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Category: Robert Farley


[ 213 ] April 6, 2017 |
Syrian BMP-1.png

Syrian Arab Army BMP-1 By Abkhazian Network News Agency – Освобождение Башуру сирийскими войсками at 6:01., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

In brief, why not:

  • It is a struggle to understand a way in which an attack on Syria is legal, barring an act of Congress.
  • It seems unlikely that airstrikes alone will be sufficient to unseat the Assad government.
  • The Assad government has sufficiently strengthened its position in the last year such that it seems unlikely that airstrikes will tip the balance in favor of Syrian rebels.
  • There is no reason to believe that President Trump has sufficient self-control to manage a limited air campaign that fails to destroy the Syrian government.
  • There is no reason to believe that a strong constituency exists in Syria for a prolonged American ground occupation.
  • The Syrian rebels are deeply factionalized, and have become increasingly radicalized; it is not obvious that the Assad government would be replaced by a central government at all, or that such a government would be meaningfully preferable to Assad.
  • While Russia is unlikely to directly oppose US strikes, the risks of accidental escalation are nevertheless present.

These are all issues that the Obama administration wrestled with for five years, to no particularly good resolution. They are issues that Hillary Clinton had no particularly good answer for.  They have not changed for the better since Trump’s inauguration.


Ch-Ch-Ch Changes!

[ 83 ] April 6, 2017 |

1034939693Last week:

The Trump administration doubled down Thursday on prioritizing the fight against ISIS over ending the Syrian civil war and getting rid of its main protagonist, President Bashar al-Assad — a suggestion that was swiftly criticized by hawks on the Hill.

Indicating a possible shift in US policy on the war in Syria from the days of the Obama administration, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on a trip to Turkey that the “longer-term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people.”

And in New York, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley was even stronger about the Trump administration’s decision not to push for Assad’s departure. “Our priority is no longer to sit and focus on getting Assad out,” Haley told wire reporters Thursday, according to AFP.


Russia should reconsider its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad in light of the apparent chemical weapons attack that killed more than 80 people and “horrified us all,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday.

Asked at a press conference whether the U.S. would lead an international coalition to oust the Syrian leader, Tillerson replied that “those steps are underway.” He said there’s no role for Assad in Syria’s future and reiterated his contention that “information supports” the U.S. claim that the Syrian military was responsible for Tuesday’s bloody attack.

This would be one of those “when the facts change, I change my mind” sort of situations, if the latest CW attack had represented anything more of a shift than “Assad drops CW on his own people even when Trump is in office.” In any case, I’m sure we can all agree that it’s good that Hillary the Hawk isn’t bombing Syria or threatening Russia.

And let’s be clear; to my view, bombing the Assad regime was a bad idea when Obama didn’t do it, and would be a bad idea if Trump does do it.

…via comments:

Foreign Entanglements: Russia Edition

[ 21 ] April 1, 2017 |

I’m sorry that I haven’t been posting lately. Lots of travel and work. But I do have a shiny new episode of Foreign Entanglements—yes, I’ve joined the masthead there and thereby moved forward Rob’s plans for total LGM domination—in which I talk with Yuval Weber about Russia, Trump, and Syria. And yes, I can’t figure out how to embed the new video player.

Bonus: the roundtable that led me to ask Yuval to be my first guest on the channel.

…Update by Rob: Here we go!

First They Nuked Santa Fe, and I Said Nothing, Because I Don’t Like Dream Catchers

[ 165 ] March 29, 2017 |
Screenshot 2017-03-29 09.29.07

A tragedy for America’s arts and crafts community.

It takes talent to write a column suggesting a North Korean EMP will kill 90% of Americans, and not have that be the most ridiculous point.  But I give you Mr. James Woolsey, former DCI:

Even if it were true that North Korea does not yet have nuclear missiles, their “Dear Leader” could deliver an atomic bomb hidden on a freighter sailing under a false flag into a U.S. port, or hire their terrorist allies to fly a nuclear 9/11 suicide mission across the unprotected border with Mexico. In this scenario, populous port cities like New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, or big cities nearest the Mexican border, like San Diego, Phoenix, Austin, and Santa Fe, would be most at risk.

