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Everything Becomes Crystal Clear…

[ 68 ] September 1, 2014 |

Now, at this late hour, we finally come to understand:

Thirty-six hours after the Obama administration banned importation of the classic brand of AK-47 assault rifles as part of sanctions against Russia, a Maryland dealer specializing in the weapon took stock of its inventory.

There was nothing left.

Laboring almost nonstop, workers at Atlantic Firearms in Bishopville, a Worcester County community on the Eastern Shore, had shipped hundreds of Russian-made AK-47s — an assault rifle prized by both consumers and despots — as buyers wiped out gun dealers’ inventories around the country. The frenzy was brought on, in part, by a suspicion among some gun owners that the Russia-Ukraine conflict was a backdoor excuse to ban guns many Democrats don’t like. Some customers bought eight to 10 rifles for nearly $1,000 each or more, stockpiling them as investments.

Did Putin and Obama meet secretly at the G-20 in September 2013, arranging a plan by which Putin could carve up Ukraine and Obama could carve up our Second Amendment rights? It would be irresponsible not to speculate!

Sunday Links

[ 89 ] August 31, 2014 |

Some links for your reading pleasure…

 

Assertive Status Quo?

[ 11 ] August 29, 2014 |

My latest at the Diplomat suggests caution in interpretation of China’s assertive behavior:

We can agree on certain things. Chinese pilots are not going rogue; there is a logic behind these intercepts, and it’s worthwhile to expose Chinese provocations. All of this tells us less about China’s long-range aims than we might think, however.

Sometimes it’s hard to see whether a state is pro-status quo or revisionist.  Russia appears only recently to have determined, after 15 years of struggle, that it simply cannot live within the international order created and maintained by the United States. For a very long time Imperial Japan sought to understand its own foreign policy as part of the broader colonial project that the European powers had created, before rejecting even that as insufficient. On the converse, in the Cold War the United States determined, eventually, that Soviet Russia was basically an ornery status quo power, different in character from either Imperial Japan or Nazi Germany.

Invasion

[ 48 ] August 27, 2014 |

So this is happening:

The mayor of the town on the Sea of Azov confirmed rebels had entered, as jubilant rebel supporters shared photos of advancing tanks on social media.

Ukrainian forces said they were still in “total control” of the town.

The rebels have been trying for weeks to break out of a near-encirclement further north in Donetsk.

Russia denies it is covertly supporting them on the ground.

Here’s Dmitri Gorenburg:

I should be clear that I don’t think Russia is currently planning a full takeover of any part of eastern Ukraine. The goal remains what it has been for months now: to ensure that Ukraine remains unstable and weak. For now, in order to accomplish this goal, Russia needs to make sure the separatists are not defeated and remain a viable force. Both the escalation in assistance and the opening of the new front are a response to the losses that the separatists had suffered in recent weeks.

In the long run, the only acceptable end to the conflict for Russia is one that would either freeze the current situation in place with separatists in control of significant territory in eastern Ukraine (the Transnistria variant) or the removal of the pro-Western Ukrainian government and its replacement by a pro-Russian one. Participants in peace talks have to understand that this is essentially a red line for Moscow. Putin will not allow the restoration of control over eastern Ukraine by the current Ukrainian government by peaceful means and is clearly willing to directly involve Russian forces in military action to ensure that it doesn’t happen through a Ukrainian military victory.

As I argued some time ago, it was extremely unlikely that this conflict could end with a string of Ukrainian military victories. The pressure on Moscow to escalate, along with its likely dominance at higher levels of escalation, meant that Ukrainian gains were almost certainly going to spur a Russian reaction. At the same time, it was tough for the Kiev government to restrain itself, given its weak domestic position. Relenting while the Ukrainian military apparently held the upper hand would have opened a wide flank to the government’s nationalist critics.

