Open Thread 26 July 2019

C_P_Stone_LtGen_Egyptian_Army pl

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21 Responses to Open Thread 26 July 2019

  1. Valissa says:

    There is a YouTube channel some of you may find interesting. It’s called “BrexBox” and it was created by the new Brexit party MEPs to showcase their experiences and realizations while they are newly serving in EU Parliament. Of course once Britain has Brexited they will be sent home, but in the meantime they are highlighting the customs and shenanigans of the EU bureaucracy. I have found these videos to be very educational.
    There are only 4 episodes so far, and they are now on hiatus until the EU parliament reconvenes in September.

  2. rho says:

    The establishment parties in the German state of Saxony tried a strategy out of Erdogan’s playbook by cutting down the AfD’s candidate list for the upcoming state parliament elections on alleged failures to comply with some very technical candidate selection and registration rules. That would have effectively curtailed their seat share in the state parliament to far less than what they would have been entitled to get based on the normal workings of the proportional representation electoral law.
    The state constitutional court issued a preliminary injunction that effectively eliminated the curtailment, at least assuming that the AfD gets a vote share that does not considerably exceed the one currently projected in the opinion polls (approx. 25%). The final ruling on the case is due on August 16th, the election will be held on September 1st.
    It is very likely that the state constitutional court will uphold its position in the final ruling because its preliminary injunctions are only issued to alter executive branch decisions (in this case by the state electoral committee, in which a majority of appointees were selected by the government parties) that are considered “highly likely” to be unlawful.
    As far as I know, this is the first time in post-1945 German history where it was attempted to ruin the chances of an opposition party to win an election by pulling out some obscure electoral regulation tricks. Makes the state electoral committee look extremely bad.
    A nice little summary, but somewhat light on the complicated technicalities of the case (which I can try to explain further if people are interested):

  3. Fred says:

    Stone Pasha is an interesting man, especially his experience with the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.

  4. turcopolier says:

    When I was the professor of Arabic at USMA I succeeded in raising enough money to endow a prize in his name for the cadet who did the best in four years of Arabic. Stone was Class of 1846(?)

  5. ambrit says:

    A classic case of Legislative meddling in the Army’s conduct of a war. A lesson applicable to today?

  6. Your mentioning of Stone Pasha reminded me of William Eaton, captain in the American Legion, US Consul to the Barbary Court in Tunis and several other titles over the years. His exploits convincing Hamet Carimelli to try to overthrow his brother Yusuf, raising and leading a polyglot mercenary force of Greeks, Turks and Arab horseman over a 600 mile trek from Alexandria to capture Derna just exudes Special Forces. He was the one who ordered and the charge to take the battery and fortress at Derna not Lieutenant Pressley O’Bannon.

  7. ordered and led the charge

  8. Jack says:

    These are “SOME” people as our German friend “b” calls them, “being a pain in the ass”, protesting CCP authoritarianism in Hong Kong. According to “b”, “This is just another paltry color revolution attempt organized by the various U.S. services”. I’ve never known “US services” this competent in recent decades, to have the ability to turn out a quarter of the population.

  9. J says:

    “to the shores of Tripoli”.

  10. turcopolier says:

    What was the USMC casualty count at Tripoli? How about at the “Halls of Montezuma?” Look it up. The US Army lost around 2,000 men in Mexico in that war.

