About That Intel Issue

That is so serious it is requiring multiple meetings, lots of SCIF briefings, and is apparently being leaked madly in the name of saving the Republic (cough, choke, wheeze). Oh, and is also being linked to crucial, crucial I say funding for Ukraine and is so important no money can be wasted on our borders… Sigh.

For now, color me skeptical, unimpressed, and needing jusssssst a touch more info (/end Harry Doyle/Bob Uecker voice) to be convinced. Right now, the bookmakers are putting good odds on it being the Russians, in the library with a candlestick, er, in space with nukes.

Okay, I’ll bite. One, nukes are about the only credible threat Russia has right now, and even it is a bit wobbly in my opinion. I still subscribe to my ‘tyranny of the 20 percent’ concept in which I think they (or us) will be lucky to get 20 percent of the weapons and/or weapons systems to work. Just look at how well Nikita’s, er, Vladimir’s demo launch worked during Biden’s visit to Ukraine.

For as much as I am NOT a fan of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, and would like to see us either re-negotiate the majority in light of commercial operations or withdraw from them, there are some interesting and needed weapons provisions that I think are good things even though I’m also more than a little suspicious that China (1983 signatory I think) is well on its way to scrapping some key lunar and orbital points. For that matter, I’m pretty sure Russia has already violated it a time or two (but that’s true for pretty much every treaty they have signed).

Until there is more information, there’s not a lot that can be said — which is not going to stop the grifters and pundits from putting forth thousands of empty words. I’m going to wait and see what comes out other than leaks, then offer some analysis and thoughts. Until then, just consider my cynicism as a given.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Week Wrap Up

There is a lot happening on and in the world. I’ve not been saying a lot because in both cases it’s hard to know what is really happening.

First up, in tales of the improbable, I’m starting to like John Fetterman. He has been a staunch supporter of Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself. To the point of mocking protestors (even making fun/use of his own brain damage) and hanging the posters of the hostages at his office. He has also been mercilessly trolling Bob Menendez and pushing to have him expelled from Congress a la Santos. His hiring Santos to make a video on Cameo to use in said trolling was a master-level move. Whatever else may come, I can respect and even admire these actions.

Next up, the situation in Yemen and the incompetent response to same. In this case, it’s not just the Biden Regency, but the senior leadership of our military which has reportedly not even briefed Biden and others on options for dealing with the situation. That is coming from multiple sources, and for some reason said leadership seems to know nothing about the history of such attacks or other pertinent information long in the public domain. It is to the point that I wonder about both Intelligence failures and the failure of basic intelligence in senior military (and political) leadership. At least someone seems to be paying attention and taking proactive steps, though everyone is keeping quiet about it. Pretty much rules out DC as that feckless bunch would have been leaking the news and taking credit before the strike ever hit. Wish I could find the video I saw the other day, as the secondary explosions are spectacular.

There are rumbles that part of the reason senior leadership hasn’t briefed Biden or others is because of the Biden Regency’s unwavering support of Iran. The Houthi are Iranian-backed and full proxies for the Mad Mullahs. Again, multiple sources are discussing that behind the scenes the Biden Regency has been pushing Israel hard to not destroy Hamass. To the point an open rift between Israel and the U.S., or at least the Biden Regency, is a growing possibility. The dance has been diplomatic so far, but it appears Israeli leadership is increasingly fed up with the pressure and interference. So much so, there is no guarantee the dance will stay diplomatic and papered over. Israel is in a fight for survival, and I don’t care who is getting ten percent, the Biden Regency needs to pull its sense organ cluster out of its ventral orifice and back off.

They need to be looking a bit closer to home at a potential Monroe Doctrine violation. Iran’s good friend Maduro in Venezuela is making a move to “annex” a portion of neighboring Guyana. A portion that just happens to be a good chunk of Guyana, and that has recently discovered rich oil deposits. Right now, I’m skeptical that this is all part of some overarching plan by Iran against the U.S., but I also have no doubt they are encouraging this. I’ve read some who say that if we had only done more to help Ukraine Maduro would not be doing this. I don’t agreee: Maduro is stupid, venal, and desperate enough to do this even without any encouragement. His recent vote on doing this has blown up in his face not just internationally, but apparently internally as well. The U.S. has been making deals with him recently (once bought, they do tend to stay bought), so I don’t see the Biden Regency as being all that eager to stop him. I think Brazil may be the major player in such, at least for now. Hoping this may stay below a boil, but…

Also, keep an eye on Chad. Something’s going on there, possibly more than just the upcoming election. Odd data patterns.

