Open Thread – 7 February 2023

Just in case anyone feels inclined to comment on the President’s SOTU speech and performance. I thought he did a good job, as did McCarthy.

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50 Responses to Open Thread – 7 February 2023

  1. Whitewall says:

    At least nobody tore up the SOTU speech like Nancy Pelosi did once on camera. That mob assembled last night does reflect our current state.

  2. Fred says:

    Poor George Floyd, from multiple televised funeral and congressional recognition to a forgotten memory in only two years. Much like former Democratic presidential contender Andrew Cuomo, who like those MI and CA governors did not issue a single executive order shutting businesses or schools, no not at all. Politicians didn’t make those decisions. And the Greatest Threat to America since the Civil War! Not crossing the border right now, no sireee. No inflation either. Or balloons. Or Fauci.

    Great speech.

  3. JamesT says:

    Seymour Hersh has a detailed piece reporting that it was the US that took out the Nord Stream pipeline:

    • Fred says:


      Blame America ‘cuase the Europeans sure don’t want to get blamed for that. Poland, the UK, and Norway must be happy with yet another finger pointing at the usual suspect. Does Sy have any sources on what the UK, Poland or Norwegian UDT teams might have been doing at the same time? Maybe he has an insight on what info the Swedes have?

      • JamesT says:


        He provides a lot of detail about how the Norwegians were partners in the operation.

        • Fred says:


          Yes the vaunted Norwegian intellegence services gave the USA ‘the’ information needed to know about the pipeline path because our multi-billion dollar intel agencies did what prior to and during construction of that pipeline? One has to wonder given all the money we spend on them. Then there is the great ‘new’ base North of the Arctic Circle because a seal team leaving from that old, old base in Norfolk really doesn’t justify all that money that just got spent in a foreign country…. I really liked the part about the sonobuoy setting off the explosives, though that kind of belies the OSI showing our ships and aircraft were gone weeks prior to the first explosions happening. I believe it was discussed here at length.

          • Fourth and Long says:

            A Norwegian Navy aircraft dropped a hydroacoustic buoy that detonated explosive devices. — According to Hersh story.
            Wasn’t it a “Norwegian weather research missile” that in 1995 nearly fooled the Yeltsin administration into thinking they were under attack?

            Did you find Hersh’s description of the super-sophistcated sound signal used as a trigger plausible (he references Apostol, a retired MIT scientist)? Quite a bit of trust if so.

          • Whitewall says:

            The OSI accounted for the ships and planes but managed to miss the high altitude balloon left in place. Balloons are the ‘in thing’ now.

          • Fred says:


            Did you notice not a single mention of the UK or Poland? Nothing to see there, move along.
            Oh, and salinity is important, so how do you measure that 260 feet down? Is it like “climate change” temperature and the same everywhere? Anyways a sonobouy with a special tone, like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”


            yes the balloon. Almost like “the plane” from Fantasy Island. The timing of the story is convenient too, given that great SOTU speech.

    • English Outsider says:

      I’d suggest that in itself the Hersh article is of little interest.

      That’s because it was either the Russians who sabotaged the pipeline or us.

      The Russians would need their heads examining were they to have done it. They and the Chinese are busy building up a nexus of trading and diplomatic relationships outside the West. For that to take off the Russians in particular need to maintain a cast iron reputation for holding to deals. Who would want a Russian pipeline supplying their country with vital energy if they feared the Russians might blow it up for some reason in the future?

      And Russian conduct of the war in Ukraine is very much determined by the extent to which they need to take the non-Western world with them. Whatever final settlement is arrived at in Ukraine, it’s shape will largely be determined by the degree to which China and India feel comfortable with that final settlement. And there’s going to be a lot for them to have to feel comfortable about, given that both China and India reject in their own cases any idea of borders getting adjusted as the Russians will do in Ukraine.

      So the Russians’d be mad to throw away all that goodwill and confidence by blowing up the pipeline. Their big selling point to non-western countries is that they hold to deals. That’s why, incidentally, we’ve seen nothing much if at all in the way of counter-sanctions against Europe. It’s not that they love us. It’s that counter-sanctions inevitable entail the breaking of contracts and Russia doesn’t want to be seen as a contract breaker to the non-Western countries it’s courting. The same but more applies to the blowing up of pipelines.

