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2/29/2004

SRBM BRD: Just Thinking Out Loud Here

This article suggests that within 10 years people will have wireless networks in their heads and be able to communicate mind-to-machine or mind-to-mind.

Well a couple of thoughts on that.

People...
type at, what, 60 words per minute.
speak at roughly 150-175 words per minute.
read at 275 to 300 words per minute.
think at 750-850 words per minute.

The creation of the cellular phone was a big step, because now people could cut the cord and communicate from effectively anywhere to anywhere.

So the evolution of the internet represented a big deal, simply because it allows folks to double the rate at which they could get information versus a phone. However, this tied people down geographically again.

From there, the advent of Wi-Fi solved the internet problem and brings the best of both worlds.

If you start getting to direct mind-to-machine communication, then you'll be able to "download" information at roughly three times the speed you can read. More importantly, it'll increase the rate at which you can upload via typing by approximately an order of magnitude.

When you start getting mind to mind, then you start hitting a four-fold increase in communications speed.

So, in other words, if this guy is right, and you thought the internet is a big deal - hold onto your seats.

SRBM BRD: Kaplan Watch #1

I usually don't spend a lot of time following specific idiotic reporters, but Fred Kaplan at Slate has gotten my dander up. He seems to know precious little about the issues he writes about and apparently knows no shame is his relentless devotion to spin and misinformation. He is scurrilous cockroach indeed. Eons ago, I was going to write why he was spectacularly wrong on one thing he wrote about the Iraq War. The article passed and so he slipped from my mind. Evidently anything bearing his name is full of nonsense, so I guess I can make it a regular feature.

We'll take this one for starters: Fred Kaplan bloviates about nuclear non-proliferation.

Let's start with this bit of garbage right here:

If the rest of the powers follow suit, the world will be a safer place. The question is: Why should they? What is Bush offering in the way of incentives to keep nuclear wannabes from pursuing their desires or to dissuade nuclear dealers from hawking their wares? Judging from his speech, nothing.


Ok, aside from the fact that I'll be a dollar that he doesn't use that when looking at the Kyoto treaty, or the landmine ban treaty, or for that matter, the International Criminal Court and magically we're now responsible for sweeting the pot for third-world hell hole dictators, let's move on to specifics. Strapped for cash - go buy centrifuges and dual-use equipment and then declare your disarmament doesn't seem like the most effective way to throw money at a problem. But then again, he's a journalist so I'll just pretend he has a clue.

But moving along, I think Messrs Hussein and Qadaffi might be able to both speak elegantly to reasons that they may not wish to pursue weapons. Or perhaps we could speak to the citizenry of South Africa, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine about the relative merits of disarmament. More recently the policy of pre-emption, which I am reasonably certain provides a strong motivation indeed. That's why non-proliferation is part of the larger effort of counter-proliferation. Counterproliferation addresses things beyond simple non-proliferation, like disarmament by force. For some reason, Mr. Kaplan has opted to disregard the deterrence and armed suasion elements of counterproliferation. Again, perhaps it's some sort of specialist training he has received that allows him to ignore a full half of the architecture about which he waxes on foolishly.

In the half-century after World War II, only a handful of countries built nuclear weapons, because most of the others felt no compulsion to do so. The Cold War, for all its nightmares and rigidities, was a global security system. Most of the world's nations fell into one of the two camps and, in exchange for their loyalty (voluntary or forced), received guarantees of protection. If any of America's allies were attacked, the president pledged to retaliate as if the United States had been the target, with nuclear weapons if necessary. Some doubted the credibility of this guarantee. Would he really risk New York to avenge Paris? (England and France, and later Israel, built their own "deterrent forces" as a result.) Generally, though, the system worked; very few rubbed the lamp to summon the nuclear genie.


Umm.. so many inaccuracies, so little patience. Ok, lemme give you a list of countries that either had or sought nuclear weapons or military nuclear programs(or were suspected of having) at some point along the line: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Pakistan, India, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia, West Germany, Japan, Taiwan, Argentina, Brazil, North Korea, Kazahkstan, Ukraine, Romania, Nigeria, France, Great Britain, United States, Russia, and Israel. So, in other words, jackass, a whole lot of folks have rubbed the genie. Moreover, your counterparts during the 60s and 70s and 80s who opposed American support of countries such as Israel, South Africa, and Taiwan gave those countries sufficient apprehensions about the reliability of American support that they all went off and got nukes. Oddly enough, in all three cases, the US tried to prevent the acquisition of nuclear technology by all three countries, but that's all fact and historical truth, which doesn't seem to be an element of Mr. Kaplan's journalistic style. Finally, a mere technicality, but one might note that England did not wait until the establishment of a new world order to develop nuclear weapons. They had their own program during World War II, long before any retaliatory framework could be established. After the defeat of the Axis, the British were rather ticked that we ceased all cooperation on nuclear weapons and left them to their own devices.

The great failure of this past decade, not just of Bush but of all presidents—indeed, all leaders of great powers and world bodies—is the failure to create a new security system. This is the challenge: not just to devise tighter laws, vaster policing, and more intrusive inspections (though all those things are vital), but to devise a proliferation policy, a system of incentives and security guarantees that will pre-empt the compulsion to build nuclear weapons in the first place.


I do wonder if Mr. Kaplan is aware what a poor understanding of the world he has. Probably not. As a first note, since when do we not have a security system? Perhaps I misunderstand his usage, but one cannot avoid having a security system. You might not like it. You might not feel secure. But it's a system. Kind of like the fact that soon as you have a living creature, you've got, on some level, an ecosystem. Or, if Mr. Kaplan were sentient, he might have a logical system of thought. At any rate, how does one provide a system of incentives that will make everyone roll over and give up their nukes. Riddle me this, batman, what kind of incentive do you think it would take to make China give up their nuclear program? If you can't image one for that situation, then why can we magically bribe other countries to do that? Countries disarm because of the internal threat perception of their security environement. Countries arm for a number of different reasons. In no case has a country with a widely acknowledged, indigenous nuclear program given them up. The only countries that have managed to do so were ones that had secret nuclear programs or inherited legacy systems during the fall of the Soviet Union. If he is so clearly misinformed about disarmement, I cannot imagine a scenario in which he has anything meaningful to say about the reasons countries choose to arm.
But Mr. Kaplan is totally entitled to believe that if we can only write a big enough check, we won't get shafted.

For instance, a nuclear wannabe might look around to see what the leaders who already have nukes are doing with their own arsenals. On this point, Bush is no object of emulation. In his new budget, he is asking for $3 billion for nuclear weapons projects, including funds for a new generation of precision-guided, low-yield nuclear weapons—i.e., for nuclear weapons that would be more militarily useful (say, for blowing up deep bunkers) than the multi-kiloton monsters we built in Cold War days to blast Soviet missile silos and vast industrial complexes. If part of Bush's plan is to persuade the world's leaders that nuclear weapons offer no benefits in the 21st century, he's sending a hell of a signal to the contrary.


Wow. I am so totally impressed to see that Mr. Kaplan writes Slate's 'War Stories' column and can be so abysmally, wretchedly uniformed about the framework of deterrence. For starters, nuclear weapons provide benefits. Otherwise, nobody would have ever built them. The question is either whether the percieved costs outweigh the percieved benefits, or alternately, whether another option which precludes the development of nuclear weapons can be constructed such that it provides greater benefits than a nuclear option provides. When states arm for things like national pride, I can't imagine how offering them even more money to swallow their pride is going to be a spectacularly effective mechanism for getting them to give up their programs. But that's just me.

Back to deterrence. Everybody knows (or think they know) Mutually Assured Destruction. A reasonably good system for preventing the use of nuclear war, in very general terms. Not a really good way to prevent the development of nuclear weapons. We can't nuke an Iranian city a day until we're convinced they totally cooperated with the IAEA. Diito North Korea. Why? Collateral damage of the likes which has never been seen before.

But why mini-nukes? First, it is absolutely well known that once something is buried deeply enough, it becomes essentially invulnerable to conventional weapons. After about the first 20 or 30 feet of stone, a bigger bomb ain't gonna help. You have to go nuclear. How does one do so, without massive collateral damage issues (including fallout)? Well, you develop mini-nukes. That way you have an option for digging out something deeply buried at a more acceptable (but still terribly steep) political price. What's the point? It's a really effective way to say to would-be proliferators, that if want to take out your program in its infancy we can do it. We can take it out if its buried. We can take it out without destroying the entire city. We can even take out your command centers with impunity. That means that no matter what you think you can do with nukes, you better think twice, because the nukes won't make you superman.

This article is astonishingly vacant of thought, logic, fact, premise, conclusion, or argument. It is another attempt to villify Bush in a fashion that has neither merit nor substance. Fred Kaplan is indeed a waster of valuable oxygen.