  11. Tidewater says:

    Recently there has been interesting news from the Persian Gulf. First, the United States is moving back into Prince Sultan, a staging area and command post for previous wars. The air base, near the closed city of Al Kharj, where Heckler and Koch small arms are assembled, is known to the US Air Force as ‘Al’s Garage.’ It is a hellhole some fifty miles southwest of Riyadh, and it seems to rely on its potable water by pipeline from the capital. Riyadh, of course, gets much or most of its potable water from desalination plants at Ras al Khair and Al Jubail on the Gulf. The base runways are being strengthened. This suggests to me that heavier planes, which might include strato-tankers, the P-8 Poseidon, B-52s, and also the F-22s and B-2 bombers, could be forced to pull back to ‘Al’s Garage’ if something goes wrong at Al Udaid. I interpret this, perhaps wrongly, as evidence that the Chiefs are showing a new-found, if grudging, respect for the capabilities of the S-400. The distance from Riyadh to Bandar Abbas is some 620 miles or thereabouts. This gives some breathing room, assuming that heavy, long-range Iranian missiles are still inaccurate, though the base is still vulnerable to drone attacks, it seems. Prince Sultan is a base within a base, and covers more than eighty square miles. I am assuming that the Patriot missile system will not be able to completely defeat a drone attack because of the small radar cross-section of a drone. Of course, it would take some doing by the Houthis (and Iranians) to put together a twenty or thirty drone kamikaze squadron. Still it could be done.
    Particularly if the Houthis gain new momentum from the sudden withdrawal of U.A.E. forces that has just been announced by Mohammed bin Zayed which is taking place now. This is a stunning development. “The only thing stopping the Houthis from taking over Yemen was the U.A.E. armed forces,” said Michael Knights, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (July 11, 2019, New York Times.}
    There is also an article in the New York Times by David D. Kirkpatrick on June 2, 2019, “The Most Powerful Arab Ruler isn’t MBS. It’s MBZ.’ This article is very useful. It sketches in MBZ’s career. He is a formidable autocrat. He is obsessed with the Muslim Brotherhood and believes that any election would bring it to power. He is obsessed with Iran. He sees the Qatar leadership as being infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood. He is 24 years older than MBS and it seems that he is the one who counseled MBS to break up the GCC, to lay siege to Qatar and to go into Yemen. He has had an enormous influence on Trump. And now suddenly he is cutting and running, leaving MBS ‘waist deep in the big muddy.’
    I can understand how MBZ would want to cut his losses, but I would have thought he would have worked it out more closely with MBS. I am wondering, incidentally, if this could lead to hatred between the two.
    What other reasons could MBZ have that would cause him so suddenly to make this volte face; even to make some conciliatory noises to Iran?
    The photo accompanying the Kirkpatrick article (though any ‘images’ look at Abu Dhabi would do) showing the construction boom and the cluster of shining new glass and steel buildings there, reveals how closely these expensive jewel-like artifacts are grouped and clustered together. I now find myself staring at this splendid urban city-scape and at Dubai’s Burj Khalifa with the primitive instincts of a kid with a Whammo. You can see the Burj Khalifa from the Iranian controlled and fortified (to some extent) island of Abu Musa. It is 2,722 feet high. Abu Musa is about fifty miles away. I believe that you can actually see the Burj Khalifa from the Iranian port of Bandar Lengeh, as well.
    During the reign of the shah of Iran it was established that there would be a kind of piquet line of islands called ‘the curved line’ that would be a defense line for control of the Persian Gulf. There are seven of them. These are the islands of Hormuz, Larak, Qeshm, Hengam, Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa. Whether or not these islands were essentially used for off-loading oil to tankers or as military rocks, like the Tunbs, all of them have had missile air defenses for decades. And it’s fair to say that these missile defenses have gotten better. One such island would be Larak, near Qeshm, which is simply an oil shipping point lying some twenty-four miles north of of Oman’s tiny Quoin island, which is the point where a tanker passing it and heading west has formally entered the Persian Gulf; insurance rates now go up.
    Could these islands now have been reinforced with newer antiship and surface to surface missiles? Could that have been done as well to the oil rig platforms that are all over the place? As for example, at Sirri, which is a small island island with big steel and concrete piers and primarily an oil shipping facility. There is nevertheless plenty of room on Sirri for Ra’ad SAMS or for Ra’ad antiship/ surface to surface missiles. There is also room for the new Qader.
    Both Ra’ad and Qader deserve discussion. At this point, I will only say that Qader has a range of 120 miles and that Ra’ad has a range of 223 miles. (There are others, such as the new Persian Gulf missile.) At how many locations could these systems (assuming they are there) be placed? Offhand I would guess that within range of Abu Dhabi there must be many widely dispersed launch points. There could be dozens. You could count the oil platforms and the islands within range to get an estimate. Abu Musa alone could have three or four sites. Iran has had decades to build tunnels and munitions storage bunkers.
    It is easy to see targets in the U.A.E. There is the Abu Dhabi M-Station power production and desalination plant. There is the port at Jebel Ali. There is Al Dhafra air base. There are those glass buildings. The Burj Khalifa burning would be a stunning symbol of western hubris and failure.