      Could the Russians have done it so covertly that it would never get out? On a big thing like blowing up Germany’s main supply of cheap gas, no. It would get out eventually and even the suspicion that the Russians had done it would destroy the reputation the Russians want to maintain in the non-Western world.

      So it had to be one of us. Some country in the West. We knew that before the Hersh article and however good or authentic that article is, it adds nothing to our knowledge. And if it’s not authentic it does not detract from our knowledge. We did it and that’s that.

      It’s the wicked timing of the article that struck me. The Germans have tried to look away from the fact that someone blew up their gas pipes from the start. A while back they were saying they couldn’t talk about it on national security grounds. Everything had gone rather quiet on that score. And then Hersh drops his bombshell.

      The German government is still trying to look away. No government wants to admit they’ve been taken for mugs. So far, as far as I know, there’s been no reaction of substance from them. But it’s moving from the internet to the German press:-

      Soon questions will have to be asked. I reckon Hersh will be waiting to inspect whatever answers emerge.

  4. Fourth and Long says:

    I don’t believe that the jets on 911 were holographic in origin. However, Joe Biden last night? In other news Seymour Hersh has published “How America took out the Nord Stream” pipeline. Quite detailed.

    • Fourth and Long says:

      Some excerpts midway into the article. Referencing Leith’s comment below – now that Turkey has been demolished by an act of tragic circumstance I venture that it will have little in the way of resisting US and UK efforts to conduct a repeat of the 19th century Crimean war. I’m saying that effectively the stairs may be considered wide open, though of course that will not be acknowledged publicly. They are totally over the proverbial barrel. Cynical? Yes. The UK Economist Magazine was early to publish “estimates” by an “expert” on “earthquakes” that the number of fatalities may be closer to 180,000 than the 16,000 or so acknowledged as of right now. Very interesting, Watson.
      From Hersh article:

      Nevertheless, in early 2022, the CIA working group reported back to Sullivan’s interagency group: “We have a way to blow up the pipelines.”

      What came next was stunning. On February 7, less than three weeks before the seemingly inevitable Russian invasion of Ukraine, Biden met in his White House office with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who, after some wobbling, was now firmly on the American team. At the press briefing that followed, Biden defiantly said, “If Russia invades . . . there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”

      Twenty days earlier, Undersecretary Nuland had delivered essentially the same message at a State Department briefing, with little press coverage. “I want to be very clear to you today,” she said in response to a question. “If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.”
      Several of those involved in planning the pipeline mission were dismayed by what they viewed as indirect references to the attack.

      “It was like putting an atomic bomb on the ground in Tokyo and telling the Japanese that we are going to detonate it,” the source said. “The plan was for the options to be executed post invasion and not advertised publicly. Biden simply didn’t get it or ignored it.”

      Biden’s and Nuland’s indiscretion, if that is what it was, might have frustrated some of the planners. But it also created an opportunity. According to the source, some of the senior officials of the CIA determined that blowing up the pipeline “no longer could be considered a covert option because the President just announced that we knew how to do it.”

      The plan to blow up Nord Stream 1 and 2 was suddenly downgraded from a covert operation requiring that Congress be informed to one that was deemed as a highly classified intelligence operation with U.S. military support. Under the law, the source explained, “There was no longer a legal requirement to report the operation to Congress. All they had to do now is just do it—but it still had to be secret. The Russians have superlative surveillance of the Baltic Sea.”

      • Fourth and Long says:

        Typo – the Straits (may be considered open – Bosporus and Dardanelles) not “stairs”. Apple spell-check again? Was “stairs” a Freudian slip on the thought of escalation banana peels? Not necessarily, stairs can get you down too.

      • Fourth and Long says:

        It just dawned on me reading the excerpt above for the third time – that there’s something very interesting here. Two things PRECEDED Russian invasion (assuming of course, that the account of Seymour Hersh is accurate).

