Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Case Against Iran

A commenter on an earlier post questions whether the Mullahs really mean to kill off the Israelis. Here's the evidence.

1. The Mullahs treat 34 million Iranians as subhuman

That's Iranian women - mothers, wives, sisters and daughters - who they execute for "Crimes Against Chastity". This documentary is a dramatized account of the Mullahs' hanging of a kid for allegedly having sex prior to marriage.

Several Iranians interviewed thought the hanging wrong because the girl was framed and at 16 should not have been executed.

Apparently the Mullahs don't execute people aged under 18, but in this case the 52 year old who'd abused the girl, and the judge who tried the case both lied about her age. The program ends with a declaration of progress - two girls, one aged 13 and one 17 just had had their death sentences commuted - to life imprisonment!

Of course the age of the victim is irrelevant - the execution of any person (they hang homosexuals too) for exercising a sexual choice is a crime against humanity. It's particularly heinous because it's an attack by the physically stronger men on the women that bear and raise their children.

If the Mullahs can do this, they'll use nukes as soon as they have them.

2. Iranian males are desensitized to brutality

Under the Mullahs, all executions are conducted in town squares using a crane to hang the victim in front of a large audience.

This method of execution is horrible.


Instead of a fall through a trapdoor and immediate death by broken neck, the victim slowly strangles - lighter people take much longer than heavier. Their hands and feet are tied, so they'll wriggle and twist in a desperate but futile attempt to avoid asphyxiation. They can't cry out because they can't breath. After their airway is fully crushed, they'll take about 5 minutes to die. Sometime during this process they'll lose control of their bowels and bladders.

While all this is going on, the crane operator swings the jib of his crane, so all of the audience get good views of the agonized, defiled, dripping, struggling, dying victim.

This is
desensitization:
...a method to reduce or eliminate an organism's negative reaction to a substance or stimulus.
The Iranian spectators are being conditioned to disregard the most basic human instincts: pity, empathy, and protection of the weak. So conditioned, they'll cheer the slaughter of every Israeli man, woman and child.

3. The Mullahs have said they'll destroy Israel

The Mullahs are much clearer about their plan to kill Jews than Hitler was before WW2 - here's his most explicit speech from
January 30th, 1939:

"Europe cannot find peace until the Jewish question has been solved...

In the course of my life I have very often been a prophet and have usually been ridiculed for it. … Today I will once more be a prophet: if the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshivization of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe."

Note his threat is conditional ("if the...Jewish financiers") and passive ("the result will be"). In spite of that qualified & passive threat he went on to kill 6 million Jews

By contrast, the Iranian leadership has
said plainly that Iran intends to wipe Israel off the map, and is busily acquiring the means to do so.

These three reasons are why the IDF will attack Iran, and why the US is honor bound to help - not just as an ally but as the last, best hope for humanity.


UPDATE Sept 1: Fixed typos and gave up on Blogger's image posting.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

All The President's Betrayers

The President delegates - a very effective style that Reagan used. But it only works if the manager has a keen sense of the moral qualities of his subordinates, and emerging detail of the Wilson/Plame affair shows the President trusting flawed people. He may still be doing that.

Here’s the latest story (my ellipsis) on who blew the cover of CIA desk-jockey Plame - I’d caution it isn’t confirmed:
…the Bush official who first disclosed Ms. Plame's identity was none other than former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.According to a new book ...Mr. Armitage was Mr. Novak's primary source for his now famous column of July 14, 2003, that first publicly revealed Ms. Plame's CIA pedigree.

In other words, the leaker wasn't Karl Rove or Scooter Libby or anyone else in the White House who has been accused of running a conspiracy against Ms. Plame as revenge for her husband Joe Wilson's false accusations against the White House's case for war with Iraq.

Mr. Armitage…was part of Colin Powell's team at State and well known as an internal Administration opponent of the "neo-cons" who supported the ouster of Saddam Hussein. The book alleges that Mr. Armitage knew as early as October 2003 that he was Mr. Novak's prime source, yet he kept quiet about it even as his colleagues in the Administration were dragged through years of criminal investigation and media accusations as the possible leaker.

Mr. Armitage never did tell the White House or his boss, the President, that he was the leaker. Instead, in October 2003 he told Mr. Powell, who told the State Department general counsel, who in turn told the Justice Department but gave the White House Counsel only the sketchiest overview of what he'd learned and didn't mention Mr. Armitage's name. So while Mr. Fitzgerald (the Special Prosecutor) presumably knew when he began his probe two months later that Mr. Armitage was Mr. Novak's source, the President himself was apparently kept in the dark…

At a minimum, there appears to be a serious question of disloyalty here. By keeping silent, Messrs. Powell and Armitage let the President take political heat for the case, while also letting Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby and other White House officials twist in the wind for more than two years. We also know that it was the folks in Mr. Powell's shop--including his former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson and intelligence officer Carl Ford Jr.--who did so much to trash John Bolton's nomination to be Ambassador to the U.N. in 2005.
If this is true, Powell is a dishonest and disloyal creature – and since leaving the administration he's confirmed that:
In 35 years of service as a soldier, Colin Powell earned a reputation as the quintessential disciplined warrior. As secretary of state in President Bush's first term, Powell was widely seen as a disciplined, moderate -- and loyal -- voice for the administration. Now out of government service, Powell is airing openly his disappointments and frustration on everything from the invasion of Iraq to the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.
I’d never have trusted Powell – his speech, phrasing, and body language are way too controlled and yet he presents himself as a simple soldier.

And I have the same feelings of instinctive distrust towards Powell’s successor, Ms Rice.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The New Israel

As Israelis come to terms with the reality that Iran and the Palestinians seek their complete destruction, their nation will change dramatically. This post suggests how, and a subsequent post suggests how the new nation will defeat its 8 major enemies.

Israelis are now seeking new leadership to defeat the existential threat. The IDF is using its occupation of Southern Lebanon (granted by the incompetent UN) to deconstruct Hizbollah’s defenses and weapons, and to design and test the tactics, weapons and training needed to clean it out.

Less obvious changes are happening.

A Move To Offense

Faced with extinction, with no reliable allies (if the Dems get control), with a tiny land area, and all diplomatic options played out, Israel must take the fight to the enemy.

As in its past wars, it’ll use surprise in timing, weapons and tactics, so expect a period of apparently sincere Israeli diplomacy.

Abandonment of Palestinian Statehood

Expect the West Bank and Gaza to be progressively converted to sealed buffer zones policed by heavily armored internal security troops with their own air assets.

Dirty Tricks

Expect lots of these.

