Monthly Archives: April 2018

Wrong!

OK, I was hoping that Trump and Co would do something clever in Syria. I was wrong.

Shiny, new, smart missiles – well cruise missiles by and large – rained down on long evacuated targets in Syria last night. Another billion dollar fireworks display.

On the one hand I am delighted that there are no boots on the ground in this particular shit hole. On the other, there was so much more which could have been done with the Russians, Iranians and Syrians stuck in their bolt holes by Trump’s tweets.

Trump has made his point. There is a red line and he’s not letting it fade. But, as my elder son said over dinner, for 100 million the Syrians would probably have blown up their own buildings.

Sad.

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War by Tweet

So yesterday Trump tweeted that he had “new, shiny and smart missiles”, or words to that effect, and he was thinking about answering the Syrian gas attack. The Russian fleet at Tartus scattered, The Iranian and Syrian forces rushed to Russian bases hoping that Trump is not going to start WWIII by hitting those bases.

Today Trump tweeted, “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our “Thank you America?””

This is fun but it is also a fairly calculated effort to sow disarray in Syria.

The fact is that the Russian fleet is not particularly seaworthy. A lot of deferred maintenance. Floating around in the Med is not their best look and, in a week or two, ships are going to start breaking down. Nor is cowering beside the Russians a good look for either the Syrian regulars or the Iranian mercenaries. They may be safe – although likely not as safe as they think – but they are rendered ineffective.

“Keep’em guessing.” is a rather good tactical move by Trump and his commanders. There is no rush.

Scattering the cockroaches with a bright light is a painless way of making their position very clear indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boom!

syria, donald trumpPresident Trump is rattling the sabres.  Tweeting that missiles, “nice and new and smart”, would be incoming to Syria.

The Russians, not being idiots, take the threat seriously enough that they have put their Syrian fleet – based at Tartus – out to sea. No point in restaging Pearl Harbour.

Hitting Assad and his Iranian allies is certainly something the Americans might want to do in the wake of yet another gas attack. But a missile barrage, even with shiny, new, smart missiles is not likely to do much other than annoy the Russians without defeating them. Is that worthwhile?

I don’t think much of Trump as a tactical thinker, he is more a limited strategic thinker able to identify “bad guys” and “America’s interests” without having any great insight into what to actually do. However, there are plenty of people in and around the White House who can figure out the tactics beginning with Defence Secretary Mathias. Mad Dog is not really a “fire and forget” kinda of guy.

The trouble with a missile barrage is that it really changes nothing. Some targets are obliterated, some low-level bad guys are killed. Its principal advantage is that it poses very little risk to American personnel. Tactically, a missile attack runs a small risk of interception by the Russian made air defences which are presently in Syria and taking out those defences ups the chances of escalation. But strategically, a pure missile attack is not going to move any needles.

Which is why, I suspect, Trump is tweeting about it. Telegraphing an attack is something Trump maintained he would not do. He likes secrecy when American forces are going into harm’s way. Trump haters will say Trump is incapable of keeping quiet but I don’t think they are right. Trump is making characteristically Trumpian noises and I suspect it is misdirection. If you are Secretary Mathias you know that you have a President who likes nothing more than to shake his tweeting fist. Why not use it?

The Americans are perfectly capable of inflicting real damage on the Syrians – and more importantly, the Iranians – but it will not be by means of shock and awe tactics. Special Forces, stealth munitions and precision artillery with down range spotters can have a devastating effect on people expecting an attack from a bunch of missiles. It is a more personal sort of warfare and it puts American troops at risk; but it would send a very clear message to the Syrians, the Iranians and their Russian backers. “We are willing to fight and fight smart.” A much more compelling message than a very expensive fireworks display.

At the same time, a very blunt message needs to be delivered to the Russians. “You need to leave Syria.” That message is only partially military – although silently taking out several of the S-400 air defence sites would underscore the message – its real thrust needs to be diplomatic and economic. As an economy, Russia is not doing very well in a world of inexpensive oil. Sanctions, plus accelerating the pace of LNG deliveries to Europe would hurt. So would leaning on the assorted oligarchs who prefer to live in the West while retaining Russian citizenship. Scouting around for Russian assets to sequester would also add to the pressure. Critically, the US needs to be very clear about what it wants.

I would think the ask would be along the lines of “Get out of Syria and support us in the sanctions we are about to drop on Iran.”

Get all that done and the US and its allies will not have to fire a single, nice and new and smart missile.

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Reducing Carbon “Pollution” – A Modest Proposal

It is easy to make fun of the Liberals and Catherine McKenna’s remarkably ill thought-out price on carbon “pollution” but what might work better? Well, obviously nuclear, especially given the advances in small, safe reactors; but that is a ten year program at minimum and would cost a lot of money. How can we cut Canada’s carbon pollution by over 2 million tons this year and for years into the future?

Here is a rather crappy looking spreadsheet which will, no doubt, break my blog. No matter.

It lists Canada’s top ten source countries for immigration, their per capita carbon footprint and the effect of having these people become Canadians with out 15.1 tonne per year per capita carbon footprint. You will probably have to scroll sideways to see the totals but, by brining in 165,000 extra people who, with the exception of our american friends, have lower carbon footprints than we do, we are adding 2.1 million tonnes of carbon a year to the load. Simply by closing the immigration door we would be saving that 2.1 million tonnes this year and for years afterwards.

 

Rank Country Number Percentage Carbon emissions per capita Total As Canadians Net Carbon Pollution
1 Philippines 50,846 18.70% 1.1 55,931 788,113 732,182
2 India 39,530 14.50% 1.9 75,107 612,715 537,608
3 People’s
Republic of China
19,532 7.20% 7.7 150,396 302,746 152,350
4 Iran 11,669 4.30% 8 93,352 180,870 87,518
5 Pakistan 11,329 4.20% 0.9 10,196 175,600 165,403
6 Syria 9,853 3.60% 1.6 WB 2014 15,765 302,746 286,981
7 United
States of America
7,522 3.00% 16.1 121,104 116,591 -4,513
8 France 5,807 2.00% 4.6 WB 2014 26,712 90,009 63,296
9 United
Kingdom and Colonies
5,451 2.00% 6.5 WB 2014 35,432 84,491 49,059
10 Nigeria 4,133 2.00% 0.5 2,067 64,062 61,995
165,672 Canadian Emissions 15.5 586,061 2,717,941 2,131,879

 

Can’t wait for Minister McKenna to announce the cessation of immigration from all countries with per capita carbon emissions less than Canada’s.

Take Time for this Minister

Catherine McKenna was on Evan Solomon’s CTV show and Evan asked a slightly difficult question about her carbon tax and its opponents.

“”I have no time for folks who are like, you know, ‘We shouldn’t take action,'” she said. “I don’t have time for politicians that play cynical games about climate action.” and “”I have time for Canadians who disagree with me, and I have conversations with them all the time…. But I don’t have time for politicians that pretend that climate change isn’t real.”

There are really only three questions which the Minister and the rest of the Liberal Government should be asked:

  1. How much will the proposed per tonne price on “pollution” reduce the emissions of this “pollution”?
  2. How much will this reduction – if any – reduce global temperature in, say, 50 years? (And with what degree of certainty?)
  3. How much will the “price on pollution” effect the Canadian economy?

Now these are basic questions and make no assumptions about the reality or unreality of “climate change”. They are certainly questions which a competent Minister proposing a significant tax should be able to answer. Now the answers will, necessarily be qualified: plus minus 10% is a reasonable standard. But the Minister has to be able to attach numbers to her proposals.

Otherwise she really will deserve the nickname “Climate Barbie”.

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