Shorter Bill Kristol:
H/t Matt Duss.
Author Page for Robert Farley
More on the Mistral question at The Diplomat:
Over the next two years, the Russian Pacific Fleet is expected to receive two new Mistral class amphibious assault ships, fresh from French naval yards. These flattops would have joined the burgeoning family of flat-decked aircraft carrying ships in the Pacific, including the Liaoning, the Korean Dokdos, the Australian Canberras, and the Japanese Izumo class.
That sale is now in considerable doubt. Because of Russia’s invasion and presumed annexation of Crimea, the European Union is considering a variety of sanctions against Moscow. The biggest stick, in military terms, may be the Mistrals, a pair of 21,000 ton warships capable of carrying over a dozen helicopters, in addition to a well-deck for amphibious landing craft. That the Russians chose to name the second ship Sevastopol, after a city not in Russian possession until after the recent invasion, only makes the sale so much uglier from the European point of view.
Bit of a struggle to envision a way in which this turns around:
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia signed a decree late Monday night formally recognizing Ukraine’s Crimea region as a “sovereign and independent state,” defying the United States and Europe just hours after they imposed their first financial sanctions since the crisis began and laying the groundwork for possible annexation.
Mr. Putin’s decree came after the breakaway republic formally declared its independence and asked Russia to annex it in keeping with the results of a referendum conducted Sunday under the watch of Russian troops. The Kremlin announced that Mr. Putin would address both houses of the Russian Parliament on Tuesday, when many expect him to endorse annexation.
Putin has committed his prestige and the prestige of his government to the annexation of Crimea. This makes it unlikely that he’s interested in finding a way out. I also suspect that the other military moves along the Ukrainian border are part of an intimidation campaign, rather than preparation for an invasion.
All that said, I still struggle to see the long-term positive outcome for Russia. If Putin had waited, the “revolutionary” government would have dithered for a couple of years before collapse. Now he has certainty; clear control over Crimea, but virtual certainty that Ukraine will be hostile for the foreseeable future.
Ever more bizarre…
Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia announced on Saturday afternoon that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 left its planned route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing as the result of deliberate action by someone aboard.
Mr. Najib also said that search efforts in the South China Sea had been ended, and that technical experts now believed that the aircraft could have ended up anywhere in one of two zones — one as far north as Kazakhstan in Central Asia, and the other crossing the southern Indian Ocean.
That conclusion was based on a final signal from the plane picked up on satellite at 8:11 a.m. on March 8, nearly seven hours after ground control lost contact with the jet, he said.
There have been a few comments around the internets to the effect “How, with all of our military hardware, could we possibly have lost an entire plane?” The answers are relatively straightforward. First, most of what we know about a given aircraft’s position and direction comes from information supplied by the plane itself. When position monitoring devices are disabled by the crew or by malfunction, we lose most of the data we have access to. Second, “active” radar monitoring is, especially at sea and in relatively underdeveloped areas, far more sparse than you’d expect. We don’t have a series of radar picket ships or floating radar stations monitoring every expanse of sea, and unless radar-operating warships have some reason to track a civilian airliner, they generally don’t pay much attention in any case.
Still, this has moved firmly into realms of “weird” and “disconcerting.”
It’s almost NCAA Tournament time! I have reactivated the LGM Tourney Challenge League, but if you’re new the Challenge, here’s the info:
League Name: Lawyers, Guns and Money
As always, the owner of the winning bracket will receive general acclaim and a prize of his or her choice.
I submit that there is literally no metaphor for the F-35 more apt than Kansas City Royals baseball:
— F-35 Lightning II (@thef35) March 13, 2014
At the Diplomat, I express some doubts about the LRS-B next generation bomber:
What is the LRS-B for? Conflicting reports have emerged over the likely cost of the USAF’s next generation bomber. Last week, the Lieutenant General Charles Davis (USAF) acknowledged that the per unit price for the new stealth bomber will climb from $550 million to $810 million, taking into account research and production costs. A later press release insisted that the USAF remains committed to the $550 million target. Given that the B-1B cost twice the estimated development pricetag, and the B-2 nearly triple, it’s not at all unreasonable to suggest that we’ll reach a $1 billion per plane cost by the time the program gets up and running.
This brings us back to the question: What requirement does the LRS-B fill?
While I’m sure there are plenty of hilarious bits, the price that someone would have to pay to get me to watch this would seem to be prohibitive:
Among other reasons to oppose reform, Coulter said: It would help Democrats.
“You want the Democrats who want more immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants, because they need brand new voters, just warm bodies, more votes,” she said. “Amnesty goes through, and the Democrats have 30 million new voters. I just don’t think Republicans have an obligation to forgive law-breaking just because the Democrats need another 30 million voters.”
The debate was ostensibly between a conservative and a liberal — Kaus said he voted twice for President Barack Obama — but the two speakers shared the same view on immigration. Although they discussed a variety of topics, immigration became the principal focus — and not exactly in the softer tone many Republicans have been attempting on the issue to avoid alienating Latino voters.
On that front, Kaus wasn’t much different from Coulter.
“Democrats have a perfectly good reason to be for amnesty, which is craven ethnic pandering that’s going to ensure our power for the next two generations, but what is the Republican excuse?” Kaus asked while talking about Republicans who support reform.
The greater part of Mickey’s career over the past decade has been an effort to find friends and publications that he can’t embarrass. Seems to be working.