Going back to Iran and our incompetent leadership, rocket and other attacks against U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq continue. No effective response has been made yet to those attacks, which just encourages more. The lack of concern for our troops (and national interest) is beyond appalling.

Now to Iran’s fastest growing client, Russia. Lots going on beneath the surface. In fact, it sort of reminds me of one of those huge family get togethers where everyone is being super polite to each other openly because if not it will result in a fight where police from multiple jurisdictions have to be called in and the family gets invitations to be on whatever replaced the Maury Povich show.

Somebody on X joked that the sanctions were supposed to put pressure on Vladimir via his fellow oligarchs. The problem is, the oligarchs decided they preferred to be alive, if poorer and grouchy, than to experience defenestration. There’s a lot of truth to that. There is a lot going on beneath the quiet facade however.

Vladimir is having to allow (or create) at least some dissent on the war in order to legitimize upcoming elections. There are those who are pushing for a cease-fire (or more) in regards Ukraine. Just as his own re-election is a given, the results are going to show Russia wanting the war to continue. Allowing some token of opposition, despite the brutal and expanding crackdown on speech and more, can be used to put a flimsy veneer of legitimacy on the election. Russia now is not the Russia I visited or of 20 years ago. There is no free speech, no basic freedoms of any type left. It is toe the line or else.

Which apparently is a memo Kiva did not get. It’s easy to get on Vladimir’s bad side these days, as several of the turncoats are finding out. Yes, I do think it was Vladimir and not Ukraine.

This is something to keep an eye on as well. There continues to be a lot of shakeup/shakedown in regards Wagner and Africa in the wake of the death of Pringles. Interesting how some of the power and perks are shaking out.

Despite the repression and brutality, two things seem to be getting clearer. There are some who oppose the war with Ukraine and their numbers are growing. There also appears to be something of a resistance forming as well, as I’ve noted before. It seems to be mostly local and not some grand organized conspiracy, and is clearly separate from sabotage efforts by Ukraine. As to who is behind this I can’t say; but, there are a number of such incidents happening across Russia, far more than I think Ukraine is capable of doing on its own. Rail accidents, fires, and more that keep popping up. Given the restive nature of many of the non-Rus ethnic populations, as well as ongoing political conflicts, things could get really interesting.

Do I see this flaring up to severely damage or take down the Russian Federation? No. Not yet, and possibly never as it would take a fairly large event to rip the lid off. Could such happen? Yes. I can think of two or three scenarios right off the bat that would do it, but don’t see them likely at this time. For all that I think Vladimir’s control is slipping a bit, I don’t think – barring something off the wall – that he is in imminent danger of being deposed. Kadyrov still has his back for one thing, and he still controls a lot of power. Springtime? That may be different.

Now, if his health suddenly deteriorates much faster or more noticeably than it is now; or, if there is a major defeat (political or military), then we probably will see moves against him. If he makes a major political blunder (in Russian political terms), there are those who would move to take him out in a heartbeat (pun intended).

I will note that while I am sure Vladimir sees Russia as the senior partner in the Russia-Iran activities, I am not sure Iran sees it that way. In fact, I’m pretty sure they don’t which raises interesting possibilities.

Russia and Vladimir are presenting an image (illusion) of calm and unity to the world. It reminds me a lot of the USSR which did so even when literally bloody infighting was ongoing. Much was kept out of the public eye, at least until a new group stood in review along the Kremlin walls. That is happening right now I think, and while we could end up with a public meltdown I get the feeling a number of people/groups are trying to keep things out of the public eye.

Which is what makes Russia/Soviet watching so interesting. It’s trying to see past the illusions and find out what is going on beneath the surface. That there is a lot of movement underway right now is a given; but, the hard part is trying to see where the movements and currents from the movement lead. The big fish/strong man may not be what they seem, for the solid position they hold may be in whole or in part a Potemkin village. The person or persons who move against them often don’t seem to last long, as the next big fish/strong man was simply using them. Stalin and Khrushchev come to mind in that case.

Right now, Vladimir is standing tall and showcasing a mighty position of strength. How much of that position is real, and how much is illusion, is the key. There are people lined up and ready to take his place however they have to. Which, if any, of them survive to do it is the question. The ones to watch are those who profess loyalty and actively support Vladimir, and have privately and quietly indicated they would only consider stepping up at great need (and in the absence of Vladimir) for the good of Russia.