UPDATE the First: Cleaned up the language. Now that I've had a chance to simmer down a bit, I think my biggest objection is the fact that he can't simply make the argument by making the argument. The only way he manages to say anything at all is by saying something nasty. If had argued something to the effect that enhancing the non-proliferation regime by providing stronger incentives to disarm, in addition to harsher penalties for non-compliance, as has already been established by the Iraq precedent. But I honestly don't think the guy is particularly interested in crafting a strong non-proliferation regime, he's just using it as the mechanism du jour to go slam Bush. Which is absolutely his perogative. When you talk about national guard service or this that or the other, it doesn't get my goat nearly as much. However, defence issues are fundamentally different, simply by virtue of the fact that not only is it a life and death issue, your opponents are not only trying to outlive you, they're trying to kill you. In the case of non-proliferation, specious nonsense is more harmful than williful ignorance. In this article, he uses specious nonsense to pursue a totally unrelated tack, and in so doing is being patently unhelpful to the rest of the world for whom nonproliferation is a more serious affair than just trying to score points.

2/28/2004

SRBM BRD: All Artillery, Great and Small.

Fine, here's something with meat.

ITEM 1:

Getting back to the fine art of breaking things and killing people, you may or may not be familiar with the Shortstop series of jammers. They basically send out an radio signal that fools proximity fuzes in artillery and mortar shells into thinking that they're close to the ground, thus detonating prematurely. Soon, the system will be down to 25 pounds. On the downside, last I checked it was effective only over very short range, so one has to deploy these at a pretty low level.

Background - artillery, is by far and away, has been the big historical killer on the battlefield. The advent of the JDAM may change that, but still you get the point. Now this kind of thing may make artillery much less useful to folks, as we'll see. One immediate problem I see with Shortstop is that it doesn't do jack against contact fuzed shells, but generally, these are less lethal than airburst shells. This also has limited effectiveness against cargo-carrying (such as submunitions) shells. Obviously, it'll louse up the dispersion pattern, but won't kill off the explosive bits. It will, however, mess with chemical weapons deployed in cargo shells by messing with bursting height.

But, I've been doing some thinking on this, and this is what I thought:

Here's the questions for the day:

1) Can one mimic the effect at a long distance using something like an AEGIS radar system? You could work it with something like the artillery locating radars to start zapping artillery shells long before the reach your position, rather than waiting, effectively, until the last minute. In combination with something like THEL-like system (Tactical High Energy Laser) which has shown, in tests, that it can zap artillery shells in flight, you could go a long way to neutralizing someone else's artillery. This setup would allow you to knock out the proximity fuzed shells early in their trajectory, and reduce the number of shells that need intercepted while in flight. Use this setup in conjunction with loitering UCAVs with hypersonic missiles or LOCASS, and you can vector the counterbattery strike using data from the artillery-finding radar in a matter of seconds, without even having to wait for the traditional few minutes that you've always had with conventional shoot-and-scoot tactics.

2) Can it be made air deployable, using a cruise missile as a delivery platform? If you can make a 25 lb submunition out of it, and use the entire 1,000 lb payload, you could fit 40 of those guys on board. So you can have the missile jettison a string of them along its flight path. The reason on might do this, is for situations in which the location of the artillery is more or less known, but the artillery is deeply dug in. I'm not super sure about the fuzing of shells, but I am rather fond of the idea of detonating them milliseconds after the fuze becomes active. Or, if you're really lucky, detonating them in the tube, if they are armed upon firing. This would be great fun in a place like Korea, where the artillery has been dug into a mountain Gibraltar-style, and it will be a time-consuming pain in the ass to go dig it out the traditional way.

3) If a phased-array radar can be used to prematurely detonate a proximity fuze, then could aircraft such as the F-22 and F-35 detonate the warheads of incoming missiles?

4) Speaking of missiles, certainly some sorts of ballistic missiles use proximity fuzes - that's how you get an airburst nuclear weapon to airburst at the proper altitude. That needs looking at as a form of missile defense.

5) Now it seems that it would be possible to defeat a Shortstop-type system by using some other sort of sensor, such as a laser or an acoustic sensor to detect altitude. In the case of missiles, this may not be too awfully hard. But to be fair, a similar philosophy to Shortstop may be usable in these cases. But, on the other hand, if you can spoof a laser sensor with a laser, why muck about with low-power lasers, when you can turn up the juice and just zap the beast? Anyway, the thing is that hardening anything to be used in an artillery shell is a ferocious pain in the ass, and can be quite expensive.

ITEM 2:

The US is finally, finally getting around to purchasing the Excalibur 155 mm round. About bloody time. The thing is GPS guided, so the CEP drops from 370 m to 10 m, regardless of range. This is significant because artillery traditionally loses accuracy with distance. The other really important thing about this bad boy is that it gives artillery the ability to reach out to 40 km (versus 30 km which is where we're at now). That's a huge jump. Had we not chucked the Crusader program, we could reach out to 50 km with this. Oh well. Should be fielded in its entirety by 2006.

ITEM 3:

The Air Force is looking at retooling some of its Minuteman III ICBMs for use in a conventional role. The missiles would be upgraded to what is being called an 'Elite' version which would have Peacekeeper-like accuracy (< 50 m CEP) and enhanced re-entry vehicles. The missiles, are, before retooling $7 million each. So, yeah, kinda expensive. But this all makes sense in the grand scheme of things if you think about it. The missile will carry what's called a Common Aero-Vehicle:

The CAV concept is an aerodynamically designed re-entry vehicle (RV), with maneuvering capability for increased range and accuracy that would dispense submunitions. A CAV would hold multiple targets at risk: deeply buried, hard, or mobile targets. The vehicle could serve as a common form of delivery for CBM, MSP, or orbital systems. CAV ICT focuses on concept development for ACTD in 2003-4 and pre-SPO activities. The ICT proposed $700 thousand from ICBM RV Applications for two contractors to do system analysis. CAV is one of 12 options being considered for HDBT defeat.

Payloads under consideration for the CAV include three 250 lb small smart bombs, six 90 lb powered LOCAAS (Low Cost Autonomous Attack System) munitions, a hard and deeply buried target (HDBT) penetrator, a deployable unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Hunter/Killer package, an agent defeat payload, and other special weapon payloads.
(LINK)


Ok, here are the good parts - an C-ICBM would be the thing to use for a HDBT penetrator, since you can build up a fearsome amount of kinetic energy. In fact, the earliest proposals for using an ICBM in the conventional role was to use it to loft bundles of tungsten rods to use against hardened shelters. Secondly, one need not mess around with basing rights, when launching strikes from Nebraska. Third, you can hit a target anywhere in the world within 30-35 minutes. Four, ballistic missiles are hard to intercept. Five, most nations don't have the sensing equipment to tell if a whole raft of missiles are incoming.

Downsides are as follows. The aforementioned $7 million per round (as is, before upgrades and refitting). Secondly, you're going to have to work very closely with the Russians and Chinese to ensure that they don't get spooked by ballistic missiles and launch a nuclear one back our direction. Third, the missiles, even conventionally armed, count against START limits. One way around this, potentially, is to launch from sites open to international inspectors to ensure that they are aware the missiles are conventional. Fourth, unless you launch from Vanderberg or Cape Canaveral, you have potential safety problems from falling boosters.

But here's what makes the scheme work. The Minuteman III-Elite would be ready around 2011, and that would lead into the development of a Minuteman IV (which would be designed from the outset for both conventional and nuclear use, and as a result, would be very accurate indeed). The Minuteman IV would be fielded about 2018. The next generation bomber (a Sanger-type space plane) is expected around 2030 or so. So you can see that there's a nice progression over the next three decades with rapid, global strike capability evolving in a nice, regular fashion.

Under current plans, the Minuteman III will undergo a life-extention program to keep them viable up through 2020, at a cost of $6 billion. The bomber then comes on line in 2030.

By pursuing the C-ICBM now, we'll have a booster configuration that will have the inherent flexibility that it could be used in ABM or ASAT roles (or at least be a usable option along those lines). More significantly, we'll get a good 20 years of doctrinal experience before we start with the space plane business. This allows a lot of time for lessons learned, the development of ideas about the best and most effective ways to use rapid gobal strike capability.

This leads off into the question of why we want global rapid strike capability (other than just sheer flat out coolness). And that explanation heads off into MOAB territory. So, at any rate. That's the state of the art in lobbing explosives great distances to cause consternation and discomfort.

2/27/2004

TBM BRD: Lightweight Friday

I was going to post a commentary on the whole gay marriage thing. I do agree substantially with CVE's post. Granted, I don't agree completely with some of the premises, conclusions, or for that matter, even the reasoning (and as far as that goes, I also agree with Doc Jawa's comment too). But that's all essentially trivial detail. Well, maybe not trivial, but I just don't have the oomph to tackle it after a taxing week. I also have been meaning to do a piece on North Korean artillery. I still mean to. Elsewhere, lemme see. Yep a post about starvation and its effects on the North Korean army based on the Big Ho's readings (go check out his artwork - it's good stuff). And a comment about the Rocket Man's thoughts on weaponry. And another installment of the MOAB.