  12. different clue says:

    I noticed that also. If I didn’t suffer from the Irony Defficiency under which I labor, I might wonder if b is showing his EuroWhite Western chauvinism by implicitly assuming that a bunch of clearly non-white Chinese could never have the vision, organization, etc. to do this on their own without the Guiding Hidden Hand of the Outside Agitator from Evil America.
    “b” is an American Exceptionalist. Just like Noam Chomsky and other such. They believe America is Exceptionally Evil. But to be Exceptionally Evil is still to be Exceptional. And American Exceptional Evilism is just American Exceptionalism standing on its head.
    “b” is an American Evilness Exceptionalist. Others are American Greatness Exceptionalists. I am an American Okayness Ordinarian.
    MAOKA. Make America O K Again. And where America is already O K, just leave us that way. O K is pretty good. And pretty good is good enough.

  13. different clue says:

    This comment will be a disorienting change of subject I know, but I have still thought off and on about the problem raised here about how Special Forces people in the field in bad country could carry or have carried the stuff they need without physical slowdown or breakdown. The Army ( perhaps through or with DARPA?) was paying Boston Dynamics to test their Big Dog robo-mule to see if it could carry loads under such conditions. In the end the Army decided it would not be suitable or helpful.
    I was thinking about wheeled vehicles inspired by Moon rovers or Mars rovers. Or an obscure earthside little micro-farm tractor-on-stilts called the Quadractor. But they would need constant re-supply of fuel for every time they ran out.
    So what about improved pack animals themselves? If the world’s smallest working donkeys were bred with the world’s smallest working horses, we would get the world’s smallest working mules. Could they pack the small but real amounts of material that Special Forces would need for their special missions in the field?
    A concern exists about whether it is unfair to animals to make them serve in war conditions when they are unable to understand the reason for their suffering in such service. If that rules out turning back to pack animals, then we are left with the Special Forces people themselves having to pack this materiel. Which circles us back to the original problem to begin with.
    The only thing I can think of is a human-pushable or pullable militarily re-designed version of a hunter’s game and/or supply cart for moving stuff in the field. Something inspired by this . . .
    or this . . .
    Or some other better cart that readers here know of.
    It should not pose the problem of physical breakdown of the user because it would not be used for moving Ho Chi Minh Trail-loads of supplies for Ho Chi Minh Trail-lengths of time. It would be for individual soldier tools and supplies that all-added-up become too heavy to pack comfortably over time in harsh terrain.
    If that won’t work either, then I have run out of possible thoughts.

  14. Different clue, 10th Group often sends teams to train with pack horses and mules… at least they did. In northern Iraq, they went in with modified HUMVs. In the 80s we never considered taking vehicles in with us, even for MTTs. Our training goal was to travel on foot with as light a load as possible and live off the land, the indigenous forces and the enemy. However, we had no problem using using what’s at hand. We trained to drive and maintain all manner of Warsaw Pact vehicles. In Lebanon, we acquired a couple of 106 recoilless rifle gun jeeps. As a general rule, we make do with what’s available.

  15. optimax says:

    different clue
    I was always pleased with second place in competition. Figured it was pretty damn good. The anti-Federalists predicted the ’89 Constitution was designed to make the U.S. a world power with a powerful, centralized government and large standing army. They didn’t want us to become like some European nation draining its power with conflict with another Big Power or through colonialism.Doubt if we could have become Costa Rica of the North though.

