The new year brought more bad news for the president. Instead of going for immigration reform as his top legislative priority, he squandered much of his political capital on a doomed effort to enact gun restrictions. In March and April, House Republicans battered him on Benghazi. In May, he learned that the Internal Revenue Service had inappropriately monitored conservative groups, putting him on the defensive. At the same time, he came under fire for Justice Department investigations of journalists.
Add to that those House Republicans who think their mandate for obstruction trumps the president’s mandate. “In a sense, they don’t accept the results of the presidential election,” says Bill Schneider of the moderate Democratic group Third Way. “To them, it is still November 2010 and they are still operating on that mandate.” Given that GOP mind-set, Schneider says, it was “a bit naive” of Obama to think that his win would “break the fever.” Combine that naivete with bad luck, and there isn’t much doubt that the exhilaration of McCormick Place is just a distant memory.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration is directly responsible for fueling anti-American sentiment, not simply because of its record of hostilities that include covert cyber-warfare and presidential authorizations that have added weight to “crippling sanctions” on Iran, but also due to the contradictory and incoherent approach of US officials; officials who include Wendy Sherman.
The top US negotiator, Sherman billed the last Geneva round as “serious and substantive” and, yet, in the same breath insulted the Iranian national character with her undiplomatic statement that deception is part of Iranians’ DNA.
I like her!
An interesting interpretation of Don McLean’s signature offering on American culture in the 1960’s:
[h/t: Chicks on the Right
“This is a parody site! It is not a real government website, but it has had more views than Healthcare.gov.”
Make sure that you attempt to fill out the forms… the selections are hilarious.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Review – Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla
Posted by Chris Rawley
David Kilcullen’s new book, Out of the Mountains, is based on the premise that demographic trends and the democratization of technology will force many, if not most, future wars into highly connected, densely populated, littoral areas. And whether or not Western militaries currently have any intention of fighting in those sorts of conflicts, history demonstrates we will. Efforts that begin as humanitarian assistance or noncombatant evacuation may overlap areas of complex urban conflict. Even during state-on-state wars, irregular operations in urban terrain will feature prominently. These conflicts, regardless of the form they take, will share several characteristics.
Through a series of vignettes that include Somalia, the Mumbai attacks, and the Arab Awakening, the author shows how urban-littoralized battles are occurring in increasing frequency and involve not just local, but international actors. Whereas I provided a Reader’s Digest version of the new phenomenon of networked urban “flash” insurgencies in UW 2.0, Kilcullen lays out in significant detail how soccer hooligans, social media, and online activists became the action arms in the revolutions that rapidly toppled Arab governments earlier in the decade, and how these same types of actors will impact future urban conflict.
Rather than a static terrain feature, Kilcullen sees urban areas as organisms, with people, goods, money, etc. flowing through that system at various rates similar to the way a metabolism regulates the flows of nutrients through a living being. In keeping with the biological analogy, terms such as infestation and parasite illustrate how transnational criminal networks or occupying militaries might respectively interact with and change a city. Examination of this same model from the perspective of licit and illicit maritime traffic flowing through ports and densely populated coastal regions might be a useful research subject.
There is value in this book for a range of audiences; urban planners, diplomats, NGOs involved in conflict resolution, Marines, and special operators can all take away something from Kilcullen’s field research and analysis. For naval observers, the appendix, in which the author discusses some capabilities required by military forces operating in and around networked urban environments, might be the most interesting part of the book. Kilcullen questions some of the assumptions behind current Naval/Marine Corps doctrine including the ability to bypass urban areas with vertical lift and the validity of sea-basing, although he notes that expeditionary logistics are as important as ever.
He stresses the need for new tactical organizational constructs and that properly selected, trained, and trusted junior officers and NCOs will be paramount in these conflicts. “In a coastal urban setting, the complexity of the environment will demand this level of trust right from the outset.”
Time to take the focus off the train wrecks that are the IRS, Benghazi, and ObamaCare. Let’s turn our attention to the international community.
From Nightwatch , some interesting information on India and Pakistan. While both are theoretically our allies, India is one of the top 5 cyber Intelligence gathering countries in the world (targeting our technology… “free is GOOD”), and Pakistan is somewhat of a client State for China.. who, despite propping up our economy by buying our dollars is not a friend.
Here’s last Friday’s intelligence briefing:
Comment: The Indians are perplexed by Pakistan’s behavior. India political analysts cannot decide whether Sharif is incompetent, deliberately deceptive or simply lacks the ability to control Pakistan’s security forces who are executing national security policy independent of the government.
The increased attacks are increasing the electoral prospects of Indian nationalist parties, such as the BJP. The next general elections must be held before 31 May 2014. Political leaders in India and Pakistan do not want a war, but interest groups on both sides appear to find political advantage in increased tension and a deterioration of border security, which is occurring.
Chilean growers exported about 282 million boxes of fruit last year, and experts believe that exports will fall short of that by about 50 million boxes for this year. However, when production increases are taken into account, the total frost damage to fruit production could be closer to 60 million or 65 million boxes.
The wine industry was hit hard by the frost as well.
Estimates put the total damage to Chilean crops at $1 billion. Reuters reports that between 35 percent and 61 percent of stone fruit crops were damaged, 57 percent of almonds, 48 percent of kiwis and 20 percent of grapes. The U.S. imports about 42 percent of the country’s grapes.
“These frosts are the worst that agriculture has faced in 84 years, impacting the area from Coquimbo to Bio Bio,” the National Agricultural Society said.