        First: Fully formulated Kinetic operation plans to destroy Nord Stream Gas pipelines 1 and 2.

        Second: Biden family involvement in Burisma – a Ukrainian Gas company. The destroyed pipelines carried gas, interestingly.

        A suspicious mind might see a “tell” there somewhere. Especially in the extreme lack of caution Hersh is pointing to in the cited text above. This will be a field day for paranoiacs.

  5. Leith says:

    UK will now start training Ukrainian pilots and marines.

    So what aircraft will they be training on? Tornados? I suspect not. Harriers are old, but their VSTOL capacity would suit using them on forward basing not much larger that helopads. Or possibly Typhoons?

    Marines? Does this presage a right hook on the beaches of Crimea? Most of those beaches are backed by mountains or high bluffs, which make large amphibious landings somewhat unsuitable. And there is not much amphib shipping available.

    • Millie says:

      Even those ridiculing Russian military the most, concede that their SAM systems are no joke. Even Ukrainian S300s, BUKs etc have managed to keep the Russians from establishing air superiority. Whose gonna give the Ukrainians expensive fighters to be shot down?

    • JamesT says:


      Maybe Eurofighter Typhoons? A bunch of European countries have them.

    • Leith says:

      JamesT – Concur re the Eurofighter.

      Millie – Both the S300 and Buk were Soviet designed and built before the rise of the Putin’s oligarch buddies and their gutting of the Russian defense industry via graft and corruption. They are good weapons. But the Russian crews have been a bit hesitant in using them since last summer when the Ukrainian air force received HARM anti-radiation missiles.

      • Millie says:


        Soviet design sure but I make a distinction between those operated by the Russians vs Ukrainians because the Russians have been upgrading theirs continuously. For example, the Russians introduced the 9M338 missile for their Tor systems that offers improved range and precision and enables the system to carry 16 instead of 8 rockets.

        They’ve both been firing anti-radiation missiles at each other. The results are not spectacular since they are both quite adept at the cat and mouse game.

        In any case, my point is, why give Ukrainians expensive fighters when they’ll not be able to use them effectively because of the very capable air defence ? And that is even if they had proper training, logistics etc.

        Maybe, a platform can be chosen and the training started so that in a year or two, if the war is ended and Ukraine survives, they can start rebuilding their air force around that platform.

      • Leith says:

        Millie – Perhaps you are right. But on the other hand it is not just the Russians that have been upgrading SAMs. Ukrainians are NOT lacking in technological expertise. They have been upgrading their missiles since 2014 or earlier with new seeker heads, better fuses, advanced radars, and extended range.

        You are right that Russia also has an anti-radiation missile. But Ukrainian SAMs continue to operate and use their radar. Whereas the Russians are using many of their S-300 SAMs in a surface-to-surface mode where they do not need to turn on the radar.

        Pilot training? The pilots assigned to fly Typhoon Eurofighters or other western aircraft will already be experienced in flying MIGs or Sukhois. They will only need conversion training, which should not be much longer than a month or so. A longer time will be needed to train the maintenance techs, how much I don’t know but suspect it would not take the year of so you mention. Except of course for depot level maintenance, that would not be done inside Ukraine at least until the war is over.

        • Millie says:


          A month of conversion training seems pretty optimistic.
          Someone who has been flying MIGs has to unlearn one system and learn another so well that it becomes muscle memory. You can’t be flying a fast moving fighter jet into battle and have time to think about how to operate it. That must be automatic. Then there is language transition, then they have to learn to operate various weapons platforms, train specific mission profiles etc.

          6 months, maybe ?

        • Leith says:

          Millie – I’m not a pilot so may well be wrong. Was thinking of a pilot with hundreds of flight hours in one type aircraft getting a rating in a new type of aircraft. But you are right that it does not consider going directly into combat after only four or so weeks in the new bird.

          Although for language transition there are many English speakers in Ukraine and I would bet that includes many of the flyboys. And they are extremely motivated to learn fast and get on with it to defend their country. So although I admit to being overly optimistic about a single month, I suspect six months or more is what my grandma used to call “gilding the lilly”.

