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What? Bombing Helps Hardliners?

[ 0 ] July 31, 2006 |

Who knew?

Day by day, even as Iran’s officials assess the military setbacks of Hezbollah, they have grown more and more emboldened by the gathering support in the Islamic world for the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia on the front line with Israel. They have grown more and more emboldened by what they see as a validation of their confrontational approach to foreign policy — and in their efforts to silence political opposition at home.

That is the view of at least some opposition figures, analysts and former government officials who say they find themselves in the awkward position of opposing Israel and sympathizing with the Lebanese people, yet fear what might happen should Hezbollah prevail.

But I’m sure that bombing Iran itself WOULD energize the reform movement.


Fidel Sick

[ 0 ] July 31, 2006 |

Wow. Wouldn’t that be a kicker, if Fidel picked this moment to shuffle off the mortal coil?

Everybody knows that US Cuba policy wins no prizes for rationality. That the US has maintained the same policy vis-a-vis Cuba for 44 years is impressive; most countries, seeing no results, would have given up before 20, or 35 at the limit. Does anyone know the last time that a major presidential candidate has advocated a serious change in Cuba policy? The sheer inertia of the policy suggests to me that it won’t be altered until Cuba itself changes. Even then, there are no assurances. As Yglesias noted a while ago, statutory US policy takes seriously the fantasy that Cuban exiles will get all of their property back after Castro is gone. The President at the time of the transition seems to have considerable latitude regarding how and whether the embargo will be lifted. Operating under the assumption that any administration, Democratic or Republican, has to be more diplomatically capable than this one, I can’t help but wonder whether it would be better if Fidel lingered on a couple more years before kicking off. I also have no doubt that a Democrat would be better on Cuba than a Republican, given that the truly psychotic elements of the anti-Castro movement (I recall one guy asserting, on Fox News, that Castro had a hand in 9/11) seem more strongly tied to the GOP.

Lose Control of Your Words?

[ 0 ] July 31, 2006 |

Huh. I’ll allow that I’ve probably had a .12 blood alchohol content my share of times, and I’ve certainly done things worthy of apology, but I don’t recall ever blaming all wars on the Jews. Of course, I don’t have to cover up for my dad denying the Holocaust, either…


[ 0 ] July 31, 2006 |

Praktike is quite right; one of the things that has disappeared in a cloud of Lebanese dust over the past two weeks has been Condi Rice’s reputation as a diplomat. I wasn’t quite willing to give her much credit as Sec State, but from what I know the people at State like her, and she hadn’t seemed egregiously more inept in this job than anyone else in the Bush administration. Certainly, it looked as if her SecState performance was an improvement on her NSA work.

But not now. If she’s not a hawk it’s even worse; if she has influence inside the administration it’s not apparent, and she’s proven completely incapable of putting together any international support for, well, any policy at all. As if it weren’t an absurd proposition in the first place, the “Condi for President” line seems not long for this world.


[ 0 ] July 30, 2006 |

Give a hearty LGM welcome to my newly minted niece, Rowyn Alaina Farley.

It’s good to know that there’s another kidney out there for me.

Sunday Battleship Blogging: HMS Duke of York

[ 0 ] July 30, 2006 |

HMS Duke of York was the third of the King George V class, the first “Treaty” battleships designed and built for the Royal Navy. Like other Treaty battleships, Duke of York was limited to a 35000 ton displacement. The United Kingdom had hoped that gun size would be restricted to 14″, and designed Duke of York around 14″ guns instead of around a previously decided 15″ arrangement.

The design had a number of problems. Because the Royal Navy expected to be able to rely upon many refueling bases, Duke of York’s range was very short. This meant that, during the Bismarck pursuit, Prince of Wales had to break off due to lack of fuel, and King George V was nearly forced to do the same. The decision to mount 14″ guns was a disaster. They could not be mounted in the planned three quadruple turret arrangement, so Duke of York only carried 10 guns. The 14″ guns had notably less “oomph” than the naval weapons carried by other navies; although Prince of Wales scored one penetrating hit on Bismarck at Denmark Straits, King George V’s shells bounced off Bismarck’s belt armor a week later. The quadruple turrets also had serious malfunction problems. On the upside, Duke of York and her sisters were heavily armored (although the armor wasn’t as well-arranged as it could have been), and could make a higher speed than their American or Japanese counterparts (with the exception of the US Iowa class).

Duke of York was, nonetheless, a powerful ship. She displaced 37000 tons, carried 10 14″ guns, and could make 29 knots. The differences between fast battleships are a bit over-stated, as situational factors and luck would probably have determined the outcome of combat between any but the most seriously mismatched of opponents. The day after Christmas 1943, just such battle took place. The German battlecruiser Scharnhorst received word of an Allied convoy, and put to sea on Christmas Day. Scharnhorst knew that British cruisers were about, but had no idea that the Duke of York was also escorting the convoy. Scharnhorst skirmished with several British cruisers before breaking off and turning for Norway. Blinded by damage to her radar, she didn’t detect Duke of York until the latter opened fire at a range of about 12000 yards. Scharnhorst turned to flee (she could outrun Duke of York), but a lucky shot hit a boiler, reducing Scharnhort’s speed to 20 knots. This made the result of the engagement a foregone conclusion; Duke of York continued to hit Scharnhorst, and British destroyers eventually moved in for the killing blow with torpedos.