But I just finished a monstrosity of a research effort for my meatspace wageslavery, and have misplaced a good portion of my computing power.

So, instead, I'll give surfing service. So to speak. (We Surf The Internet So You Don't Have To™)

Y'all might be familiar with the OICW (Objective Infantry Combat Weapon) which is a spectacularly badass chunk of hardware. Well, the thing is, is that it doesn't replace the M-16 all around - only the M-16/M-203 assault rifle-grenade launcher combo. Well, they've finally gotten around to selecting what might be the replacement for the M-16 - what is now called the XM-8. This is a gorgeous, destructively beautiful bit of hardware. Really nice. Looks cool. Granted, made by a bunch of Germans. But, on the other hand, they occasionally turn out something decent.

Elsewhere in the world... this is either the worst site imaginable or the most deft satire I've seen in ages. Your call.

Also, as you were taught in grade school, there are three forms of matter; solid, liquid, and gas. And then you got educated and learned about a fourth state of matter, plasma. And then you became a great big geek, and read all about a fifth form: Bose-Einstein condensates. And then, in a fit of all-consuming geekiness, I ran into a sixth, discovered by the kids at NASA two weeks ago: fermionic condensates. Cool, huh?

Those wacky guys at NASA have also figured out how to make an atomic clock that uses the ol' "spooky action at a distance" thing Einstein uncovered. It'll make atomic clocks about three orders of magnitude more accurate than existing ones. One second within 30 billion years. Why, you may ask, do I care? Turns out that such a critter, when it gets built a decade or so from now, will do things like allow much more accurate GPS systems. And that, you know, means more accurate weapons. Which in turn, means the amount of explosive filler can be reduced, without sacrificing lethality. That's one reason I care, at least. No seriously folks, it is a genuinely ingenious, perhaps even elegant design. Read the article and they do talk about some of the potential applications, one of which is testing the Fine Structure Constant. I have no idea what that actually means - but hey, it's cool anyways.

UPDATE the First: Corrected M-204 with M-203, 3/12)

2/26/2004

SRBM CVE: And Away We Go....

mar·riage n.
1. The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.
2. The state of being married; wedlock.
3. A common-law marriage.
4. A union between two persons having the customary but usually not the legal force of marriage: a same-sex marriage.

To turn BRD's phrase on its head, these are "The things that make it easy to be socially liberal."

It always amazes me that elements on the "Right", which so often fears the intrusion of government into our lives, who mutter amongst themselves that the real reason we need the NRA is so we can rise up and overthrow the government with all those handguns if need be, who claim to be for "Small Government" and "States Rights", are so quick to not only support but insist that the very government they so fear should legislate issues of morality and marriage!!

Wait a sec, if the government's so bad, why should we let it decide who should get married? Oh, I see, the government's just fine as long as its sticking its nose into our bedrooms and deciding who we can live with and what kind of sex we can have, but heaven forbid we fund public television, because that's going to erode our rights and destroy the nation?

Uh-huh.

Well, let's examine the core issues of the whole gay marriage boondoggle, shall we?

To be nit-picky, Bush has the details wrong again. The "Full Faith and Credit Clause" in Article IV of the Constitution wouldn't force states to suddenly start marrying gay couples in their states just because Massachusetts does.

Here's why: there's two hundred years of precedent that says a state does not have to honor a marriage that violates its own laws. The policy has generally been one based on residency at the time of the marriage. For example, Georgia allows first cousins to marry. Illinois only allows first cousins to marry if they are both older than 50. If a pair of 20 year old cousins from Illinois drove down to Atlanta to get married then returned to Illinois, Illinois could (and likely would) invalidate the marriage on the basis that it was clearly an attempt to avoid Illinois law. On the other hand, a couple 20 year old of cousins who live in Georgia, marry in Georgia, and then move to Illinois a few years later would remain married, even though their marriage was a technical violation of Illinois law, because their marriage was legal where they lived when they got married.

For that matter, states even have the right to invalidate marriages for people moving into the state that were legal where they occurred, as long as they view the marriages as "harmful" to community standards. The old polygamy marriages out of Utah were like that way back when. Leave Utah, and you only got to keep one wife.

So the argument that letting gay people marry in Massachusetts or 'Frisco will automatically impose that will on the rest of the USA is pretty much crap. In the looser version, the worst that would happen was that a few married gay people from other states would move into your state and remain married. In the tighter version, you wouldn't have to deal with it at all, since your state (especially ones with "Defense of Marriage" laws on the books) would just invalidate it, just as they would those of a Mormon polygamist.

But while the specific argument Bush is citing is full of legal holes, the core fact that he's stating is more or less right...without a constitutional amendment, there's little chance to prevent gay marriage from taking hold. Why? Not because of Article IV which Bush cites, but because of the 14th Amendment:

"Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Yes, its our good friend the "Equal Protection Clause". If a man and a woman can get married, with the legal and economic benefits that entails, and a pair of men or a pair of women cannot, how can there be equal protection? Aren't we then saying that a man and a woman have more rights than a man and a man or a woman and a woman? Its hard to argue that is not currently the case, so it seems fairly likely that one of the "activist judges" that Bush rails against will indeed make a correct and honest reading of the 14th Amendment and will kick the crap out of the Defense of Marriage Act.

So then we have to ask ourselves, why is this a big deal? Who cares if gay people get married? This doesn't invalidate all the existing non-gay marriages, does it? We aren't picturing a bunch of shotgun weddings where gay men round up straight men and force them to marry them, are we? Because that ain't what we're talking about, you know.

Why should the government care at all?

If your first answer is "marriage is sacred" or "marriage is sacrosanct" or "marriage is holy", then stop right now. Separation of church and state, remember? If you start making policy because it says homosexuality is a sin in the Old Testament, you're enforcing your religion on the rest of us. That's the point of divorcing religion from lawmaking. Your religion is a private thing, just as mine is, just as that Wiccan girl you knew in college is, or that atheist activist you see on TV protesting nativity scenes on public property is. You wouldn't appreciate it if that guy became Dictator of the United States and declared that all religion in the USA was banned because he didn't believe in them, why should the rest of us feel thrilled that you want to ban certain relationships because of what your religion says?

If your answer after that is "Well, my religion is right", let's try to remember that the Taliban thought they were right too...

Don't even try the "marriage is about reproduction" angle. First of all, its no hard thing for a lesbian couple to reproduce through artificial insemination. And unless you want to strip the marriages from infertile couples or the elderly, clearly reproduction is not really the issue.

If you're thinking, "Gay marriage will devalue/destroy the Institution of Marriage", then let me counter with the following example:

I know a gay couple. They've been living together for 15+ years, through hard times and good. They've bought a house together and consider themselves "married" over that time, despite their inability to make it formal in the laws where they live. They support one another, love each other, and show every sign of remaining together for the rest of their lives.

Now, and I want you to think really carefully before you answer this, do you really believe that their relationship is less valuable than Brittany Spears' 48 hours in Vegas?

Are the fleshy bits between our legs that important? Is that what this comes down to? This combination of parts is okay...those combinations? Banned!!!

I don't see it that way. I happen to think that a "family" has more to do with love and trust and relationship rather than the physical configurations of the people involved.

It isn't even about me personally. I lie awake some nights, hoping to find a cute redheaded girl who likes politics, military history, and science fiction. Regardless of how the politics of this issue turns out, I'm good to go if I ever find her. It ain't about me, its about the principle of the thing.

This is why, at the end of the day, I end up voting Democrat more often than I do Republican. While the Democrats are more likely to tell me how to spend my money, the Republicans are more likely to tell me how to live my life...including and especially, who I'm allowed to love.

I'll take my chances with the guys who want my money.
---

2/25/2004

SRBM BRD: The Practical Merits of Brutality

Ok, now we'll kick off the second half (first half here) of a crummy response to CVE's well-written second post on the utility of brutality (first half of CVE here).

In his second post Charlie Victor Echo argues, essentially, that tit-for-tat retaliation basically cruises right on by the fact that defenders have an inherent advantage and that "the moral power is to physical as three parts out of four ." Well, what he said is more complex than that, but if you want the nuance go read the post already.

I agree conditionally with his statement that "Equivalent violence is inherently non-decisive." This is true in non-attrition settings, and I do submit that low-intensity conflict, of which terrorism is a type, is not attritional warfare in any sense, with the possible exception of the moral. I think that the enforcement of the No-Fly Zones in Northern Iraq are a fine example of this.

