This may come across as a somewhat strange post but bear with me.
Benghazi was a terrible tragedy which, though small in scope, has nonetheless become a significant event. Our Libyan involvement was the result of a direct decision by the Obama administration to allow military intervention in an internal conflict in order to protect civilian lives; a noble decision and one which I understand, even if I perhaps didn’t completely support it. However, the State Department’s decision to put a poorly defended and poorly supported temporary mission there as a step toward establishing a more permanent presence was poorly thought out and politically motivated. The result was the deaths of several Americans (including a high profile EVE Online player) to a brutal terrorist attack. In retrospect it’s hard to blame the terrorists for picking off such an incredibly easy target. Though unlikely that rapid military assistance could have saved all the lives, certainly a quick response could have possibly saved some and would have at least sent a strong message. Instead the poorly positioned forces standing by to launch a rescue were told to stand down.
Once the dust settled, the State Department could have come clean, owned their mistake, fired a few folks, and put a lid on the whole thing. However, it was election season and at the time Obama’s re-election was not entirely a sure thing, not to mention the possible future impact on a 2016 Hilary Clinton campaign. So instead the State Department, with apparently the complete collusion of the Obama administration, launched a nasty cover-up. Folks asking questions were quietly re-assigned, an internal and carefully controlled investigation was carried out with the results never seeing daylight, and the State Department went out of its way to declare on national television multiple times that the attack was part of a spontaneous, overwhelming protest rather than a true terrorist attack, even though this was already known to be patently false.
But what has been truly incredibly to watch has been (more…)
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There is some chance that the next big global event will be an Israeli air attack against Iranian nuclear (and possibly oil) targets. Apparently there have even been reports that Israel has already decided to launch such a strike and is only waiting for correct timing. The New York Times recently published an article which tries to explain some of the difficulties involved for Israel. It’s a good article but it probably overstates the military difficulties facing Israel. Seth Owen at Pawnderings has posted his opinions which are educated by studying and playing the excellent and highly detailed wargame Persian Incursion, a highly researched pseudo-simulation covering both the Israeli airstrikes themselves as well as some of the larger diplomatic and political events that might preclude or follow them. Seth’s thoughts after playing the game are pretty clear:
the Iranians, plainly have absolutely no chance militarily. Oh, sure, a lucky shot here or there may shoot down an Israeli jet or two or land an occasional missile in a Tel Aviv city block, with the consequent propaganda ‘victory’ for Iran, but the Iranians have no ability to impede the Israeli raiders in any significant military sense. Whatever the Israelis decide to destroy will be destroyed. The Israeli challenge is almost purely a technical and logistic one caused by the extreme distance and some limited resources. As such, however, it’s also one that thorough planning by a highly professional military such as Israel’s can be expected to overcome.
What the Israelis won’t have to deal with is much of the way of unpredictably effective defensive action by the Iranian military. Their available aircraft and anti-aircraft missiles are several generations behind the Israeli attackers and, for the most part, will likely be completely neutralized. As I said, one can’t completely discount a lucky shot, so there’s some small risk for an unpleasant (for the Israeli side) incident or two, but losses will be minimal and damage extensive.
It’s interesting to hear how strong his opinion is on this and I frankly have more faith in the people who developed Persian Incursion than I do in a New York Times reporter. While it’s frightening to think about the possible consequences of such an airstrike, it’s likely also frightening for Israel to consider its future with an extremely hostile and nuclear armed Iran. This is something to watch very, very closely.
For a great non-boardgamer review of the wargame see this review on Foreign Policy magazine.
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Posted in Politics on November 10, 2010|
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One important result of the recent election has been the huge changes in the party make-up of various state legislatures, as detailed here and here. This will have a pretty big impact on the re-districting which will result from the 2010 census results, allowing Republicans to set up districts that favor them in many states. This, combined with the fact that several traditionally Republican states are gaining representatives, gives the Republicans some localized advantages to look forward to in the 2012 election.
While researching this I came across a funny fact; did you know that tiny New Hampshire has the largest state legislature out of all 50 states? In fact, the New Hampshire House of Representatives has 400 members, making it the fourth largest parliamentary body in the WORLD! (The only larger ones are the UK, the USA, and India) According to the 2010 Census numbers, there is a representative for every 3,089 residents.
At first I was shocked at what must be the huge expense associated with paying all these politicians but it turns out that per the New Hampshire constitution they only are only paid $250 a year plus some compensation for official travel. So, better keep your day job.
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