'87 Sir

Thirty years of service ----USNA Class of 1987 '87 Sir

Sunday, March 30, 2014

If you are one of the next 50 callers to buy Obamacare, we'll include a free Sham-wow....

When did the Presidency of the United States become a QVC show?  For the last month or so, the Obama-compliant media has been aiding our current salesman-in-chief in pitching Obamacare to that vital marketing segment----clueless Millennials who only want him to legalize pot so they can forget they're still living in their parent's basement---so that the media mouthpieces can offer some illusion that his "signature legislative accomplishment" won't bankrupt the US government.

It would be merely humorous, if somewhat pathetic to watch--I mean can you imagine Ronald Reagan doing this?  Or George Washington? or even JFK--"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you...ask how you can buy Obamacare,"  Really?

Forget the absurdity of "statistics" showing how many kabillions of Americans have signed up...and NEVER, ever ask how many of those "new enrollees" are actually signing up for Medicaid or are signing up because their old insurance policies (you remember those...if you like them you can keep them) got cancelled because they weren't "Good enough"...meaning they did not provide free contraceptives for Lena Dunham and Sandra Fluke.

The truth is, while Obama is trying to keep the wheels on the Obamacare bus while it careens off the cliff...real world leaders are on the march trying to figure out how much old fashioned territorial aggrandizement they can achieve before January 2017.

Putin seizes Crimea in, what can only be described as a ballsy move that Jack Bauer would appreciate...and the US sends John Kerry to scold them...wow..that'll show 'em.  Meanwhile NATO is becoming another League of Nations...a huge club of scolding biddies that don't have the spine or ability to stand up to the reborn Russian Empire.  It's kind of sad and scary to watch...Europe is what Obama's America will become twenty years in the future....fat, lazy, socialized, and more desiring to maintain their massive social programs and ten weeks of vacation than their freedom.  I wonder how long it will be before Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland, and what's left of the Ukraine once again start cutting deals with Russia, like the mob does with neighborhood business owners--"Nice country ya got here...shame if something happened to it...like thousands of black hooded Spetsnaz guys fermenting a revolution among your repressed Russian minorities."  Yup, who would see that coming?

And let's not forget the rest of the new "Axis of Evil"...you remember that?  George W. Bush was hammered by those OH SO SMART minions of the liberal order.  Well, now it's on the march again...and it's getting bigger, thanks to the feckless foreign policy of this Administration:

"I’ve been saying for years that we’re the target of a global war, that the Pyongyang-Beijing-Moscow-Tehran-Damascus-Havana-Caracas etc Axis of Evil is hell-bent to dominate and destroy us.  Now the evidence is so clear that only a willfully blind man could fail to see it. "
Make no mistake...the Chinese are watching what the Apple Dumpling Gang does about Russia...they are waiting to plant the red and yellow flag on as much of the South China Sea as they can...as you can read about in the book I just reviewed.  Syria and Iran are not going to go away either...they are just waiting for Obama to become so wrapped up in saving Obamacare that he forgets about that awesome "deal" with Iran.

And, just to complete what will be the most disastrous Presidency since James Buchanan (which no doubt has Jimmy Carter breathing a sigh of relief), Obama continues to destroy the US military in the misguided "sequestration" cuts that eliminate soldiers and airplanes, but leave Obamacare and green energy subsidies intact?  WTF is up with that?

It's enough to drive the average sane person crazy enough to want to sign up for Obamacare...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Timely book---for an increasingly dangerous world.

Robert Kaplan has written another pretty decent book about a global hotspot.  Read my full review on my favoritest website-the New York Journal of Books.

Did I say how much I love these guys...yes, shameless gushing I know.  I will say, as a small aside, that I was not all that thrilled with the "digital review copy" that I read on my iPad. Yes, I am still enough of a dinosaur (vintage, as I tell my son) that I LIKE BOOKS...paper books, analog books.  But I digress.

Read my review...it pretty much says it all...HOWEVER, there is always the rest of the story.  Kaplan does a good job, as far as he goes...but as I said in my review, the U.S. needed its own chapter, primarily devoted to the strangely named "Pacific Pivot" strategy being implemented by the current Administration.

This reason I put this in quotes is the U.S. never really left the Pacific, at least the U.S. Navy never left this region.  Although I can sort of see the point of reorienting American military thinking from bombing the crap out of terrorists to moving back to conventional warfighting in a massive maritime environment, this appears to be more of a budgetary drill than a strategic re-orientation.