So to start with that bit, we may be at a semantic impasse, insofar as I do not think effective use of "brutality" is inherently Mosaic 'eye for and eye.' America did most certainly not firebomb Dresden or Tokyo, (or nuke Hiroshima or Nagasaki) as a reciprocal retaliation for attacks on the soil of the US. In fact, that was part of their success. If we kept at an eye for an eye level in World War II and no further, I am fairly certain, that but for the introduction of nuclear weaponry, we would still be fighting the Japanese. In terms of successful application of violence to achieve a shock effect it most certainly must be shocking. Whether or not this is decisive or just proves to be an extra-efficient way of whipping up the bad guys leads us to the second half of the practical argument.

CVE's second main point is that the going on the offensive starts rapidly degrading one's own moral advantage, thus feeding back into the tit-for-tat cycle by enabling folks on the defense to go on the counter attack.

This is something that I also thing is sort-of true. During the twentieth century, the only successful insurgencies have been proxy wars. The cases that CVE cites, Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Intifada, and Chechnya, are all so-so exemplars of the underlying argument made, as they simply show a willingness of the USSR/USA/Saudi Arabia/Iran to fight down to the last Vietnamese/Afghan/Palestinian/Chechen. So, if we are to posit a bit more complex theory, that in a proxy war where "useful fools" are just a much a weapon as AK-47s and SAMs, we have a stronger leg to stand on.

Assuming, of course, that we show a marked hesitancy to escalate.

To this, I would put down some counter-examples, such the First and Second World Wars, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, the Invasion of Panama, the Invasion of Grenada. But, to be fair, these are purely rhetorical examples which suggest that absolute violence will solve something. This, however, is not the case that CVE is focusing on.

So we could look at things like the bombing of Libya in 1986, the "Line of Death" and "the Son of the Line of Death," "the Persian Gulf is Mine, Dammit!," or any one of a number of the "Mindlesly Dreary and Endlessly Repetitive Tussels in the Balkans." To be sure, these are a bit different than the cases cited by Charlie Victor Echo, if not by strict definition, at least in general spirit. So we'll reduce our scope a little bit more...

And focus on Old School Insurgencies such as the Plains Indian Wars, the Philippine Insurrection, the Malaysian Emergency, the Boer Wars, the Zulu Wars, whenever it was the Brits were beating the beejezus and so on. So, even for Old School Insurgencies, it seems that going to the negotiation table and "stopping the cycle of violence" is not the certain path to victory. The examples cited earlier, Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Intifada, and Chechnya (and the American revolution, for that matter), are all proxy wars, while of the failed insurgencies mentioned earlier, only the Malaysian Emergency had a proxy component. [NB: Many of the Communists fighting were Chinese, rather than Malay, so this might not really qualify as a proxy insurgency.]

So, we have now this choice - that the mechanics of zero-escalation retaliation are quite prone to produce stalemates in proxy-war settings, while non-proxy wars can be solved by overwhelming application of violent force. Hmmm....

Well, just thinking on this, far as I know, the East Timor insurrection, which resulted in the creation of East Timor, was by no means a proxy fight. So here, we have an example of a free-standing insurrection which succeeded in the face of imminent overmatching force. This, unfortunately, is not really enough to prove the broader point.

However, it does lead us to a really fascinating counter-hypothesis, that tit-for-tat retaliation might not work only in what we could call "super-total warfare," in which a society is pushed externally, by suppliers, to fight beyond their national means. In traditional total war, the industrial capacity of the state is one of the upper bounds of the ability to wage war. As we've seen in just about every industrialized war, as long as both sides think they have a chance of winning, their industrial capacity runs out long before they run out of will, so guys getting killed on the front is seldom the biggest determinant of success. In the case of proxy wars, particularly proxy insurgencies, we separate industrial capacity and will to war. In a proxy war, the industrial capacity is restricted only by the willingness of the Suggardaddy to fight to the last "useful fool." Conversely, in the proxy country itself, the useful fools may wish to fight until they spend the "last of Sugardaddy's money."

In this respect, tit-for-tat certainly won't break the cycle of violence. I would then submit that in a state of "super-total warfare" that one has two choices of response: either expanding the scope of the war such that it includes the suppliers and backers and becomes a wider total war ("You're either with us, or against us.") or, conversely, coming down so godawful hard on the poor proxy groundpounders, that their will is simply broken. I can't recall a lot of instances in which the latter has ever happened (just remember the supposed morale effects of unrestricted bombing), and when it did happen, it was nearly genocidal. Perhaps the true humane use of brutality is not to make the war more intense, but broader and conflate those who do the paying with those do the dying. I imagine that residents of Atlanta circa 1870 might offer a variety of colorful opinions on that set of subjects. Or, for that matter, the residents of Kabul.

2/24/2004

EBS BRD: Splitting the Atom

Nuclear war without splitting the atom?

Easier to clean up after!Rimshot!

No, dammit, blog without a feed! Lord knows, no feed, no blog, right?

Presenting the Anticipatory Retaliation feed!

Lo, http://anticipatoryretaliation.blogspot.com/atom.xml,

& freaking behold...

In future, a link on the right-side bar under "Machinery O' Doom." Hopefully, someday a neat-o graphic.

Big Tippage O' Hat to Alan of MythusMage Opines.

Anywho, finished other site wrenching of Very Little Importance. Hope to have complete sentences back up soon.

SRBM BRD: The Theoretical Merits of Brutality

Ok, I was first going to write one half of one response at which point Blogger decided to exercise veto power and digest my post whole.

So, now we're trying again with a half-assed one-half of a reply to a Charlie Victor Echo post here. In essence, CVE argues that, when it gets down to cases, since Islamic Jihad isn't going to quit blowing people up on our say-so, then the best bet for halting the tit-for-tat response cycle is to lean on the Israelis - not because they're necessarily in the wrong, but simply because they're the only folks we have a chance of reaching.

This is, in a nutshell, true.

Except [ed: you knew the except was coming, didn't you?] that it makes having ties to the western diplomatic community an absolute liability. Putting a cap on the options available to the west (and not because they're good options, but because they'll listen to reason) is a supremely good way to ensure that specific application of violence an effective tactic.

Essentially all I'd have to do, as a terrorist, is periodically blow up a raft of civilians here and there, wait for the violent response, and then wait for the rest of the west to confer among themselves and wait for a peace offering. As long as the west reserves the right to retaliation at least (if not more than) in-kind, then terrorism won't automatically prevail. As soon as being a terrorist absolves an organization from any responsibility for ending the conflict, then all the responsibility devolves onto the 'civilized' country, thus making terrorism an unbeatable trump.

More on the practical application of brutality later...

2/23/2004

SRBM CVE: The Return of Darth Nader

Already I'm hearing talk about Nader being a Republican plant who sold out as early as 2000 to the Bush Campaign to do unto the Democrats what Perot did to W's dad in '92.

While I don't believe that to be the case, I do believe the man is either a fool or an egomaniac (or both!) if he can't see that each and every one of the issues he ran on last time were hurt by having him in the race in 2000. After all, had he not run, Gore would have won New Hampshire, Florida, and the Presidency. A quick look around would see that Iraq, the loosening of restrictions at EPA, the deficit, and several more issues would have gone quite differently had Al Gore made it to the White House...

Nevertheless, I doubt he'll be much of a factor this time around. The feeling of ennui that had engulfed the Left in 2000 is pretty much gone, in large part thanks to poor old Crazy Howard, and this time out even the Green Party isn't having anything to do with Nader. Perot was barely a blip on the radar in '96, if you'll recall.

Will he siphon off some votes? Yeah, probably.

Will those votes be enough to swing certain key states? I doubt it.

Do I wish he'd had the brains to shut up and not run at all? Definitely. But what's the point of being a Dark Lord of the Sith if you don't hurt your friends? Just another day in the life of Darth Nader, I guess.

TBM BRD: John Kerry is...

...Screech!



(Courtesy Dong Resin's Joint)

Also be sure to check out the personal journal of Tinkerbell, Paris Hilton's dog.

UPDATE the First: Excerpt from above:

Feb.20.04 | 1:15
Jesus pole-vaulting Christ...
Overheard while she's watching television in the next room : " Well, why don't they just keep Jews out of the airports, or give them special airports? Why can't they just avoid the other people over there?"
I thank god I don't know what the Christ lead up to that brainstorm.

TBM BRD: Yahoo Privacy Problems

Just thought you might want to know...

Yahoo is using 'Web Beacons' to track Yahoo Group users around the
net and see what they're doing and where they are going - much like
cookies.

Yahoo's Privacy Statement has been updated:

http://privacy.yahoo.com/privacy/us/pixels/details.html

In the section 'Outside the Yahoo! Network' (3rd bullet down), you'll
see a little 'click here' link that will let you opt-out of their new
method of snooping. I strongly recommend you do this. Once you have
clicked that link, you are opted out.