Israel has a
Corruption Perception Index of 6.3 – better than Italy, but low for a democracy. That’s because it includes 1 million Arabs, who likely share Iraq’s CPI of 2.2. Correcting for that gives a non-Arab Israeli CPI of 7.1 - a high trust culture similar to Spain and Japan.

As the World Cup demonstrated, high trust cultures are at a disadvantage when competing with low trust culture in a rules-based framework - because in low trust societies, cheating is applauded. Pallywood and the recently exposed deceptions of the Western news agencies are classic low trust behavior.

So expect Israel to adopt a low trust war-fighting stance – rigged news photos and reports, deniable military operations, the taking of hostages, and disregard for the Geneva Conventions.

Third Strike

We survived the Cold War because of second strike - both sides were able to destroy their enemy after receiving a full first strike.

But Israel has more than one enemy. It faces not just Iran, but also its nuclear-armed supporter Russia and maybe – based on recent behavior - France. Neither of these is likely to nuke Israel directly, but either could neutralize its second-strike force with satellite tracking, ASW, and hunter-killer subs.

These indirect enemies are much larger and richer than Israel, but both are highly centralized and would suffer enormously from the destruction of their capital cities. The capability to do this to such indirect combatants can be termed third strike.

An Israeli third strike capability could use Jericho 3 IRBMs - each can deliver an 0.4 Megaton warhead on Moscow or Paris.

Weapons Self Sufficiency

It’s possible the US denied Israel weapons and/or spares in the recent conflict to force it to comply with the Franco/US UN resolution – we know for sure that State is investigating Israel’s use of weapons used routinely by US forces.

A nation facing destruction can’t afford this second-guessing, so going forward expect Israel to deploy only weapons it sources itself. That could be a problem when it comes to replace its F15Is and F16Is in 10 years, but by then either Israel or its enemies will be gone.

For this reason, I think it unlikely that Israel will deploy the THEL short-range missile defense. Plus of course it’s defensive.


Energy Independence

So far as I can make out, Israel's energy comes from imported coal and oil. Since the coming wars are likely to make oil a scarce commodity and risk the loss of ports, expect a crash program to build nuclear power plants.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Scared Russians

The Russian struggle to protect Iran's nukes has become desperate.

As previously noted, the US can destroy the Iranian nuclear program with no collateral damage and no risk to American lives with a few dozen Trident missiles tipped with non-nuclear bunker busters.

Building and fitting the warheads will cost under $100 million. Fellow-travelers in Congress have tried to block the work, so it'll be being run as a Black program.

The Russians are scared (my ellipsis and emphasis):
...in...Fairbanks, Rumsfeld met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Ivanov. They discussed the situation in the Middle East and in Afghanistan as well as Russian concern about an announced U.S. plan to remove nuclear warheads from some Trident long-range missiles aboard submarines and replace them with conventional warheads for potential use on short notice against terrorist targets.

"I would like to stress this point: These are preliminary (U.S.) plans and for sure these plans raise Russian concern," Ivanov said during a joint news conference with Rumsfeld... "There can be different solutions" to the problem, such as using cruise missiles in that role, he added.
I bet that made SecDef chortle - Russia wants the US only to use weapons they can shoot down! The Tor M1 system Ivanov is installing in Iran right now has this capability (my emphasis):
Kill probabilities for later versions are quoted as:
0.92-0.95 against aircraft
0.80-0.96 against helicopters
0.60-0.90 against cruise missiles (with an effective range of around...3 miles
0.70-0.90 against precision munitions (LGBs, glide bombs, etc.)
0.90 against UAVs

I hope the Tridents are ready soon - if the Dems control congress after November, the Israelis will have to do the job themselves. With nukes.

Sharia Law

On August 19, Muslims marched from from London's Edgware Road station, where one year earlier their co-religionists committed mass murder. The marchers demanded sharia law, and now a brave woman tells us exactly what that is.

This story is via LGF, and involves two sources that I'd not trust to tell the time - the BBC and Guardian - proving that flowers can grow in ordure.

The woman producer of a BBC documentary on the Mullah's killing of a kid tells how she traveled to Iran and collected video and interviews. She risked the torture, rape and murder Iranian cops inflict on western women.

Her story is here, and includes these details of sharia law:
Under sharia law, the age of criminal responsibility
for a girl is nine (for boys it is 15). A girl of nine can be tried and sentenced in the same way as a man of 40.

According to sharia law, execution for sex outside marriage should be by stoning, but shortly after the revolution, the Iranian authorities took to hanging people from cranes no matter what the crime.

In Britain, the standard of proof needed for conviction is "beyond reasonable doubt". In sharia law it is "the knowledge of the judge".
Blair's government has refused to criminalize the organization that demands this barbarism, so its supporters can march through London at their pleasure. But hopefully I'll encounter them on my next visit.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Eight Enemies Of Israel

Israelis are realists, and will act on a rational calculation of those seeking their nation's destruction. Here’s my guess of their conclusions – tomorrow I’ll suggest how it may destroy or undermine these enemies.

This list is ranked by the level of the threat to Israel’s existence, with the most serious first.

Enemy 1: Oil

Without the billions of dollars oil brings into the treasuries of Israel’s enemies, they wouldn’t be able to build nukes, buy fancy weapons, or sustain significant populations.

Enemy 2: Russia

Without Russia, Israel would be safe. Russia (and its Soviet predecessor) has armed Israel’s enemies since the 1970s, and supplied them with intelligence and satellite intell since 1973. It’s
said to have nukes targeting Israel.

It supplied Iran, Syria and Hizbollah with an enormous modern arsenal, including its best anti-tank missiles.

Russia is blocking UN sanctions to stop the Mullahs building their bomb, and defending the bomb manufacturing facilities with state-of-the-art air defenses, which may be good enough to take down Israel’s second-strike cruse missiles.

Enemy 3: Iran

Most would put Iran top of this list, but without oil dollars and Russian weapons Iran would be just another MidEast dump.

Enemy 4: Syria

Syria is the enemy next door, armed to the teeth with Russian weapons paid for by Iranian oil dollars. It's the master of Hizbollah, providing it with all of its weapons and logistics, plus support bases outside of Lebanon.


Syria has three brigades of surface-to-surface missiles, capable of hitting any target in Israel and likely tipped with highly toxic Sarin, VX gas, mustard gas, anthrax, botulinum toxin, and Ricin. It’s said to have agreed to hide Iranian nuclear materials in the (unlikely) event of UN sanctions.

