Thursday, October 22, 2015

Putin is Assad (Offside) Again

Putin is 'off side' in Syria now, as well as in EUkrainia. Russian 'interference' in Syria is starting to bother America. Just yesterday the US had to complain that Putin was giving Assad the 'red carpet treatment' on his first visit outside Iraq in 4 years. I expect they would have preferred the Russians 'shirtfront' him over the barrel bombs and ostracize him into leaving office. For the first, and most annoying, aspect of that Russian interference has been an insistence on maintaining Assad in power, in contravention of everything else good and holy that's been going on in Syria.  Assad you see has been busily killing 'everybody' that ISIS hasn't already killed.

Add to that a rumor that the Iraqi government was preparing to ask the same kind of Russian assistance for its war on terror and you have America 'hitting back'. "It's him or me, Delores"  or something like that General Joe Dunford - Marine tough guy and US Chief of Staff is supposed to have told the Iraqi government. There is only room for one good-guy (or 65 of them)  in Iraq's GWOT. If Russia wants to help fight ISIS in Iraq, the USA will be taking its 'balls' home. What in the heck are the other 65 'independent' nations who've seen the sunny side of the need to fight terror in Iraq going to do?  Are they going home on the freedom bird, too?  That would sort of make a big fat lie - or expose a nasty truth -  about 'growing democracy and freedom' and rebuilding damaged lands. I think there would be a whole whack of people in a number of first world countries looking at their boys being used as America's cannon fodder, and changing the regimes that pretend independent action but really just sell-out to Washington. Something like this could put the kibosh on NATO.

Our way or the Other way?

Since Putin started his Syrian campaign the world is missing the blow-by-blows we've come to expect with serious military operations. That could be good reason,  for such 'reporting', later,has often failed to meet any criterion for truth. The results have certainly not borne out the 'descriptions' of 'vic'try'.   Assad has LEFT Syria for the first time in four years.  Maybe something is changing and we just haven't heard about it.  And maybe the Iraqis have.

Maybe 'getting it done' have a very different meaning in US English and in Russian.  Or the 'it' part is completely different between the two.

 It's obvious, given 14 years of the best warfare money money can buy,  that something hasn't been done right, or at all. Who needs a multi-national  coalition if  the strategy and tactics are clear and unimpeded by massive economic 'disruption'?

That trip to Moscow?  Another 'bust' for US intel.  They didn't know he'd gone until he was back in Damascus. And he flew through US-controlled airspace - a war zone - to get there.

Assad's Flight into Russia

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Drones Used to be Fairly Useless Bees

Some whistleblower in the US military has done it again  and this time it's about drone strikes.

The Intercept:the Drone Papers

Jeremy Scahill tried kiting the topic a few years back with his story called "Dirty Wars" and how America was 'droning' the hell out of an undeclared - let alone unannounced or even unremarked war in Yemen. A war that has since taken-off,  whether the western media cover it or nor. Back then it was about cruise missiles taking out and obscure tribal encampment - which led to the the subject of AlAlwaki and the 'droning' of first him, and a week later his teen-aged son.  At the time it was all 'poo-pooed' as the necessary removal of a 'dire' threat to America. Someone who, as a 'turncoat', for at one point he backed the USA, was accused of dispatching a series of incompetent bombers to drop airliners. Rather than sending incompetent bombers to screw up a water supply or take out a power corridor - something that might allow more time and leg room,  as opposed to 'flicking that bic' on a non-smoking flight to set fire to a shoe bomb or some sexy briefs.  Given that track record - and a 100 percent interception rate,  one might think AlAwaki might still have been working for the good guys.  All our 'dire threats' ought to be of such a magnitude.