EXCEPT, of course the Apple Dumpling Obama Administration can even mess this up.  With the draconian military budget cuts looming to pay for Obamacare, welfare, green energy and Michelle's world travels, trying to maintain a modicum of military power in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean is going to be tough.

There is no doubt in this Grouchy Historian's mind that the Chinese, Iranians, Syrians, terrorists, and assorted other evil doers are watching with great interest what our feckless and incompetent leadership do about the Russian bullying of Ukraine and the fairly brazen Russian takeover of Crimea.

The Chinese would no doubt like to do the same with the Spratleys and Paracells.  And no doubt the other rim nations are watching to see how the U.S. reacts and lines up our NATO allies (I use that word loosely too) to meet the new "Red Army" that wants to roll west into the Baltics and whatever else Putin thinks he can gobble up while Obama is distracted trying to save the Democratic Party from the inevitable outcome of the 2014 elections and the disaster that is quickly becoming the 2nd term Obamaconomy. 

That's why this is a very timely book...the South China Sea is going to make the Ukraine look like a playground dodge-ball tournament (not that liberals don't hate those too).  The Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians, Singaporeans, and Vietnamese are all arming to the teeth and one little incident could get ugly, really, really fast.  What the US would or could do, is, of course, the big unknown---and with this Administration becoming more unknown everyday.

I heard a pretty good summation of the foreign policy of this Administration on the radio the other day---"Isolationism by incompetence"

HEY Mr. President Snarky---The 1980s called...they want their President back.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Are American Generals Incompetent?

With a sense of certainty and selective outrage, Thomas Ricks casts his judgement on the quality of American ground combat leaders from World War II to the present in his latest book.  I found this book to be interesting, but a tad superficial, although to be fair, Mr. Ricks bites off a subject that you could write multiple volumes on and tries to present his arguments in a series of short, biting chapters that don't always connect well.

SO, first of all--as history, this book is okay, but not outstanding.  Mr. Ricks' basic thesis, that the US Army of World War II, where George C Marshall and his primary subordinates could readily relive any officer they felt unfit to lead troops in combat quickly disintegrated in the post-World War II era where almost NO officers were relieved for combat ineffectiveness is well developed and hard to argue with, at least on the surface.

He makes a very compelling case that the Army, composed exclusively of draftees until the end of Vietnam became overly bureaucratic and insular through both Korea and Vietnam, culminating in the My Lai massacre of 1968, where multiple officers in an Army division conspired to cover up war crimes.

He also makes some interesting points that in the process of rebuilding that post-Vietnam Army, officers became excellent tacticians, but poor strategists also resonated with me.  It was clear that the planning for "the day after" in Afghanistan and Iraq was both strategically and operationally poor and clearly not well thought-out and a good deal of that responsibility must be laid at the feet of the generals that commanded those operations.

I don't have any arguments with most of his recommendations for how to "fix" Army leadership either, although his moral certainty is diminished somewhat by the fact that he has never worn muddy boots or been shot at.

However, there are what I consider some significant cherry picking of his little case studies.  Although combat is certainly the acid test of a general, Mr. Ricks devotes nothing to American operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, or Somalia, operations that clearly had overtones of the "politicization" of American generals and their advice to and guidance from their civilian masters. 

Also, I think Mr. Ricks, who CLEARLY was no fan of the Iraq War, also glossed rapidly through this war...quickly condemning Tommy Franks and Ricardo Sanchez, while minimizing the effects of officers like David Petraus and H.R. McMaster.  More importantly, I don't think Mr. Ricks gives nearly enough credit to the retired generals, like Jack Keane, who convinced President Bush to reverse the course of the Iraq War and initiate the surge.

MOREOVER, I think Mr. Ricks also neglects to develop and tell the story of the relationship of President "retreat from Iraq" Obama and his generals and it would have been interesting to have some record of the debate in 2011 over the debacle that was the retreat from Iraq. 

Finally, Mr. Ricks seems to poo-poo the effects of "risk adversity" among generals and military officers in particular, but leaves off the corrosive effects of the last 30 years of social engineering fostered on the military by liberal progressives, where an officer's ability to integrate women and gays into his unit is probably more important to his promotion prospects than his combat record.  Armies reflect the societies they fight for and the general dumbing down and feminization of American society cannot help but be reflected in America's military, unfortunately.

SO, all in all, this book was okay, but not outstanding, in my humble opinion.  Mr. Ricks has made his mark in the defense reporting industry as a grouchy outsider, but he still has a long way to go to measure up to my favorite grouchy guy, Ralph Peters.