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Denial of Service

[ 0 ] May 29, 2007 |

Estonia has been under assault:

When Estonian authorities began removing a bronze statue of a World War II-era Soviet soldier from a park in this bustling Baltic seaport last month, they expected violent street protests by Estonians of Russian descent.

What followed was what some here describe as the first war in cyberspace, a monthlong campaign that has forced Estonian authorities to defend their pint-size Baltic nation from a data flood that they say was set off by orders from Russia or ethnic Russian sources in retaliation for the removal of the statue.

This has been interesting for a few reasons. On the geopolitical stage this seems to be yet another demonstration by Russia that it is still willing and capable to throw its weight around in the near abroad, without much apparent concern for international opinion. The Estonians and some neutral observers are convinced that the attacks are state orchestrated, although it should be noted that especially in a situation as emotionally packed as this (the intial dispute regarded Russia and Estonia’s roles in World War II), such orchestration might not be necessary.

Probably more important is the Russian method, which is opening up new avenues for inter-state bullying. The attacks by Russia have caused genuine property damage and economic loss in Estonia. Facing a denial of service attack is obviously preferable to fending off cruise missiles, but the disruptive effect can be quite similar. To the extent that economic activity becomes more and more embedded in electronic networks, the ability of attacks to disrupt or destroy these networks will become increasingly problematic, and politically relevant. NATO is already thinking along these lines:

For NATO, the attack may lead to a discussion of whether it needs to modify its commitment to collective defense, enshrined in Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty. Mr. [Hillar] Aarelaid said NATO’s Internet security experts said little but took copious notes during their visit.

Lots of work has been done on “cyber war”, the promise and vulnerability of networked military organizations. Less attention has been paid to the economic prospects of cyber warfare, and to the ability of states to exert power and coercion through a new set of tools. When Russia tries to coerce its neigbors through threatening to destroy their economic and governmental activity, it becomes a problem for NATO and consequently the United States.

Cross-posted to TAPPED.

Falklands Blogging Roundup

[ 0 ] May 29, 2007 |

There’s been some good Falklands blogging around the interweb-tubes of late.

Alex at Yorkshire Ranter has been doing some bang-up work:
Myth 1: Command?
Myth 2: Maggie?
Myth 3: Imperialism?
Myth 4: Friends in High Places?

Dan Hardie has a piece on the “Unlearned Lessons” of the Falklands War

Warship: International Fleet Review has links up to a couple of older pieces about the war, although you have to buy the magazine to read the whole thing.

While not directly connected to an analysis of the Falklands conflict, Mr. Trend has a fine series on the current political climate in Argentina:
Notes 1
Notes 2

McClatchy has a bit more on the perception of the war in Argentina.

On the enduring impact, apparently nearly 300 veterans of the war have committed suicide since 1982. Mark Knopfler is on the case.

Rogue Gunner, a veteran of the war, has plenty of nifty

I’m sure that there’s more; if anyone has a good link, e-mail or leave it in comments.

Paying For Toxic Global Warming

[ 0 ] May 29, 2007 |

I understand that it’s politically difficult to institute the kinds of policies–most importantly energy taxes–that would be necessary to substantially reduce carbon emissions. But one good first step would be to stop directly subsidizing dirty energy.

There, There

[ 0 ] May 29, 2007 |

General J.C. Christian kindly consoles Ace O. Spades, heterosexual, over the latest humiliation of the wingnutosphere’s Junior Detective division:

I see Greenwald is doing it to you again, and frankly, I’m disgusted by it. I mean, here we have a guy who refuses to answer his nations call to take up his keyboard and go to war against the Worldwide Islamunistofascist Conspiracy and its servants in the media and the Demislamunistofascistsatanic Party, and chooses, instead, to fact check you and Chuck Johnson, two of America’s greatest keyboard heroes.

I know he thinks he’s exposed you as some frightened, hate-crazed supremacist with delusions of martial grandeur, and maybe you are, but who’s to say that isn’t a good thing. It certainly works for Dick Cheney.

Yes, things look bleak right now. Certainly, to most observers, the fact that the State Department authenticated a document you claimed was forged does tend to make you look like an idiot.

Fortunately we know better. Fuck Greenwald and those of his ilk who are stabbing America in the back with cold hard facts. We have a war to win. We don’t have time for facts or reality. They are merely crutches for the weak. We will build our own reality; a reality where going to war with Iraq was a smart move; a reality where all men are strong and ruggedly handsome and, by God, a reality in which all women are eager to sleep with us even if we live in our mother’s basement eating Cheetos and compulsively masturbating to reruns of 24.

I must echo these sentiments, in the interests of civility.

…Speaking of the Schiavo memo, a compendium of Powerline’s greatest hits.

