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Ravi Rikhye  

 

 

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Condensed World Armies  Condensed World Paramilitary Forces 2006

Analysis

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Published on an ad hoc basis

 

 Declassified Gulf II Planning Documents

Report on US Army readiness March 2007 [Thanks Joseph Stefula]

 

Welcome to  America Goes To War. We focus on news about the war on terror and other important strategic matters.

0230 GMT March 5, 2012

 

  • Two elections have taken place and both are a bit strange, to put it mildly. In Russia Czar Pootey The Poot returns as president for a six-year term. Media reports say voters were bused from polling station to polling station to vote multiple times. Iran has voted for a new parliament. Iranian elections tend to be on the fair side, but the strangeness comes in because an unelected body rules who can stand for election and who can’t, which vitiates the whole process. The Unshaven One’s supporters have lost seats, his opponents have won seats, but don’t expect there will be the slightest change in Iran’s foreign policy.

 

  • Syria and Libya We haven’t been reporting on these two countries because there is nothing new to report. In Syria the government continues to retake lost territory. Not only as the opposition city of Homs fallen to the loyalists, but in the north along the Turkish border the opposition is being squeezed into an ever narrower strip. While the US says it has ample evidence of Iran’s material and manpower support to Syria, there seems to be no evidence of help to the opposition. In Libya the various militias are busy beating each other up and the country is going nowhere.

 

  • Nothing to be alarmed about in either case. Revolutions have their ups and downs because victory for the opposition means fault-lines suppressed by the dictator are exposed, and more rounds of bloodletting take place until a new equilibrium is reached.

 

  • President Obama and Iran Unlike some of our readers, we’re willing to cut President Obama some slack. After all, he became president after just four years as senator, which means for practical purposes his political experience is zero. He’s going to make a lot of mistakes. We can’t afford mistakes, his critics will say. Well, even the very experienced types seem to keep making bloopers, so maybe its just an occupational hazard.

 

  • But the Prez needs to stop his silly talk on Iran. On one hand he keeps warning Iran all options including force are very much on the table. Then he beats up Israel for its threats to use force. Then he threatens the use of force again. There is no political purpose served by these mixed messages. If he wants to advise restraint on Israel, best done quietly without all the hoo-haa. Prez should note that not saying anything to Israel in public severely intensifies the pressure on Iran, increasing the chances it may actually respond to the options short-of-war the US has unleashed. By periodically attacking Israel the Prez is managing only to convince Iran no one is actually serious about using force and it can row, row, row its N-boat merrily down the stream and so on.

 

  • Two points which can usefully be made. First, our information indicates that Iran is nowhere close to a bomb, which is also what the CIA says. It does not, however, follow that there is no need for an immediate decision on a strike. Indeed, it is all the better to strike now when we are certain Iran has no bombs. Second, a lot of the Israeli talk of an imminent strike may simply be a ploy to pull the US into a strike. How? Well, if Israel hits Iran, even without any US help, the US is still going to have to deal with the considerable fall-out. What would be worse than making a strike is to make one and not succeed. Because now there will be even more complications. So Israel may just be telling the US, “join us in the strike and lets do the job properly, since you’re going to take the blame anyway.” We suspect Israel’s preferred option is that the US do the entire job, but that’s another story.

 

  • A technical point which can be made usefully. Do not assume that if Israel attacks Iran, it will be a one-off show. The attack will go on over several days, if not weeks. ‘Nuf said.

 

  • The Matrix Editor has finally figured out how to use the remote in the gym to get a menu of programs for the little TVs that are stuck to each exercise machine. Editor does not watch TV at home, in fact his TV doesn’t work because it’s the old analog thing. But in the gym it helps take one’s mind off the pain of pushing oneself on the dratted exercise machines. So thanks to his new knowledge, which brings him to the level of the average 4-year old in terms of TV/remote skills, Editor no longer has to watch the soaps, he can watch movies. Sometimes the subtitles are on the screen – Editor has yet to figure out how to get subtitles, and he certainly is not going to buy a pair of ear phones so he can follow the dialog. What people don’t understand is that modern ear phones are actually sucking out our intelligence and broadcasting it to Mars. The Martians are slowly – very slowly – getting smarter even as we get rapidly dumber. That’s because in the TV/digital age  we have very little intelligence to start with, so when we lose smarts, we lose a big percentage, whereas the Martians, who are already very smart, gain only a small percentage.

