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June 21, 2024

Ukraine Open Thread 2024-147

News & views (related to the war in Ukraine) ...

Posted by b at 13:45 UTC | Comments (76)

June 20, 2024

Hizbullah Ready To Defeat Israel

On October 8, a day after Hamas attacked Israel, the Lebanese Hizbullah joined the fray. It sent missiles towards military installations in north Israel. 80,000 Israeli settler living in the north fled from their homes. They are still sitting in hotels around Israel and are waiting for the return of quietness to that front.

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah had announced that the current northern tit-for-tat campaign between Hizbullah and Israeli forces would continue until a permanent ceasefire is agreed upon in Gaza.

But the radicals in charge of Israeli policies do not want a ceasefire in Gaza. They want to eradicate Hamas and as much of the Gazan population as possible. A ceasefire would prevent them from doing so.

On the other hand there is pressure from northern settlers who want to return to their homes. But without a ceasefire in Gaza the low level conflict in Israel's north and southern Lebanon is bound to continue.

Instead of working towards a ceasefire in Gaza the Israeli military and government are planning to invade southern Lebanon and to occupy it up to the Litani river.

The plan is delusional. Hizbullah is grounded in the Shia communities which inhabit south Lebanon. Is Israel expecting that population to move out? That is not going to happen.

Hizbullah, with its number of forces exceeding 100,000 men, is well prepared for a fight. South Lebanon is criss-crossed with well prepared fighting positions and tunnels. More than 150,000 missiles, many of them long range, are ready to be launched against military and economic targets in Israel. The 2006 invasion of south Lebanon ended in an utter defeat for the Israeli army. There is no reason to believe that a renewed fight would have a different outcome.

In case of a new conflict Hizbullah has plans to cross the border and to occupy parts of norther Israel. It is also ready to expand a war should this be necessary:

Cont. reading: Hizbullah Ready To Defeat Israel

Posted by b at 8:03 UTC | Comments (227)

June 19, 2024

Biden's 'Exceptionalism' Is Likely To Stay

An emphasis of U.S. exceptionalism has been a major theme throughout Joe Biden's presidency.

Remarks by President Biden on a Future Made in America - May 18 2021

This is the United States of America, for God’s sake.

60 Minutes - President Joe Biden: The 2023 60 Minutes interview transcript - Oct 15 2023

Scott Pelley: Are the wars in Israel and Ukraine more than the United States can take on at the same time?

President Biden: No. We're the United States of America for God's sake, the most powerful nation in the history-- not in the world, in the history of the world. The history of the world. We can take care of both of these and still maintain our overall international defense.


Full Transcript of President Joe Biden’s Interview With TIME - Jun 5 2024

Q: Is America still able to play the role of world power that it played in World War Two, and in the Cold War?
Biden: Yes, we're planning even more. We are, we are the world power.

Talk of claimed U.S. exceptionalism is usually bi-partisan.

But finally there is a voice in U.S. foreign policy who argues against exceptionalism and calls for a different view of things.

Ben Rhodes, former National Security Advisor to President Barrack Obama, writes in the pages of Foreign Affairs magazine.

A Foreign Policy for the World as It Is
Biden and the Search for a New American Strategy

[T]he Biden administration’s mindset of restoration has occasionally struggled against the currents of our disordered times. An updated conception of U.S. leadership—one tailored to a world that has moved on from American primacy and the eccentricities of American politics—is necessary to minimize enormous risks and pursue new opportunities.

That seems like a well intended advice. The U.S. tends to intentionally ignore the consequences of its policies. It does not reflect on them. Should it start doing that its policies might change:

Cont. reading: Biden's 'Exceptionalism' Is Likely To Stay

Posted by b at 13:59 UTC | Comments (269)

June 18, 2024

Couldn't Such Fake News Start Wars?

Stephen Byren asks in Asia Times:

Why is NATO expanding its nuclear force?

That is a rather weird question. NATO is a consulting mechanism. It does not have tanks, guns or nuclear forces. All such tangible things are owned and controlled by this or that member country.