  16. Jack says:

    In the “greatest economy in history” with the Fed readying a new rate cut cycle not having normalized it’s balance sheet from the previous massive and unprecedented “stimulus” program, what are some of the economic and financial risks on the horizon?
    Some of the risks have got reasonable coverage while others have got none. Economic risks like the multi-month drop in German and EU industrial production, drop in exports from Japan. S.Korea, and Taiwan and slowing auto sales in China, EU and the US as well as YoY sales declines in semiconductors have had decent coverage in the financial media. Risks from declining liquidity in offshore dollar markets and negative swap spreads and the free fall in European bank stocks have had much less coverage.
    One risk that has had no coverage at all is the free fall in Japanese regional bank stocks. This is rather instructive of the risks permeating our globally interconnected credit markets and Japan’s lead in experimental monetary policy. No central bank has gone as far as the BoJ with the current “orthodoxy” in monetary policy. Japan has had ZIRP longer than anyone else, they’ve monetized and now effectively are the JGB market. They’ve monetized publicly traded equities and have the biggest balance sheet relative to GDP to any other developed economy. Yet they’ve been unable to get the economic growth that the central banks claim accrue from “stimulative” monetary policy. One of the flipsides to this extreme policy is that banks can no longer earn sufficient interest income to cover their operating costs and have been forced to search for yield in increasingly risky structured products. Japanese banks have become the largest creditor in covenant-lite CLOs among other instruments. With losses deepening along with legislative efforts to continue to finance loss-making zombie businesses at home with an intractable demographic issue, what happens if they’re forced to cut back on their credit to the immense leveraged structured product market? With corporate debt at 100% of GDP in the US and junk bond yields incredibly compressed this is a significant financial risk that very, very few people are paying attention.

  17. Jack says:

    “I’d shut down all Chinese IPOs – that’s the first step”
    I agree with Mark Cuban but would support taking it further by preventing US investors including banks from financing any CCP linked entity.

  18. blue peacock says:

    I recall you saying sometime back that the Fed and central banks are trapped. That’s become very evident and even the slow learners should be getting it but unfortunately the “narrative machine” prevents good understanding.
    The whole central banking & economist community don’t want to deviate from their belief system on what financialization has done to the economy. Financial markets now drive the economy and not the other way around. With the “narrative machine” fixated on equity markets and lagging indicators like unemployment rates & consumer confidence indexes, they always miss the bond markets in general, precisely because it is far more complex and doesn’t lend itself to simple correlations that the “narrative machine” can spin into cause & effect. Yield curves across the world have been signaling something awry since last summer. The “narrative machine” just can’t go anywhere near the contrary position of the omnipotence of central banks & fiscal authorities. They have to be in the cause & effect world of more & more government intervention.
    Bank stocks which are reflecting bank P/Ls are showing as you point out the risks in ZIRP/NIRP. EU banks are in a death spiral. Effective nationalization is not that far away. And the effect of these policies on pension liabilities has not got the attention it deserves. And the same for insurance liabilities. The military metaphor that to save the village it had to be destroyed is very apt here with monetization across asset classes. To save capitalism it had to be nationalized. Who would have thought that Wall St would be the agent for communism in capitalist economies!

  19. Cheerful lot. Their function at present seems to be solely to force the Conservatives to deliver Brexit, though if they could go further than that and become a permanent force in English politics it wouldn’t do any harm. I’m not happy with their position on defence. The UK seems to be moving closer to the EU on that, Brexit or no, and I don’t think the Brexit Party is making enough fuss about it.

  20. SAC Brat says:

    Ya know, I think it is wild to find a song about Douglas MacArthur. Whodathought?
    The song Brave Son of America was written by Wilmoth Houdini and was first recorded and released by ‘King Houdini and His Calypso Parliament’ in 1947.
    (Of course, being more of a Marshall fan I need to find one for him…)

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