“Credible Military Capabilities”

The European Union needs some, says Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President.

In order to respond to crises, the EU needs “credible military capabilities,” the leader of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen said at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday.
The bloc has already “set up the building blocks of a European defense union,” the former German defense minister said in her speech.
“It is complementary to NATO and it is different,” she added. “There is a European way to foreign policy and foreign security policy where hard power is an important tool […] but it is never the only one.”

Trade Dispute

Deutsche Welle is worried about President Donald Trump reignit[ing a] trade battle with Europe.

US President Donald Trump vowed on Wednesday to make good on threats to impose high tariffs on European cars if the bloc doesn’t agree to a long-delayed trade deal with Washington.

The US leader said that the tariffs, which would Germany’s car industry especially hard, could amount to 25%.

Tariffs and Fairness

In a Wall Street Journal article centered on the way tariffs involved in the People’s Republic of China/US trade “dispute” and the simmering EU/US trade dispute impact a Scottish town, Alistair MacDonald posed a question.

Is it fair for the US, in its pursuit of trade concessions, to hurt smaller businesses that make iconic products in nations such as Scotland?

The question is a non sequitur.  The correction is, “Is it fair to single out particular subgroups for special treatment when addressing the rest of the group or the group as a whole?”

No, of course not.

Empty Rhetoric

More of it, this time from European signatories of the failed-at-birth Iran nuclear weapons deal. Iran has announced that it’s going to disregard entirely the deal’s limits on Iran’s production of weapons grade uranium, and in response, Britain, France, and Germany have said they’re going to trigger the dispute resolution mechanism that’s written into the deal.  That mechanism, on a finding of serious violation, involves getting the UN Security Council to reimpose UN-originated sanctions on Iran.

Contradictions?

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D, MN) condemns our sanctions against Iran—sanctions against that nation’s government, various members of that government, and against that government’s oil sales and other business’ international activities.

calling them “crippling” and asserting they would “starve the Iranian people.”

Of course, the crippling nature of the sanctions is the point of them: to convince the men of the Iranian government to change their ways, to in President Donald Trump’s words, stop trying to kill Americans, stop trying to kill our friends and allies, and to stop trying to get nuclear weapons. If sanctions were not crippling, they’d have no effect. Omar knows this.

A Shootdown

Iran shot down a Ukrainian civilian airliner as it departed a Tehran airport, with the loss of all aboard.  The shootdown occurred shortly (a few hours) after Iran had launched some missiles at Iraqi facilities on which were based a number of American soldiers.

Stipulate the shootdown was accidental.

It also was an example of monumental incompetence: ill- to nonexistent discipline on the part of the antiaircraft missile crew and breathtaking lack of situation awareness by every single individual in the crew’s chain of command from the operational commander all the way to the top in the Iranian military establishment.

Some Predictions

Because the air is fresh out on the end of a limb.

The Wall Street Journal asked a question regarding Iran’s next moves following the successful killing of its head terrorist, Qasim Soleimani:

What do you think are Iran’s next steps?

My predictions—among other things, Iran will do these:

  • hook up with the Taliban
  • strike Saudi oil fields
  • take speedboat shots at our fleet in the Arabian Gulf
  • mine the Strait of Hormuz
  • sink some oil tankers rather than just put minor holes in them, including British and French tankers—not necessarily in the Arabian Gulf

A Retreat

In the aftermath of killing Qasim Soleimani, the Iranian government is trying to create the impression of subsequent American retreat from the Middle East.

Certainly Iran’s leaders already are working to create that impression. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, citing the angry reaction to the Soleimani killing within Iran and Iraq, tweeted Monday that the “end of malign US presence in West Asia has begun.”

Iran’s government isn’t the only one trying to manufacture the impression.  See Gerald Seib’s characterization of Soleimani in his piece at the link:

Iran’s top military leader, Maj Gen Qassem Soleimani

and

It’s a Start

TikTok is a People’s Republic of China company (for all its public moves to resite its headquarters outside the PRC) that’s a popular social-media app that’s used for posting short videos.

However.

TikTok collects information about its users, including data that could be used to track the location and movements of individuals….

As a result, tour military is banning the use of the app on government devices; the Coast Guard and Air Force have joined DoD, the Navy, the Army, and the Marines in the ban.

Engraved Invitations

…personally hand-delivered.

President Donald Trump has notified Congress of his intent to respond to any Iranian attack against Americans or American facilities:

Donald J. Trump
@realDonaldTrump
These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!
2:25 PM · Jan 5, 2020

Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Mayor Pete Buttigieg is dismayed by this form of notification.