NATO does not have a nuclear force and currently neither NATO nor those member countries which have nuclear forces are interested in expanding them. The question states as a fact that NATO is expanding something. It is not doing that.

Byren writes:

Jens Stoltenberg, the 13th secretary general of NATO, says that the alliance is in talks to deploy more nuclear weapons and modernize their delivery systems. Stoltenberg told the Telegraph in the UK: “I won’t go into operational details about how many nuclear warheads should be operational and which should be stored, but we need to consult on these issues. That’s exactly what we’re doing.” Stoltenberg emphasized that NATO is a “nuclear alliance.”

The Telegraph piece on the Stoltenberg interview is a write-up, not a transcript. It is inaccurate. Here is what it says:

Nato is in talks to deploy more nuclear weapons in the face of a growing threat from Russia and China, the head of the alliance has said.

Jens Stoltenberg added that the bloc must show its nuclear arsenal to the world to send a direct message to its foes in an interview with The Telegraph.

He revealed there were live consultations between members on taking missiles out of storage and placing them on standby as he called for transparency to be used as a deterrent.

Mr Stoltenberg said: “I won’t go into operational details about how many nuclear warheads should be operational and which should be stored, but we need to consult on these issues.

“That’s exactly what we’re doing at Nato, for instance at meetings in Nato, a nuclear planning group as we had during the defence ministerial meeting this [last] week.”

The above sounds as if Stoltenberg was actively doing something. But that is simply not what he said:

Matthew Harries @harries_matthew - 19:38 UTC · Jun 17, 2024

Here is a transcript of what Stoltenberg actually said. As suspected, I think there has been too much parsing of his words.

The “operational” vs storage thing was introduced by the interviewer. And “transparency” was in the context of openness about exercises.

As the audio of the interview provides, the whole issue was prompted by a misleading remark by one of the interviewers, not by Stoltenberg himself:

Telegraph: Do you think European allies should follow the lead of the United States by putting more warheads on standby rather than having them in storage?

Britain, which is the country the Telegraph is asking about, usually has one nuclear submarine on patrol and ready to use with a number of others in training or revamp. Only the submarine on patrol will carry nuclear warheads. The ones for the other submarines are usually in storage. To put more of them on 'standby', whatever that may otherwise mean, would not provide a ready way to launch them. It would thus be useless.

The interviewers question to Stoltenberg is answered by him with generalizations and a hint to the ever 'ongoing consulting' on the issue.

Cont. reading: Couldn't Such Fake News Start Wars?

Posted by b at 12:10 UTC | Comments (155)

June 17, 2024

Zelenski's Summit Has Failed

The reviews of Zelenski's latest show ain't positive:

The summit served warmed up bullshit without any significant nutritional value. The most important points weren't even discussed:

Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand - 8:48 UTC · Jun 17, 2024

Genuinely astonishing how the final communiqué of Swiss “Summit on Peace in Ukraine” (link) is basically 6 out of the 12 points of China's February 2023 "Peace plan" (link), and only that.

In short it's the Chinese peace plan, without:

  • A call for a cessation of hostilities
  • A call to resume peace talks.
  • A call to "abandon the Cold War mentality"
  • A call to resolve the humanitarian crisis.
  • An agreement to remove "unilateral sanctions"
  • An agreement to support post-conflict reconstruction

The only points it keeps from the Chinese peace plan are:

  • Point 1: To base the resolution of the conflict on the UN Charter
  • Point 6: Asking that all prisoners of war and detainees should be released
  • Points 7 & 8: Calling for nuclear plants to be safe and stating that nuclear weapons shouldn't be used
  • Points 9 & 11: Asking that food security and supply chains be maintained and be weaponized

And that's almost 1 year and a half AFTER the Chinese Peace Plan, which the West rejected immediately out of hand and ironically criticized as being "vague" even though the outcome of this Swiss summit is now far vaguer, in fact it's so vague it removed all the aspects of the Chinese plan that actually proposed a path to a sustainable peace ...