Sometime soon I need to do a post on the real lessons from Ukraine, focusing on data and flexibility. Quite a few are fixated on drones, and missing a key point.

That’s a run down of some of what is happening on the world. For more on what is going on inside the world, check out Volcaholic on X. There is a lot of volcanic activity underway beneath our feet, and his posts on strange and interesting weather and other phenomena are fun and interesting. Check it out.

More soon.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Interesting Indeed

For all I am a bit pre-occupied by the upcoming surgery, I am trying to keep up with things. I am watching Nigeria as the attack on our diplomatic convoy says interesting things.

I’m also trying to keep up with the happenings in Russia. There is a good bit going on, from smoke (the alleged upgrades to mobile missiles) to something that may be a bit more solid. I think we could see a major upheaval within the higher levels of the Kremlin in the next few months.

The source of that is, of course, Prigozhin. His feud with the MoD is in many respects as much political as operational. So much so he ended up on the outs with Vladimir and while there are some reports that there was some level of reconciliation, the response to Prigozhin’s threat to withdraw his troops from Bakhmut rather clearly indicated not so much. Nevermind that directly or by proxy he seems to be taking steps to possibly make a run at the top spot.

He very much continues to push the limits of what criticism can be made against Vladimir, and seems determined to not just push that line but eradicate it. His comments and rants are beyond current cultural norms for such, and he seems to want to go even further. That is a rather risky thing to do in Russia, particularly right now, unless he is willing to make a true play for the top.

The Washington Post “expose” of his alleged dealings with Ukrainian intelligence is not helping his position in Russia. For all the pro-forma being said by the government in public, in private far more interesting conversations seem to be happening. I do have questions about the leak, as I don’t trust anything from the Post, especially something like this.

Do I expect anything to happen in the next couple of weeks? No. Not unless someone gets a major case of the stupids. Do I think things could come to a head in regards Prigozhin in the next three months? Oh, yes. Particularly if he continues his efforts to criticize Vladimir while continuing to make behind-the-scenes preparations. I’ve talked before about the cultural norms, and by moving beyond them Prigozhin is not just alienating a lot of potential support, but ensuring opposition to any political moves in a number of quarters.

For those interested in the WP “leak” and a different (but similar) take on things, check out this from the ISW.

Ship Killers

Elon Musk made a post that proved to be part of an interesting thread. The current intelligence disaster has revealed concerns about Chinese hypervelocity vehicles and that they are preparing to go all out against the U.S. Navy. No shit.

This is a party that’s been going on a while, and yes the Chinese are very serious about this. Far more so than our Navy appears to be at this time. Before the Chinese were the Soviets, and the object that was labeled a “mini-Shuttle” and often presented as a scale model test.

Just one problem with that: it really didn’t scale up/could not be scaled up according to a number of analysts. Then, when you looked at the tests of the vehicle, well, they had a naval component and didn’t seem to fit a “space” profile per se. To a number of people, including me, it really seemed to fit the profile of a Hypervelocity Kill Vehicle (HKV)/Hypervelocity Ship Killer (HSK).

Add in the fact that defending against objects moving at those speeds can be a bit of a challenge, and that if something that size hit a carrier at speed it could go through it long-ways. Except that it and the carrier would probably be a rapidly expanding fireball by that point. Even a near-miss could have potentially catastrophic results for both the carrier and any ships nearby.

There was a lot of “never happen” and the concerns were poo-pooed in the usual quarters, but at least a few people paid attention. Would that I thought any current GOFO or civilian military leadership was doing so today. For all that some are claiming hypervelocity delivery vehicles and such are over-hyped, they truly are a game changer, even when they don’t carry explosives.

Just a thought to brighten your day.

Yet Another Intelligence Disaster

UPDATES BELOW

Asking for a friend: Is it too early to start drinking heavily? No, not taking up the VodkaPundit school of journalism (which is far superior to corporate journalism). Instead, I’m looking at the Biden Regency and the unmitigated disaster that is U.S. Intelligence Operations. Before I get fully into rant mode, allow me to recommend this post from Nina Bookout at Victory Girls and this post from David Strom at HotAir. Also, Nina has some good words about the Pentagon’s Baghdad Bob who seems a better fit for Russia or China than in a Republic.

