Monthly Archives: August 2013

Open Source Intelligence?

Mr. Snowden now reports on the ways in which the US monitored Bin Laden. The Washington Post breathlessly reports every word. Between Snowden and Chelsea Manning a lot of semi secrets have been blown. (Some commentors at the post suggest it might not have been such a great idea to publish…silly people.)

So, a modest proposal: with the exception of actual operational detail before the fact – “Ok, Ranger 3, hit’em” – why not release all this wonderful intel product in real time on the net? The delights of Assad saying “What the fuck did you do that for?” The first moment Mrs. Merkel told her Finance Minister “What were we thinking on Greece?” The American ambassador in Afghanistan phoning home with the bad news that “Karzai is not actually our friend.”

Of course real intelligence agencies like Mossad will not play; but the big budget Team USA could provide information and entertainment with live transcripts of the bad guys’ email (and, for all we know, yours.)

Intel feeds now!

(Why let Glen Greenwald have all the fun?)

Update: I was just looking at the Black Budget Documents published by the patriotic Washington Post and came across this nugget:

20.1 billion dollars: Warning U.S. leaders about critical events
Warn policymakers, military and civilian authorities of threats, such as economic instability, state failure, societal unrest and emergence of regional powers.

A subscription to The Economist and, say, ten other publications, would provide ample warning given that no one is going to do anything about the collapse of Greece or the invasion of Georgia.

Net savings: 20.999 billion dollars – you can mail my 10%.

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At least Obama

retains the might of France…or, so far I have not seen any indication they are joining the rush to stand down.

Cameron will likely lose the Headboy position, what happens to the Big Zero now that he proposes to attack with no UN Resolution, no Arab League official support, no Anglosphere endorsement?

Well, nothing. His watery pinkish line in the Syrian sand is now not worth the death of a single American cruise missile because, without at least a tiny international fig leaf, the poor idiot will, in the eyes of progressives at least, be a war criminal.

He’s blown this from the day he decided to demand that Assad step down without being willing to get the job done himself.

The anti-American “rest of the world” has to be delighted that a President could be so completely out of his depth; those of us who are resolutely pro-American can only shake our heads at the stupidity of electing this doorknob.

(I suspect the Israelis are more than a little relieved. Fun as it would have been to whack Hezbollah under cover of the fog of war, the ineptness of American and international policy has allowed the accumulation of thousands of missiles in Lebanon and Syria. Those will not be fun but they are not likely to be fired this week.)

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Bring on Boris

Headboy David Cameron loses in the Commons.

“Dozens of Conservative MPs refused to support the Prime Minister and sided with Labour in opposing a Government motion which supported the principle of military intervention. The motion backing the use of force “if necessary” was rejected by 285 votes to 272, a majority of 13 votes.”

It is not at all obvious that a Headboy can maintain the respect of the school after his proposed program of punishment was so soundly rejected. It is one thing when the boys in the Conservative House abstain, but it is quite another when they vote against the Headboy.

A decent man would resign.


We’ll see.

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Six of the Best

Let me stress to people, this is not about getting involved in a Middle Eastern war or changing our stance in Syria, or going further into that conflict.
It’s about chemical weapons. Their use is wrong and the world should not stand idly by. David Cameron, Headboy of the United Kingdom

The Deputy Headboy, Nick Clegg, is very certain all this is not about regime change. No, this will be punishment for breaking school rules. No crimes against humanity at this establishment thank you very much.

But the headboy and his deputy are very clear about the fact that the nasty Assad chap is not to be expelled. Nope, once he’s taken his medicine he can continue blasting away at his citizens using conventional weapons. Because actually kick the piece of garbage to the proverbial curb would not be “legal” or is the metric “proportionate”, whatever.

Call me old fashioned but if it is legitimate to rain down Hell with cruise missiles and smart bombs, it seems to me to be just as legitimate to dig the foul little piece of work out of his hole and shoot him.

In other news, what looks to be a fairly senior Iranian has put 2+2 together and found as satisfactory answer: let’s kill the Jews! Makes perfect sense as those pesky Israelis – or in Iran speak, criminal Zionists – have to be behind any attempt to punish Assad.

Now, were I the Israelis I would have to be tempted to, in the general chaos which the US/UK/French action is likely to create in Syria, take out as many Hezbollah rocket caches as I could possibly target. I wouldn’t bother announcing it, I would just wait for the Syrian radars to be hit and then run mission after mission. And I would cite Headboy Cameron’s “punishment” doctorine.


So, 100, 000 deaths in gas attack has shaken the Big 0.

Rumours of war abound and, perhaps without a UN resolution. (I look forward to the lefties demanding Obama be tried as a war criminal for this omission.)

In principle I am all for taking down Assad. But then what? Much of the anti-Assad opposition is run by rather nasty jihadists.  While there is certainly lots to be said for letting the jihadists take on Hezbollah and the Iranians who are supporting Assad, that could be an even worse blood bath than the current situation.

The politically incorrect solution would be for the West to occupy Syria. Neo-colonialism and all that. But that will not happen because which Western country would be fool enough to take on the job?

Which leaves us with a strategic vacuum. Having let Syria run a full scale civil war without anything more than minor sanctions as a consequence, Western intervention (for all the best reasons) is unlikely to do more than bring a bunch of jihadis into power in a chemically equipped nation. Not an optimal outcome.

Overall, with Syria, Egypt and Libya in various states of war, the only thing which is clear is that President Obama is utterly clueless and his approach to the Middle East has been a disaster. Getting involved in a shooting war in Syria will be icing on that particularly rancid cake.

Thinking about Egypt

For the moment the Egyptian Army has declared war on the Muslim Brotherhood (and, less effectually, vice versa). The great and the good in the West are not happy about this. Largely because they believed that the Arab Spring’s manifestation in Egypt lead to elections not a massacre. Why they believed this is anyone’s guess. Wishful thinking I suspect.

What they did not count on is that the Brotherhood has very little time for the norms of civil society which make elections possible. In particular, the clever people who run the State Department and the EU tried very hard to pretend that the MB was a political rather than religious movement. The Egyptians themselves were under no such misapprehension. And, perhaps more to the point, the Saudis knew damned well that the MB were an essentially Islamofascist outfit.

The West has had very limited leverage in Egypt simply because, all in, the Western aid budget is about 2.5 billion a year. The Egyptians needed 20 billion just to stay afloat. 

The only source which can write that sort of cheque is Saudi and the Gulf states and they were not going to put pen to paper until and unless the Brotherhood was crushed. Which is exactly what is happening. And the money is flowing.

I have little time for the Saudis but in this they are massively more competent than dimwits like John Kerry.

It is a mess. And it is quite likely to get worse before it gets any better. Given the rural base of the Brotherhood the prospects for civil war are significant. And given the hate driven religious ideology of the Brotherhood, the slaughter of the Copts cannot be ruled out.

The tragedy of the Middle East in general and Egypt in particular lies in the fact that Islam in its more vigorous forms is deeply incompatible with civil society.  The very idea of civil society is anathema to an interpretation of Islam which governs all human conduct. 

Unfortunately, that interpretation of Islam powers the Brotherhood. 

(Astute readers will note that a variation on that theme also powers Saudi Arabia – but no one would call Saudi either a democracy or a civil society.)

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Worms are turning

The Vancouver Sun runs a hysterical article on computer models predicting vast sea level rise: the commentors, more or less unanimously, call bullshit.

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Memories – Tech Central Station

I was trying to find out how my smiling face now graces certain Google results – I had been trying to get this to work, failed and now it does – when I ran across my TechCentralStation Archive. More for my own information (and so I don’t have to find it again) here is the link:

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