Just goes to show how far away we are from peace, almost 2 years and a half into the war... And also goes to show that maybe, just maybe, China's proposal wasn't so bad after all 😏

As Strana summarizes (machine translation):

The final declaration included a clause on the need to involve "all parties" in the negotiations, which can be interpreted as a desire to involve the Russian Federation in future summits. This was stated by many participants of the summit (primarily from the countries of the "global South"). Zelensky also said about his desire to see Russia at the second summit, saying that Russia's presence there would mean that it "wants peace."

But given the complete discrepancy in the positions of the parties regarding how they see the end of the war, it is still very early to talk about any negotiations. These positions may become closer under the influence of two factors-the situation on the battlefield and / or coordinated pressure on both belligerents by their key international partners. And only in the case of such a convergence of positions will real negotiations become possible.

The war will continue until the complete destruction of the Ukrainian forces can no longer be ignored.

Posted by b at 13:06 UTC | Comments (224)

June 16, 2024

Some Links And An Open Thread 2024-146

From a recent email exchange with an MD:

Me: "How long will it take for me to get back into the saddle?"
MD: "Recovery time is often calculated as one month per decade of life."
Me: "Sigh!"

A few days ago a MoA reader I had not known of contacted me and offered to help. He is living in the same city as I do. I had thought that I would be able to do small stuff, like shopping, as soon as I was back home. Wrong - I didn't even make it half way :-(.

So yesterday Nico came by and did some grocery shopping for me.  My fridge now filled! Great! Thanks!


The issue below deserves a serious write up. Alas, I am currently not up to it. It was an incredibly irresponsible campaign and some people likely died over it.

Pentagon ran secret anti-vax campaign to undermine China during pandemic - Reuters
The U.S. military launched a clandestine program amid the COVID crisis to discredit China’s Sinovac inoculation – payback for Beijing’s efforts to blame Washington for the pandemic. One target: the Filipino public. Health experts say the gambit was indefensible and put innocent lives at risk.

First thought: This wasn't a war. So why the f*** was the Pentagon at all involved in any such stuff?

Cont. reading: Some Links And An Open Thread 2024-146

Posted by b at 9:46 UTC | Comments (231)

June 15, 2024

Putin's Full Speech: BRICS, NATO Expansion and Ukraine Peace Talk Conditions

Last year the Canadian intelligence analyst Patrick Armstrong published this sound advice:


I’m fond of quoting the Duke of Wellington on intelligence:

All the business of war, and indeed all the business of life, is to endeavour to find out what you don’t know by what you do; that’s what I called ‘guessing what was at the other side of the hill.’

Find out what you don’t know by what you do“. It’s not easy, it’s not necessarily pleasant but it’s what you have to do in order to minimise your surprise when whatever it is actually comes over the hill at you.

Here’s former British Ambassador to Russia Laurie Bristow saying the same thing:

My advice to all young diplomats and analysts [is that] if you want to understand Mr Putin’s foreign policy, listen to what he’s saying. You won’t like it, but you need to understand it, you need to listen to it. The place to start is the Munich speech in 2007.

Listen to what he says”. It’s quite easy to. Putin has said a lot and most of it appears on the Presidential website in English as well as the original Russian. Never read what the Western reporters say he says – they almost always distort it – read the original. I’m sure that both Wellington and Bristow would agree.

And that’s what intelligence is all about. Try and understand how the other guy sees things.

Every few years Putin comes out with a speech or memorandum which explains - past, presence and future -  and argues for the position at large Russia is taking.

People who read these speeches will understand Russia. People who don't won't.

The later will miss the facts and come to false conclusions. Acting upon those they will weaken their own positions.

One can avoid doing so by reading Putin's latest speech held yesterday at the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. It is quite long but has to be so as it necessarily touches on everything. It includes a kind of peace offer for Ukraine: Hand over the provinces Russia has recognized at its own and gain peace. It was and is not expected that the 'West' will move towards that direction. In consequence the aims of the war will have to change.

With nearly 10,000 words the speech is very long. No summarization will do it justice. I therefore urge you to read it in full.

The English language version was published in full by Sputnik. The authoritative official translation, which will soon appear on the Kremlin website, is not yet complete. As access to both sides may be limited a full copy of the speech is attached below.

