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2018-04-17 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Foreign Policy , 144 references Ignore this thread
So We Got Away With It?
[Comments enabled]

Maybe.

But..... what did we do, other than blow off ~100 cruise missiles and make some vendors a lot of money for new ones to replace those expended.

Good question.

We blew **** up -- that's for sure.  And Russia didn't immediately turn around and sink one or more of our ships, which she probably could have, and had that happened we might be at war right now.

There aren't any reports -- yet -- on casualties.  Maybe there were few -- or even none.  That seems unlikely, but it's not impossible by any means; blowing **** up at 3:00 AM, if there's nobody working there at the time, might well come with a zero or near-zero (e.g. the night guard) casualty count.  The odds go up if there was prior warning of some sort.

The Russians are claimed to have not used any of their air-defense assets in the area; the Syrians are known to have tried, and there's video evidence that someone fired anti-aircraft/missile weapons at the incoming.  Nonetheless, a good number of our shots (and those of the British and French) were apparently "good".

We still don't know what actually happened with these gas attacks -- even the previous ones, as Mattis has said himself.  Never mind that from my bird's eye view at 30,000' dead is dead and it appears that we don't give a flying **** about people getting shot, blown up with anti-aircraft rounds (as Kim-Jung-Nutball has done by using them on people) and similar.

I get it -- gas attacks are bad because they're weapons of mass-destruction, right up until they're not.  You can gas yourself accidentally and people do from time to time.  I also get the horror of WWI and the gas used during trench warfare; not only chlorine but mustard gas and similar "blistering" agents which were used with devastating effect, never mind that the effects move with the wind and thus have a nasty habit of nailing civilians.

But the bottom line is that I have a hell of a problem blasting some Syrian positions because a handful of people were impacted by a chemical attack we cannot prove the Syrian government initiated and yet, at the same time, we think it's perfectly fine if those same people are shot or blown up.  Like, for instance, the follow-on strike by "someone" that is reported to have killed a couple dozen -- by explosion, one assumes.

Never mind the underlying issue -- for what purpose and with what right are we there and involved in what looks like a civil war in the first place, especially when we have been arming one side of it?  What gives the US the right to determine whether a foreign government is subject to removal, through the use of deadly force, and then supply the means of said deadly force?  What is the objective criteria and what are the thresholds at which it applies?

Perhaps you can explain what I'm missing here in the comments....

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Attilahooper
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As a nation we've 'jumped the shark'. I have a hard time believing Assad is guilty - other evidence on the net suggests a false flag.

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Elsrog
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I voted for Trump because he seemed most likely to keep us out of conflict with Russia. he has proven to be as dangerous as Clinton if not more so.to base a attack on video from the white hats is beyond stupid!beyond insane!
I have read many of the reports on the gas attack the following link is one that sounds credible https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article165905578/Trump-s-Red-Line.html
there are many reports that not all the missiles reached their targets .http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/04/syr.... . if any of this is true then we are well and truly ****ed!
Amgrace
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I don't think you're missing the fact that the whole exercise is morally ambiguous. This is a portion of George Friedman's (Geopolitical Futures) recent take. I subscribe to his email updates so I don't feel it's fair to post the whole piece. Domestic considerations outweigh international ones in this case - which seems dangerous to me...

"Amid this confusion, the one thing that can be said for certain is that an anti-Russia coalition has been defined. The Western strikes did not change the balance of power in the Syrian war, and indeed, they have relatively little to do with the conflict that is grinding Syria into dust and ruin. It seems more likely at this point that the strikes were a political statement against Russia. (Germany was reportedly offered an opportunity to join the strike, but it has a more complicated relationship with Russia than the others do and didnt want to engage in direct military action against a Russian ally.) The U.S., the U.K. and France may have bombed chemical weapons facilities in Syria, but they also went out of their way to demonize Russia as a menace to the liberal international order.