Enemy 5: The Western MSM

The Western MSM
distorts its news coverage to limit Israel’s ability to defend itself. The MSM uses selective reporting, forgery, staging and simple dishonesty. A few thousand individuals, some local Muslims but most based in Western cities - notably London, Paris and New York - are responsible for the distortion. Their most recent success was to shut down Israel’s campaign in Lebanon.

Enemy 6: The UN

In all of Israel’s wars, the UN forced it to cease operations before its forces had won decisive victories, so guaranteeing future wars. UN “peacekeepers” stepped out the way when Israel’s enemies were ready to mount invasions and were complicit in terror attacks on Israel. In the Lebanese conflict, the UN
published daily details of Israeli troop movements - but not those of Hizbollah.

Enemy 7: The US State Department and British Foreign Office

Both institutions are “Arabist”, and in the recent conflict supplied
state-of-the-art equipment to Hizbollah, and investigated Israel’s’ use of cluster bombs. Politicians notionally control both organizations, but this provides a humorous primer on how state employees control their political masters.

Enemy 8: Pakistan

The
head of Pakistan’s nuke program gave the Mullahs the means to wipe out Israel. The Pakistani government did not sanction him, and is probably providing technical support for the Iranian centrifuge program.

The Brit Media, Victory, and Defeat

This is not the Brit Media's finest hour - it's crowing, incorrectly, that Israel just lost a war and hasn't noticed a defeat of the British Army.

Here's the start of the
Brit defeat:

23 August. The first British camp to be handed to the Iraqis was looted almost bare within days of the Army's departure. Most items that could be removed were taken, including air conditioning units, water filtration systems, chairs, bedding and kitchen utensils.

The transfer last month was widely heralded as a signal that Iraq would soon be ready to run itself.

When the commander of British forces in south-east Iraq, Brig James Everard, discussed the matter with the province's governor he was told that the camp had "largely gone".

British officers privately say they blame the governor for much of the looting and believe some of the air conditioning units are now in his private office.

Rather than shelling the crap out of this governor's "private office", the Brits kept running (my emphasis):

26 August. Thousands of jubilant Iraqis looted the British military base in Amarah yesterday, only a day after the Army pulled out of the camp. Everything from doors and window frames to corrugated roofing and metal pipes was pillaged from Camp Abu Naji, previously Britain's only permanent base in Maysan province.

Hundreds gathered around the local offices of Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shia cleric whose followers had fired 281 mortar rounds and rockets at the camp, to offer their congratulations. A loudspeaker repeatedly broadcast the triumphant message: "This is the first Iraqi city that has kicked out the occupiers."

A memorial to the 22 British soldiers killed in Maysan since the invasion of March 2003 had already been removed and is to be re-erected at the British military camp in Basra airport.

This is not to mock the brave men who fought and the 22 who died to free these wretches, but to note that leaving the enemy in possession of the battlefield is termed "defeat" and so their sacrifices were for nothing. So it's urgent the Brits learn what went wrong and fix it.

But rather than report this disaster, the London Times indulged in this gloating fantasy:

Israeli army morale shattered

The Israeli public are struggling to accept that the country’s security might now depend on whether a French-led United Nations peacekeeping force proves able to disarm Hezbollah.

The Times makes much of the public infighting going on in Israel. But the reporters are presumably kids who don't know Israelis always have brutal self-examinations after their wars. In 1973 these led to Golda Meir's resignation, and in 1982 400,000 Israelis rallied to protest the war. That's what makes the IDF so effective. Unlike the Brits, Israelis know public institutions decay over time, and their weaknesses are only revealed in the pitiless light of the battlefield.

Plus, the Israelis didn't lose - after killing 25% of Hizbollah's battlefield strength they stopped fighting because a UN resolution told them to.

And The Times missed Annan's confirmation that UN forces - French led or otherwise - won't disarm Hizbollah.

If it's capable of building a better fact base, The London Times should examine the real disaster that's happened to its own nation's army.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Stopping Israel Buying US Weapons

Strangely, the State Department is working to minimize US leverage on Israel.

State is investigating Israel for using US-supplied weapons in combat:

The State Department is investigating whether Israel misused US-made cluster bombs in civilian areas of Lebanon.

The United Nations said unexploded cluster bombs, which are anti-personnel weapons that spray bomblets over a wide area litter bombed-out homes, gardens and highways in south Lebanon.

"We are definitely looking into these allegations, and we'll see where they lead," State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said Friday. The inquiry will determine whether the munitions were used, and if so how, Gallegos said.

Israel said it was forced to hit civilian targets in Lebanon because Hezbollah fighters were using villages as a base for rocket-launchers aimed toward Israel.


The State Department has adopted two nonsensical positions. The first is to ignore Hizbollah, which uses the Muslim tactic of concealing itself among civilians. Does State really expect users of US weapons to sit back under massive rocket attack?

The second is that the US routinely uses cluster bombs itself - in Kosovo and most recently in Afghanistan - so why is Israel special?

All weapons procurement agencies - including the DoD - are reluctant to use foreign suppliers because they might cut off supplies in the middle of a war - as Belgium did to the Brits in the Gulf War. They only use foreigners when they can't build the system locally and if the supplier is highly trusted.


Israel's Rafael is capable of building any modern munition, so Israel will now switch to domestic production.

So no more plane loads of weapons will be needed in the next war, and the US leverage on Israel will be zero. That's probably a good thing if Hillary is in the White House, but I doubt it's the result State wants.

Deal Breaker

A deal is a deal - break one part, and you break the whole. The UN thinks it can renege on its part of the Lebanese ceasefire while holding Israel to its part. But it actually leaves Israel free to do what it wants and, to avoid future disappointment, Olmert should gently point this out.

Here's the essential part of the UN resolution that led Israel to stop chewing up Hizbollah (my emphasis):

Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:

— full respect for the Blue Line (Israeli border) by both parties,

— security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11, deployed in this area,

— full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state

But now, here’s AP, Voice Of The UN (my emphasis):
But 13 days after Israel and Hezbollah agreed to a ceasefire, questions remained about how to enforce the vague truce and prevent the area from exploding again. It was unclear how the United Nations would meet Israel's demand to prevent Hezbollah from rearming.
As we can see, it's not Israel's demand, but the Security Council's - AP wants to paint Hizbollah's disarmament as a new Israeli condition, rather than the core of the deal. It's shilling for this man:
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressed Friday it was not the peacekeepers' task to strip the guerrillas of their weapons, saying that was an issue for Lebanon's government and "cannot be done by force.""The troops are not going there to disarm Hezbollah. Let's be clear about that," he said.
So if the Lebanese Army doesn't disarm Hizbollah - which it can't - the UN Resolution falls.

Fools and rogues commonly try to break their parts of deals, and I've found the only remedy is to formally record the deal as broken.