At this point, however, Russia appears to be dealing the Ukrainian military a serious blow. Although this hurts, it also gives Kiev a way out; the Ukrainians cannot beat Russia, and no one thinks NATO intervention is plausible. The issue for Kiev now becomes to achieve a cease-fire before the Russians get to far. The question now is how strongly Russia and it proxies will play their hands. My bet is relative restraint (no march on Kiev), ensuring that the disputed provinces remain in Moscow’s orbit.

See also this excellent piece on Germany’s view of the crisis.

And We’ll See How it Feels, Goin’ Mobile…

[ 16 ] August 26, 2014 |

All,

Our mobile site should be active once again, and should also represent a significant improvement on the previous site. Let me know in comments if there are any problems.

Best,

Management

Fulcrum!

[ 13 ] August 26, 2014 |

Because everyone needs some hot Fulcrum on Typhoon action on their Tuesday morning:

Via Foxtrot Alpha.

ESPN Blows It

[ 10 ] August 25, 2014 |

Screenshot 2014-08-25 13.47.51If Marcus Mariota makes a dime off this, then my enjoyment of college football will be ended forever.

Oregon is selling 25 different jerseys, counting colors and sizes, of No. 8, quarterback Marcus Mariota…

The NCAA and its schools have long contended that numbers don’t necessarily correspond to current players, but common sense, as proven by all the cases above, suggests otherwise.

I think it’s grossly irresponsible for ESPN to imply that the popularity of the number “8″ with fans of Oregon football has anything whatsoever to do with Marcus Mariota. In fact, had Darren Rovell managed even the faintest degree of due diligence on this matter, he would have come to understand the deep connection that many in Eugene have to “The Sideways Infinite.” It’s not my job to explain things to ESPN, but let’s just say that a lot of drugs are involved.

Burn!

[ 87 ] August 24, 2014 |

It’s the 200th anniversary of the burning of Washington! Tea Party types must feel very conflicted…

…And shit like this is why the British Empire fell.


You do not EVER apologize for burning down somebody’s capitol. Ever.

Adjustments

[ 40 ] August 24, 2014 |

Gentle reader,

In order to enhance your user experience, I’ve been fiddling with the social media buttons all morning. I’ve finally settled on Sociable, with the result at the bottom of the post. This includes both a Facebook “like” button and a Facebook “share” button, which apparently are not the same thing.

Let me know if any further additions would be helpful, or if you have any difficulties with page loads, etc.

Best,

Management

…we’re having some trouble with the mobile site, so I’m deactivating until we can get it sorted. The normal site is available from mobile devices.

“You Wanna Be A Grifter?”

[ 6 ] August 23, 2014 |


Here’s a helpful list of common grifts, provided by the Inspector General of the Department of Defense. For example:

Fictitious Vendor: In a weakly controlled environment, an employee with procurement responsibilities, or in accounts payable, or an outsider, can submit bills from a non-existent vendor. Normally fictitious vendors claim to provide services or consumables, rather than goods or works that can be verified. Dishonest bidders also can submit “bids” from fictitious bidders as part of bid rigging schemes.

One by One, Our Old Friends Are Gone…

[ 23 ] August 22, 2014 |

Edge of the West goes the way of all flesh:

It’s time to shut down The Edge of the American West. It’s been a long run, and I’ve enjoyed it, but blogging has become less compelling over the last year or so. I want to stop before writing for Edge actively becomes a chore. The blog has already had a number of lives, and different configurations, but I suspect that this is the last one. I’m proud of what I did here (and proud of what others did as well). Thanks for reading it.

LGM always makes money for its partners.

China’s New Emphasis on Mil-Dip

[ 0 ] August 20, 2014 |

My latest at the Diplomat investigates military diplomacy…

But today’s PLA is a professional force, and for the last two decades it has expanded its presence and influence in the international military community, a trendline that has ticked distinctly up in the last year. This includes not only the participation of the PLAN at RIMPAC, but also PLAAF exercises in Pakistan, PLAN joint exercises with the Russians, and PLAAF participation at Aviadarts.

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