What follows is a full reproduction of the English language version Sputnik put out.

Putin's Full Speech at Foreign Ministry: BRICS, NATO Expansion and Ukraine Peace Talk Conditions - Friday, June 15 2024


Cont. reading: Putin's Full Speech: BRICS, NATO Expansion and Ukraine Peace Talk Conditions

Posted by b at 4:39 UTC | Comments (363)

June 12, 2024

Notice Of Absence - Update

Please check here for previous notes of absence and updates.

In the end it has turned out to be a one-and-done procedure and I am happy to say that it is now done with:

  • The good news: I am likely to recover in full with better health than I have previously had.
  • The not-so-good news: It will take much longer to recuperate from this than I had expected.

The procedure I went through was a quite extended variant of what WebMD calls a Aortobifemoral Bypass.

When my chest was opened up the conditions found in place were worse (..."they always are"...1) than expected. They required bypass procedures more extensive (in size), but less delicate (in number of new shunt connections), than anticipated.

Everything went more or less smooth and, after some seven hours of diligent work, the professors and MDs were satisfied (..."they always are"...) with the job they had done on me.

The physically drain the (larger than expected) procedure took on me has been much stronger (... "it always is" ...) than I had anticipated. The intellectual drain, in consequence of the physical one, was even worse. My current task is to rebuild both strengths. This will take months.

Cont. reading: Notice Of Absence - Update

Posted by b at 4:08 UTC | Comments (200)

May 23, 2024

Notice Of Absence - Update: Change of Plans

Update (May 25, 9:36 UTC)

After discussions involving a dozen MDs, two professors (and me) it was decided to change the relevant department and plans.

This now looks likely to be a small to medium size - but more bloody than expected - intervention coming only next Thursday with a second one following a few weeks later. Plans may change again though if and when appropriate. I for now expect to be back at home around June 6 or so.

In-between being cut up and sewn together I will likely have access to the net. I may therefore pop up here and there and will reopen comments if and when I feel able to at least somewhat police them.

Thank you for your patience.


Old post to follow:

For medical reasons your host will be offline from Thursday to Sunday.

I have closed the comments to prevent vandalism while I am away.

I hope to be back at full capacity on Monday, May 27th. Should the procedure be extended, which is a possibility, I will likely be back on Wednesday, May 29.

See you soon ...

Posted by b at 7:26 UTC | Comments (0)

May 22, 2024

Ukraine: 'Shot Down' Drones Hit Targets

Reports of damage caused by Russian drones in Ukraine are regularly followed by reports which claim that all drones were shot down.

Via Strana (machine translations):

Russians hit Konotop and Shostka power facilities in Sumy region

08:22, today

Last night, Russian troops launched an air strike on the energy facilities of Konotop and Shostka in the Sumy region.

This is reported by the Sumy OVA. "The enemy launched an air strike, using a Shahed-type UAV, on the energy facilities of the cities of Shostka and Konotop," the report says.

Currently, work is underway to restore power supply, which was cut off due to an enemy strike.

Also in the OVA reported that over the Sumy region this night destroyed 7 enemy UAVs of the type "Shahed".

Ukrenergo reported that Sumy and the surrounding areas remain without electricity after the night attack of "Shahids".


Air forces destroyed all 24 Shaheds that attacked Ukraine

09:00, today

On the night of Wednesday, May 22, Russia attacked Ukraine with 24 strike UAVs of the Shahed-131/136 type. This is reported by the Air Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

"As a result of the anti-aircraft battle, the Ukrainian Defense Forces managed to shoot down all 24 Shaheds," the report says.
Strike UAVs were destroyed in the Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, Sumy and Odessa regions.

Recall that at night, Russian troops launched an air strike on the energy facilities of Konotop and Shostka in the Sumy region.
Sumy and surrounding areas remain without electricity after the night attack of "Shahids".

I will concede that debris of a shot down drone can still cause damage. But when the 'debris' of a 'shot down' drone is causing the intended damage when it hits its target was it really shot down?

Who do they think they are kidding with this?

Posted by b at 9:26 UTC | Comments (176)