 

  • So today watching The Matrix for 40-minutes (and adverts for 20-minutes) Editor was treated to this wisdom from Agent, who is speaking to a captured Morpheus. Humans are a virus, says Agent, because every other species finds equilibrium with nature, whereas human destroy their environment, like cancer cells. Hmmmmm. Wish the screen writers had consulted a biologist before penning those deathlessly breathless words. Other species find an equilibrium not because they have some intrinsic appreciation of the need for an equilibrium, but because nature, red in tooth and claw forces it on them. When a predator species finds plenty of prey, it thrives, and then it overhunts the prey species, and starts dying out. As the predators get less, the prey herds start recovering, and so on, endlessly. Humans have spread everywhere on earth because we have the capacity to grow food and not have to rely on what nature gives, and for a bunch of other reasons.

 

  • No comment is necessary on the final sequence, where Neo and Trinity  load themselves about with seemingly ten pairs of guns each, and each time they run out of ammunition for one pair, they merely discard the weapons and grab another pair they have tucked away on their persons. One is surprised they are not walking at 2-kilometers an hour with bow legs considering the weight of the arsenal each carries. And of course, if anyone thinks they can outrun bullets travelling at 1000-meters/second and fired at close range just by turning somersaults, then for sure ALL their brains have been sucked out and transmitted to Mars. And anyone getting into a gunfight where they emerge from cover the instant the other side stops firing and empty out their magazines at the other side is not actually going to get to empty out any magazines, because they are going to immediately shot – particularly when facing multiple opponents.

 

  • Okay, you say, this is just a fantasy on par with videogames where each time you get killed you get re-lifed, and when you run out of lives you press “Start new game”. Sure, but where’s the harm in a little realism?

 

0230 GMT March 4, 2012

 

  • Rush Limbaugh, the famous media slut and prostitute, has been sent to the woodshed for accusing a 30-year old Georgetown University law student of exhibiting the behavior he exhibits every day. Technically a slut is a dirty person, though the word has come to mean sexually promiscuous. Rush routinely exhibits his sluttishness: he has a habitually dirty mouth since he defecates through his mouth, and the world sees that every day, but since he has failed to produce any evidence the law student is promiscuous, we must withhold judgment on her sluttiness or lack of it. As for prostitute, well, a prostitute provides honest services for money and is simply a working person. Insofar as prostitutes are earning a living by their own efforts and not relying on government handouts, Rush should commend them. Rush also provides services in exchange for money; this is proven. What he has not proved is the law student is providing sexual services for money, so again, while his record is on the record so as to speak, we have only his word regarding the law student.

 

 

  • And on, President Obama, don’t forget to ask a rich campaign supporter to send a big fat check to Rush, if you haven’t already, since he has just gained you a whole bunch of votes. Good man, Rush, a true Democratic supporter at heart, determined to discredit the Republicans by mole-ishly tunneling from within.

 

 

  • On the energy front many things are happening The Dutch are testing floating windmills, which are much cheaper to construct than the usual offshore windmills. One design is at 7.5-MW, which is a whacking big turbine. Solar cells are already generating electricity at lower rates than base-load plants, in great part due to the Chinese who have ruthlessly driven down the global prices of solar cells as they consolidate their domination of the industry. Currently solar cells cost 88-cents a watt (the installed price is, of course much more). Coal costs about $2/watt and nuclear about $4, both installed. Solar is expected to go down to below 50-cent/watt shortly. Of course, as with wind the storage problem has not been solved and until it is, solar and wind will remain supplementary sources. But the Dutch have replaced 20% of their power generation with windmills, which is pretty impressive. The Brits seem to be having serious problems with their wind programs, which are costing huge amounts of taxpayer money and generating little power. We’re not quite sure what’s happening.

 

 

  • Meanwhile, Chevrolet has suspended production of its all-electric Volt. Last year it managed to meet 77% of its sales target, but at 10,000 vehicles it was a pretty limp-noodlish target to begin with. Currently it has excess inventory and so must stop production for a while. No great secret on what happened: the electric car infrastructure does not exist, electrics lack the enormous convenience of gasoline cars, and clever auto engineers are squeezing very high miles-per-gallon rates – approaching 50 – while increasing the power of the smaller engines. So, as ol’ Data on Star Trek (or was it Dr. Spock) might say, electrics don’t compute.  Even hybrid sales are down.