Notice the 'Success' message the top the next page after you opt-out.
Be careful because on that page there is a 'Cancel Opt-out' button
that, if clicked, will *undo* the opt-out. Very misleading if you
don't read before clicking (or not clicking).

2/20/2004

TBM BRD: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Sorry for a substance-free blog today, but my brain is tired and wants to leave.

So here's the roundup:

The Good: Definitely my kind of shopping - "Shop, Destroy, Rule." God, how can you not love that. Man, I love you guys.

The Bad: Despite the genuinely good fact that Libya is apparently disarming, the advanced state of their nuclear program seems to suggest that our lack of intelligence on their program is representative of an intel failure nearly as bad as the Iraq intel scandal. It turns out Libya, in addition to purchasing enriched uranium had developed the ability to reprocess spent fuel and extract plutonium. Prior to their disclosures, the Libyan nuclear program had been thought to be fairly inconsequential and rudimentary. The conventional wisdom was that Libya, like the Syrians, had put all of their eggs in the chemical weapons basket, rather than developing more complex and expensive biological and nuclear weapons.

The Ugly: In reading that story, one might note that the IAEA considers the threshold for a Pu warhead to be 10 kilos of weapons-grade material. Any lesser amount is not considered to be "significant". The only problem is that something like the famed Atomic Demolition Munition, which has a yield of 1 kT uses 1.5 kg of Pu in its warhead. A sophisticated boosted fission warhead, which has a 200 kT yield, uses about 3.0 kg of plutonium. So, the long and short of it, is that you can lose Manhattan, Washington DC, and Los Angeles and still not use a "significant" amount of material. "But why the rant there, ace?" you may ask. Well, here's the scoop: in the Libya item above, you note that we missed a whole lot of stuff going on. To put it in a sort-of-math-esque way, is that we got a false positive in Iraq, a false negative in Libya, information on Iran by grace of god alone, and to cap it all off, the IAEA (who enforces the nuclear non-proliferation treaty) is still trying to find Cold War arsenals and evidently never got the memo about 9/11 and nuclear terrorism.

2/19/2004

TBM BRD: The things that make it easy to be fiscally conservative

Hell. They make it easy to chuck the idea of government altogether. Click on the link for "And this may help explain why." (Courtesy Foreign Dispatches)



Well, at any rate, we at Anticipatory Retaliation Headquarters know we're a lot more efficient and sensible, or so we'd like to think:


TBM BRD: Joyous News From Flare Land

This article talks about advances in the flares used to decoy heat seeking missiles. Among some of the more straightforward advances, like mixing decoys operating on different methodologies for spoofing missiles, are some of the following neat-o things:

  1. Kinetic flares, which can be programmed to fly alongside the craft or to veer off on their own courses. This is significant because modern heat-seekers have learned to tell the difference between a plane under its own power and a falling magnesium flare

  2. Wafer flares, that are super thin. More than a thousand such wafers can fit in a cartridge 6 in long, by 1.4 in diameter.

  3. Flares that mimic the specific heat signature of the engine of the escaping aircraft

  4. IR lasers to zap or spoof the incoming seekers


This stuff will beat the pants off of current IR-seeking missiles. There are a couple of ways (I can think of off the top of my head) you might be able to defeat one or more of those technologies, but none are easy or cheap.

  1. Getting a intensity/frequency curve from the seeker - locking that in and filtering out other signals.

  2. Missiles that can pick out the specific signals associated with the burn of the flare (e.g. burning magnesium), use those to figure out either the location of the flare or the change in the signal associated with the arrival of the new flare and then working backwards to pull out the signal of the engine.


Still, a bit of puzzler.

SRBM CVE: Brutality Revisited, Part II

Let's return to the core issue, shall we? Setting aside questions of perspective and morality, the issue becomes one of functionality. In other words, does equivalent violence work as a method of deterrent?

I would argue that it does not.

First, some definitions for us to use. Hobbes (the twitchy 17th century Englishman, not the imaginary stuffed tiger) wrote that without mutually acceptable definitions, political dialogue was impossible, so we should set a few of them up.

"Equivalent violence", for the purposes of this discussion, is the cycle of attack vs counter-attack with roughly equal amounts of force applied by both sides. For example, Hamas uses a suicide bomber to kill six Israelis and the next day an Israeli airstrike kills three Hamas leaders and two Palestinian civilians. This would be the use of equivalent violence, and has been going on more or less unabated since the start of the Second Intifada in September of 2000.

It is, when you get right down to it, going back to biblical tactics. "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."

And frankly, it doesn't work, especially for the visiting team, and the reason is fairly simple.

Equivalent violence is inherently non-decisive.

Small scale attacks are almost never able to permanently cripple an opponent's ability to muster the resources for another exchange, and indeed can sometimes make it easier to recruit new fighters through martyrdom or a desire for revenge.

What's more, if my enemy only makes attacks of a similar scale to the ones I make, then I can control his response by limiting the scale of my own actions. Thus, I will never have to face overwhelming force, since I'll only make my attacks small enough that I can survive his limited response.

So why fight this way at all? Well, as the home team, it actually becomes almost winnable. After all, its much easier to recruit people when you can point to the enemy's troops and tanks on the streets of your hometown. Its easy to play the "We're Oppressed, Please Help Us" card, which can get you direct military or financial aid from those most on your side (Iranian, Saudi, and until recently Iraqi money for suicide bombers, for example), or at least win you sympathy among those without a direct stake in the matter (European condemnations of Israel spring to mind).

The problem is, if you go overboard (as both the Palestinians and Chechens have) and start attacking your enemy in his hometown, then it becomes so much easier for your enemy to justify his current occupation as needed for security reasons.

Compare both the Vietnam and Soviet-Afghan Wars to the Intifada and Chechen Uprising. In the former cases, the visiting nations both eventually gave up, in part because they had no direct security threats at home to justify the wars in question. In the latter, however, relentless attacks on civilians in both Israel and Russia makes it not only plausible, but damn near mandatory to continue the cycle of violence in some form or another, and both nations have chosen equivalent violence...which simply perpetuates the cycle.

From the visitor's standpoint, the situation is grimmer. Though attacks from the enemy in your homeland must be responded to, the use of similar sized strikes only provokes more attacks. Worse, the opposition seems to get stronger as time goes on, not weaker....but you can't let the enemy keep killing your civilians, can you?

So what can be done? Frankly, if equivalent force isn't working (and indeed almost can't work), then there are only two real options. Either increase the level of force until you (hopefully) reach a decisive level, or decrease it to nothing and pull out and/or sue for peace.

However, for the Russians to a degree, but definitely for the Israelis, increasing the level of force will have severe international consequences. Just witness the firestorms of protest when the Israelis stormed a couple of camps/villages a few months back. So now they have an ugly choice. Cede the war and try for peace, or tell the world to screw itself and go for broke and try to win.

Or, of course, the third choice that everyone's picked so far, which is let things continue as they have, accept your casualties, and hope that some combination of events will open an escape hatch that you haven't been able to find yet.

Its an ugly situation with few easy answers, but I really don't think that the current plan is working.

TBM BRD: What is CNN on about?

Are they trying to say Alaska is unamerican? Alaska is non-democratic?

Or maybe there are no Democrats in Alaska.

At any rate, last I checked I couldn't find totals for Alaska.

TBM BRD: Explaining Why

it is that we like variable thrust solid fuel rocket motors.

Steve Vodka links to short post explaining that we now have critters such as variable thrust rocket motors.

This article explains why we care. And yes dear reader, it is actually quite useful indeed - because you can trade off range for speed, pending your distance to target and situation. Alternately, they mention that this will allow things like one common missile body for a whole host of ranges, rather than the traditional short, medium and long flavors we know so well. Or a missile can slow down to tighten up its turning radius and then hit the gas to boost kinetic energy prior to intercept.

Moreover this can be retrofitted to existing rockets.

One thing that I am a bit surprised that they didn't mention the posibility of changing pressure off axis to steer the missile, eliminating even more moving parts.

Good read though.

I don't know about you, but it made me all warm and fuzzy.

2/18/2004

TBM BRD: Edwards wins nomination

Well, practically. Dean just bailed. Funnily enough he bailed on his blog. He'll be bailing live at 10pm eastern.

Guess it's time to head over to DU and see if I need to buy tinfoil futures.

TBM BRD: More on Libyan/Pakistani/Chinese Warhead

As both of my readers will note, I posted recently about the possibility that Iran may have a warhead design that it has acquired from Pakistan.

More info has come in - the plans found in Libya are for a warhead weighing 500 kg, and 80 cm in diameter (that's about 1100 lbs and 32 in, for all you un-metric-ified folk). This is larger than Libya has a delivery system for - assuming that reports that they had purchased Korean or Iranian missles prove to be false.

