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Oh, dear. Abimael Guzman being the self-proclaimed Fourth Sword Of Communism. Not the third. Can't even count nowadays.
9 months ago on The Best Defense | Foreign Policy
America's 'forgotten' war?
On a different note, how many insurgencies have been ended where decapitation (organisationally, not bodily) ran out of targets? Targeted killing is hardly new. I recall a line of justification from one Ladislas Farago when he was a Pacific War intelwallah (in 'Get Yamamoto.' -- Was it Lanphier, was it Barber...?)
No, it does not.But it does sound like the Turd Sword of Communism on a particularly bad day.
@Gold Star Father The most amusing thing of late is the phenomenon of Brit stuffed-shirts saying that the US doesn't know how to be an Empire. Whether this is a particularly unsophisticated ploy to have the colonial rubes pay their Natural Masters for lessons is an open question. The point about expeditionary warfare in the days of yore was either grabbing more territory/tribute or squashing the recalcitrant Hard to see how that is relevant today.. As for coalitions, the latter day manifestation is unusual -- in days of yore numero uno had others pay him. Nowadays, numero uno has to pay for the participation of others.
9 months, 1 week ago on The Best Defense | Foreign Policy
@Gold Star Father Not really. The Kaffir Wars (Cape Frontiier Wars) were somewhat more numerous (and involved others than the British at various times) The Zulus take pride of place only because of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift. The Untergang of Ulundi is probably less known and spoken of. And practically nobody speaks of Moshesh who held in check British and Boers alike. Interestingly, the Zulu element in what was once Rhodesia is also more celebrated than the 'others.Though Mzilikazi was known for obliterating Afriucans, not whites.
Well, when it comes to playing the Indians to your cowboys perhaps Somalis ought to take a ticket and join the line. And that's a pretty long line, yes?
Out of curiosity (yes, I know what it did for the cat), which fixed-wing close support plane do you mean? The A-10? Isn't it still being produced?
There is, of course, the old saw that the Saudi 'royals' are actually from a Jewish tribe , can you say, Khaybar? This ought to prove beyond all doubt that the current ... um.... government is uniquely unqualified to guard the so-called holy places. In any case, did they not control the oily places they'd not be of much account. This would also largely explain why Saudi Arabia has been gloriously unsuccessful in getting anywhere with their efforts to advance solutions to the Palestinian problem. The Palestinian problem with Israel, that is. Not the Palestinian problem that affects them.
The Iranian 'threat' serves as a diversion for Israel and Saudi Arabia. For the first, it is used to hide intentions towards the implementation of a two-State solution (ain't gonna happen -- nickle and dime it to death) . For the second, invent an external threat to divert attention from domestic stumbling. As for the minor Gulf statelets, they're probably eying Abu Musa and the Tunbs and the allegedly bases in and around them. Which they hope to take back. As soon as Uncle Sam does it for them. In between, wait for the stories of Arab babies ruthlessly ripped from respirators... :-)
Well, Churchill didn't exactly have conventional warfare in mind when 'Set Europe ablaze' was the Word Of The Day. Via the SOE.
Norway would be regarded as a disaster for the British mostly because of their not seeming to know what they wanted to accomplish. Did they even have in mind the degradation of the Kriegsmarine?
One might just as well invoke manpower losses in Poland, Holland and France as additional reasons.
As for those periphery things, it was admittedly a tad later that it could have been seen as a necessity because of Uncle Joe's griping.
And Operation Torch somewhat later also involved firing on the French, neh?
9 months, 2 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
A damn sight less of a chance than, say, the Pakistanis giving Riyadh a nuke or three. Yes, less. Not more.
9 months, 3 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
There is an older 'network'. Rumour. A good deal of this sharing thing is made up of rumour, wilful misrepresentation and editorialising.