Olmert should warn the world that failure to disarm Hizbollah is a deal breaker.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Israelis: Better Slaves Than Dead?

In deciding whether to fight, Israelis have to determine their likely fate if their nation is "wiped off the map". Based on historical precedent, they're better off fighting to the last man, woman and child.

Iran and Hizbollah are committed to destroy Israel, but to avoid that fate, Israel may have to kill hundreds of millions of Muslim men, women, and kids. So how bad would it be for Israelis if their state was absorbed into a Caliphate?

Scenario

About 6.4 million people live in Israel, and of these 16% are Muslims. So the remaining 84% would be at risk under Muslim occupation - that's about 5.4 million.

An Iranian/Syrian attack would likely start with salvos of rockets delivering nuclear, biological & chemical (NBC) warheads. They'd might use Russian equipment to jam the Israeli missile defense system, or just sheer volume to overwhelm the finite number of Israeli BMD interceptors. (For this to work , a tacit ally of Iran or Syria - Russia or even France - would have to neutralize Israel's second strike capability).

Then, as in all previous wars, Muslim armies would invade Israel from neighboring territories.

Initial Casualties

Iranians would use small warheads on West Jerusalem and its suburbs, to avoid damage to the Muslim centers. But they'd use the biggest they had on Tel Aviv and Haifa, plus all military and industrial targets. About 700,000 people live in the 2 cities, and adding in infrastructure and military targets gets the exposed population to about 1.5 million. The death rate would depend on the weapon types - I'm assuming 50%, giving 750,000 deaths in this first strike.

Land/Air Battle

Then Muslim armies would attack the shocked and disorganized IDF across the Lebanese, Syrian, and maybe Jordanian and Egyptian frontiers. I'm guessing the IDF would have started with 500,000 troops but been cut back by the NBC attack to 300,000.

Israeli culture is based on a refusal to ever again walk to gas chambers without a fight, so I'd expect these forces to fight to the end, like the kids in the Warsaw Uprising. The last army that did that was the Japanese - they shot their wounded and committed suicide to avoid capture. So I'd expect the same % of captives as the Japanese had on Iwo Jima - 5% - leaving 285,000 IDF dead. But these survivors would soon be dead too, given the Islamic practice of decapitating captives. That's 300,000 more dead.

Initial Occupation

At the point of its defeat, 1.05 million Israelis would be dead, and (using a 4 to 1 wounded to dead ratio) every one of the 4.35 million survivors would have burns from nukes, infections, or chemical poisoning.

With its infrastructure destroyed, including medical and evac capabilities, I'd expect 25% of these survivors - say 1.05 million - to die during the first week of occupation. That brings the total to this point that's 2.1 million dead and 3.3 million wounded.

Evacuation

At this point, there'd be international pressure to evacuate survivors. But with infrastructure destroyed or contaminated, that would be very difficult. And in the light of the grudging evacuation of Jews from Europe before WW2, I guess that the UK and US would take at most 200,000. That leaves 3.1 million survivors in the new Palestine.

Resettlement

We can guess the fate of these survivors from the last time Muslims abused a subject minority - the Armenian Genocide committed by Turkey between 1914 and 1923:
While there is no clear consensus as to how many Armenians lost their lives during what is called the Armenian genocide and what followed, there is general agreement among Western scholars...that over a million Armenians may have perished between 1914 to 1923. The recent tendency seems to be, either presenting 1.2 million as a figure or even 1.5 million...
That's from a population of about 2 million Armenians, giving a death rate at the 1.5 million estimate of 75%.

The Turks used low tech methods for the killings - long marches, starvation, mass executions, brutal rapes, and insanitary concentration camps. The victorious Muslims would surely do the same, since they believe their own refugee camps were imposed on them by the Israelis.

Killing 75% of the 3.1 million survivors brings the total Israeli deaths to 4.4 million, and leaves 800,000 non-Arab ex-Israelis in the new Palestine.

This Palestinian society would be technologically weak, so competent Jews would be an asset. However generations of indoctrination of Arab kids to kill Jews wouldn't vanish immediately, so I'd expect pogroms to cut the number of survivors by at least half.

Bottom line, 400,000 Jews would survive in Palestine, 200,000 overseas, and almost 5 million would be dead. Judaism might survive in the US and UK, but without its holy places.

Israel will kill off the entire neighborhood to avoid such a second holocaust.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Wars Are Always Cock-Ups

According to my veteran relatives, wars are a series of tragic and unpredictable errors (Brit "cock-up"). But John McCain says wars can be planned, so in my book that makes him a fool or knave.

Consider the peaceful example of building software. The designers meticulously plumb the users' needs, the software architects assess components and select the best, the developers build the code using techniques carefully designed to minimize errors, and armies of testers exhaustively test.

And it still doesn't work. Look at the Intel Mac - its applications crash, it runs unbearably hot and/or noisily, and its emulated software limps along at glacial pace (I'm sure Vista will be worse).

Now consider how much harder it is to fight a war. The participants are rarely experienced (one combat officer remarked dryly that his troops were infant-ry), everything is being done for the first time, participants risk death and mutilation, much decision making is real-time, and the equipment is usually being operated in an unforgiving environment.

And above all there's the enemy, who uses great ingenuity to stop you killing him and to kill you. My first anti-aircraft missile worked great on target drones, but less well against enemy planes - men don't want to die, but drones don't care.

So what are we to make of these remarks by Senator John McCain (my ellipsis)?
"I think one of the biggest mistakes we made (in Iraq) was underestimating the size of the task and the sacrifices that would be required," McCain said. "Stuff happens, mission accomplished, last throes, a few dead-enders. I'm just more familiar with those statements than anyone else because it grieves me so much that we had not told the American people how tough and difficult this task would be."
That's because nobody knew!

Just as nobody knew in WW2 that the Brits would trash the mighty Luftwaffe, that the Dieppe Raid would be a disaster, or that the costly allied campaign to build China as its base to invade Japan was unnecessary because of the US island hopping and A bomb. And a million other cock-ups then and since.

All military men should know wars never run to plan. If McCain doesn't, or pretends he doesn't, he'd make a lousy Commander in Chief.

The IDF Did Great

Contrary to received wisdom, the IDF's performance in the recent Lebanese war was first rate - it met the standard of the storied USMC assault on Iwo Jima.

The IDF faced an enemy that had spent 6 years fortifying this landscape:
...the forbidding and grim terrain of the fractured Lebanese battlefields,with their steep hills, dry stream beds, twisting roads, deep ravines...
They had thousands of deep bunkers with multiple entries and exits, linked with an unjammable fiber optic network. They had surveyed all potential attack routes and interdicted them with IEDs, mines, and surveyed aiming points. Their night surveillance - courtesy the Brit Foreign Office - was first rate.