Okay, to be fair, U.S. intelligence operations have been a disaster for a while now. Frankly, we never have been that good at it. Yes, we’ve had a few individuals over the years who were outstanding at the job, going back to the Civil War. Organized and large scale intelligence operations not so much. I don’t know if it’s the ghost of Stimson and the curse of the Black Chamber or something else. The OSS was a good wartime operation, but when it came time to start the metamorphasis to what eventually became the CIA, well, let’s say there have been ups and downs.

Personally, I view the current FUBAR as starting under Carter, who should have been awarded the Order of Stimson for his incompetence with intelligence, intelligence operations, and (much needed) intelligence reforms. His cavalier revelation of our ability to monitor car phones in Moscow blew that source and the much needed intelligence it provided right out the airlock.

Which brings us to the current fuckup. While I wonder if it was more than one person, someone rather clearly went shopping in a SCIF and despite all preventative measures walked out with documents that were never intended to leave the SCIF. Unlike television, getting into and out of a SCIF can be and should be a major PITA. Because if not you get the current situation. Like David, I suspect they know or have a good idea of the person or persons involved as the access list for documents like this is rather small.

Okay, bad enough that information has gotten out. That information is not going to make things easy for us or our allies, and is a boon to our enemies. It’s an even bigger boon as the information reveals sources and methods. The documents don’t have to say ‘Joe Blow in Department X says’ to reveal sources and methods. In some cases, again, the information being discussed has a limited pool of people with access. In others, it may be a dawning realization that the CIA and the Peanut are listening to more than your glowing description of Olga the masseuse.

Frankly, if I were a confidential source within either allied or enemy camps, I would see this as a lodestone moment, grab my spooker, and take a long unplanned vacation under another identity. As for the methods compromised, sigh, not much can be done and that is an area of constant cat and mouse. Short- to mid-term it is devastating, but new methods will eventually be found.

However, the release of this information is earth shaking. Catastrophic even. Coming on top of such things as the Chinese balloons, the loss of most HUMINT from China, and other delights, the damage to our ability to gather intel can’t be overstated. We already weren’t doing a good job of gathering and analyzing (see Afghanistan for many examples of same).

This puts our intelligence assets, military, and more in danger. It is going to strain and possibly rupture relationships, organizational and governmental. Intelligence sharing? Who’s going to risk anything truly sensitive now? Catastrophic is a mild term for the damage done, and if it was done to win a geek argument among gamers, the death penalty should be on the table. No, not joking. If I had handled classified information as far too many in the Regency appear to be doing, I would be under Leavenworth until my demise.

No, it’s not too early to start drinking. I just suspect there is not enough bourbon and rye in Kentucky to take the edge off dealing with the blazing floating dumpster fire that is the Biden Regency and American intelligence.

Sorry Nichevo, will try to get to your second question tomorrow.

UPDATE: Probably not ours, but headdesk headdesk headdesk

UPDATE II: An excellent read that asks some very good questions is found here. Very much agree with the conclusion. The arrest and details don’t add up, and frankly there’s a stench wafting from this.

UPDATE III: The situation with the leaker stinks to high heaven. The story and data as presented do NOT add up. This story expands on that, and the points are worth considering. Glenn Greenwald also makes some good points here. BTW, am I the only person having some cognitive dissonance with GG becoming a voice of reason? Lots of question, and I doubt we are going to get the answers. The rot runs deep.

UPDATE IV: A different take from a former member of the intelligence community. For me, still not adding up and the smell continues to grow.

UPDATE V: Let me be clear: Even if we do find out for sure later that this guy’s code name was “Patsy,” he deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. He SHOULD be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law because of the damage done to sources and methods alone. Should Vindman have been prosecuted as well? IMO, YES. In this two-tier system, the latter is not going to happen. Would that it could as both have done tremendous damage to the Republic IMO.

Complex Reality II

My post last week on Complex Reality did not go over well in some quarters. In fact, only David Strom at Hot Air got it at all, and his twitter thread was a good take. Much appreciated too. Several took me to task for failing to provide good counter-options to the Chamberlin Brigade and the War Brigade.

There are no good options to suggest.

Give me a moment here and let’s review a few things. There are indeed options, but none of them are what I would call good options.