        • Mark Logan says:


          A month to six weeks for an experienced fighter jock to transition into anything similar IF they can go up every or nearly every day.

          We should perhaps bear in mind that no flight training, even basic, can be conducted in Ukraine at the moment. They need a place to host every level of pilot training, fixed and rotary.

          • Millie says:


            There are simulators, so there’s a bunch of stuff you can learn while on the ground.
            Still, learning to competently operate complex and very expensive systems in life and death situations takes time.
            I’ve heard somewhere that there is a facility in the US that specializes in conversion training of pilots from Russian/Soviet to US jets.

        • Leith says:

          Mark Logan & Millie – You all are apparently correct.

          At least according to Col. Yuri Ignat, chief spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force. He has stated in the past in reference to F-16 training:
          “To learn the first stage of takeoff and landing and flying from point A to point B, it will take a few weeks, but to learn how to fight on it, to learn how to use missiles, we will take around six months”. That is per an Air Force Magazine article from seven months ago.

          I’m not 100% on board with that. Sounds right for new aviators but not veterans with hundreds or thousands of hours or more of aerial combat. Any pilots here? What kind of transition training did a USAF senior captain, major, light colonel, or full colonel fighter pilot receive when he went from an F-4 or F-15 to an F-16 squadron? No way I believe it was six months. Although I grant you that going from a MIG to an F-16 would be a bit more brain boggling. But aren’t the MIG-29 and the F-16 both considered 4th generation fighters?

          • LeaNder says:

            I’m not 100% on board with that. Sounds right for new aviators but not veterans with hundreds or thousands of hours or more of aerial combat.

            Leith, I have been wondering for some time, but didn’t want to ask. Maybe you wrote it already and I should recall? Here goes anyway: What is your combat experience, what branch? I vaguely seem to recall you might have been asked before. Or mentioned it yourself.

          • Leith says:

            LeaNder –

            Let us all know your background also. Don’t be so secretive. For me, I was what some here have referred to as a dumb jarhead. Spent my deployments mostly in WestPac except for a cruise in the Med and another in the IO. Later as a civilian contractor I did visit your beautiful country several times

          • LeaNder says:

            dumb jarhead
            hmm, semper fi. Thanks, Leith.

            I am not important. Consider me one of those not so rare internet nuisances, subset: one of those the Colonel kept struggling with. Since I am retired, I sometimes do have sometimes too much time on my hands.

            Before I retired, I worked partly in a civil field that is close to your last item in the list: IO. The civil part of the branch is very, very aware of its origins in war and religion. I saw worse definitions.


            The purpose of communications is to inform desired audiences in order to influence those audiences to act, or not act, in a manner that is beneficial to the organization.

          • Leith says:

            LeaNder –

            Info Ops does seem to fit with you. But that’s not what I was referring to regarding an IO cruise.

          • LeaNder says:

            Ok, Leith. I did switch on my brainwaves. Lazy! Since you alluded to the Med, earlier, IO more likely may mean Indian Ocean too. Crusing helped. Thanks.

            I hated PR too mostly, thus I may really be very, very bad at info ops. 😉

          • Mark Logan says:


            I am a pilot but not the kind that has knowledge of fighter aircraft. I do know a retired F-15 jock, who has a lot of F15 time. Here was his response to my question of how long it might take him to transition from an F-15 to a similar Russian fighter:

            “Ugh. Total guess without knowing the intricacies’ of the jets, probably 2-3 months of a fire hose course to be really proficient. Maybe a bit less if you focused on like just the air to air mission for example. But there’s the added hurdle of everything in the jet is in Russian and meters and shit. Flying it would not be too terribly difficult. Employing it would be a different story.”

          • Leith says:

            Thanks Mark. I wonder if his answer would have been different if he spoke and read Russian? As alluded to above there are English speaking Ukrainian pilots that could be sent for the first round of training.

            His comment that training could take less time if focused on just a specific mission is particularly insightful. IMO that should be the priority in the UKR Air Force.