And they'd built huge stocks of anti-tank guided weapons including the laser beam riding Kornet - the most modern in Russia's armory.

This formidable belt of fortifications was defended against air attack by the MSM. Hizbollah intermingled its bunkers and missile launchers with UN observation posts and villages, limiting Israeli airstrikes. And when airstrikes were launched, UN and civilian casualties were falsely presented by the MSM. This shield forced the IDF to deploy ground troops prematurely - as intended by Hizbollah's planners.

But in spite of this, the IDF killed about 600 of the enemy for the loss of 116 of its own troops. That's a ratio of about 5 Hizbollah to 1 Israeli - a remarkable achievement for an assault with limited air support against such deeply entrenched and complex fortifications.

A similar battle in recent history was fought on the island of Iwo Jima in February and March 1945. The Japanese also had deep fortifications deployed in apparently impregnable terrain, and they also had ample supplies of modern weapons.

Perhaps beacuse the Japanese were known to be deeply dug in, the US did little preliminary softening - just 100 bombers and battleship bombardment. Then the USMC fought a bitter and ultimately successful battle:
Japan suffered a heavy loss; about 22,000 Japanese troops were entrenched on the island, and only 1083 survived. The fighting was intense and the American troops captured the highest point, Mount Suribachi, in the first week of fighting. The United States lost a total of 6,821 men in the battle for the Island.
That's a ratio of about 3 Japanese for each Marine.

There were differences between Iwo and South Lebanon - the Marines only body armor was their drab green overalls, whereas the IDF soldiers had state-of the-art protection and faster casualty evac.

On the other hand the Israelis didn't - so far as I know - deploy the flamethrowers used to such great effect on Iwo. The modern equivalents are short range guided weapons with thermobaric, or fuel-air, warheads. They're particularly effective against bunkers.

So the IDF did well, even compared with the heroes of Iwo Jima - who won over a quarter of the Medals of Honor awarded to Marines in the whole of WW2. And the strong debates taking place within the IDF will ensure that, next time, they do even better. Perhaps that's explains this report:

The Lebanese PM also told the newspaper he does not expect Hizbullah to drag Lebanon into a war again.

"I don't believe it can happen again," he said. "I don't think Hizbullah is in the same position where it was before the war, and won't be able to repeat what it did. It learned the lesson from what happened."

I hope he's sincere - if he's buying time for Hizbollah to re-arm, he and the Lebanon will burn.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Israel Doubles Second Strike Force

To Germany's great credit, Angela Merkel is shipping Israel two more of its excellent Dolphin submarines – doubling the number of Iranian targets Israel can destroy in a second strike.

In the face of Iran's race to obtain nuclear power, Israel signed a contract with Germany last month to buy two Dolphin-class submarines that will,according to foreign reports, provide superior second-strike nuclear capabilities, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The submarines will be assembled in Germany and provided with a propulsion system allowing them to remain underwater for far longer than the submarines currently in the Israel Navy's fleet.

According to sources close to the deal, the submarines will be operational in the near future.
The Israeli second strike capability will be the MidEast's only barrier to nuclear war if - as seems certain - the world lets the Mullahs get nukes. Assuming they are rational players, that is...

Israel currently has 3 Dolphins, and each probably carries four Popeye cruise missiles – first tested in 2000:

The missiles launched from vessels off Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean are said to have hit a target at a range of about 1,500 kilometers [about 930 statute miles]. Israel is reported to possess a 200kg nuclear warhead, containing 6kg of plutonium, that could be mounted on cruise missiles.
The 200kg warheads are almost certainly thermonuclear – the 100-kiloton thermonuke W76 used on the Trident weighs 164 kg.

Israel currently has 3 Dolphins
possibly deployed as follows:

Under a system of rotation, some sources claim that two of the vessels would remain at sea: one in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, the other in the Mediterranean. A third would remain on standby.
If the missile range really is 1,000 miles, they more likely run silent and deep in the Arabian Sea.

The cruise missiles are fired underwater through large bore torpedo tubes, and each of the 3 existing Dolphins has 4 such tubes. So assuming the sub in port is lost in an Iranian first strike, that’s 8 Iranian targets.

There’s no information on the tube numbers and diameters for the 2 new subs, but it’s likely they’ve been upped from 4. Even if they haven’t, 4 subs on patrol can account for 16 Iranian targets - even the nuttiest Mullah will have to take this seriously.

Schroeder authorized this sale and the subsidies for the purchase, but Angela Merkel had to sign the deal off. The fact that she’s done so does her great credit – according to
this report, she has 10 million Muslims to contend with in Germany. At the cost of unpopularity, with this one action she's done more to stabilize the MidEast than Chirac has in his entire career.

UPDATE August 25

Don't be deceived by this report:
A deal under which Germany will sell Israel two submarines foresees the vessels being delivered starting in 2010, and they are not being equipped to fire nuclear weapons, an official said Friday.
The 2010 date is reasonable - subs take a while to build. And the Germans have no involvement with adding the Popeye missiles - that's an Israeli mod to the torpedo system. In the meantime, as a commenter points out, the 2 subs on patrol can launch more than one volley, so Iran still gets crisped.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Israeli Realities

Israel is being showering with advice, much if it well intentioned, but much of it ill-informed. So before DU offers its ten cents, here’s our fact base, derived from years doing business with Israeli companies, and visiting the place recently.

People


They fit the stereotype – smart, argumentative, individualistic and family-centered. It’s like MIT expanded to fill a country the size of New Jersey. It acts like a single extended family – every death is mourned in public and in detail. Quite unlike the Brits, who look away from their own casualties.


Society


Israel – uniquely – has always had neighbors that want to destroy it, and that makes its people different from any other nation – imagine what MIT would be like if Boston and New York had been attacking it for the past 60 years.


Wars


Contrary to popular belief, Israel is not militaristic, and all of its wars have been close run things. (Actually most wars are close run, but popular history views victors through rose-colored spectacles).


In 1948, Israel beat the 5 invading armies because as its poorly armed fighters retreated their supply lines shortened, whereas the Muslim supply lines became more extended and easier for Israeli planes to interdict (with a weird mix of Spitfires and ME-109s!).

The last big war in 1973 was just better than a draw, after Muslim armies launched surprise attacks with massive barrages of the latest Russian anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles (sound familiar?).