Worst American Birthdays, vol. XVI

[ 0 ] May 28, 2007 |

Rudy Giuliani, the twice-divorced ex-mayor and erstwhile drag queen of New York City, celebrates his 63rd birthday today as he marches onward in his quest to become the nation’s chief authoritarian. As President of the United States, Giuliani would likely go farther than any of his predecessors in banishing squeegee operators, panhandlers, porn merchants and ferrets from the surface of the earth; he would then offer persuasive (if statistically spurious) claims to the effect that his policies had reduced terrorism while raising property values and stimulating tourism.

Although “America’s Mayor” has not followed some of his rivals in promising to “double Gitmo” should he ascend to higher office in 2008, Giuliani would likely be more inclined than other candidates to sufficiently equip Camp Delta with the toilet plungers our interrogators so desperately need to protect America from further attack. As well, white Americans could sleep peacefully each night, secure in their knowledge that dangerous, wallet-wielding Guineans (like Amadou Diallo) and drug-deal-refusing off-duty Haitian security guards (like Patrick Dorismond) will not live to see the next sunrise. If nothing else, President Giuliani could rally the nation’s morale by converting his old Street Crimes Unit into a global special ops force, complete with t-shirts — just as in the good old days — announcing that the U.S. “owns the night” and that “there is no hunting like the hunting of man.” Perhaps Giuliani’s former business partner, police commissioner and dear friend Bernard Kerik — should he avoid prosecution and imprisonment for an arc of felonies reaching years into the past — could renew his bid to preside over the Department of Homeland Security.

Whatever the future holds for Rudy, however, one thing is clear. If this nation is to persevere in the Global War Against People Who Resemble in Some Vague Way the People Who Carried Out the 9-11 Attacks, we need to be as well-prepared and coordinated as the city of New York was on that fateful morning in 2001.

Lend A Hand

[ 0 ] May 28, 2007 |

Christy on Memorial Day, with many suggestions of what you can do to help.

Today In Aesthetic Stalinism

[ 1 ] May 28, 2007 |

Reihan Salam explains the wrongthink of…Fletch. Disappointingly, he doesn’t also discuss how Spies Like Us failed because of its traitorous attacks on American military values, and how Cops and Robbersons wasn’t funny because it was a subtle pre-preemption of Rudy Guliani’s candidacy, but hopefully that will be in the next column.

"I Lost My Son . . ."

[ 0 ] May 28, 2007 |

The death of Andrew Bacevich’s son on May 13 in Iraq was heartbreaking news for anyone who’s read his work, heard him speak, or (I’m sure) known him. That he would be capable of writing a check for a phone bill two weeks later, much less an essay for the Post, is remarkable. The piece is an elegy for his kid, but it also reiterates important arguments he’s raised in less difficult moments.

Bacevich’s two major works, American Empire and The New American Militarism are provocative and compelling; among other things, he draws on earlier generations of diplomatic and political historians — particularly Charles Beard and William Appleman Williams — to argue that “open door” imperialism has guided US foreign policy since the start of the 20th century. For those who haven’t encountered the term before, the “open door” refers to the traditional ideological consensus among diplomats and policymakers who view free markets as central to US national interests and, moreover, as the ideal venues for the expansion of democratic forms of sovereignty. The widening of the “open door,” as Bacevich sees it, takes place concurrently with the extension of US military and political power. This is a critical argument, because it flies in the face of the Bush administration’s nonsensical claim that “everything changed” on September 11. As Bacevich sees it, the Bush administration has been giving its own perverse stamp to various tendencies in US foreign policy that are at least a century old. (His argument, for what it’s worth, isn’t nearly as reductive as my description suggests.)

In any case, this aspect of Bacevich’s work is relevant because it feeds today’s editorial. In his scholarship, he contends that the open door consensus provides a messianic vision of US history that enables one disaster after another. Today, he argues, it

confines the debate over U.S. policy to well-hewn channels. It preserves intact the cliches of 1933-45 about isolationism, appeasement and the nation’s call to “global leadership.” It inhibits any serious accounting of exactly how much our misadventure in Iraq is costing. It ignores completely the question of who actually pays. It negates democracy, rendering free speech little more than a means of recording dissent.

This is not some great conspiracy. It’s the way our system works.


[ 0 ] May 27, 2007 |

Huh. I never had this problem:

When I was a younger lad man, there was no one around to tell me that Tom Friedman was an utter buffoon.

I was in Seattle in 1999, and I remember reading Friedman on the demonstrations. He was careful to interpret every event in a manner most sympathetic to conservatives and least sympathetic to demostrators. Every critic, he suggested, was either stupid and misguided or beholden to parochial interest; no pragmatic or principled objection was entertained.

Strangely enough, America’s Stupidest Pundit repeated this performance in the run-up to the Iraq War. Unfortunately, common wisdom was somewhat divided, so Tommy had to play both sides. A week before the attack he was for; then he was against. In the illusory aftermath of victory he was for, again. Then, he started spouting Friedman units.