            Artillery training, although nowhere near as technical, has been extremely abbreviated. War translated has an article from an Artillery brigade commander that speaks of that. When the invasion started they enlisted young guys off the street with no prior military background and trained them in two weeks tops – no basic training, just 10 to 14 days learning how to become a cannon crew member or work in a fire support job. In the states it would take 17 to 18 weeks minimum. There is much to be gained by compressing training schedules when your homes and families are under attack.


          • Bubba Schwartz says:

            I have “brown shoe” AF pilot lineage, from WWII forward. SAC, TAC, MAC, AFSOC, ATC, AETC, AMC, ACC. Bombers, fighters, transports, rescue, special ops. Best case scenario, taking a veteran MiG driver to fully combat capable lawn dart (F-16) driver is 9 mos, IMHO…… and that’s assuming NO language barrier. Add another 15 months if starting with a raw recruit. Then there.s the logistics, maintenance, C&C issues…. my 2 cents, your mileage may vary.

      • Bubba Schwartz says:

        A capable AirPower force will take YEARS to gin up. This is all one big pipe dream.

  6. jim ticehurst.. says:

    I Thought That Old.”.Grey Pamper’ Joe..Did everything but give a Fist Salute\To The Old Sixtys Berkley Alumni..Who Started The Revolution,,,With His Rally Cry..
    “Lets Finish The Job”…(Famine and Pestilence)
    He Sounded Like He Forgot What Decade He Was In..Often..Even Moderate enough
    At Times To Get Some Applause..From The American Side of the Aisle..

    He has a Future…Doing Dental Implant Commercials…That Can Include Family
    Members..(Mobs Like Operating that Way)

    Thank God..Indeed…for Some Sarah Sanity…To Close This Event..

  7. TV says:

    He did a “good” job of lying.
    At least he’s (unconsciously) consistent, a phony dumb liar.

  8. TV says:

    Once again, proof that ther are no “secrets.”
    All the hoopla about Trump and Biden and classified documents is just that.
    The US government can’t keep a secret,
    And the incompetent FBI can’t catch spies; they’re too busy corrupting elections.

  9. English Outsider says:

    Hmmm. All very serious. Open thread or not, I don’t think it’s a great idea giving the Colonel’s readers my recipe for curried swede today. So the US loses out on a valuable addition to its culinary arsenal. Though it’d probably turn out that somewhere in Minnesota they’ve been doing it for ever anyway.

    On a serious note I was very glad to hear above that the Colonel is recovering. Get well soon, Colonel!

    • LeaNder says:

      Curried swede is a sweetish Swedish variation of the British/Indian curried sweet spices or dishes?

      This is an interesting snippet from a country with loads of troubles of its own, thus maybe less willing to look for or create troubles abroad? Already makes headlines over here:

      a Naftali Bennett snippet via Aaron Maté:

      • Leith says:

        LeaNder –

        Rutabagas. It has nothing to do with Swedish recipes.

        Bennett denies your video snippet. Says ‘It’s unsure there was any deal to be made’. It was the Kremlin’s Wurlitzer that said negotiations were blocked by the West.

        • LeaNder says:

          Not so fast No one said there was a deal, or did someone? I sure didn’t.

          It goes without saying such snippets tend to be used in whatever type of interested framings. I am not aware of the Russian one that caught your eyes.

          I read an article by Martin van Crevald over here and other related articles in Swiss and German papers none alluded to a ready deal. As is completely clear from the snippet. Nothing to see or hear there.

          What did you understand, I wonder.

        • LeaNder says:

          Thanks anyway: “Rutabagas”, nothing to do with Swedish recipes. I was joking by the way. But apparently a loan word from swedish.

          Hmm, curried Swede. Highly rare vegetable over here.

          • English Outsider says:

            LeaNder – I think it’s usually called Steckrübe. I have never come across it eaten by humans in Germany though it’s fed to livestock there.

            There’s a picture here:-.


            A much despised vegetable with hidden potential. Not hidden when it’s curried, though! That needs skill, determination, and a certain heedless disregard for culinary norms. I get by, as always when I cook anything, with the last two.

  10. Something purely for entertainment:

    See Carolyn Sampson and the English National Opera
    show how entertaining they can make Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen:

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