Our forecast for this year didnt anticipate that the West and Russia would be clashing to this extent. Russia wants a balance of power in the Middle East, one that keeps Turkey and Iran fighting each other indefinitely, preventing both from becoming powerful enough to challenge Russian interests in its desired spheres of influence. The Western powers also want a balance of power. But old habits die hard. Cold War comparisons, however wrongly applied to the current situation, are understandably compelling in a morally ambiguous conflict. Domestic imperatives also sometimes outweigh international ones. Trump wants to look strong, May needs Europe focused on foreign threats instead of the border with Northern Ireland, and Macron is desperate for a political win and all can be had at the low cost of bombing insignificant targets in a Middle Eastern pariah. As for Russian President Vladimir Putin, its now Moscow versus the West and a great deal of economic dysfunction can be forgiven if it is suffered in defense of Mother Russia.

There are two wars being fought here: a military war for Syria, and a public relations war between Russia and the West. The airstrikes in Syria were salvos in the latter. The former has no end in sight."

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/west-reb....



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Phdude
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Karl,

You have demonstrated to have an analytical mind with attention to detail, so let me ask you the following.

- Each cruise missile has an (approximately) 450kg warhead.
- The US claims it fired 105 missiles. That would be approximately 45 tonnes of explosives.
- The US claims that all missiles hit, and that they hit 3 buildings.

Question 1: Does the damage look like something that would have been caused by 45 tonnes of explosives? Those are not hardened underground bunkers we're talking about---just some ordinary buildings.

Question 2: IF there were chemicals in those buildings, is it a good idea to strike them with 45 tonnes of explosives? How do you ensure the chemical clouds don't disperse?

Question 3: Since when does the US military strike at targets WITHOUT first taking care of the Air Defenses? All previous strikes, dating back to Iraq 1, and INCLUDING last year's strike were aimed at military targets. The US attacked Saddams antiquated AD first, before anything else. Do they truly think the Syrian AD is useless, even after the Syrians have shot down Israeli planes?

The US version of events looks extremely hard to believe. I am sorry to say, but I am leaning more and more towards the Russian side of events. The Russian side has a lot less logical/analytical contradictions to it.
Supertruckertom
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If any missiles were brought down, it was through GPS jamming or Spoofing rather than guided Surface to Air Missiles hitting them.

The Iranians and Russians have done it before if you remember the RQ-170 Sentinel Stealth drone that was brought down inside of Iran a few years ago.



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Demosthenes
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Quote:
But the bottom line is that I have a hell of a problem blasting some Syrian positions because a handful of people were impacted by a chemical attack we cannot prove the Syrian government initiated and yet, at the same time, we think it's perfectly fine if those same people are shot or blown up. Like, for instance, the follow-on strike by "someone" that is reported to have killed a couple dozen -- by explosion, one assumes.

"Never mind our principles now, this is too important!"

It's a sorry state of affairs when the good guys are indistinguishable from the bad guys in every respect except the colors they fly.
Oldpool
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I see this as the art of the deal, if it is true that we are still leaving there. By rifling them with inventory, the Commander in Chief has made a win for the MIC, while at the same time forcing the Rusky's hand, necessitating a military build up at the expense of another nation. A nation that will protect the religious minority in the area, and bringing stability to the region. Thus handing a loss to the forces of KAOS. I may be wrong but it sure seems that way.

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Tickerguy
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Hit a building with a cruise missile, it makes a mess.
Hit the same building with 20 cruise missiles, after the first few you're not making much more rubble (it's all on the ground already.)

There were a fairly decent number of discrete targets involved, although all in a few clusters.

As for blowing up chemical weapons stockpiles, yeah, that's a problem as they have this nasty habit of killing people when let loose. So the logical conclusion is that there weren't any, or at least none of material size, at those exact locations.

As for AD you're assuming there were any present, other than Russian, that are effective against a cruise missile. Unguided munitions are worthless against that sort of weapon; you need something with active guidance in the form of a missile that has a seeker and can lock onto the exhaust (at minimum.) Since these are air-breathing subsonic weapons they have plenty of hot plume being emitted, and as subsonic devices actually hitting them isn't that hard, IF you detect them in time and have something with active guidance that can lock onto them. The trick is that Tomahawks are very maneuverable and their flight path (assuming you have accurate terrain maps) can easily bring them in right on the deck where it's hard to detect them until they're very close-in or **** starts blowing up, and their guidance is quite advanced and capable of fully self-contained (e.g. not requiring a working GPS constellation) operation.

