Saturday, April 15, 2017

On Trump Blowing Things Up

To celebrate my new Kindle subscription to the Guardian:

No plausible explanation has been forthcoming for why General John Nicholson, the US Afghanistan commander, suddenly decided to deploy this previously unused weapon of mass destructive power at this particular moment, or whether additional MOAB attacks are planned.

So, we dropped $16 million worth of MOAB on an obscure part of Afghanistan and $60 million on an obscure airbase in Syria to probably little effect in either case. No one, least of all Trump, can say whether this is part of any strategy. And there's an armada headed toward North Korea. At least Kim Jong Un is no Francis Drake. 

(Trump) has in effect let the US military off the leash. In Iraq and Syria, civilian casualties are rising as a direct result.

If things go wrong, Trump can distance himself, which is what he did in January after his debut military operation – a foolhardy special forces operation in Yemen – ended badly.

Given free rein, the US air force seems to be behaving particularly recklessly. It has yet to accept full responsibility for its disastrous bombing of an apartment building in Mosul last month, which killed as many as 150 people. This week, US-directed coalition airstrikes blew up 18 allied Syrian fighters by mistake.

I can't believe his military commanders don't realize they are going to be the fall guys if when things go wrong. If they don't, they shouldn't be military commanders. Francis Drake would have known. 

As with the Syria missile strikes, the MOAB attack is unlikely to have any significant impact on the course of the Afghan conflict. These kinds of “shock and awe” tactics rarely do. Isis has been making important territorial gains. The Taliban is also resurgent. One bomb, however big, will not change that dynamic.

Not that I know anymore than Trump, but it seems like if we just left things to the Taliban the ISIS problem would sort itself out. We've been there for 15 years and the Taliban are now re-taking power. I can see why GWOT was going to be a long war.

Along this line is Robert Bateman at Esquire:

The SM-3 missile (technically the RIM-161, Standard Missile -3) can shoot down other missiles, even ballistic ones. Even satellites in outer space for that matter. And although we do not know if those type of missiles are loaded aboard the Lake Champlain at this instant (information like that would be classified), if I was a betting man, I would probably lay some money that they are.

Why does this matter? Because in addition to being pretty loud lately, you might have noticed that North Korea has been testing a lot of missiles. On top of that, the North Koreans just hosted another one of their big self-congratulatory military parades. Sometimes they like to fire off hardware around the time of these events, international treaties and sanctions be damned. Usually those missiles are fired to the east, into the Sea of Japan, and sometimes into Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone. According to preliminary reports, this hasn't happened yet. But if it did?

Let's get back to our battlegroup, equipped with the SM-3s aboard an Aegis cruiser, operating in international waters well away from North Korea itself. What would international opinion be if we shot an illegally fired missile out of the sky when it was headed towards Japan? It would mean demonstrating at one stroke both North Korea's inability to actually use those missiles they are trying so hard to develop, and enforcing the sanctions against those same launches that are already in place from the international community.

If we shoot down Korean missiles I'll be more impressed than I was by the Syrian or Afghanistan strikes.

No comments:

Post a Comment