Military Attitudes


Israelis value toughness, aggression, and creativity over discipline - come to think of it, they drive that way too. But it’s a small nation, so they fight to minimize casualties – their
Merkava MBT is the only one in the world with a rear evacuation door for its 4-man crew.

They think our armies are discipline-, process-, and gadget- obsessed. They use whatever works - for example switching from the world-famous Uzi to the more-relaible M16 and M4.


Israeli officers lead from the front – almost all their casualties in Lebanon were officers and senior NCOs. Blair’s habit of prosecuting Brit private soldiers while promoting their officers is incomprehensible to Israelis.


Israelis view see the IDF as made up of three groups: The Children (the teenaged conscripts); The Fathers (Reservists); and The Uncles (Regulars). The current war is Fathers and Uncles looking to rescue Children.

Size


The place is tiny. On a clear day you can stand on a hill outside Jerusalem and see most of the country, from the Ashqelon up to Haifa.


It has about 6 million people, and the infrastructure to match, which means only a few airfields, ports, power stations, and water sources.


Vulnerability


That small area and population makes Israel very vulnerable – its population centers and infrastructure could be easily taken out by 10 nukes, and in a land invasion the IDF has no ground to give.


The US


Israelis I know see the US as a benevolent but absent-minded uncle who can usually - but not always - be trusted. And they have to factor in the risk of a Dem president and Congress, which may abandon them.


Politics


These are university campus style, overlaid with a clarity that comes from facing constant threats to their existence. So their politicians fight like a barrel full of cats, but line up in some sort of order when they’re attacked.


Limits - People


Much criticism of Israeli conduct of the Lebanese action fails to recognize their population constraint.


The IDF lost over 100 men and women – scaled for population that’s 1,000 Brits or 5,000 Americans. Can you imagine the fuss these levels would cause in our two nations? Many Americans want to pull out of Iraq after suffering half this level of casualties over not 4 weeks but 3 years!


Olmert has been criticized for the slow and chaotic call-up and deployment of a mere 30,000 reserves. But, scaled for population again, that’s the same as the Brits calling up 300,000 reservists, or the US 1.5 million. In just 2 weeks! This was a tremendous achievement, and will have caused mayhem to Israel’s industrial base.


Limits - Money


Israel spends about $10 billion a year on its military – almost 8% of its GDP. It gets great value for that – a very modern air force and coastal navy, a nuclear-armed submarine force, a fleet of the best tanks in the world, and the world’s only operational BMD. (By contrast the UK spends about $40 billion (2.4% of GDP) and the US $500 billion (4% of GDP).


In spite of the very high spend on defense; Israel has been growing much faster than the UK and US – 5% in 2005. But there are limits, since dollars spent on BMD are dollars not spent on the industrial investment needed to make the exports to pay for the imports to build the weapons.


So, absent US assistance, it’s unrealistic to expect Israel to mount space age defenses on its own. And US aid to Israel was just $662 million in 2003 – much less than the $1.12 billion Egypt received in 2002.


Bottom Line


Future posts will take these factors and constraints and suggest how the Israelis are likely to react to their threatened destruction by Hezbollah, Syria, and the Mullahs.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Rational Brits, Nutty Tories

The good news is that the Brits are responding rationally and robustly to Muslim terror. The bad news is that the opposition Tories - who might form the next government - are totally deranged.
The two passengers were asked to leave Monarch flight ZB613 from Malaga to Manchester, apparently because other passengers became alarmed that the men were wearing heavy clothing and kept checking their watches. Cabin crew informed the Spanish authorities of the passengers' fears and the men were taken off the flight.

Patrick Mercer, the Conservative homeland security spokesman,described the incident as a victory for terrorists.

"These people on the flight have been terrorized into behaving irrationally. For those unfortunate two men to be victimized because of the color of their skin is just nonsense."
But 13% of Brit Muslims think the July 7 bombers were martyrs - that's 200,000 of the UK's 1.6 million Muslims. Most of these will be young males, so it's very sensible to avoid flying with any that dress or behave inappropriately.

Especially if you're returning from a vacation where your flight out was massively delayed and you were penned and subjected to multiple humiliations; measures justified by your government as essential to thwart a Muslim plot to murder thousands.

But New Tories think such robust common sense is irrational, and that's terrible news for Brits and their allies - at some point Blair's socialists will implode, and the UK will be governed by fools like Patrick Mercer.

The Limits Of Diplomacy

Western politicians are wedded to the idea of diplomacy - cutting deals with bad guys on the assumption they are rational players. But diplomacy with irrational players will just cause nuclear wars.

The Brit Foreign Office

Here's what they said about the sophisticated night vision equipment they provided to Iran:
The goods are for the use on the Iran-Afghanistan border against heroin smugglers...there was no risk of these goods being diverted for use by the Iranian military.
That's presumably because their Iranian opposite numbers promised not to pass the equipment on. But Iran is run by homicidal maniacs, so they gave the stuff to Hizbollah (my ellipsis):

One set of the equipment was found by Israeli forces in the southern Lebanon village of Mis-a-Jebel on August 10, in a house belonging to a 60-year-old man whose four sons are all Hezbollah fighters.

One was described as (an Agema) Thermo-vision 1000 LR system with a serial number 155010, part number 193960. Other equipment, including radios also thought to be British, and sophisticated recording and monitoring devices, were found.

Israeli commanders had complained that night-time operations in the border region had been hampered by the ability of Hezbollah fighters to observe and counter their moves.

In more than six days of fighting around the village of Mis-a-Jebel, the Israelis lost six soldiers and 20 more were injured.

The Brits sold 250 of these systems to the Mullahs - that's a lot of dead Israelis. They should never have trusted this regime - if it hangs rape victims in town squares and aims to kill all the Jews, is not going to keep its promises to Rupert of the FO.

The State Department

This beats even the Brit FO for poor judgement. It's just ruined Condi's career - the image of her voting for the French ceasefire will dog her forever. But that's the tip of the iceberg.

For example there's the game-playing on the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

12/16/2004 US President George W. Bush, who promised during his first presidential campaign to start relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as soon as he took office, has postponed the move for another six months, citing national security.

"My administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem," he said in a statement issued Wednesday. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 obligated the US to move its embassy to Jerusalem by May 31, 1999, but allows the president to delay the move every six months.

He's delayed it every 6 months since and that's why many Israelis don't trust US promises. I'm pretty sure this is State's doing - the president would not use the weasel words about national security. The result is Israeli nukes - when they're used, the world - the US included - will be set back decades.

And then there's Taiwan (WSJ, $):

After nearly five years of the global war on terror, you'd think the Bush administration would understand the importance of military preparedness. But apparently some lessons are harder to learn than others. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld last month wrote to the U.S. Congress opposing a measure calling for upgraded military exchanges with Taiwan. Mr. Rumsfeld argued it would interfere with the "President's authority to conduct diplomatic, intelligence, and military activities."

