Two Views of the Saudi Purge in Progress

One is that

the “purge” is not about removing political rivals who threatened MBS’s [Mohammed bin Salman, the newly anointed Crown Prince] position as heir apparent but rather about sending a message to political and economic elites that their entitlement to extreme wealth and privilege, and their impunity, is coming to an end.

Indeed,

With the exception of Minister of the National Guard Prince Mutaib bin Abdallah, the detainee list is made up entirely of individuals who had no capacity to challenge the succession.

The other view is that

Overstating the Case

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, on the occasion of his visit to the DMZ separating the Republic of Korea from northern Korea, had this to say, among other things:

North Korean provocations continue to threaten regional and global security….

We shouldn’t be feeding Baby Kim’s ego by puffing up the level of influence northern Korea has on security.  We should stick to “regional security,” and leave off references to “global,” even if the real impact might be global.

A Mistake

Would a partitioned Iraq be a better pawn for Iran?  Or would a freed-up, independent Iraqi Kurdistan serve as a buffer to mitigate Iranian influence in the area—and an impediment to an Iranian road to Damascus and on to Latakia and Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea?  And an impediment to that road, passing as it would, right by Israel via Hezbollah?

An Iraq weakened by the partition would be easy prey for Iran?  No, that’s a wash for the weakened Iraq that’s already in Iranian sway, via all those Shiite “militias” that are funded and armed by Iran’s terror support organ, the Iranian Republican Guards Corps.

Shortsighted

President Donald Trump is, IMNSHO, misunderstanding the role of diplomacy in a shooting conflict. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said,

He’s (Trump) not seeking to go to war.  He has made it clear to me to continue my diplomatic efforts…until the first bomb drops.

Of course, war should be a last resort, not a never resort, and Trump understands that.  But to say that diplomacy ends when the shooting starts, is mistaken.  Diplomacy doesn’t only shape the coming battlefield during a prior period of peace and during the runup to the fight.  It also shapes the battlefield during the fight: both directly with its (however minimal) impact on the enemy belligerents, but also on the periphery and the far field surrounding the battlefield through its impact on our allies, our enemy’s allies, and on neutrals.

Threats

The German government now is stooping to naked threats in an effort to keep President Donald Trump from not renewing certification of Iran’s compliance with ex-President Barack Obama’s (D) Executive Agreement with Iran on the latter’s nuclear weapons program.

The threat begins with the distortion that decertification constitutes withdrawal from the EA—of course it does not, and the members of the German government know that full well.  The threat, though, is made naked by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel:

It’s imperative that Europe sticks together on this issue.  We also have to tell the Americans that their behavior on the Iran issue will drive us Europeans into a common position with Russia and China against the USA.

Doha and the Taliban

An internal “dissent channel cable” that objects to State Department consideration of closing the Doha, Qatar, office through which supposed negotiations with the Taliban have been conducted has been leaked to the NLMSM by “current and former US officials.”

According to the dissenters, it would be a mistake to close off this diplomatic channel, as it would signal our disdain for negotiation with the Taliban.  These worthies also express disdain for National Security Adviser LtGen HR McMaster’s support for a “fight, then talk” process aimed at producing incentives for the Taliban to negotiate seriously.

The PRC and Northern Korea

The People’s Republic of China says it has ordered businesses doing business with northern Korean entities or individuals must shut down within 120 days.

This would be cool, if it happens.  The PRC has said it would enforce other sanctions, also, and then only paid lip service to enforcement while engaging in business largely as usual with the north.

Believe it when you see it actually happen.  If it does happen, believe the durability of PRC enforcement when it actually lasts.

A Clear Statement of Intent

Ri Yong Ho, northern Korea’s Foreign Minister and spokesman for Baby Kim, appears to have let the cat out of the bag.  Responding to President Donald Trump’s series of remarks about northern Korea and Baby Kim during the week, Ri said

He [Trump] committed an irreversible mistake of making our rockets’ visit to the entire US mainland inevitable all the more[.]

Notice that.  Ri isn’t only responding to Trump’s current position.  All the more is the key phrase here.  Northern Korea’s intent all along, its motivation for developing nuclear weapons and delivery systems, has been to attack us; otherwise, there is nothing than which to be all the more.

Hacking

Germany has been struck by a wave of hackers from the People’s Republic of China as the PRC moves to steal from cutting-edge manufacturers.

The German government

is now moving to shield companies from state-backed hackers and criminal gangs, offering to pay to harden the defenses of Germany’s most vulnerable firms.

This is a start, but it’s insufficient.

Hacks like this, originating as they do from a fundamentally autocratic nation, can only be taken as state-sanctioned, if not outright -directed, as such they are overt acts of aggression, and so they require commensurately serious responses.

Loss of Power

And of communications, air conditioning in hot and humid environs (and of heating in cold environs), food and water distribution, fuel supplies, and so on.

Block by block and city by city, utilities face one of the largest power restoration challenges in US history as they bring back electricity to more than 15 million people affected by Hurricane Irma.

Almost 60,000 utility workers from the US and Canada are descending on Florida and other states hard hit by the storm, with more line crews and contractors expected soon….