First up, we would not be in the mess except for the fact that we have incompetent leadership. The Biden Regency is corrupt, incompetent, and unswervingly bent on ideological matters (fundamentally transforming America). Our military leadership is equally incompetent and all in on the religious conversion (on the religious aspect, see Glenn’s take here). We are well past the point any remaining competent GOFOs should have been putting stars on the table (and, honestly, even birds and bars). If any have, it’s not made the general run of RUMINT yet. The current lot of GOFOs couldn’t organize a drinking party in a distillery (yes, tempted to use a different analogy but the Pentagon is already one of the largest whorehouses in DC), and actually winning a war is not even on the table. Proper party indoctrination takes time and money, and, who needs a training budget anyway given they see time spent on struggle sessions as being far more important than actual combat training. Before I go on a rant about this and other things, here’s a point to consider: name me one thing of importance our so-called elites have been right about in the past year; the past three years; the past five years; or, the last ten years.

Then again, Russia has its problems too. Oligarchy and a system that puts a very different take on doing in the competition (and extends it to all walks and levels of life) tends to stifle innovation and competition. Corruption at all levels, and in all branches of service, tends to give you a military that can’t live up to the hype.

Add to it a leadership and population who absolutely believe that the West invaded them after the fall of communism and that they are literally at war with the West, and it makes the situation even touchier. This, and other memes, are often dismissed as propaganda by well-educated idiots in said West, but are the real cultural belief of a complex people who are not ‘just like us but speak funny.’ The roots of this really do go back to the Enlightenment, and to the decision to go with the German model rather than the British when the Czars (Czarina) decided to “modernize” Russia a few hundred years back. And, yes, the anti-British/anti-West roots of the modern Slavophile movement do go back that far.

Now, throw in this little ice water douche into the mix. The argument is often made we have no viable reason to support Ukraine as they are not a member of NATO, etc. Back when the Soviet Union fell, Ukraine suddenly found itself the third largest nuclear power in the world. For a number of reasons, pretty much nobody was happy with that, so the United States and other countries and entities stepped up to guarantee Ukraine’s safety if they gave up all those nukes. Now, the fact is we pretty much abrogated our responsibilities under those agreements back in the wake of the first Russian invasion. Yet, they do still bind us as a matter of honor. While honor is in short supply in political and military leadership around the world, it is something a country should be very careful about discarding completely. It takes generations to rebuild the trust that is lost, and as David and I discussed on Twitter, I don’t think we’ve got those generations.

The magic money press the Biden Regency is running flat out is flat out running us into the ground. We literally can’t afford to keep it running as the bills for that magic money are already past due. We also are facing shortages of critical weapons, as I noted last week. Beege Wellborn has been all over this on Twitter, and courtesy of an exchange she had, I suggest you read this and consider the following.

We are talking about years to decades (and if you want to see schedules slip, look at any military procurement schedule) to restock to peacetime levels. Way things are going, we don’t have that much time. We also need to be building up to wartime levels and training/recruiting to fight a two front war, as that is the quickest way to stop any number of aggressions. Right now, the Brits are facing running out of critical supplies in one day (HT Instapundit). I’ve been hearing for a while that we are looking at doing so in three days. I will simply note again (and again and again) that peacetime stocks are a joke, and anyone who tells you they are sufficient is also a joke.

A good solution to the current situation would be to cut spending, use the Defense Production Act for actual military supplies and needs, and supply actual arms to Ukraine with audit and oversight to ensure they don’t end up on the black market. The billions need to stop. At least from us. Oh, and we need to get back to training to win wars, not how to win a drag show.

That radical Jazz Shaw actually proposed something along those lines, with having other NATO members actually step up to their obligations. I think that’s a great idea, and Germany should take the lead. Then again, in some ways I’m a radical too.

Given our leadership, as well as theirs, that’s not going to happen. The Regency is fine with the billions and the money laundering. If you don’t think there is any, you might want to look at Sam the Scam and how many funds went into his crypto operation from Ukraine. Just a hint, but that’s the tip of the iceberg.

Until we can sustain what we are doing, we need to cut back on what is going to Ukraine. We need others to step up and match deeds to words when it comes to supplying arms and funds. Where there are roadblocks to them doing so, we need to remove those roadblocks if we can do so. This is not a good solution, but it is workable — sorta.

The fact is, if Vladimir and Russia are not stopped now, we are going to have a bigger problem later when they go after all the former republics. And, yes, they will do so. And go for even more besides. For all that many here deride Russkiy Mir as a joke, it is not such to the Russians. It is the blueprint for Slavophile redemption, and they will pursue it religiously unless they are unable to do so. I agree with Kamil Galeev that the only way that happens is if the Russian Federation breaks up or is broken up. On the latter, no “safe” way to do that and on the former odds are against it despite certain areas being restive in regards rule by Moscow. For all that China wants certain areas back, and Russia seems to be willing to risk the China trap (and Xi appears to be pulling out the stops to get Ukraine to fall completely into the Chinese Road trap), I wouldn’t count on external factors yet.