In ye olde days it was surely not merely a question of getting to where you were going (assuming that you actually arrived at the place you wanted to go to). Local knowledge must have played a part. Such as knowing the position of reefs and shoals, not to mention currents and tides. As your illustration demonstrates quite nicely, a map need not necessarily be complete and the information contained might be of a summary nature. As for the disappearance of the oldest charts, that's what happens with time and wear and natural calamity.
10 months ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
I'm well-rested now, which is why I understand your puzzlement. I don't understand myself either. That said, the biggest military-civilian arguments I've ever seen in the press have had to do with the size of UK armed forces andt he budget Guidance of the defence secretariy place-holders usually was of the "Get stuck in* variety, cliché masquerading as policy.
Blame Blair. There was no obvious reason for the UK to enter Afghanistan; Blair's former defencewallah (Robertson) as NATO sec-gen decided that as the US had been attacked, NATO had to join in. Or had it decided for him but <God knows by whom. As for Iraq, Blair was hardly forced into it by his military.
Howm little things have changed since has been demonstrated by Libya; similar tiomfoolery in Syria was averted only narrowly. Again, no evidence of a hard-line military oushing politicians to action. Wait a while, it's not going to be long before Iran comes up.
Look at it this way. Heed what the US 'ally' says equals heaven. Heed what military advice from Brit brass which clashes with the wishes of that 'ally' equals misery. In any case, at one time, defence matters were nominally in the hands of hapless Labour apparatchiks, in reality these worthies were sock puppets of whichever PM. Adept in mouthing clichés but giving advice that'd be heeded. Have mercy.
In sum, remove artificial and annoying constraints. Why restrict oneself to decapitation and minor culling of cannon-fodder? When the entire military panoply can be deployed. Let the Shebab tremble, entire city blocks can be destroyed as a 'lesson in frightfulness.' Why make a public circus over this Guano Bay and rendition when 'we can keep you forever offers itself? And a bit of Nacht und Nebel as a side-dish, as a 'tool in the kit.'
However, it is possible to be grateful for one thing. No mention of a 'neutron bomb' to spare damage to building s n0r use of a small nuclear warhead... 'Hey, we used it against a terrain feature and intelligence was that nobody 'innocent' was cluttering up the countryside. But patience...........
Ah, collective punishment. Available in China, ancient or modern, and in Syria. How fortunate that it is unknown in the Palestinian territories or wasun known, say, in occupied Iraq.
IAs for death, which must not be proud -- it is a Donne deal. Any stories of premature babies being removed from respirators or legs being ground in some outsized industrial mixer?
10 months, 1 week ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Rommel had his staff car shot up some near Ste Foy de Montgomery (or some such). Allegedly a Montgomery connection there. As to his allegedly lack of l'audace, there is Arnhem..............
'Battle Cry Of Freedom' (McPherson) is not only on your Civil War but the finest study that I've ever read. Instead of a pillow fight, perhaps people would do better to try to excel this excellent book.
10 months, 2 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
One sparrow doesn't make a summer and a victory or a near-victory with minimal outcome on the end of the campaign, well... (shrugs) It's of course perfectly true that the Khalsa gave commanders plenty to fear. And there was at least one American soldier of fortune who did well out of Ranjit Singh.
The Brits speak of Isandlwana readily enough, it's true. But just as a lead-up to Rorke's Drift. The Italians had no RD after their little embarassment. A single battle won isn't really significant. Not necessarily.
And the jolly old Ethiop beat the Italians at the end of the nineteenth century (Adowa). Doubtless, Brit historians are only interested in ,say, the (successful) campaign to oust the 'Mad King Tewodros.
Artillery was around early, only it wasn't gunpowder artillery. See Alexander at the Jaxartes River fr'instance.
When it comes to consequences, there is a case for caution. The success of, say, the Huns well to the east of the 'West' had a considerable knock-on effect before the Huns themselves ever got to Europe. They did send other forces scampering for refuge with resulting disruption culminating in Adrianople, which made your list.