 But a couple of  things that seem obvious are that the Drones aren't 'solving' anything and they aren't making the situation any better. The number of drone strikes has continued to multiply in response to the increasing numbers who find themselves on a ''targeted killing" list.  Apparently this is a thoroughly vetted and fool-proof way of taking the war to those who most want it.  If that was a believable statement,  a similar 'accident' at a Hospital in Kunduz might lead one to believe that the 'vetting process' may not be all it's cracked-up to be. It seems that the vetting, like some of our wars, is based more on creative writing and creative plagiarism than it may be related to much fact. It's a bad situation but, running afoul any security service , for whatever reason they might 'be concerned' about you, and under no particularly unfortunate or accidental circumstances, can get you very dead.

I am reminded of a warning I received, a few years back, from a friend that my blogs were being read by an 'agency' in New York . This only because I had received an email he sent to a number of people. They were concerned enough, about him, that they were checking his friends and weren't happy with what I was writing.  The 'agency' in question - which at that time was busily hiring speakers of Arabic and mid-eastern languages -  went on to garner a significant contract from the US military to 'find good news' about Iraq, in middle eastern sources. They went on to manufacture 'good news' to be planted in middle eastern sources  Eventually they 'morphed' their business into the interception and evaluation of  'electronic' messages from 'foreign sources' routed through the USA and moved from New York to the mid-west. Maybe they'll be reading this.

It's a sure bet that, once you're noticed, you won't be forgotten and all it takes is somebody 'creative' who wants a promotion to make you a target.

The Case if Bilal Al-Berjawi

Case in point - the  British, Lebanese-born "commander of AQ" who  was 'droned', last spring, in Somalia.  This guy's 'story' reads like that of a number of young Brits who originated in the middle east or Arabic/Muslim parts of the world.  Generally it is traveling that brings them to the attention of somebody and gets them on a list. Once they are there, it seems that they only require some 'proof' - usually in the form of somebody else's reported suspicions, to be placed in the category of physical jeopardy. It's a virtual certainty that, should your 'baseball card' (the description of you and your 'rap sheet') ever wind up on the President's desk, as we are told they ALL do, he's going to pore carefully over your story and ask salient questions to clarify his thinking on your guilt, innocence or whether somebody isn't feeding him the kind of intel that made him think surging into Afghanistan was going to change anything.  He's a busy man and, after a cursory glance, your ass might be grass - he gives 60 days for 'concrete action' to be taken. After that you'd be, what? Home free?  Or a target for some private security firm?

What is disturbing is that these 'cases' are built-up by  'intel' services reflecting back to each other information that they have already traded. It is often cases of what we already 'know' or surmise being turned into 'truth' by receiving it back from somebody who didn't, or doesn't, know.  Al-Berjawi was a 'problem'  for MI5 that was 'shared' with US national security who developed his credentials as a high level AQ commander in Somalia and a risk to US lives  to the point that the US President ordered him assassinated. No one would need to wonder if he wasn't in Somalia because he could no longer go anywhere else?  He certainly couldn't go back to Britain and be arrested tried in a court and convicted - of what?  It was easier for British authorities to let the Americans 'waste him'.

9 out of 10 'problem muslims' or 'potential terrorists' come to the attention of British authorities by traveling to the middle east, and become antagonistic toward British Authorities usually due to 'something' that happens to throw a wrench into their travel plans - an arrest or airport detention.

Given the rapid and increasing use of drone technology in all aspects of government and  civil authority.   The use and abuse of such technology should be studied and if necessary (duh!)  curtailed.  It has all the makings of another Geneva Convention because drone survellance, and drone warfare, can affect everyone.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

They're at the Polls. They're off!

Well actually they've been off for about three months now, but on Monday Canucks everywhere - except for the few 'evil doers' who've been stripped of their one vital 'rite of citizenship', or sent to  the wrong place or accidentally mis-identificated, will be choosing the 'boseaux' who'll be leading them for the next 4.36 years.