As some of you may have heard, Santa Fe, NM is a low density city of 69000 people. If you drop a 15kt nuke on it, you kill…. 13000 people. If you groundburst that motherfucker, you kill…. 9000 people, and spread radioactive fallout over one of the least densely populated swaths of America.

But what would the United States do without its critical supplies of turquoise?

Final Four!

[ 15 ] March 28, 2017 |
Jordan Bell. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Jordan Bell. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

So I think that I’ve worked out all the scenarios for the LGM Tourney Challenge:

  • If Gonzaga or South Carolina beats North Carolina: Aintthatpretty
  • If Gonzaga or South Carolina beats Oregon: pandaphil
  • If UNC beats Gonzaga: RNC
  • If UNC beats South Carolina: Gingerdreamsofducks
  • If Oregon beats either Gonzaga or South Carolina: Firsttimelongtime

Let me know if I did my math wrong. In particular, I may have missed if someone has South Carolina in the final game.

Monday Links

[ 35 ] March 27, 2017 |

Saab Gripen. Via Hushkit.

Some links for your reading pleasure:

And some more battleships:




Bring on UConn!

[ 20 ] March 25, 2017 |

1280x800Let’s stop 111!

First it was a nail-biter against Temple, then a head-turning upset against No. 2 seed Duke.

On Saturday afternoon, upset-minded Oregon continued its Cinderella run by knocking off No. 3 seed Maryland, ending the collegiate careers of Terps seniors Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough with a 77-63 win in the Bridgeport Regional semifinals.

The Ducks are headed to their first Elite Eight in program history.

TrumpCare in Two Acts

[ 299 ] March 24, 2017 |



Comment Moderation

[ 26 ] March 21, 2017 |


We are having some technical problems with comments; everything is being dropped into moderation because some widget is not listening properly to some other widget.  We have the Widget Gnomes working feverishly to solve this problem.  In the meantime, Loomis will be individually evaluating each comment for rhetorical and ideological soundness before allowing it to post.  But rest assured that your comments will remain in the system.

Thank you for your patience,


Tuesday Links

[ 9 ] March 21, 2017 |

North American XF-108 Rapier

For your Tuesday-ness.


Sinking Carriers!

[ 52 ] March 18, 2017 |
Japanese aircraft carrier Shinano.jpg

HIJMS Shinano on trials, 1944. By Marine engineer Hiroshi Arakawa, Ishikawajima Shipyard.


I have a short piece on how to sink aircraft carriers up at the National Interest. Preview of a longer article by the end of the week…

Maybe China and Russia don’t need to kill a carrier to drive the species to extinction. All of the factors above—the weapon systems that can kill carriers, and the costs associated with the ships themselves—come together to create caution about how to use the ships. In the event of a conflict, U.S. Navy admirals and the U.S. president may grow so concerned about the vulnerability of carriers that they don’t use them assertively and effectively. The extraordinary value of the carriers may become their greatest weakness; too valuable to lose, the carriers could remain effectively on the sidelines in case of high-intensity, peer-competitor conflict.

And if aircraft carriers can’t contribute in the most critical conflicts that face the United States, it will become impossible to justify to the resources necessary to their construction and protection. That, more than anything else, will lead to obsolescence, and the end of the aircraft carrier as the currency of national power.

Trump Apology Tour

[ 67 ] March 17, 2017 |
Does the Churchill Bust Weep?

Does the Churchill Bust Weep?

I’m old enough to remember when a Kenyan anti-colonialist temporarily moved a statue of a head, thus ruining the Anglo-American relationship forever.

The US has made a formal apology to Britain after the White House accused GCHQ of helping Barack Obama spy on Donald Trump in the White House.

Sean Spicer, Mr Trump’s press secretary, repeated a claim on Thursday evening – initially made by an analyst on Fox News – that GCHQ was used by Mr Obama to spy on Trump Tower in the lead-up to last November’s election.

The comments prompted a furious response from GCHQ, which in a break from normal practice issued a public statement: “Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president-elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”

Intelligence sources told The Telegraph that both Mr Spicer and General McMaster, the US National Security Adviser, have apologised over the claims. “The apology came direct from them,” a source said.

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