For an insignificant battle outside the West, there is the battle of the Makar between the First and the Second Punic wars. If Hannibal's daddy been defeated and killed who knows whether there would have been a second Punic War.
If the First Crusade had come before the death of Alp Arslan Seljuk, victor of Manzikert, who is to say that the result may have been different. Even the fall of Jerusalem didn't exactly immediately precipitate a counter-Crusade.
If Mohammed the Khwarizm had beaten back the Mongols, who can deny that there would have been no knock-on effects for the 'West.?
I'm sure that thre are plenty of other events floating around but which are beyond my ken.
I must admit to being far more interested in 'Ancients' than in anything else.
The First Crusade could qualify, Manzikert and the fall of Constantinople too. More recently, Solferino, but for Henri Dunant. In the eastward reaches, Talas. The Dogs Heads is fine, but perhaps Pydna could replace it? Adrianople: Goths, surely.
Well, the Islamic empire expanded in the other direction as well. Witness the battle of Talas. The biggest threat right from the beginning would have been internal, not merely personality and faction fights but the debate of how Muslim some nominal Muslims were. You'd suppose that an Umayyad exile setting up shop in al Andalus would have troubled the sleep of the Abbasids but apparently not. As for Tours, one version I've seen is that this was the end of a large-scale raid rather than an attempt at long-term occupation.
It is possible to bewail the caricatures inflicted on history by the silver screen. But there you go.
One wonders, would contemporary democacy be improved by the re-introduction of the ostrakon and the duel.
The fate of Pausanius, the victor of Plataea, is instructive. And his victory seems to lack the lustre of, say, Salamis. Which is curious.
Panipat, like Megiddo, saw several battles. There was the one further down the road when Ahmed Shah Durrani ( a name more associated with Afghanistan) defeated the Mahrattas.
You may appreciate this...
Yarmuk does make sense. If only to brîng up Khalid ibn Walid and Amr bin al-As.
No mention then of the AVG? Not quite China, to be sure. However.....
As for Zama, I'm sure that Raul must be happy that Cuba doesn't grow figs. ;.)
For Africa, perhaps Adowa merits an honourable mention.
In the days of yore itr was popular in certain quarters to speak of addressing underlying issues rather than direct action against armed manifestations. The story of the LRA coulk be said to be grounded in the apparently Christian Acholi and Langi i tribes suffereing frightful persecution under Idi Amin (and , it is siad, by Milton Obote in his second coming). Kill poor fellows to how's your father till you go blue in the face, a lot of good it'll do. Blame this on a slick media campaign. And to top of it all, did I see this anecdote about Mr Obama not needing to be told about the Kony man because his daughrt (the youingest, I think) had been talking to him about it.....
10 months, 3 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Then again, twas David Stirling, no less, who had his company, Watchguard, a whole lot earlier. Was to have been used to oust Gads in favour of one Umar al-Shalhi, apparently, till HMG got cold feet. Perhaps understandably so. The Princess Gate siege was widely bruited in the media and the SAS never recovered. More latterly, former members blabbed to the press about HMG wanting to use current or ex to boost Gads. Until it was decided he'd be better gone.
From the attraction of a first-person shooter when you don't die permanently to an interest in military history, oy, that is far.
11 months ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Just why would the British invoke the shades of Malaya and Northern Ireland and the experience of the 1920 Iraqi revolt apparently left unmentioned? Presumably because of the aim of avoiding bestowing political equivalence. There being a notional difference between the repression of a colonial power and the violence of a 'liberator.' Where, one wonders, is the 'strategic narrative' of Ill Fame?
As for Afghanistan, the Political Masters are STILL yapping about the British 'legacy' there post-2014. Enough. Enough. Enough
I expected a belated obituary of Anthony Poshepny here......... Such is life
A question of resources and priorities, presumably. There is some distance from a Swordfish to, let's be modest, a Hurricane. The hoodoo of the Tirpitz persisted for some time after the demise of the Bismarck; come to think of it, how many British carriers were there around the Sceptered Isle? Any contribution to the Pacific would be a piddling minnow next to You Know Who. And one may wonder how well the RAF could have written finis to invasion without radar...