Leading the pack is Canada's young wonder - not Bieber the bong-bandit - but the loin-spring of a famous, or infamous depending on yer politics, former Prime Minister.  Justin Trudeau decided to enter politics as a career at the same age his father was padding a canoe to Cuba in preparation for a legal dissertation. That would reflect the distaff side of the family that has him related to a former Cabinet Minister, so there could be some of those 'leadership' genes at work. - Like the Pitts,  Barry Maurice and the other one who looked a bit like prince Valiant. The young fellow has a refreshing sort of manic side which shows from time to time - like staging a boxing match with the big-mouthed bad boy of the Canadian Senate - Pat Brazeau - and tuning him up smartly.  Maybe replacing him in the Senate will be on the first order of business.


The next pony is an interesting cypher of a guy who came from out  of the mourners to assume the mantle of leadership - sort of like how Gorby and the others came from the photo background to head the Communist Party Praesidium - when they still had one of those. Tom Mulcair had to be teaching somewhere,  or running some kind of government services kiosk,  for he has an unctuousness about him that would make him a tricky 'pin-down' in a greased pig competition. He was probably smiling when he knifed that little Madame Mao for the 'leader's' job in the NDP.  He did however hold on to Jack Layton's political opportunism in Quebec and made the party a virtual 'etat'. He's currently the leader of the official opposition and electing more like him couldn't hurt.

The third horse in the race is little Ms May - leader of the Green Party. Actually if she gets a chance she makes a lot of sense about a number of things the others don't. Her party has one solitary seat in parliament and I'm not even sure if it's hers.  Naturally - under the 'current rules' - the good guys are happy to leave her paying the full shot for everything, while the public purse picks up the a big part of the tab for their 'official' election expenses. She has some thoughts on that, and why they get to have all the other seats when she, and the folks who vote for her make up close to 10 percent of the population.

The Bloc Quebecois may be running ccandidates too, but only in and for 'quebeckers' - no national sweeps coming up 'dere'. There are usuially other parties the libertarians, the Communists and the Rhinocerous party for those who'd rather vote than sit around in the basement making sick.

And last but not least is the 'man' Canadians love to hate. The STAR portrays him as some soulless Easter Island-style icon of Toryism.   But he's not, he's more like some fat fuck who got a make-over, his teeth capped and fell into the shitter the day the new suits were being given out.  Mercifully he also had thy political instincts of  a Borgia pope as well as facing a string of 'second-raters' in the other parties. He actually got to approximate the middle of the group photos of the G8 .... G7 .... G6 - and avoided being blackballed by the big boys. For all his brown-nosing around Obama, though,  he got even less than the screwing Bushco gave him over the lumber tariff.   Maybe the president will reward him by signing the pipeline agreement on his last day in office. That would be a better legacy than an imaginary budget surplus - even if it was $2 billion smackeroos. That just means the military won't have put in their prophylactic order for the year and somebodies'  life saving operations have for some reason been cancelled.

Hey it's been an exciting time and not a helluva lot of parliamentary time wasted. Jeez they would have only been back form their summer recess last wee and preparing for the Christmas Break.  Let's send them back to work in the new year with a new agenda.   Less holidays might be a good start.

By way of an update, Young Mr. Trudeau won the election by a larger margin than ever elected his Senior.  As a first order of business he informed President Obama that the bombing department of Canada's part in the 'coalition for Iraqi freedom' was going to be called home.  Hopefully the rest of the mission will follow.   Good start undoing the stupid.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Muammar Row the Boat Ashore

The world media is, all of a sudden,  focussed on the middle eastern refugee problem.  Given that the middle east hasn't seen a peaceful day since the 40's and that 'refugee camps' are now geographic fixtures, how could it come to pass that the world gets blindsided by 'them' shifting their focus to a walk to Europe?  The last time there was such a migration, occurred in the 12th century and went in the opposite direction - the People's Crusade.