The present situation, under which only more junior military officers, such as colonels and captains, are allowed to visit Taiwan, doesn't work.

Only generals and admirals command joint land, sea and air operations, have experience in comprehensive military planning and the bureaucratic authority within the Pentagon to push through new initiatives to help Taiwan.


This has State fingerprints all over it - they've cut a deal with China for the US to leave Taiwan vulnerable in return for China's promise not to invade it. But China is spending billions on its invasion project. And Taiwan won't go quietly - absent US support they'll be building nukes as fast as they can. Do the idiots at Foggy Bottom have any idea what a nuclear exchange will do to the Asian and US economies?

Israel

The assumption of rationality in their enemies isn't confined to Brit and US diplomats:

Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said that he was in favor of withdrawing from the Golan Heights in return for true peace with Syria. The former head of the Shin Bet told Army Radio, "We have paid similar territorial concessions in the past when we signed peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt."...

According to the minister, "Talks with Syria are legitimate. If there is someone to talk to on the other side, we should talk. Israel can initiate this or turn to a third party."


Jordan and Egypt signed peace treaties because:
a) The Israelis had comprehensively defeated them in battle, and
b) they aren't committed to the destruction of Israel.
Hizbollah and its Syrian and Iranian sponsors don't fit this model.

That's why Israel was just attacked from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, it's most recent "land for peace deals".

Political institutions can change, but slowly - hopefully ours will in time to stop the nuclear wars.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Edgware Road Station: Past, Present And Future

Blair has proved to be a wimp at banning terrorists - here's the latest example.

About 13 months ago, we walked past London’s Edgware Road Tube station. It was 2 hours after the 7/7 bombs detonated - we didn’t know that at the time.

We passed one block from a local store that staff had converted it into a field hospital. Beneath our feet rescue workers were struggling in the hell of fire, smoke, and blood.


We missed this scene:


The woman is…a 24-year old barrister who suffered facial burns during the attack on the Edgware Road Tube station. She is depicted being led to safety by…a former firefighter, who had given her first aid and placed a gel mask on her face to soothe her burns.
Yesterday, Edgware Road Tube Station was the scene of a rather different event (my ellipsis):
Date: Saturday 19th August
Gather at Edgware Road Tube station 2pm
March to U.S. Embassy for Rally
The march was by supporters of:
.. Hizb ut-Tahrir (that has) called for the establishment of a caliphate, 'so that the armies of Islam could be unleashed on Israel and America'.
Their banners said "We Are All Hezbolla":


This group is:
…banned in many Arab countries, but permitted to operate in the more liberal UAE, Lebanon and Yemen. It is banned in Germany and Russia, and throughout the former Soviet Union states of Central Asia. It survived a ban in Australia after clearance from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

On August 5, 2005, Tony Blair announced the British government's intention to ban the group in the United Kingdom, although it is believed that he shelved the ban after warnings from police, intelligence chiefs, and civil liberties groups that it is a non-violent group, and driving it underground could backfire.
This “non-violent group” supports the war criminals that have indiscriminately rocketed Israeli cities.

So now Blair must ban it, to prevent more slaughter in Edgware Road Station.

More British Army Humor

The Burma Road (late birthday gift from Gandalfette, miraculously returned unscathed from the hell-holes of SE Asia) has this splendid story.

The Brit Special Forces in Burma in WW2 – called Chindits – were led by Brigadier “Mad Mike” Calvert. After airdropping behind the Japanese:
...Calvert’s Seventy-seventh Infantry met with resistance, especially at a small cleared hill topped by a gilded pagoda…the Chindits made a surprise charge from the thick forest, with the Japanese, in Calvert’s words “entering in to the spirit of things”, fixing bayonets and charging back.

“There, at the top of the hill, about fifty yards square, an extraordinary melee took place, everyone shooting, bayoneting, kicking at everyone else, rather like an officer’s guest night.”
The Chindits won, of course.

Our Primitive Enemies

The al Queda attacks on Western civilians starting have all used primitive technologies – I built better at age 13*. So although Iran and Syria supplied very advanced Russian weapons to Hizbollah, they’re scared to give them killers of non-Jewish Westerners. We can build on their fear.

The September 11, 2001 attacks used no technology, just exploiting the vulnerability of an open society that welcomes visitors.

The March 11, 2004 Madrid attacks used either ETA compressed dynamite or a commercially available explosive.

The July 7, 2005 attacks used bulky and inefficient bombs made from bleach, drain cleaner and acetone paint thinner.

A fog of misinformation surrounds the August 10, 2006 plot, but I suspect the bombers planned to use nitroglycerine.

The German train bombers used propane gas tanks that didn’t detonate.

Meanwhile the Mullahs gave Hezbollah an enormous Russian arsenal, including the Kornet laser guided anti-tank weapon.

This tells us:

1. Al Queda – like all Muslim societies - is technically weak.

2. Iran, Syria and Russia don’t want to pay the price of being caught supplying terrorists who kill non-Jewish Westerners.

That means the terrorist threats to our societies, although serious, aren’t likely to cause tens of thousands of deaths.

And that we must help Israel impose real pain on Russia, Syria and Iran for their Jew-killing activities.

* As any parent knows, 13-year-old boys are horrors. I built a surface-to-surface rocket to take out an ice-cream van that disturbed my leisure time by playing “Greensleeves” at high volume a block away. The weapon used innovative acoustic homing, a novel warhead containing 5 gun cotton fuelled bomblets that penetrated 3’ into masonry, contact fusing, and had a 200-yard range. It all worked nicely except for the booster, but fortunately for the ice-cream vendor - and me - before I got it to burn consistently, Girls became a more pressing interest).

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Casualties Of The First Photoshop War

Gal Mor at Ynet News says the victims MSM forgery and staging are the weak - and of course the MSM.
...over time, the weak party to the war will pay the price for the forgery, after human sensitivity to its pain will be dulled. This is tragic because the Lebanese people did suffer in the last war and many experienced genuine, non-doctored bereavement and destruction.

In the future, even when genuine photos from wars will be distributed, it's likely that the other side will plant changes in them and redistribute them in order to undermine their credibility and make audiences doubt them, as part of a propaganda war.

Once those insights are internalized, and the general public knows that it can no longer believe what it sees, a photo will no longer be worth a thousand words – it won't even be worth one word.
The London Times is another casualty - here's their Diplomatic Editor describing yesterday's burial at Qana (my emphasis):
"They brought up the bodies of 26 civilians, men, women and children, and four Hezbollah fighters for a ceremony that was very carefully choreographed by Hezbollah...

