Category Archives: International Affairs

An Islamic Reformation?

By lex, on May 31st, 2007

In the Weekly Standard (again, I know) Christina Hoff Summers avers that Islam may be reformed from within, as the distaff half of its human capital growingly demands ** first rank status from conservative-minded idealogues who’ll have none of it:

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Compassionate Release

By lex, on August 20th, 2009

Scotland is set to release Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the terminally ill former Libyan intelligence agent who was the only person convicted in the terrorist plot to blow up a Pan Am jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988:

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Still Flying Tiger IIs

By lex, on May 7th, 2009

When I was an adversary pilot down in Key West back in the early 90s, the F-16Ns were relatively new, the A-4E Skyhawks getting a little long in the tooth (although still wonderfully nimble, in trained hands) and the F-5E Tiger II was somewhere in between.

If you’d have told me nearly twenty years on that the Vipers and Scooters would be gone, but that the F-5s would still be around, I’d have been gobsmacked.

(Not really. I just like writing “gobsmacked.”)

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Not Ready to Play Nice

By lex, on April 15th, 2009

The Somali pirates – who apparently are better at seizing ships than they are at driving them – are not intimidated by the president’s promise to suppress them:**

Somali pirates fired grenades and automatic weapons at an American freighter loaded with food aid but the ship managed to escape the attack and was heading Wednesday to Kenya under U.S. Navy guard, officials said.

Despite President Barack Obama’s vow to halt their banditry and the deaths of five pirates in recent French and U.S. hostage rescue missions, brigands seized four vessels and more than 75 hostages off the Horn of Africa since Sunday’s dramatic rescue of an American freighter captain.

The Liberty Sun’s American crew was not injured in the latest attack but the vessel sustained some damage, owner Liberty Maritime Corp. said…

“We are under attack by pirates, we are being hit by rockets. Also bullets,” crewman Thomas Urbik, 26, wrote his mother in an e-mail Tuesday. “We are barricaded in the engine room and so far no one is hurt. (A) rocket penetrated the bulkhead but the hole is small. Small fire, too, but put out…”

The USS Bainbridge responded to the Liberty Sun’s call for help but the pirates had left by the time it arrived five hours later, Navy Capt. Jack Hanzlik said.

I read somewhere in the last week – I disremember where – that while those who use the sea in international commerce believe they ought to have the liberty of the sea, the pirates believe (with at least equal fervency) that they have the right to disrupt that commerce for their own gain, their “country” being bereft of either much in the way material resources or social capital, at least as it is elsewhere reckoned. Not to mention the fact that all the taxi cab driver positions in Sandy Eggo are pretty much filled, capacity being what it is, what with Our Struggling Economy.

“Our latest hijackings are meant to show that no one can deter us from protecting our waters from the enemy because we believe in dying for our land,” Omar Dahir Idle told The Associated Press by telephone from the Somali port of Harardhere.

Which, we can play it that way too.

Although there’s talk of tipping it the 19th century and laying waste to pirate havens ashore, I don’t believe it will come to very much. Offshore bombardments with 5″ guns are all very well and good (until the damn things jam), but there’s scarcely anything ashore worth hurling a TLAM at and hosing them down with helicopter gunships sends the wrong signals pretty much everywhere. Even if we could stand the heat for what would have to be rather indiscriminate slaughter of desperately poor people of color, the pirates being all mixed in with the locals, which I don’t believe we can.

And the appetite for smoking out the rat’s nest with boots on deck cannot be very great these days. Going in heavy means replaying the Mog back in ’93, and sending small teams of operators in unsupported is probably out of the question as well – our guys don’t blend.

Oh, a punitive raid by a Marine Expeditionary Unit is probably within the limits of a do-able do, but nothing long-term can be much effected by such a limited campaign, and anyway we seemingly cannot resist the temptation of trying to fix whatever we leave broken in our wake, which is a pretty tall order in Somalia.

So, despite the fact that it’s much better to go after hornet nests than individual hornets, this will probably have to be done “from the sea,” a thing for which our Navy – God bless it, and keep it whole – is woefully under-equipped, our ships being so few and the ocean so very vast. The international merchant marine force is probably unwilling to defend itself actively, liability being such a great concern should something go awry, not to mention the reticence of foreign ports to allow permanently armed merchant ships come and go as they please.

I’ve said it before, and believe it to be true: There’s a private sector answer, to what is essentially a private sector concern. Letters of Marque, issued to private security detachments embarking from mother ships at either end of the perilous passage. Shipping companies would have to pay, but it would probably be less than they pay to Lloyd’s of London for insurance, and a great deal less than what they’d pay in ransom money should their ships be siezed. Helicopters – or even small UAVs – carrying FLIRs could be used to extend the ship’s sensor range for positive ID of RPG- and AK-carrying “fishermen” in skiffs, while a deployable, cuppola clad Ma Deuce or two ought to be dissuasive to anyone who gets inside the helo/UAV arc. Only pirates are killed rather than mouse poor civvies ashore, and merchant mariners would have to “pay to play.”

We’d still have to sort out liability for the privateers, but the issuance by Congress of Letters of Marque is  constitutionally protected, and not denied the US by the Declaration of Paris, since we are not signatories.

I’m sensing a business opportunity here, is all.

** 09-04-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.


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Maybe it is time for the Brits to go home

By lex, on March 30th, 2007

Leading Sailor Faye Turney appears to have become the face of the current stand-off between a rogue Iranian regime and what appears to be an increasingly impotent political class in the United Kingdom. In a letter ** released by Iran Tuesday, Turney asks, “Isn’t it time for us to start withdrawing our forces from Iraq and let them determine their own future?”

And as much as it grieves me to say so, perhaps she’s right.

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By lex, on March 9th, 2009

Back in 1996, the aircraft carrier upon which I had the honor to serve was sortied from its forward deployed operating base to hover off the lee of Taiwan, on account of the expressed intent of the Peoples’ Republic of China to lob missiles over that island. The missile launches were ostensibly a test of a new capability, but were widely understood to be an attempt to intimidate Taiwan in the run-up to a national election and had the potential at least to be a part of an escalation of force continuum leading to an invasion.

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Free hate!

By lex, on March 29th, 2007

Der Spiegel Online’s Berlin bureau chief says it’s easier to believe in some things than in others:

(The Germans) believed that Jews should be placed into ghettos and concentration camps because they were the enemies of the people. Then they believed in the autobahn and that the Third Reich would ultimately be victorious. A few years later, they believed in the Deutsche mark. They believed that the Berlin Wall would be there forever and that their pensions were safe. They believed in recycling and environmental protection. They even believed in a German victory at the soccer World Cup.

Now they believe that the United States is a greater threat to world peace than Iran. This was the by-no-means-surprising result of a Forsa opinion poll commissioned by Stern magazine. Young Germans in particular — 57 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds, to be precise — said they considered the United States more dangerous than the religious regime in Iran.

It’s easy to believe in a dangerous America – you get to feel good about yourself, wallow in the warm embrace of self-proclaimed moral superiority and – the best thing of all – it’s popular and doesn’t require any particular action or sacrifice. Believing that Iran is a threat, well: That might require bestirring yourself. Doing something.

Taking a stand.

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