But, as you probably guessed from the statment above, both Iran and North Korea have delivery vehicles suitable for such a device. Both countries also have operational medium-range ballistic missiles. North Korea claims to have nukes already - well, at least they do on Thursdays and every other Saturday.

Iran isn't thought, necessarily, to have nukes (rumors about a purchase of ex-Soviet stuff in the early 90's aside). However, if you've spirited away enough weapons-grade fissile material, have the design, and taken all the necessary prepatory steps, it takes somewhere between a week and a month to cobble together bomb.

And again, I would like to draw your attention to the new Iranian breach of agreement and the finding of the second centrifuge design.

We're getting around to the point that I wonder if Israel is going to do another Osirak on Iran...

Oh yeah - don't forget - Iranian parliamentary elections are this Friday.

UPDATE the First: Rusty, the Jawa Rustler asks: "How does this mesh with Iran's recent announcement not to design new long rang-missiles? You think its because we are laying the pressure on Pak/NK where, presumably, they would get the technology to build a missile capable of delivering a warhead? Or is it because the targets of said missile are right next door in Iraq now?"

To which I reply: "It depends on what you mean about their announcement. They recently stated that they would not be building the Shahab 4 (prior to that they stated that the Shahab 4 was a space launch vehicle, rather than IRBM). A bit later, they indicated that they would be enhancing the Shahab 3. A bit after that, they said that they would launch a domestically produced satellite (of unspecified type) on a domestically produced launch vehicle within 18 months.

The Iranians say a lot of things.

At the end of the day, the design I suspect Iran has should fit on a Shahab 3 and may have enough range to tag Israel (call it 1,300 km range). The thing is more-or-less equivalent to the No Dong 1. The Shahab 4 - which you recall the Norks tried to launch a satellite with - is equivalent to the Pakistani Ghauri, or Nork Taepo-Dong.

At any rate, the Shahab 4, as a ballistic missile, was pretty much a paper missile - they hadn't gone into testing stages or anything of that ilk. Heck, they just finished testing and started putting the Shahab 3 into mass production. So they could shelve the -4, or move it into the Shahab 3 improvement program. As a ballistic missile, guestimated ranges vary between 1,500 km and 2,500 km which definitely puts parts of Europe and India in their sights.

As far as leaning on the Norks - I'm not sure that leaning on the Norks makes any difference in what missile stuff they sell. With Pakistan it might, with the recent reports that the government is working with the US to change the launch codes of Pakistan's nukes, not a whole lot would surprise me.

I think the other thing to remember is that they could nuke Tel Aviv and be pretty happy with that, too."

TBM BRD: The Irony Is Delicious

France, U.S. split on Haiti

France wants the U.N. to send peacekeepers immediately, but Secretary of State Colin Powell says the U.S. won't be involved without a political settlement.

Sadly, like most of the delicious ironies of the last century, a lot of people are going buy the farm as a result. But then again, this is Haiti we're talking about, and far as I can tell, Haiti is a pretty good place for a short life expectancy, even without all the pissing and moaning in the UN.

I guess the thing that cinches it, is not the dispute over Haiti v. the dispute over Iraq, but rather that same comparison, in light of last year's decision to put troops in Liberia.

SRBM CVE: Brutality Revisited, Part I

[Note: Due to time constraints and a desire to limit posting lengths, I'm splitting my post into two parts. The first deals with a matter of perspective, and is actually somewhat tangential to the initial topic of discussion. The second, which returns to an examination of the original point, should be out in the near future. -CVE]

Bravo Romeo Delta makes a decent, if purely philosophical, point about who has more "responsibility" in ending a cycle of violence:

It is almost dehumanizing to assume that Russians have the obligation and means to end the cycle of violence, while Chechen attacks are simply an unavoidable and ineluctable response to Russian violence. Why is the contrary also not true?

Of course, from an Aristotelian "Higher Truth" standpoint, BRD's absolutely correct. Both sides, in both the Israeli-Palestinian and Russian-Chechen conflicts share responsibility for the carnage. And yes, I find it perfectly legitimate to assign a greater amount of blame to the ones who are not only choosing to attack civilian targets but are hiding among their own civilians so that an equivalent retaliation almost inevitably causes even more civilian casualties.

But we're not really dealing with Aristotelian issues here, we're talking about ones rooted in certain unavoidable practicalities.

One such is perspective. Its hardly a secret that both BRD and myself are Americans...even a cursory examination of the site would make that fairly obvious. As such, if we're speaking about specific sides in these conflicts, both the Russians and Israelis are closer to "our side" than would be the Chechens or Palestinians. Certainly, there are many people of Chechen or Palestinian origin living in the United States, but on the grand geo-political stage, the United States is a supporter of Israel, and against the Islamic Extremists who help the Chechens. Therefore (as in 1941-45) we find ourselves in an "The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend" scenario with the Russians.

So if the Russians and Israelis are on our side, and certainly more so than either the Chechens (who are supported by Al-Queada) or the Palestinians (remember the cheering on 9/11?), then anything we write here gets applied through that filter.

When you tell someone on your side what to do, then its advice. Maybe they listen to you, maybe they don't. Maybe they take it personally, especially when your advice is couched in harsh language or in strident tones (see: French Diplomacy in 2003 vis a vis the United States).

When you tell someone on the other side what to do, then its propaganda. It is seen as an attempt to weaken morale or coerce a settlement through threats. It may end up being effective propaganda, but your inability to convince the people you're talking to or writing to that you really believe your course of action is in their best interests compromises your core message's effectiveness.

Or to put it more viscerally, the chances of my convincing Islamic Jihad to stop blowing things up by writing here are about as good as those of the Iraqi "protesters" were of convincing George W. Bush not to invade Iraq by waving signs in Baghdad....in other words, practically nil.

So yes, I'll acknowledge that it'd be great if both sides in both conflicts would stop killing one another, from a practical standpoint this is much more likely to be read by someone in Moscow or Tel Aviv than it is in Grozny or Ramallah. And that's why I write from the perspective of encouraging the Russians and Israelis to do something different. Not because I don't recognize their opposition as human, but because I recognize that they're more likely to listen to me than their opponents are.

(And no, I don't think that someone is going to copy this and drop it on Vlad Putin's desk with a note saying "He's right...let's do it Charlie's way!" But I don't think its completely unreasonable to think that someone who 10, 20, or 30 years down the line may be a policymaker somewhere might stumble on this and have his or her perspective altered slightly. That's about all one can hope for in a forum like this, but its a worthy enough goal to keep me writing.)

2/17/2004

TBM BRD Rum-Fu:

2/16/2004

TBM BRD: Official AR Shockwave Site

Go take a peek at the official Anticipatory Retaliation Shockwave Application of the Day. (Courtesy Michael J. Totten)

SRBM BRD: On the Merits of Brutality

In response to CVE's questions about the utility of violence, there are a couple of different responses, but one that is, perhaps, the most instructive is that asking the question about whether or not brutality is useful answers the question, in and of itself.

Charlie Victor Echo writes:
"So how's that working out for them?

Honestly, not well. Things keep blowing up in Moscow, from the subway bombing, to the theater hostage taking. Each attack is followed by a violent response of some kind, which creates more martyrs and encourages even more attacks by the angry Chechen populace... "


Let's take that and rewrite it a little bit:
"So how's that working out for them?

Honestly, not well. Things keep blowing up in Chechnya, from the assassination of the president, to the constant shelling of Grozny. Each attack is followed by a terrorist response of some kind, which creates more martyrs and encourages even more attacks by the angry Russian populace... "


The use of terrorism suggests that the terrorists themselves surely do believe that sufficient brutality can sway the minds of a populace. To be sure, the Russians and Israelis have been violent in their responses, but not especially brutal. Terrorist attacks, by their very nature are expressions of brutality.

Given the fact that it is quite possible to find cartloads of people in the west who would argue that violent response is not the answer - that it only perpetuates the cycle, shows that sufficient brutality can change the mind of an opponent. It is possibly a tiny bit chauvinist to suggest that if terrorists kill of a trainload of Russians, that the attack does not create "more martyrs and encourages even more attacks," while a violent response against Chechens will have this effect. It is almost dehumanizing to assume that Russians have the obligation and means to end the cycle of violence, while Chechen attacks are simply an unavoidable and ineluctable response to Russian violence. Why is the contrary also not true?

2/14/2004

SRBM CVE: On the Use of Brutality

BRD's comments about the relative effectiveness of brutality as a deterrant (re: Beirut and the '80s) got me thinking. Does that kind of tactic really work? I mean, sure, in the anecdote the Russian hostages were freed, but I think it can be argued that in a bipolar Cold War world, the hostage takers were angrier at the United States than they were the Russians. After all, the USA was the nation supplying Israel, while the Russians were the ones giving guns to Egypt, Syria, and Iraq.