11 months, 2 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Stands to reason. There must be a competing system from the US and one from Russia. Doubtless Washington told Mr Erdogan that he could get lost and he's slightly peeved with Russia (over Syria, perhaps).
11 months, 3 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
@Tyrtaios Reynald de Chatillon, eh? Perennial oath-breaker. Also the chap who had the interesting idea of an amphibious attack on Mecca and Medina, Something about digging up the bones of some dead chap and bunging them into the sea. Not to mention overthrowing the Kaaba.
1 year ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
@Tyrtaios How many static jihadi targets do you suppose there actaually are in Syria? Should their number be legion, how do you suppose those 'innocent ivilians' won't be killed?
In the past, slightly off-course cruise missiles have landed in Turkey. Hope none land in Israel; all that needs to happen is that somebody claims they came from, say,Lebanon..
@Kyzl Orda 1 Bari it is.
Don't be mean to poor Chelsea...
It's doubtful that the 'rebels' need assistance in assassinations -- they've carried out enough of them already.
With all that assistance, it's a wonder that Saddam Hussein didn't actually win the Iran-Iraq war. A mutual exhaustion doesn't sound like much of a victory.
As for chemical weapons, it must be that one time the US held the option as retaliation. Nasty business, that ship that blew up in 1943 and spread mustard 'gas' hither and thither.
Looks bad now? Just hang on and see things go to worst. Without a halt at worse. The number of trial balloons loosed over the last little while is doing quite a job at blotting out the skies. From mebbe two days to 'punish' to who knows how long.
The best thing about this entire shabby episode is how the poncing pretensions of Britain and France have been well and truly punctured. Both no doubt still credit tjhemselves with pushing that fabulous success story that is Libya. Mr Obama let them flap their mouths for a while, permitting them tp thump their chests and utter bellicose blatherings. Now Cameron has egg on his face and Obama snubs accumulate, while fat-faced Francois has been forced to back-pedal and express his desire to wait on the US Congress to say yes. Thus permitting his magnificent military to get started. Though on what precisely, God along knows. Perhaps.
Mr Obama himself has gone off the rails. Now, it seems, the world drew the red line and he is, somehow, the executor opf the People's Will. Ably seconded by the Slow Boat and Mr Hagel (Haggle, shall we say) he is rapidly becoming a laughing-stock. Where, incidentally, is that Grand Coalition Of The Willing that he is supposed to be leading? Ah, well....
The use of 'punishment' is interesting. Remionds me of the eponymous operation over Belgrade...
@Heaven17 Thank you for the heads-up. My mistake. I suspect that the book does not actually say that Saladin's tomb is in the Umayyad Mosque but rather that my memory is playing me tricks. Possibly even several tgrucks.
1 year, 2 months ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
If a programme is clandestine, don't discuss it. Otherwise you have muck-ups such as the affair of the Clapper testimony. With attendant, depends on what the meaning of is, is. Or, y'know, Technically Speaking, what he said was accurate.
The pig in the sty NOT mentioned is that PRISM or PARADIGM or whatever hasn't been used on 'gentlemen' from the other side of the aisle, their PAC-men. Things like that. If youse IRS can single out TPers, why not PRASM or CHASM?
Fix government. :-)
As in, the fix is in?
I'm a bit lost. In the first paragraph, the second line doesn't seem to follow the sense of the first and then the second paragraph appears to wander yet further afield. If the Brits were cursed with that heavy from the top down command then it'd follow, presumably, that, say, in the desert war there'd be no LRDG, SAS, Popski's Private Army or the 'Jock Column.'And are we to suppose that the Germans were allegedly best in everything because they had divisions rather than regiments?
Give your small war mission to whomever you please. It'll make no difference. Because policy-makers will always be policy-makers.