If I could have identified a “least useful” pundit in the run-up to the Iraq War, I would have said Tom Friedman. Those expectations have not been disappointed,, except in the definition of the Friedman Unit, which I suppose he should receieve some extraordinarily mild credit for. Nevertheless, to the extent that one is to be guided bu the foreign policy punditry of Tom Friedman, one is best instructed by the following three axioms;

1. Don’t read Tom Friedman.

2. If you accidentally read Tom Friedman, the opposite of what he suggests is, most likely, the clearest road to success.

3. That is all

Sunday Destroyer Blogging: HMS Sheffield

[ 0 ] May 27, 2007 |

HMS Sheffield was the first of the Royal Navy’s Type 42 Destroyer, a class designed to supply fleet air defense. Theoretically, the Type 42 destroyers were supposed to protect a new Royal Navy aircraft carrier, but the cancellation of this carrier altered the mission. Displacing 4350 tons, HMS Sheffield could make 30 knots and carried a twin Sea Dart SAM launcher. Like virtually all post-WWII warships, Sheffield was almost completely unarmored. Two Type 42 destroyers, Hercules and Santisima Trinidad, had been sold to Argentina during the 1970s and served opposite Sheffield in the Argentine Navy during the war.

Sheffield was part of Task Force 317, the fleet assigned to retake the Falklands. On May 4, 1982 HMS Sheffield was performing an air defence patrol when two Argentine Super Entendards, flying at low altitude, managed to approach within 6 miles before releasing an Exocet missile. Both the Super Entendards and the Exocet missiles had been sold to Argentina by France. Although the French refrained from directly intervening in the war, they did allow the Royal Navy to study and operate Super Entendards in anticipation of air/naval combat. The missile was not detected by radar, and visual identification gave Sheffield very short warning. Sheffield was not the first warship struck by a guided missile. The Germans first deployed guided anti-ship munitions in 1943, successfully sinking the Italian battleship Roma with a Fritz X glider bomb. Roma, en route to surrender at Malta, took two hits, exploded and sank. HMS Warspite took hits from three Fritz X missiles a few weeks later and barely survived. Those weapons weighed about 1400 kg and carried a 320 kg warhead. In 1967, two Egyptian missile boats hit the Israeli destroyer Eilat with Soviet supplied Styx anti-ship missiles, which weighed 2300kg and carried a 450kg warhead. The Eilat is thought to have been destroyed simply by the kinetic energy of the strikes, rather than through the detonation of the warheads. An Exocet weighs about 600kg and carries a 160kg warhead, but is slightly faster than a Styx and much faster than a Fritz X. For a last bit of comparison, an 18″ shell from HIJMS Yamato weighed about 1450kg, although the shell would fly much faster than the missiles and would not lose weight from fuel consumption along the way.

The missile that hit Sheffield struck amidships and tore a large hole in the hull, but probably didn’t explode. Nevertheless, the kinetic force of the impact, combined with the dispersion of rocket fuel, severely damaged the destroyer and started a serious fire. Electrical and water systems were disrupted, hampering damage control efforts. With fires raging out of control, the ship was abandoned. While awaiting rescue, the crew sang Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”. In spite of the severe damage, Sheffield did not immediately sink. An early effort was made to salvage the ship, and she was taken under tow. However, it was determined that repairing the ship would be prohibitively expensive, and Sheffield was scuttled six days after the initial attack.
The destruction of HMS Sheffield cost 20 British lives, but neither deterred the British war effort nor significantly decreased Royal Navy capabilities. One other Type 42 destroyer, HMS Coventry, was sunk during the war, although by free fall bombs rather than with an Exocet missile. The Argentine Air Force would also successfully destroy the frigates Antelope and Ardent, both with free fall bombs. Five years later two Exocet missiles launched by an Iraqi Mirage fighter struck the frigate USS Stark, killing 37 but failing to sink the ship. Eight Type 42 destroyers remain in service with the Royal Navy, and one with the Argentine Navy.

Chronicles of Onania

[ 0 ] May 27, 2007 |

Shorter Brother-of-Treason-in-Defense-of-Slavery Yankee:

“Though not quite as heterosexual as Ace O. Spades, I’m also heterosexual. To prove it, I will now make several jokes about pork.”

I hate to concede this, but it’s entirely possible that Bob is the smart one in the family.

Back From Santa Fe

[ 0 ] May 27, 2007 |

New Mexico sure looks different than Kentucky:

It rained or threatened to rain for ten consecutive days, which I’m told is unusual. In any case, I’m happy to be back, although the traffic bump that accompanied my vacation has enhanced my sense of personal irrelevance. Thanks to Rodger for his fine, well-thought out posts, and thanks to Media Czech for demonstrating a capacity for uniting Left Blogistan that I had thought only George W. Bush possessed. Rodger can be found at both Duck of Minerva and Rodger Payne, and Media Czech can be found at Bluegrass Roots.

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