We 'knew' there were a lot of refugees - after all hasn't Assad been killing so many of his own people that the West has been 'honour-bound' to get the UN to introduce sanctions and  a little humanitarian bombing? Obama almost got his wish, but Putin 'interfered' to make a deal that (maybe) stopped an 'act of Congress' from adding to the rubble that is modern Syria. The Syrians have been moving out of the line of fire since Ambassador Geoff Pyatt declared the street riot  a legitimate attempt to remove a tyrannical government. That being said, the Gulf States immediately introduced a 'carte blanche' for weapons while the US called for, and trained, 'rebel forces'. Even the perennial bushwhacker John 'the Admiral' McCain  flew over to glad-hand 'the heroes'.  Little was anybody to know these were wolves in camo duds, more affiliated with the kind of  Islamic state that hates our freedoms than the kind of guys who would 'roll over' for a golf cart and a pair of new balance sneakers for each of 'the staff'.

John was shaking hands with the devil himself - Al Baghdadi the Killer.

In less than a year Obama's militias turned into ISIS, and then ISIL. Not only did the clear Assad's forces out of eastern Syria , they launched an invasion of America's second best friend , (well,   third), in Asia and drove the Iraqi government out of the northern half of the country. Then they allied themselves with the Iraqi Sunni 'insurgency ' and drove the Shiite government out of even more territory.  Lately ISIS/IL is only 34 miles from Baghdad. And the 'driving-back' seems stalled, while Europe girds its 'lions' for the fray.

 Needless to say  between the beheadments, and the bombing campaign, anybody with an iota respectable self-preservation made tracks for the nearest neutral ground. In northern Syria that was Lebanon on the west, Turkey to the north or 'Kurdistan' to the east. Anywhere else was into the fire.
And so things remained until Turkey declared itself into the War on Terror. All of a sudden southern Turkey - where the camps were - started to look like places a refugee could get confused with a Kurd. That's right, the Turks declared a 'war on terror' and  promptly attacked the Kurds. The Kurds returned the favour - inside Turkey - and the 'shivaree' was on.  For refugees,  all of a sudden Europe, at a distance, started to have some 'Clampett appeal'.

And so the latter-day 'descent of the Helvetii into Gaul' commenced.  But these weren't Swiss they were mostly Moslem refugees and they descended via Greece and  the Balkans onto south-central Europe. And there were thousands upon thousands of them - taking open boats to the Greek Islands, 'hopping'  the mainland, walking through Greece and the parts of former Yugoslavia to the border of Hungary. There the EuroHans Briker stuck his finger in a Dyke and  tried to stem the tide. But some broke through heading for Germany and even the Scandinavian countries. The Hungarians tried 'defending ' Europe against a tide of 'seekers' -  who  had actually started six months ago and had the Hungarians fencing-off their border. But this time they overwhelmed the border -a number of times. They 'hijacked' (metaphorically) the railway system in order to get to Germany. To-day we have the Austrians volunteering to man the ramparts with their old 'ally'. Holding Europe as they used to do a half a millennium ago.

Now the Euros are just like any other redneck who doesn't want to be forced into Sharia courts or to have to wear baggy pants, smoke the dope of pray eighty-five times a day - even if they do legitimize teen-aged sex slaves. They wanted to keep everybody out. But a kid drowned and a foolish photographer had his reputation made, taking a picture that mobilized the kind of sympathy rednecks save for their pets.  All of a sudden there is a groundswell to stop this or take refugees in. Today another half-dozen babies drowned, and while the patriots claim they shouldn't have taken their kids into danger, they still think that bombing them only hurts 'the bad guys'. And if these people are hurting,  it IS because they are 'bad guys' - in disguise! Those unpowered life rafts are the 'invasion rowboats' we've been told would bring Al Qaeda, or the Taliban, or, now, ISIS, ISIL and all the unholy killers of pandemonium.

Since the Last Time....

Not to be outdone by the Ottomans,  the New Russian Empire itself took up the bombing of the  jihadis in Syria. Like the Turks bombing the Kurds, the Russians targeted  America's allies and bombed the 'anti-Assad forces near their bases on North western Syria. That earned Putin more 'mad dogging' and almost more sanctions - if anybody could think of any. Where any of this goes remains within the 'Mystikal 8 Ball'.