There's no reason to waste munitions on AD systems that can't hit what you're going to use.

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Aztrader
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This almost seemed like a set-up to make Trump look presidential. Trump uses threats to manipulate his prey and when he talked about raining missiles down on Assad, he had to follow through to show he means business. Obama pulled his "red line" BS and got no where with it.
The Russians turned off their radar, we haven't heard of numbers killed or wounded, no pictures of victims, just empty buildings destroyed. Is our military that accurate or was something else going on.
The left has been on full out attack on Trump from day one doing everything in their power to alienate Russia and this little show may have boosted him with both parties. It may sound stupid to******away millions in armament for a show, but who really knows what happened. Not a word out of anyone this week. Just smelling something rank...........
Sancho
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I was talking about this issue with a friend fond of interpreting events on a historical perspective. He has an interesting thought.

Since the defeat of the Spanish armada and afterwards Trafalgar, the British world dominance was based on two key points: controlling the sea and blocking the "silk road" from connecting East Asia and Europe. The US dominance is based on the same pattern.

Any significant intercontinental commerce can be currently disrupted by a well placed carrier strike group.

The threat to this is the "One Belt, One Road" initiative from Russia and China. This is an initiative to connect East Asia with Europe through a network of highways and railroads. If this is achieved, it will significantly reduce the US influence.

So.. if you look at the map and see where Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are, it starts to make sense that the objective might be blocking that initiative.

It can be done by boots on the ground (Iraq and Afghanistan) that is expensive to the point that it can bankrupt you. It can be done by puppet government (Ukraine). Or by causing instability (Syria).

From that point of view, the missiles strikes was a success (may be short lived, but a success). Return to normal state of affairs under Russia protection cannot be tolerated. It is either a government with US support, or instability.

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Whitehat
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@Sancho -- you nailed it. Syria represents to Russia a warm water port in the Mediterranean. the Western world will do anything to prevent this including fomenting civil war. Russia would of course prop up the Syrian regime if they can get the upper hand. the next step will be for the USA to be portrayed as committing acts of evil. this will take years to stick. once it does, there will be an effort to neuter our military but not much of the civilian homeland. kind of a sick form of trying to help us. watch closely over the next few years starting with Trump concerning how the US military industrial complex is portrayed as being out of control. you might have to follow foreign media to see this, but it is building. and the other Western "allies" who depend upon us to do the dirty work can keep their hands clean. the American people have no idea what is coming.

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Whitehat
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there was a decision made a long time ago to isolate the American people from the knowledge, concern and consequences for the actions of the country's leadership. to a large degree the American lifestyle was always dependent upon terrible things being done in our name with nominal responsibility of the citizenry. a good portion of the world resents this about us and wishes us to have a lesson or two. this sentiment crosses many groups and is often shared by polar enemies within the struggles in which we insert ourselves. we will one day lose the smugness of knowing that we have our lives free of the reality of the rest of the world. even Europe has living memory of chaos and disorder in the front and back yard and has a seething resentment for our geographical accident that protects us. they only know modern era peace for a short time.

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There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.
snow, seasons, distance and dirt roads: SSDD
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Gal. 6:7)
Bito
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The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is working to free the ME of the consequences of the '79 revolution. Last Nov what occurred in Saudi Arabia was the beginning of this operation. King Salman and Prince Salman in an anti-corruption operation had >100 royals imprisoned (and tortured if needed) until they gave up >$100B.

The GCC intends to destroy the hardliners and return the region (and women) to the freedom they had before 1979. Trump is giving the GCC military support to accomplish this momentous task. US Military Intel knew the supposed gas attack by Assad was a false flag, and the missile strikes were targeted at rebel strongholds including Hezbollah. Israel has also directly bombed Iranian outposts in Syria.

