Trusting Russia on Ukraine

The US and Russia, along with NATO and Ukrainian officials, talked about setting up a peace-keeping force to get and maintain peace in Ukraine.  Interestingly, that force would be placed along the front that separates the Russian and rebel-held eastern Ukraine from the rest of the nation instead of being on the Ukrainian border with Russia.  The proposal also carefully ignored the status of Russia-occupied Crimea.  A US counterproposal, offered by the US’ chief negotiator, Kurt Volker, suggested that the force should include, also, that border—not instead of the front—while still ignoring Crimea.

Understanding

On the question of the Russian threat, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had this to say in an interview with Spiegel Online:

Of course, I do hope that we can come to agreement with the Russians in the future. At the moment, though, it is good to be strong militarily. That makes understanding easier.

Yewbetcha.

Costs, and Costs

The fight to drive the Daesh out of Iraq (while killing too few of them IMNSHO) has caused more than $45 billion in infrastructure damage to Iraq.

That’s roughly half the cost of the damage a couple of hurricanes did in Texas and Florida last year, an even smaller ratio when Puerto Rico is figured in.  But it’s a lot of damage for a nation like Iraq.

What might that imply, besides the relative wealth of the two nations?

One is the relative dependence we have on our more highly developed, and so expensive, infrastructure compared to Iraq.  Iraq is scraping by with that level of damage and already beginning to recover.

A Sandbag Attempt

House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D, CA), in response to the Committee’s Republican members’ four-page memo—the Nunes Memo—regarding the FBI’s abuse of FISA court-approved surveillance of Americans, produced a ten-page Progressive-Democrat member response, which the committee voted unanimously to release to the House with an eye to getting the memo released to the public via the White House’s security vetting.  The House approved the release and sent it to President Donald Trump, who had five days to disapprove the document, or it would be released.

The Secretary of State for Defense Is Correct

Two Daesh terrorists who grew up in Great Britain have been captured.

Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson told the Sun newspaper on Saturday: “I don’t think they should ever set foot in this country again.”

Williamson is absolutely correct.  Barbarians like this, who think terrorism is the way to go, should be allowed freely to leave to join their barbaric gangs.

And then they should be barred from returning.  Forever.

A New Category

There is a need for a discussion of how to handle terrorism and terrorists.  Before that discussion can be useful, though, we need to understand the relationship among terrorism, crime, and war.  This is a beginning of that discussion.

We currently have two categories of conflict participants which I’ll term—my layman’s terms, understand, not any legal or legalistic ones—criminal and soldier or combatant.  The one is a domestic (usually) question involving the violation of a nation’s domestic criminal laws.  The other is an international question involving a nation’s soldiers or combat arms engaging in more or less declared war and during the conduct of which the nation and its soldiers are subject, together and individually, to national laws and generally agreed international laws of war (for instance, the Geneva Conventions).

A Test

Recall the false alarm about an inbound ICBM that a functionary of the Hawaii State government apparatus triggered last weekend.  I’m not interested, here, in how the false alarm got triggered in the first place, or why it took so long—38 minutes—to send out a false alarm notice, or why the State apparently chose to not even consider sending out an All Clear notice and figure out the false alarm aspects later.  There’s another question that seems to be getting ignored.

Nuclear Weapons Proliferation

President Donald Trump has moved to fix or withdraw from ex-President Barack Obama’s (D) Executive Agreement with Iran, cosigned by the leaders of a number of European nations, covering Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Folks can argue that this step has taken too long (and the terms of Obama’s EA have not been fixed, yet, nor have we canceled it; the deadline for that is next May), and I’m among the impatient.  However, the delay isn’t all bad (so far), since discussions of the Agreement, both public and behind the scenes (I assume), over the course of this delay have made the problems with it plainly evident, and the other parties to the deal no longer have excuses—they’ve have plenty of time to make their positions plain.

We Can Help

And we should.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has pledged to step up defense spending to defend the self-ruled island’s sovereignty in the face of China’s growing military assertiveness in the region.

A good start would be to sell missile defense systems to the Republic of China along with modern aircraft—both air defense, like updated F-16s and F-15s, and ground attack, like F-16s and A-10s.

We also should resume sea and air patrols of the Taiwan Strait, something we’ve not done for far too long.

A Caliphate Has Collapsed?

That’s what Renée Rigdon, Tristan Wyatt, and Karen Leigh would have us believe in their recent Wall Street Journal piece.

It’s true enough that the Daesh—that JV team of ex-President Barack Obama’s (D) estimation—ran through the Iraqi “army” a few years ago, exploded through Syrian territory, and wound up controlling a significant fraction of Iraqi and Syrian land.  Their physical expansion was stopped in the immediacy of the situation only by Iraqi Kurds and the confused and fractious condition of Syria.  It’s also true that under President Donald Trump, a US-refurbished Iraqi army allied with those Kurds and local militias, with the support of an unleashed US-led coalition of air forces, recaptured nearly all of Iraqi territory in very short order while that same coalition of air forces supported a US-led coalition of rebels (albeit of at best dubious provenance) have disinfected most of Daesh-held Syria.