 

 

  • As for gasoline prices, we are sorry to tell our friends Mr. Obama, who is guilty of many sins, has nothing to do with the runup. The reason is simple. Several East Coast refineries are shutting down due to old age, cutting refining capacity. Transporting refined fuel from overseas or from other US refineries to the East Coast is expensive.  In any case many of these refineries use light crude, the price of which has been shooting up: the benchmark Brent was $124 the other day, West Texas Intermediate was $104. But the East Coast refineries can’t use WTI, and in any case, there is a transportation bottleneck: the American Midwest/West is producing so much of the stuff people can’t get it out to the Gulf refineries that process WTI.  Keystone’s decision to build the Oklahoma – Gulf line (complete next year) will increase supply and prices will come down. Last August, BTW, WTI was at $84. Speculation has a lot to do with the increase, as does the beating of the wardrums over Iran.

 

 

  • Meanwhile, the US energy Administration says the Chinese have 1.3-quadrillion-cubic-feet of technically recoverable shale natural gas compared to US 875-trillion-cubic-feet. The Chinese have jumped on this source and are tying up for technology and exploration left and right.  Given the Chinese propensity to ignore environmental issues and move at top speed on engineering, in the next five years we should see a significant part of Chinese energy demand being met from this new source, which should reduce pressure on ever increasing oil prices. And Chinese energy intensity is three times that of the US per dollar of GDP. There is plenty of room for improvement, which will further reduce Chinese energy demand.

 

 

  • British Petroleum and a number of plaintiffs have reached agreement to settle claims for $7-billion. That is in addition to $7-billion BP has already paid out to those affected, plus $14-billion spent in cleaning up the oil spill. The judge has suspended judicial proceedings to give BP and other claimants to see if they can reach out-of-court agreements.

 

 

  • Meanwhile, Cuba has started drilling in the Florida Straits and this is sending American environmentalists crazy (to say nothing of the anti-Cuba lobby, but that’s a different issue). If there is a spill, American companies will not be able to help clean it up because of the embargo. The environmentalists are darkly calling for the US to financially punish those companies helping Cuba. But, friends, embargos are weapons best used in careful moderation and after generating consensus. If the US goes about embargoing anyone who deals with people it doesn’t like, at some point other countries such as the Euros are going to get annoyed and go ahead anyway. And the Chinese, my dear, frankly doing give a darn. If the eviros want to force Cuba into China’s arms with their talk of embargoes, the Chinese aren’t going to weep.

 

0230 GMT March 3, 2012

 

Further proof America is collapsing under the weight of its created structures

 

Would you believe that a very high credit score can be a negative? This makes no sense, right? Not so. Someone lost their cell T-Mobile cell-phone. They researched new phones and plans (with T-Mobile remaining as their carrier) and found it suited to get to a monthly plan and to buy a phone instead of signing a new 2-year contract with T-mobile and getting a free phone (the lost phone was on a contract the minimum period was years past, so the person was free to move to a new plan).  Oh dear, says T-Mobile, we can’t shift your old number to the new instrument unless you get a 2-year plan. (We’re pretty sure this is illegal, but that’s a separate issue.) Get a 2-year plan, we’ll transfer your number to the new phone, and then we’ll let you convert to a monthly plan (all sounds terribly shady and you’d have to be mad to believe a telephone company, even American politicians are more honest than the telcos, for heaven’s sake, but that’s another story). Well, the person sighed but really wanted their old number, so they applied for a 2-year contract. Now, as you know, this requires a credit check. Back came T-Mobile: sorry, your credit doesn’t check. Whoa, says our person, I have 973/1000, how much higher do I have to get to get a cell phone for $%#@!%^* sake?!

Oh, says T-Mobile, you see, your score is so high we’re concerned it’s a fake, so no can do, sorry about that and have a nice day. So here you have a person of extreme financial virtue, who has zero debt, always pays their credit cards on time, saves half their income, and they can’t get a freaking cell phone because their credit rating is so high T-Mobile decides it must be a fake?