Quick aside for Zelensky: be careful, China will offer all sorts of loans and massive rebuilding for a fee. When you can’t pay, they seize and either retain — or sell it to Russian ownership. Just a hint, as even I can see that one coming.

Again, reality is complex and rarely subject to simple or simplistic solutions. There is not a good solution to the problem that is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There are varying degrees of unpalatable solutions, none of which address many of the real if underlying issues at play. Trust me, if I spot what I think might be even a glimmer of a realistic solution to restore peace and prevent the next war, I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops. Until then…

Complex Reality

I’ve been watching both the Chamberlin Brigade and War Brigade go at it for the last few weeks, and shaking my head. We are well past the point where adult discussion is needed, but we also appear in no danger of such taking place anytime soon. Instead, there is a whole bunch of reeeeing within the Beltway involving Presidential politics while the American public outside the Beltway is just looking at those inside the beltway like the purple-clothed guy in the meme.

The Chamberlin Brigade is breathlessly touting peace-at-any-price because oh my stars we might have WWIII and it might go nuclear. No shit! Really? That was a possibility from the start, and Vladimir has played it to the hilt because that threat has worked for him on many levels and with far too many leaders. Let’s just say that when one world leader tells another he’s scared to death of nuclear war and will do anything to avoid it, it gives the other a tremendous amount of leverage. Especially when the one with the leverage knows that the other leader is a demented meat puppet who’s Regency is incompetent and more focused on day-to-day venality.

It also doesn’t help that quite a bit of the world remembers the guarantees made when Ukraine gave up the nuclear weapons on its soil. Those watching now know exactly what those guarantees were worth, and the quicksand on which current promises are made. Especially when one looks at the divisions within NATO. Particularly the division between those newer members who have been serious about their commitments and readiness, and those older states who have chosen to ignore those commitments and count on the United States to fund (directly and indirectly) their social programs and provide true defense for them. Particularly one member who rather cheerfully bet their whole future, energy and otherwise, on partnerships and other agreements with a known unfriendly power — and who’s companies continue to defy sanctions to provide that unfriendly power with tech and more. In regard that member, this is an interesting read. Of course, they are not alone on that and it is amazing the number of companies around the world cheerfully joining in on that short-sighted effort, including (apparently) some in the U.S.

The Chamberlin Brigade lives in the fantasy that since the U.S. is the major provider for the Ukraine, that it can impose an immediate cease-fire and settlement. That they can force Ukraine to cede territory, stop the fighting, and all will be well. Peace, light, joy, all joining together to sing Kumbaya, and cute fuzzy predators and prey frolicking peacefully together in the fields. This, of course, demands ignoring things starting with 2014 and going backwards. It also demands ignoring most world history of the last 300 or so years, especially the politics of the region.

The fact is, that even before Russkiy Mir, the Baltics, Poland, and others were inclined to look at Russian promises askance, if not flat out disbelief. They know very well what Russian promises of peace, of friendship, and other such things are worth. As it is, they have paid far more attention to the efforts to create the new Russian Empire than the over-educated idiots in DC who are far more focused on internal politics and empire building than in external affairs or even rudimentary competence. The memories of what it means to be a neighbor and then vassal of Russia linger, and the centuries do not dim them. Most have experiences far more recent, and if you want but one example ask an Estonian about the Soviet bombing of Tallinnn during WWII, and the interesting targeting of same. These are people who know in the marrow of their bones what any Russian peace or non-aggression pact or promise is worth.

They are also well aware of current Russian efforts to destabilize their countries. If you think Moldova is the only country where such efforts are underway, again I have a bridge for sale cheap. It even extends beyond the former client states, as seen here. All of the former Soviet-occupied countries are aware of such fifth columns, just as they are all aware of Russian intelligence and sabotage efforts, such as what was just broken up in Poland. This is all a rich tradition that goes back decades, and is far more extensive than many realize. Just look at Soviet involvement with the environmental movement, Greens, Green Party, etc. If it would destabilize the West and undermine the concepts of the Enlightenment, they were and are all-in.

