haven’t outlawed abortion or stopped Obamacare, or really done much of anything besides cutting taxes for the rich and losing Iraq War II. And y’all lost the culture war too!

This is how you take on Mr. T.

Pay attention to Roddy Piper. How he mocks Mr. T for putting his name on everything, for his hair style, for his ridiculous name dropping. Witness how Mr. T gets all belligerent in the face of the Hot Rod’s taunts, loses his cool, and attacks widly; unable to bear Piper’s ridicule.

And, yeah, well sure, you could argue that Mr. Piper’s political philosophy is staged. Right. ‘Cuz there’s nothing staged about politics, or a presidential campaign. And you aren’t getting your ass handed to you by a smarmy Reality TV blowhard, who isn’t an improbable manifestation of some third-tier dadaist’s ‘Tussin chuggin’ hallucination.

Sigh.

I pity the fool.