"There are also the four Hezbollah fighters being buried, who were killed in separate actions. One of them, who was called Hassan, appears to have been some kind of local commander. His photo is plastered all over town..."
There's no way the reporter can know that the Hezbollah fighters were killed in "separate actions". But in making that statement, he promotes the Qana narrative that we now know to be faked.

Hezbollah in Qana launched hundreds of missiles at Israel and its counterstrike was to stop them doing that. So it's relevant to know if the men launching the rockets were killed in the same strike as the kids.

But the London Times cares not and feeds us Hezbollah propaganda - making that paper another casualty of the Photoshop Wars.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The UN’s Abyssinia

The League of Nations fell apart when it failed to deliver on its promise to stop a war in Abyssinia, and the UN is headed the same way.

The League of Nations:
The general weaknesses of the League are illustrated by its specific failures...

Perhaps most famously, in October 1935, Benito Mussolini sent… 400,000 troops to invade Abyssinia (Ethiopia).

The League of Nations condemned Italy's aggression and imposed economic sanctions in November 1935, but the sanctions were largely ineffective. As Stanley Baldwin, the British Prime Minister, later observed, this was ultimately because no one had the military forces on hand to withstand an Italian attack.
The League limped along after this, but members drifted away and it was powerless to prevent Germany, Italy and Japan prepping WW2.

Here’s the key part of the
Franco/US UN resolution (my ellipsis):
Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:

— full respect for the Blue Line (Israeli border) by both parties,

— security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11, deployed in this area,

— full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state…
The problem for the UN is that if Hizbollah isn’t disarmed, the treaty fails & Israel can resume hostilities when it suits. So the UN has to deliver, and yet nobody wants to fight (my emphasis & explanatory ellipsis):
The United Nations got pledges of 3,500 troops for an expanded UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, but it was unclear whether the soldiers represented the right mix of countries and units and could deploy very quickly.

Bangladesh (most corrupt nation in the world) made the largest offer of up to 2,000 troops, but France (France), which was expected to be the dominant contingent, offered just 200 new troops, in addition to the 200 already sent.

Italy (most corrupt nation in old Europe) has said it could quickly send as many as 3,000 soldiers - up from its current contribution of about 50 - but Premier Romano Prodi's office (who just withdrew all Italian troops from Iraq) said Thursday that he was pushing for explicit ground rules.

Brunei (pop 379,444), Indonesia (almost as corrupt as Bangladesh & is releasing their Bali bombers), Italy (see above), Malaysia (only a tad less corrupt than Italy) and Turkey (very corrupt) are among other countries that said they could commit troops to the expanded UNIFIL.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that Germany would not send combat troops as part of the contemplated international peacekeeping force, but may offer naval forces to help patrol the Lebanese coastline (that’ll put the fear of Allah in the Hizbollah windsurfer squads).
There's no chance this coalition will be prepared to die fighting Hizbollah, and they'll be even more corruptible than the previous UN force.

So the big war will come, history will repeat itself,and the UN will fade away. Sob.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Carry On Controlling

The Brit government used last week’s terror threat to take a swipe at air travel, and is trying to get the EU to join in. For their sake, I hope they fail – it’ll tank the EU economies even more.

The ex-Marxists who infest European governments hate freedom of travel, and grab every opportunity to block it. Their biggest weapon is "global warming", which they've used as cover to raise taxes on gasoline to the point where they're about 80% of the cost. Plus they've imposed a host of petty restrictions - Blair has saturated Brit roads with surveillance cameras and made it a criminal offense to have windshields that stop them photographing driver and passenger.

They moved on air travel two years ago:
The cost of flying could soar as early as next year under plans being proposed by the Government to include aviation in a controversial emissions trading scheme.

If agreed, passengers will have to pay an extra charge to help offset the damage to the environment caused by the pollutants produced during flight. The charge, which could more than double the cost of many low-cost flights, will be used to pay for schemes elsewhere in the world that reduce carbon use such as tree planting.

That got stalled because it would have tanked the economies of the vacation destinations.

Low cost airlines have transformed travel for the time-poor Europeans - they can now fly most places in for tens of dollars at the cost of some discomfort. This has pumped tourist spending and cut the costs of small businesses operating across multiple EU countries.

The budget airlines compete by ruthlessly cutting costs, and one technique they use is to encourage carry-on (within IATA limits - 22" x 18" x 10"), while charging for checked bags. That makes sense because many of their passengers are flying for short breaks, and only need space for 2 or 3 days clothing, cameras, and their purchases.

It’s also essential for road warriors, who carry a bit less clothing, but need their laptops and phones. My last-but-one UK startup relied on low cost carriers. We were flying all over Europe while working 100-hour weeks, and couldn't possibly afford the 2 hour cost of checked bags on each trip (early check in, wait at carousel on arrival).

And neither short-breakers nor road warriors can afford the risks of theft or delay of checked bags.

So a neat way to stop the short breakers and road warriors is to cut the carry-on size, and the Brits just did this, halving the IATA size to 18” x 14” x 6” - not enough for overnighting. Now they’re working to extend this across the EU:
Passenger checks which have brought chaos to Britain's airports will be extended across the EU, it has emerged.

It means travellers going to popular holiday destinations such as Spain and Greece will face huge queues and restrictions on hand luggage at both ends of their journey.
Home Office sources said that, if the stringent rules were not extended across the EU, the terrorist threat would simply be 'displaced'.

Fanatics hell bent on mass murder would simply board a flight in Paris, Frankfurt, Athens or Madrid rather than London, they insisted.
The famously incompetent Brit Home Office has presided over mass illegal immigration and can’t deport foreign criminals, so not surprisingly its views on terror are inane. I can think of two ways a suicide bomber could get a large bomb on plane without any hand luggage. If they can't figure that out, they can just use the laptop in their reduced carry-on.

The airlines are fighting back:
Airlines including Ryanair are considering suing the Government for up to £300 million to recover the losses incurred since extra security measures were imposed last week.

They are hoping that the threat of legal action will force ministers to lift the restrictions on hand luggage, which have caused thousands of flight cancellations and delayed millions of passengers since an alleged terrorist plot was foiled.
If the Dutch, Germans and French refuse to adopt these restrictions they get to take over the UK’s role as Europe’s air hub. And if the Italians, Portuguese, Spanish and Greeks refuse, they safeguard their non-Brit tourist revenue.

But all EU governments are control-obsessed, so it'll be interesting to see how the battle between control and prosperity works out.