 The change in Russian 'attitude' - from an 'interferer' to a bombing pal,  came after the Prez and the President traded  stink-eyes and unminced words at the UN General Assembly last week.   Apparently Putin came away from that either unknowing, or unconvinced, that the good guys knew better about where he should be dropping his bombs.  The UTube coverage after the first raids was the kind of thing only a real warfighter would want, no shredded women or babies to be seen. Only what the coalition calls 'fighting aged males' - on stretchers or carrying them away.  Surprising since that category seems to make up a significant proportion of the refugees pouring into Europe. But hey, fighting age males have everything going for them.

Speaking of the upside of media coverage. As the Coalition of Justis got ready for a little recorded ass-kicking in Kunduz this past week, they ran afoul the twitterverse when MSF started complaining that somebody with an air force had treated their hospital in that place, to 90 minutes of the best high- rate firepower a first-world military-industrial complex can produce. The shooting killed more 20 staff  and patients and wounded  a good number more.

MSF pulled out of Kunduz.

Nothing out of the ordinary, either in the event - they happen all the time to Afghans- or in the Coalition reaction.  First of was was the doubt over who'd done it, or if it wasn't a fairy tale.  That was followed by the 'mistake' mantra  and the 'well the bad guys were in the hospital wire' malarky.  The latest ' evolution'  of the story is that the Afghans asked fore close air support after 'being attacked' in the area of the hospital. Washes for me if we recall that the C130 'Spooky' and 'Spectre' gunships are the cutting edge of accurately-placed fire. If  you've seen John Wayne in 'The Green Berets' you've seen how they can stitch a lead  seam between gooks and good guys - and that outfit was primitive. Today we're told 'eyes on the ground' designate targets with laser and the guns put the ammo within centimeters - just to make sure they don't shred the wrong people. The Hospital in some weird battle zone prescience,  informed the good guys of their GPS location to save them having to look it up in combat. That apparently didn't happen either.

You'd think the Coalition would train the Afghans better before giving them a designator?  After all wasn't it Afghans who called in an airstrike that wound up 20 miles from the guys who needed it causing an international incident when the attack helos shot up a post 14 miles inside Pakistan?   But that was before the days of Afghans with laser designators ... and MSF 'battlefield' hospitals.

See the update to the story  - Nov 26

Closer to home the Canadian election is entering the home stretch.  The incumbent leader continues to pointing out the danger of switching horses in mid-stream but generally doesn't appear to have much first-hand knowledge of the stream itself. Maybe the horse does. He equates this go-round with not spending money like he has done for 8 successive years now. Almost like magic a budget surplus of $2 billion he said he knew he had,  just 'appeared' in time for the election.  I was reading to-day how the government had 'trimmed back' public housing this year and guess what?  It saved 4 billion dollars!  I think he may have promised it away in new spending.

His other big thing is banning the niqab at citizenship ceremonies. Since the candidate for citizenship would have to identify herself (this isn't gender issue, yet) to the Judge and probably to one other agent of the crown, it matters naught what she has on when she takes her oath - although dignified clothing is mandated for all attending - within abilities, genders and other rights and freedoms. You can't  be sporting a set of bodacious ta-tas, even though a woman's right to do just that in public has been enshrined at least in the Province of Ontario. Most 'old stock' Canadians are 'up in arms' about the topic, swinging the election round to the Steverino who has removed more rights than any premier before him, and some of those were fighting real wars.  Now if Steve were to mandate that all those 'old stockers' also had to attend a citizenship ceremony, say sometime before the age of 18 and twenty-five, and also risk 'decitizenshipment' and exile should they 'turn foul traytor' or become an unwanted criminal, he would lose this election.

The yanks are still playing around getting ready for the first primary, next Spring.

And that refugee crisis in the news for the last two weeks. It's gone just like Yemen, and magic.