The next step is complete takedown of Khomeini and the other mullahs in Iran. They have already had massive protests led by the Iranian youth. This was to determine the coordination/capabilities of the Iranian police/military. This year there will be a protest that will be the beginning of the end of the 40 years of theocratic rule. Trump will offer military intel and strikes, but this will be an operation led by the GCC and Israel.

This should be completed by this fall so by the time Trump has his military parade on 11/11 he can say that both North Korea and Iran are no longer a threat and this is a turning point modern history.
Zappafan
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Sancho nailed it.

If I can make an analogy, think of the global financial system as a cartel of narco-traficantes or a crime family. The "Dons" are the US, UK, France, maybe Japan and a few others. The US military is the "muscle" that breaks your leg if you don't pay up protection money, or if you refuse to buy their goods. Instead of drugs or prostitution, what's being peddled here is debt denominated in dollars.

Libya was the equivalent of a pizza parlor that got burned down when the owner didn't pay up. Remember that Gaddafi wanted to set up a North African trading zone, outside of the western banking system. How'd that work out for him?

Putin and Xi are essentially rival Dons who are now offering protection to Syria as they see the threat to their existence from our own little gang of criminals, who must constantly grow their customer base to service their debt.

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Wa9jml
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DeKalb, Illinois
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The Saudis are just as bad as the Iranian Mullahs, and perhaps even worse. I suspect that the current Saudi King and the Crown Prince will be assassinated by the Wahhabbi Clergy shortly. They are trying to "reform" that which cannot be reformed.

The Iranians hate the U.S. and the Brits with a deserved passion. That theocracy is not going anywhere, as it is the normal accepted sort of governance under Islam. Some younger fools may be out there demonstrating, but they will be dealt with severely. I have worked with some Iranian engineers, and found them to be brilliant and capable. The Iranians have been able to capture our drones a number of times, and are capable of designing and building excellent missiles.

Hezbollah has been able to kick the IDF's butt, and have established themselves as an essential part of the government of Lebanon. They presumably have been able to stock up on all the armaments funneled into Syria by the various competing factions. They have also gotten worthwhile combat experience.

My reading of Russian History has provided me with several principles that they follow. One is the desire for warm water ports, and the other is that they prefer to have a buffer against their European and other enemies. Charles XII of Sweden, Napoleon, and Hitler discovered to their dismay that Russians are excellent fighters. The current doctrine of the Russian military forces says that they will never again fight on their own territory. So, I expect that Putin will seek his revenge suitably, over time.

The Tomahawk missile is an early 1980s design. I used to work for one of the people who helped champion it through the development process of the Pentagon. I suspect that the Russians did not activate their best air defense systems to stop the American, British, and French attack. If they had, it would have allowed these and the Israelis to take signatures of their radars, to design appropriate counter measures. In contrast to the Tomahawks, the latest Russian cruise missiles come in a lot faster, and with much greater agility. The targets are dead before they realize that they are being attacked.
Tickerguy
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Yeah, one of the problems is that none of these "newfangled" weapon systems have ever been tested "in anger" against skilled and equipped opponents.

NONE.

Blowing **** up in Syria is one thing but targeting something that is protected by a COMPETENT defending system, never mind the offensive system(s) owned by the same people, is another matter. We simply have ZERO combat experience with any of these systems against such a foe.

Do they ACTUALLY work? Not in a simulation, but in a REAL no-bull**** fight?

We don't know.

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Winding it down.
Wa9jml
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The U.S. Navy has not faced a formidable foe since 1945. About 20 years ago a Chinese submarine surfaced, undetected until it breached, right inside one of our carrier groups. That was a real eye opener for our Navy. I think that Chinese and Russian submarine stealth technology is a lot better now, but I doubt that our surveillance technology has advanced as much.

Both China and Russia have developed sophisticated missiles and torpedoes to sink aircraft carriers. I suspect that the Iranians have, too. Without air superiority, our forces are toast.