Following the destruction of Tirpitz, last major German raiding threat, Duke of York was transferred to the Pacific, where she took part in the invasion of Okinawa. After the war Duke of York served as flagship of the Home Fleet for several years before being decommissioned in 1949. The Royal Navy fell victim to a general post-war belt-tightening in the UK, and Duke of York was sold for scrap in 1957.

UPDATE: As Alex has noted, “Barehands” Bates, who repaired Duke of York’s radar at a critical moment during the Battle of North Cape, passed in early May of this year.

(Images courtesy of Maritimequest.)

Trivia: The Washington Naval Treaty mandated the destruction of most pre-dreadnought battleships. Name the fourfive US pre-dreadnoughts that survived the naval treaties.

Tehran’s Perspective

[ 0 ] July 30, 2006 |

Although I continue to agree with Billmon that the current offensive is a losing proposition for the Israelis, this article suggests that Tehran is concerned about Hezbollah’s loss of military power in southern Lebanon.

Linking up with the Shiite Muslims of southern Lebanon was part of Iran’s efforts to spread its ideological influence. But in building up Hezbollah, the ideological motivation fused with a practical desire to put a force on Israel’s northern border.

No matter how this conflict is resolved, Iranian officials already see their strategic military strength diminished, said the policy experts, former officials and one official with close ties to the highest levels of government. Even if a cease-fire takes hold, and Hezbollah retains some military ability, a Lebanese public eager for peace may act as a serious check.

In the past, Iran believed that Israel might pause before attacking it because they would assume Hezbollah would assault the northern border. If Hezbollah emerges weaker, or restrained militarily because of domestic politics, Iran feels it may be more vulnerable.

Of course, so much depends on sources and perspective that it’s hard to tell if the above is an accurate picture of Iran’s assessment of the situation. If it is, I’m a bit surprised; yes, conventional offensives can damage guerilla organizations, but they can rarely destroy them. Moreover, there’s not much in the way of indication that the Lebanese government is turning against Hezbollah. Guerilla war is a wonderful way to bleed a foe, because sponsors like Iran very rarely spend as much supplying the guerillas as states like Israel spend destroying them.

So I’m skeptical, but it’s worth a read.

America’s Worst Human Being

[ 0 ] July 29, 2006 |

Steve Sailer on the Seattle shooting:

Anti-Semitic terrorism … another job Americans just won’t do!

Linked to approvingly by the Derb.

For the record, of course, Naveed Haq has lived almost all of his 31 year old life in the United States. He went to high school in Richland, Washington, and he’s been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. His wealthy parents live in Pasco, Washington. By any meaningful definition of the word, Naveed Haq was an American… unless you’re Steve Sailer, and believe that some races are just inferior to others, and thus presumably ought to be kept out.

Incidentally, there was once this guy named Tim McVeigh, from Pendleton, New York. Although his act of terrorism (which, you may recall, killed 168 people) wasn’t specifically intended to kill Jews, anti-semitism was certainly one of his motivations.

… nor is McVeigh the only example of home-grown anti-semitic terrorism.

Thomas Albert Tarrants 3d was a 21-year-old terrorist and dynamiter, an anti-Semite with an arrest record; Kathryn Ainsworth was a 26-year-old schoolteacher by day, a Klan bomber at night. They were the trusted confederates of Samuel Holloway Bowers Jr., Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Mississippi Klan. On the evening of June 29, 1968, their mission was to pull off what the Klan called a “No. 4” — a murder — against a prominent Jewish businessman in Meridian.

Crazy Netrooty Purge Happy Blogofascists

[ 0 ] July 29, 2006 |

They’ve invaded the New York Times, apparently.

[The editorial page of The New York Times on Sunday endorsed Mr. Lamont over Mr. Lieberman, arguing that the senator had offered the nation a “warped version of bipartisanship” in his dealings with Mr. Bush on national security.]

…weird. The editorial itself is not yet available, but the notice is hidden halfway down an article about Lieberman’s campaign difficulties.

Good Lord, this isn’t good…

[ 0 ] July 29, 2006 |

The last few weeks have bumped up the bar for “Horrible News”, but I think this qualifies:

“Tonight Show” host Jay Leno will be the first replacement co-host for the syndicated review series “Ebert & Roeper” as Roger Ebert recovers from cancer surgery earlier this month.

Ack. The only thing worse that having Jay Leno replace Ebert would be… oh, no. Oh, God no…

As previously reported, Kevin Smith, director of “Clerks 2,” will sub for Ebert the weekend of Aug. 12. Buena Vista hasn’t named any other co-hosts but said Ebert is under doctor’s orders not to rush back to work.


[ 0 ] July 29, 2006 |

This is awful, obviously. The Stranger seems to have good coverage.

[ 0 ] July 28, 2006 |

Friday Cat Blogging… Stromboli

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