Taking the example forward to today, one can notice that if the assassination of the former Chechen President really was ordered by the Kremlin, and further if the reports over the last few years of particularly vicious Russian tactics being employed within Chechnya are to be believed, then we can only conclude that despite the fall of the Soviet Union proper, the Russians are still using some (if not all) of the same fairly brutal techniques they made famous in the past.

So how's that working out for them?

Honestly, not well. Things keep blowing up in Moscow, from the subway bombing, to the theater hostage taking. Each attack is followed by a violent response of some kind, which creates more martyrs and encourages even more attacks by the angry Chechen populace...

Wait, doesn't this sound familar for some reason?

Oh yeah, there's that whole thing in Israel where much of the same things are happening, except there's more of it. The attacks happen on a smaller scale, as does the Israeli response, but the pattern seems fairly clear.

It may be more satisfying to lash out with equivalent violence when one is attacked, but as a means of deterring terrorism, I'm not really convinced it actually works.

So, the obvious question is, what does work?

TBM BRD: Russia Does Not Negotiate With Terrorists - They Destroy Them

Today in Doha, Qatar (by coinicdence, American headquarters during the Iraq War)...
Chechnya's exiled former president, wanted by Russia for terrorism and ties to al-Qaida, was assassinated Friday when a bomb blew apart his car as he left a mosque with his teenage son.
Russia's security services denied any involvement in the death of Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, 51. But a Chechen rebel group called the slaying "the latest bloody Kremlin crime."
...
The blast occurred one week after a bombing in a Moscow subway killed 41 people and wounded more than 100. President Vladimir Putin blamed Chechen rebels and took a hard line, saying, "Russia doesn't conduct negotiations with terrorists it destroys them."


LINK

Draw your own conclusions.

By the way, do remember what happened to those folks in Beirut in the 80's who kinapped some Soviets? Allegedly (stories vary here a bit) the KGB sent men into to rescue the hostages. The kidnapper's compadres returned to find the kidnappers all dead with their testicles stuffed in their mouths. No more kidnappings after that.

TBM BRD: Tehran in Breach of IAEA Additional Protocol and May Have Nuke Designs

Feb. 13, IAEA inspectors have revealed that Iran was in possession of more sophisiticated second-generation centrifuge designs rather than the first generation designs declared last year after Iran signed the Additional Protocols to the Nuclear Non-Prolferation Treaty. Both designs match those found in Libya (purchased from A.Q. Kahn's network). The first, declared, design was based on a model stolen by Dr. Khan from URENCO in the Netherlands, and is based on a less-efficient Aluminum tube design. The second, more sophisiticated design, uses high-strength maraging steel and is the same design as the higher-performance German-designed centrifuges intercepted last October on their way from their manufacture in Malaysia to Libya.

Both countries have the same older aluminum centrifuge design obatined from Pakistan. It was previously thought that that Pakistan had not turned over the second maraging steel design to both countries. After Qadaffi's opening of the closets, designs for the higher performance design were found in Libya, along with parts and completed centrifuge assemblies, in addition to the centrifuges intercepted last October from Malaysia. Today, IAEA inspectors found that Iran also possessed this technology.

During the week of January 19-23, a chartered 747 was flown from Libya to Dulles to deliver Libyan copies of a warhead design, still wrapped in plastic bags from an Islamabad dry cleaner. The design is essentially an implosion-type device, similar to the one used in Nagasaki.

You wanna bet that Iran didn't buy designs from Dr. Kahn?

TBM BRD: Create your own 'Visited Planets Map'

From the folks who brought you your visited states and countries map, we now have the 'Visited Planets Map.' Link.

TBM BRD: Best Breast Beat

Anna of a little.red.boat has a fantastic summary of the Jackson ordeal. Well worth the read.

2/13/2004

TBM BRD: Rumsfeld and the Shrinking Army

There has been a great deal of complaint levied against Sec. Rumsfeld for his purported plan to shrink the military. His February 4th, 2004 testimony before the Senate Armed Services commitee paints a slightly more complex picture. At the beginning of the 90's the US Army fielded 18 divisions of 4 brigades each, for a total of 72 brigades. During the Clinton adminstration, the army was trimmed down to its current strength of 11, 3-brigade divisions (33 brigades).

While there has been a lot of talk about the reorganization of the army from divisions to brigades, this obscures a more important detail. In addition to improving mobility, deployability, and combat power, Sec. Rumsfeld intends to expand the army from 33 brigades currently to 43 in four years, with an option to bring the total to 48 in the fifth year. Aside from issues of combat effectiveness, this does bring the number of division-equivalent units from 11 to 15 2/3. So to say Rumsfeld doesn't intend to increase the size of the army is to obscure a more complex and nuanced set of proposals.

TBM: BRD: Follow-on to Pak Nuke Story

According to this 1/28/04 story in the Times of India, part of the fallout of the Libyan declaration of WMD has been, as you've heard, insight into the WMD-Home Shopping Network. This has possibly raised some significant concerns in intel circles hither, tither, and yon. Money graf:

"Although US officials have never discussed the matter in public, there has been speculation in proliferation study circles that Washington has "plans" to take control of Pakistan ’s nuclear programme in the event of a danger of it falling into the hands of fundamentalist elements.
...
US analysts discount a smash-and-grab operation against Pakistan , but the Libya deal has demonstrated that world powers can denuclearise Pakistan , possibly with security assurances."


Has this already happened?

More to follow as it becomes available...

EBS BRD: A Busy Day

Been pretty busy down here in the hole, slugging it out 200 kt at a time, but it wouldn't be a total thermonuclear exchange unless we took a moment to dwell on those very, very special targets that make fission and fusion so very, very delightful.

For starters, check out My Pet Jawa who seems to be on a quest to explain the War On Tusken Raiders. It's worth checking out as his mapping of the War on Terror is mapped onto the War on Tusken Raiders. [Ed: This is where mathy bits go, explaining domain, range, mapping, coordinate transforms and their applicability to political descriptions and alignments. If I had time.]

The other guy hanging out inside the CEP of an incoming strike is the Rocket Man Blog. By a honest-to-goodness, real rocket scientist who posts some delightfully chewy things to read. He has, among other things, a good post on future weapons, which I hope to comment on someday relatively soon.

Both of these people will be officially placed on the Retaliatory Strikes list soon as possible.

Elsewhere, there is an interesting post on nanoweapons which needs a pretty significant response. Think along the lines of the old saw that runs something like 'Amatures watch armies, professionals watch logistics.'

Finally the VodkaPundit grabs some interesting info about future developments in Chinese aircraft carriers and makes some good points about the difference between having and using. However, it seems, at least on first blush, that many of the commenters fall short of the mark in figuring out what they mean. This too, I hope to comment on shortly.

Time to make the donuts turn the key and push the button...

TBM BRD: Brilliant Movie Review

Well, I don't know if it's brilliant exactly, but this review is pretty darned good. Especially if you're one of those folks who thought the book Starship Troopers was better than the movie.

I suppose, on a deeper level, that it highlights the director's, Paul Verhoeven, tendency, like many of those who are "Anti-War" to fundamentally, willfully misunderstand that which they seek to drive out of existence.

TBM BRD: Pakistan Nuke Codes Changed by Americans

Unconfirmed reports suggest that American covert operatives have deployed to Pakistan nuclear weapons storage sites and changed the arming and/or launch codes, according to a Feburary 9, 2004 report in the London Daily Telegraph.. Money grafs:
"America's involvement in compiling missile codes raises the possibility that it might be able to prevent Pakistan from launching its nuclear weapons."

And...
"The American specialists are working alongside Pakistan's strategic planning and development cell under the command of Gen Khalid Kidwai. Robert Oakley, a former US ambassador in Islamabad, told NBC that Gen Kidwai "has been working very quietly, very slowly with us."


Maybe very good ... maybe very spooky...

2/11/2004

TBM BRD: Padilla News Flash

According to a Pentagon press release, Jose Padilla, the alleged dirty bomber, will have access to a lawyer, pending appropriate security measures. The Pentagon asserts that this is not a precedent setting action, nor is it required under domestic or international law. They go on to note that Padilla, as a citizen, will not be eligible for trial by military tribunal.

EBS BRD: Mmm.. sacrelicious...

I am still digging out from underneath a heaving mound of work, but hope to be done in the not-too-distant future. Or at least procrastinating well enough that I can post regularly.

In the meantime, your question for the day: Was Jesus hanged, hung, well-hung, hanged well, well hanged, hung well, or well hung.

2/09/2004

SRBM BRD: The Point of the Wall

Many folks have expressed some measure of dismay over the notion that Israel will be pulling settlers out of the Gaza Strip. Well, there’s another way to skin this particular cat.

A lot of folks have suggested that following the true creation of a Palestinian state, the new state will erupt into civil war within months. It is entirely possible that the reason that the settlements are being pulled out is so that Gaza can be made an example of.