The War Brigade is just as willfully short-sighted in their efforts. They see an “easy” proxy war fought under many of the same rules as Vietnam et al, not accepting that the world has changed a bit since then. Heck, or even since the proxy wars in Central and South America, some of which technically are still going. A good proxy war could last a long, long time and offer all sorts of opportunities for graft, money laundering, and other delights. That assumes that everyone is willing to play by the old rules, and Xi and others haven’t shown a particular desire to do so. Yep, bringing up Winnie the Xi as this is NOT just a regional conflict.

It is already WWIII on many levels, as the players extend far beyond just Russia and Ukraine. It extends well beyond the Baltics, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia. It includes North Korea, China, Iran, and even a few others. Both the Chamberlin Brigade and the War Brigade are ignoring that reality for all they are worth. Just as they are humming and drumming their feet over the reality on the ground in the region. They are ignoring the fact that the Ukrainian people, not just their leadership, are pissed off and fighting the invasion. They are ignoring that the Baltics and others would rather slag their own countries than return to being any part of the new greater Russian empire. They are ignoring that the last time this was tried we went from less than a million dead to tens of millions dead in less than a generation. They ignore that peace-at-any-price has never worked at any time in history.

What is the answer? I don’t know. The worst long-term outcome is for the Chamberlin Brigade to win, as it guarantees a much worse bloodbath not too far in the future that is likely to include non-limited use of nuclear or other special weapons. The worst short-term outcome is likely to be if the War Brigade gets its way, as things may escalate in ways not anticipated. My take remains that if Vladimir can’t take Ukraine, he will make sure no one gets it via using the destruction of the nuclear plants to render it, and even parts of the Baltics, a wasteland. That it might do so to parts of Western Russia is just the cost of doing business.

Factor in that the U.S. can’t afford to keep sending billions of dollars and tons of weapons to the conflict. Our economy and banking system are a tottering house of cards. We have already sent critical stocks of multiple weapons/systems that will take us years to replace. If we got into a shooting war with a major power (cough, China, cough), we are like NATO in that we will be doing good to have three days of critical supplies. We are well below critical levels in a number of areas, and that fact has indeed been noted by our enemies. While there are some token efforts to boost production, at current levels it will take not years, but decades, to replenish peace-time stocks. Here’s a clue for free: peacetime levels are always massively below wartime needs. In peace, the beancounters rule and why maintain massive stocks when DIE and other nice-to-dos need funding? War requires massive amounts of stocks, unless you are willing to expend troops in place of munitions. Might want to ask the Russians how that’s working out for them. The War Brigade might also want to look at our falling recruitment and retention numbers, and may also want to look at the percentages of same going back a decade or so that involve actual combat troops and leaders.

My personal take remains that I hope Ukraine kicks Vladimir’s ass and gets back ALL their territory. Russkiy Mir needs to be stopped, not encouraged. I also still feel that this is not a fight that needs even one drop of blood from our troops. Our ability to continue to provide funds and war stocks to the Ukraine is already well beyond unsustainable. We can’t fight a one front war under current circumstances, much less a two-front war as called for. What is done and how do we do it? I don’t have an answer. Of those I’ve seen who say they do, reality doesn’t seem to be a factor in those plans.

There is more I wanted to get into today, such as demographics, the role of prison culture in Russian life and high-level politics, the Enlightenment and why Russia hates the British, and other factors, but the above is where my Muse led me. Tomorrow is not likely a day when I get to delve into any of those areas as it is a medical day. Joy.

In this, as in all of life, there are no easy answers. Beware anyone who tells you there are such. The best I can offer for now is to be prepared, be patient, keep your things where you can find them in the dark.

NOTE: If you need anything else to disturb your sleep, read this.

The Game Of Cat And Mouse

While politics is the world’s oldest profession (prostitution spun off from it as the second and more honest profession that actually provided real service for the money), a good case can be made for spying being the third oldest profession. Humans have done it since the beginning of civilization. That said, those who have done it were (and are) rarely seen as good people. Sometimes with very good reason. There’s a book or three in that statement.

I’ve written a bit before about Agent Farewell and his critical role in bringing down the Soviet Union. The game of cat and mouse, recruiting sources/operatives/etc. continues today, even though the U.S. really sort of sucks at it. Both recruiting and security/long-term operations. Our HUMINT efforts are nowhere near what they should be thanks to the feckless peanut. What little we do have? Between double agents and poor security, networks in China and elsewhere have been rolled up over the last few years.