@fuzair Perhaps. He's no Hani Ramadan, certes. Then again, it is perfectly possible to have extremist views and yet still be able to either have a long march through the institutions (yes, I realise that Red Rudi was no Ikhwan, or Muslim for that matter) or go towards your all-embracing Islamic state via small steps. MM has had a target on his back from day one -- probably some wiseacre someplace actually believes that Ayman Nour, El Bara or Mussy have a chance (damn if I know why)
US support for the Whites... yes, allies.
The French still have delusions of adequacy. There is the story of the French general entering the Ummayad Mosque at Damascus some time after 1945 and addressing an occupant thus, "Saladin, listen. We have returned." Not for long, as it turned out.
(Cribbed from 'Militant Islam' (GH Jansen)
In the wake of the Iraq war, there was already much talk of an arc of extremism. Strangely enough, this was not a reference to Al Qaeda but rather to Iran and its supposed ambitions of regional hegemony. Not a promising beginning. At one time, what were the choices? If you wanted to go the religious route you had to choose between the Saudis and the Iranians. Had you a 'secular' bent then you should have considered the model of Ataturk's Turkey. Or, perhaps, the 'revolutionary', in the shape of Gamal Abdel and the others who followed in his footsteps. And if you like a maverick, there was dear old Muammar and his Green Book. Nothing really has changed since, aside from the Rise of the Ikhwan. When you see, say, the voice of 'moderation (take the less controversial of the Ramadan brothers), you're looking at a Hassan al-Banna link via family and marriage. And we all know who he was, yes?
It's all very well to go on at length about Syria, Iraq, Turkey. But why no mention of Jordan? There is an Iraq link there too -- I understand that relatives of the late, unlamented al-Zarqawi are floating around somewhere (no, not yet in the Jordan River). F-16s in Amman are all very well as well as military exercises but how this can prevent the monarchy from being blotted out, there's a reach. And there is another minor consideration, that of the Palestinian population. It can't have escaped attention that a portion of this diaspora has taken sides in Syria and in Lebanon. It'd be a fine thing if there was similar trouble in Jordan. Remember, Bibi is , or was, a bud of the 'the Palestinian state is Jordan' lot. So long, 'king.'
Egypt severing ties with Syria. MM is Ikhwan, a goodly portion of the Syrian 'rebels' are Ikhwan.. (yawns) How come then that MM was batting his eyelashes coyly in the general direction of Teheran? Yes, the Lebanese military has been duking it out with al-Asshir's merry band. A continuation war from similar nutters at what used to be the Nahr el Bared Palestinian camp. Washington must be in a real fix -- it probably wants to let the Lebanese leave the AQ wannabees alone and take USD to take on Hezbollah (chuckles). There will be a Lebanese civil war if and when the Leabnese military divides along sectarian lines. This may be an outcome, only it's not in US interests. There is one good thing, no one is thinking of a Maronmite Resurgence under the unpleasant Samir Geagea. But give it time... :-) In betweenm, what is Really Sad Hariri doing? Aside from breaking his leg on Froggie ski-slopes...
It'd be nice if oversimplification could be avoided. Memories beckon, of the Lebanese civil war being characterised as being between 'right-wing Christians' and 'left-wing Muslims. Yes, there was an Embassy bombing in Beirut. Then again, it was Druze villages which recived fire from heaven, or at least from that battleship. And Hezbollah ally of today, Mad Michel was instrumental, can you say Souk al- Gharb?, in getting there. Fun and games. Also, it is highly doubtful that Hezbollah has thousands of men to send to Syria. The Arab Spring has had colourful features; the ubiquitous 'sniper' the 'brigades' of bearded weirdos and, of course, the doctors whose profession is the dissemination of propaganda rather than healing.
What should the US do? How about keeping out of the way? But I expect that the world's indispensable nation, the sole super-power, the Giant dreaming of imperium... you get the general idea.