In the name of “progress” every year the life of an American get more complicated. But as anyone familiar with structures will tell you, complexity reaches a point where you get failure. This is why the US is failing in Afghanistan, why it is losing the war on drugs, why it cannot reduce the deficit, why its spending more and more money on health and getting outcomes worse than any first-world country and a whole bunch of other things.

Incidentally, in case you think the person in this story is the Editor, be assured it’s not. Editor’s credit rating is in the basement – the lowest level of a multi-story basement. First Editor thought its because he had to file Chapter 11 to save his house when Mrs. R. IV took off years ago. But on checking, he found that’s not the reason. The reason is – please get this – is that his student loans are shown as open accounts drawn to 100% of their limit. That a student loan is not a credit card does not seem to register with the rating companies. You may well ask why is Editor not getting this cleared up with the rating companies. Because when he’s dealing with moronic bureaucracies, his already short fuse gets cut by 99%. He’s too old now to get sent to jail for tearing out the lungs of the negative IQ types one has to deal with at the credit bureaus. It’s true these morons breathe through their fundaments and you can’t even say they’re brain dead because they have no brains, but we bet there is some statute of the USC that says you cannot rip out the lungs of a person, even if they work for a credit bureau. American law is very cunning.

 

But back to Afghanistan

 

  • So we’re reading Michael Gerson in the Washington Post. He’s a very moderate conservative, careful not to overreach with his language (unlike George Will on the right and Eugene Robinson on the left), and a calm sort of a fellow, easy to read, and always has a valid point even if one does not agree with him.

 

  • So we’re a bit surprised to read Mr. Gerson say we must stay the course in Afghanistan because we’re winning. Violence is down by a third, three hundred thousand Afghan police and soldiers are trained, and the enemy has been deprived of his sanctuaries. Well, for a moment we thought we were having a Philip K. Dick moment. As it is the Editor slips with ease into alternate universes (alas, in none does he have a date for as far as he can upstream, downstream, sidestream, whateverstream, so however long one may debate as to what constitutes reality, the state of No-Date looks pretty real), and what Mr. Gerson was saying was so completely at odds with the reality of Afghanistan in THIS universe that Editor thought he must have entered ALT-UNIVERSE.

 

  • Of course, the explanation is simple. Someone who is totally deluded or just outright lying has told Mr. Gerson we’re winning whereas actually violence is up, those 300,000 Afghans are useless, and every time the US pulls out an area it has declared as pacified the enemy simply returns (actually the enemy never really leaves). By the way, personally we don’t think the amount of violence is an indicator of progress or lack of it – its just not a useful metric and we’re not sure why the US uses it, but that’s another story we can discuss at another time. Among the dozens of useful metrics is what is the kilometers of road do the good guys control 24-hours of the day, and suffice it to say, it’s pretty darn dismal. But again , we digress.

 

  • For a long time – since we stopped swallowing the official line about the great progress we’re making – Editor has been convinced that we’re not winning because the structures the US has built in Afghanistan are so complicated they are dysfunctional. Take a simple example. Those 300,000 police/soldiers cost $12-billion/year. Afghanistan’s revenue is about $2-billion. Assuming a wartime allottment of 50% of revenue to the military, Afghanistan’s revenue would have to increase by 12 times before the country can afford the military the US has imposed. Is this likely to happen? No. So then what is the point of the structure?

 

  • You might be interested to note that the Indian army spends – very approximately - $15,000 per year per soldier. And the Indian army is not just deployed in very difficult operational areas over a country of 1.3-million square-miles, it has a whacking great amount of equipment and a very high rate of operational readiness. Afghanistan is spending $40,000 per soldier/policeman. If you costed the Indians on that basis – including armed police and border troops, its likely the figure falls to $10,000, a quarter  that of the Afghans. Afghanistan is a much poorer country. So how are they spending so much more than India? It’s a great mystery, but that’s a sign of over-complicated structures that are dysfunctional.

 

  • Sorry – we have to quit in mind-thought because Editor is getting bored and so are you. More another time.

 

 

0230 GMT March 2, 2012

 

  • India should accept China’s contention their boundary lies in the valley and not the crest China’s claim to a substantial part of Indian Ladakh and the state of Arunachal Pradesh is that the international boundary lies not on the mountain crests (watershed) as enunciated by the British (McMahon Line)  but down to the valleys of the mountain crests. This permits India to reclaim Chinese occupied Ladakh, an