By not formally relinquishing control, Israel can secure the border between Gaza and Egypt to forestall any movement of “stabilization” forces. Moreover, Gaza relies, in part, on Israel for a lot of basic services, such as water and electricity. Once the settlers have been pulled out, then Israel can effectively lay siege to the entire city if they so desire, without risking the certain attacks on settlers that such actions would precipitate.

Further, if there is a substantial amount of unrest once Israel ceases having to impose order, then it makes their position on the West Bank much stronger, for they will have sent the message that one of the cruelest fates that could befall the West Bank is not occupation – but a freedom that arises without being mid-wifed by Israel.

It may sound like an odd strategy but it’s been tried before. When Yeltsin let the USSR fall apart, he was absolutely convinced that the republics were so dependent on Russia that they would come crawling back to Moscow within a year. Similarly, Indonesia, being a patchwork of a country was interested in making East Timorese secession as painful and bloody as possible, not really to keep East Timor in Indonesia, but rather to send a message to would-be separatists elsewhere, like in Aceh.

Historically, this approach hasn’t always met with success, but on occasion it’s been workable. In particular, when the Eritrean secessionist movement joined forces with the rebels to overthrow the then-Marxist government, their price was an independent Eritrea. So, in order to carry this out, the new Ethiopian constitution granted the right of secession to any part of Eritrea. However, within a few years of independence, Eritrea and Ethiopia were at war. Although there are many (often contradictor) reasons given for that conflict, I suspect that a very real part of the motivation was to send a message to other regions in Ethiopia that secession, while technically an option, would incur far higher costs than benefits.

2/07/2004

SRBM BRD: Dean Demise, Delight or Disaster?

A lot of folks have a lot of opinions on Dean - way more than his current polling would indicate.

I, for one, am not entirely sure what I think. One the one hand, if he were to win the nomination, that would make me happy as a clam, because Bush could crush him in the polls. That would be the obvious reason.

On the other hand, giving Bush a massive popular mandate via landslide, then Bush might have little temptation to restrain his biggest excesses - in either direction. He could just go through the roof on spending, or conversely, he could axe it in a heartbeat.

This makes it clear that the entire body politic would benefit from a strong enough Democratic challenge to keep the Republicans honest, while being a serious enough Democratic challenge that the Dems would actually have to start doing something productive and constructive on national security issues.

Fair enough?

Or, maybe not.

Dean, and Nader before him, represented a virulent, angry, and vocal stripe. The Democrats, viewing themselves as being a party of inclusion have a hard time exiling the howling banshees to the wastelands. What compounds this problem is the fact that these aforementioned banshees have no compunction about purging the ranks of the Democrats of anyone who thinks that Bush only rates as Franco, rather than a full-blown Hitler.

If the Democratic party were to continue down this path and end up somewhere between Berkeley and the Khmer Rouge, it would play all manner of havoc with the two-party system. At least until the Republicans returned the favor with implosion or schism.

At any rate, the angry minority of the Democrats seem to be at the root of a lot of ideological gibbering, so many mainstream Democrats seem to be pleased that Dean is well on his way to following in the tracks of Lieberman, Gephardt, Mosley-Braun, and Graham (bet you forgot about him). Stands to reason, really. It would allow the Democratic Party to regain some semblance of sanity.

The tricky part is that all the folks who went Green in 2000, have morphed into Kucinich and Dean supporters now. The didn't go away. They've just been stewing in their own juices, convinced that if only everyone listened to them blah, blah, Bush, blah, blah, Haliburton, blah, blah, mind-control lasers [ed: Hurt too much to try to replicate the cant, didn't it?] then all would be well with the world as a new utopia cast its golden, nurturing light on the faces of all of Gaia's children.

The Republicans had/have people of a similar grade of nuttiness. They got control of the reigns in 1996, and lurched off to something only slightly to the left of Pinochet. The resulted in Bob Dole having his butt handed to him electoral-vote-wise by the then-evil scum of the day. The Republicans, never to late to pick up on a trick, told the wingnuts, loons, and whackjobs that they were fully entitled to their views, just so long as they hijacked the Reform Party and used it as their podium.

Having jettisoned their dead weight, they promptly lurched back towards the middle, got a President elected and then proceeded to stomp all over the Democrats in the 2002 elections.

The Democrats have two problems with their analogous situation. Since they do view themselves as a party of inclusion (unless, of course, you hold one of the forbidden beliefs), they can't just kick our crazy people only because they're self-destructive, acidic, and counterproductive.

The second problem is that being a party of inclusion, they have a lot of expertise in managing really disparate groups of people. Like, let's say, immigrants and unions, or black Baptist churches and gay marriages. So they don't have a visceral compulsion to kick their unreconstructed Stalinist contingent to the curb.

So that's really the deeper reason I want Dean to win the nomination and then get brutally and viscously stomped. It will allow the festering pustule of extremism to rise to the surface so it can be lanced, cleaned, and disinfected, and the body politic can continue without their malignant presence. (Courtesy Jane Galt)

And go find someone electable because it represents the actual core views of the party rather than simply finding someone who can win and isn't Republican.

2/06/2004

TBM BRD: A quickie...

Big Hominid puts out some cartoonage, innovative blogging and an explanation of the "Iowa Detonation."

SRBM CVE: The "Electibility" Issue

Stop me if you've heard this one.

The party out of the White House has a fiery candidate available who promises to shake things up in Washington. Fringe elements that hurt the cause in the last election are marginalized or silent. Despite an early surge, the party faithful decide that rather than the firebrand they'd rather pick a candidate who they feel has the best chance to win, and damn the comparative qualifications.

Quick, am I talking about McCain/Buchanan/Bush or Dean/Nader/Kerry?

I don't know about you, but I'm finding it increasingly disturbing that the two major parties have gradually stopped caring about the issues, qualifications, or character of the candidate they're pushing.

The only thing that matters now is his ability to beat the other guy.

To the mild credit of the Democrats in this case, John Kerry actually has better qualifications than Howard Dean. And with the "Iowa Detonation" people have become increasingly concerned whether "Crazy Howard" has the character to deal with the stress of the Presidency in any case.

But the Dems only get minor credit in my books, because they've made it increasingly clear that they themselves don't care about character, qualification, or issues.

They care about electability.

Or to put it another way, they care about getting rid of George W. Bush, and they nearly don't care who they choose to replace him so long as he claims to be a Democrat.

After all, the rise of Wesley Clark can only be attributed to that kind of wishful thinking. A man who's voted Republican in the last six elections suddenly woke up and discovered he's a fairly liberal Democrat? Please. If Gore had won in Florida, Clark would be just another Republican in the pack.

So why did anyone want Wes Clark in the first place?
Well, they said, war heroes are very electable...

The thing is, just hoping that you "beat the other guy" doesn't mean you'll actually get what you want.

Just ask all those fiscal conservatives who are pissed off that the Republican president they backed has run up huge deficits...so huge, in fact, that people are looking back to Slick Willy's eight years as a model of fiscal responsibility!!

"Victory at All Costs" can be a dangerous attitude, especially in a two party system that needs a modicum of cooperation and compromise if its going to function.

I'm fairly displeased with a lot of the things Bush 2.0 has been up to lately, but I wish the process of my party in picking our candidate had more to do with selecting the best person for the job, not just fixating on whether we think he can win.

2/05/2004

EBS BRD: 1 X 104

Who knew? Just passed 10,000.

All these months blogging and it turns out the Specialist Schwarz was the real agent of power.

Well, noting that more than 25% of my total hits have been generated by a single post that wasn't even written by me, versus the other 75% which comprise more than six months of blogging, I've reached the natural conclusion that my blog does better when I have less to do with it.

Not really, but this is a very oblique way of saying that in addition to myself, Bravo Romeo Delta, Anticipatory Retaliation will soon have a second blogger...

Stay tuned.

UPDATE the First: I would like both of my readers to give a warm welcome to the newest addition to Anticipatory Retaliation: Charlie Victor Echo!!!! His first post is just above, so enjoy folks.

2/04/2004

TBM BRD: Jihad Rap Video

Come now and see the glorious "Dirty Kuffar" Video. Ass-backwards 12th Century fundamentalists get a backing track.

Broadband Link
Dial-up Link
The Investigative Project

Go. Watch. Live. Learn.

2/03/2004

TBM BRD: Attack of the 50 foot SPAM

Rocketman Jones, who not only runs a fine space blog but who has also recently earned hisself a Retaliatory Strike (along with Meet-Tree-Archy, who turned me on to the Schwarz post below) pointed me onto this (via Carol):

From plasticbag.org:

"Yesterday I received a piece of spam with a title so interesting and dramatic that I felt I had to illustrate it with Photoshop. Presenting: 'Unrelenting Massive C*cks Destroy Innocent Pussies!'"