There is all sorts of mischief that Russia and China can do to get back at us, the Brits, and the French. One of them would be to cut off supplies to our forces in Afghanistan. Those are especially vulnerable. The Chinese are cultivating the Pakistanis. What if the Pakistanis refuse to let us use their country, to get to the Khyber Pass? What if the Russians close off our access on the other side?
Tickerguy
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That was a diesel-electric sub. Sitting on the bottom those things are AMAZINGLY quiet; there's no plant noise.

Nukes are a different story simply because there's no way around circulating coolant for the reactor, nor can you do much about the fact that the turbines make noise too.

A battery makes no noise.

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Demosthenes
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The potential for a world war with a front in cyberspace induces some pucker. Our security is a bad joke. It seems big tech and most infrastructure are analogous to a drunk guy wandering the battlefield with his pants around his ankles.

If Russian hackers are such a threat that they can hack our election with $100k and we might be at war any day because they can't behave in public, then we ought to be acting like it and buckling anything net-capable down... right? I mean maybe we don't need to go buck-wild about it, but just a BIT of prudent examination of current standards in light of developing circumstances?

I don't get it. It's making me nervous that the two most obvious options are that Russian hackers are paper tigers and no real threat but nevertheless Mueller - which is stupid, there might be a war on soon and people gotta be pulling drama like they be all French courtiers or some **** - or that Russian cyber teams are a legit problem and ignoring it is stupid.

Tickerguy
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There's a LOT of utter stupidity in the IOT / controller space. A LOT.

More of it than you can imagine, in fact.

IF **** goes nasty I would assume that every single bit of that **** will be either disabled or whatever it controls will be DESTROYED within hours. Chemical plants, oil refineries, the power grid (including generation and transmission facilities), gas pipelines, etc -- all are quite-probably at risk. MOST or ALL of this **** is SUPPOSED to be air-gap isolated but an awful lot of it is NOT.

On a personal level ANYONE who has a cloud-connected device such as an "Alexa" in such a circumstance will also have EVERYTHING in their home exfiltrated -- also within hours -- and if anything controllable by it can be either tampered with or destroyed it will be. Oh, you have a NEST thermostat eh? You're at work? Cool -- your house is now set for 150F. Yeah, your furnace won't actually get it that hot, but you'll burn up a ****-TON of energy trying, and as soon as you leave it'll happen AGAIN AND AGAIN until you rip that ****ing thing off the wall and put an old-style Honeywell mercury-capsule thermostat back in.

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Equiton
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Karl, it is like the WW1 where the then military powers had only used thier artillery and machine guns on Tribal forces. They all arrived with the arrogance of victories with an handfull of casulties to facing losses of tens of thousands a day, every day, month after month. Once in nobody would admit to been an idiot.
It appears that 71 of the 103 Ameerican missiles were destroyed by the Syrians, none of the UK missiles were effective and nobody seems to know about the French.
There is a lot of USA ex military intelligence people on Pat Langs Sic_Semper Tyrannis site who have no problem with these figures. Normally AD would be the first target but the fear of hitting Russians prevented that.
So WWII was nearly started on a social media report from a known terrorist organisation getting its ass wupped (General Mattis said on friday all the evidence was from social media). All they hit were facilites cleared by the OPCW last November. The syrians have said they would have blown up the buildings themseves a for $100 million and saved tax payer money. One further question, if the people who planned this attack realy believed there were WMDs in them, what were they exspecting to happen to the 6 million population of Damascus
Bjonsson
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Quote:
Is our military that accurate

These cruise missiles are EXTREMELY accurate, with numerous redundancies built in to ensure that they don't blow up what they have not been targeted to blow up. Depending on the maturity of the software in them, they require multiple sensors to affirm a target to terrain match, or else they will either not detonate and/or they will attempt to steer themselves into an unpopulated area to crash.

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Bagbalm
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I wonder if these missiles have a use-by date after which they need a major, expensive overhaul?
Zappafan
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https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/arti....

This article makes me wonder if the US military and Russian military have a secret understanding to script out these conflicts, kind of like WWF wrestling matches.

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Ich bin der Tankendau!
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