Which brings me to two articles you should read. The first is from John Sexton at HotAir, and looks at a Russian penetration of German intelligence. The second is an article recommended to me on Twitter by Richard Lowe, that deals with the growing scandal of a top FBI agent who turned.

Keep in mind Russia has never stopped its efforts, and Chinese operations in the U.S. are positively staggering. The two articles linked are just the topmost tip of the iceberg.

On That Balloon

I’m not going to start to speculate about what was on that spy balloon. No real way to know, and I sure as heck am not going to believe a thing the government — any part of it — says. But it is fair to ask what I would have put on it. I’m going to go with bus rather than truss for a number of reasons, including simplicity.

First up, hyperspectral and multispectral imaging systems. Visual light tells you a lot, but a good argument can be made it hides an even larger amount of information. It’s almost frightening how much detail there is in satellite visual imagery, but there is so much more data in the other frequencies you can’t see with the naked eye.

Next, SIGINT. You are going to be floating around over a country and have the chance to collect and analyze a lot of signals intelligence data. You might be surprised at what all does give off signals, from keyboards to the cell phone in your pocket. Can it be picked up by a system on a balloon? Yep, some SIGINT can even be picked up by satellite. Just ask Brezhnev and Olga, and thank you Jimmy you clown. Closer to the ground, longer baseline, and the chance to have external antennas on the bus or even among any lines running up the balloon, and you could get quite a bit.

Sidenote: most devices are far more noisy than you think. Unshielded keyboards used to give off a decent RF signal for each key. So much so that one place I worked years back, the common wisdom was that the Soviets had a remote receiver hidden in the woods nearby to pick up that and other SIGINT from testing. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t security that caused them to switch most data over to fiber optic lines from copper. If you think lightning surges on a home computer are bad, try having them affect multiple Crays and other equipment.

Now, either as a separate package or a dedicated SIGINT subpackage, I would put in a system to monitor military and civilian aircraft com traffic. You’ve got to figure that when/if detected, someone will say something and if there is competent leadership at any level (doubtful but possible) that hasn’t been bought off, someone will get sent up to take a look. Even if the traffic is encrypted, you can learn a fair bit even without cracking the code. Including even getting an idea of when and where they tumbled to you.

Just me, but as part of things I would also put some standard HD video cameras and accelerometers at locations on the bus. Along with standard instruments, it would aid in control, steering, and letting you see who is taking a look. You could determine how close they got and a bit more.

The other thing I would have onboard even if it took a fuel cell, thermocouple, or other power source beyond solar is ground penetrating radar. There are some already pushing the idea (HT Instapundit), and I seem to recall such a unit flying on an early Shuttle mission in support of archeological operations (cough). In short, if it can find a lost city buried in a jungle, it can find a heck of a lot of things military and infrastructure related.

You could also gather a lot of interesting information on surface topography using interferometry. Bus is certainly long enough for certain types. Couple of other things to try, but that’s a pretty good package. Add in your command and control systems, com systems, and you’ve got a good payload. And, yes, everything on board should have separate destruct systems. In fact, I might even set things so that if the accelerometers detect a large event, such as that caused by a missile exploding close by or even on the connection between the bus and the balloon (or just a rapid descent), that those packages detonate right then. Scatter the parts over a wide area and make it harder for anyone to figure out what was onboard and what might have been collected.

Just a thought, but it sure would be nice to have some places where one might could make an emergency descent for a balloon not too far from a military base. Just in case something went wrong and the balloon in question wasn’t detected. Bring it down after dark let’s say. I suspect a lot worse with the Fufeng Group, and kudos to this town for doing the right thing that DC couldn’t be bothered to do. Funny how the Chinese government is buying up land near major military bases…

Otherwise, nothing has really changed since Monday’s post. When it comes to intelligence gathering, balloons are cheap, reliable, and expendable. Could they be used for other things? Sure, but I’ve not seen good cases made for some of the more interesting speculation out there. One presumes that NORAD might actually try to do something (maybe) about detecting and intercepting now, which would limit utility all around. Then again, given our “elite” political and military leadership…

One final thought. If I were going to be doing this, I would be using as much non-metallic materials as possible. There are a number of fabrics that would work for the balloon that would generate little radar signature. In place of a metallic truss system, use carbon fiber or other advanced materials. Even with the solar panels, you can still play games with radar cross section. Make the com system as tight beam as possible so few to no general broadcasts (laser to satellite anyone?), and you can come close to making it a hole in the sky. I wonder, I wonder, and I wish I could trust anything out of the government.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.