Wednesday, December 21, 2005

No News is Good News?

I haven't heard much in the news about Iraq recently...

...I guess that must mean that things over there are going pretty well then.

Just like how Afghanistan dropped off the radar as soon as the situation became tenable.

I suppose time will tell. The post-election seems like a bit of an anti-climax. Which is fantastic news!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Shifting Goalposts

I'm thoroughly sick of them.

It's a form of sour grapes. Our coalition in Iraq has been making steady progress for the last couple of years. The problem is, every time some progress is made, the Nattering Nabobs of Negativism pipe up and say something along the lines of "well, you've achieved x, y and z, but it's still a mess and therefore a quagmire and a disaster and we might as well pull out now". They then go on to predict some kind of contrived gloom-and-doom situation where the Iraqis' new freedoms allow them to tear themselves apart.

Of course, next time something new is achieved, they'll pipe in with "sure, you've achieved that, but..."

This is reprehensible behaviour. Either tell us now what you expect to see before you'll stop bashing our efforts, or just shut up. This kind of tactic goes along with historical revisionism, subject-changing, and all sorts of low-intellect ways of pretending that you're winning a debate when you're really not. I don't mind being wrong, but so far before anyone has gotten to the point of showing me where my logical fallacies are, they're moving on to tarnishing my character or some other pet topic like Jewish conspiracy theories...

I think I've come up with a good term for this effect. Let's called it the "glass is always half full". Would anyone care to pipe up and let us know just what you expect to happen before you'll accept the situation is heading in the right direction? It would be awfully nice of you. Not that I expect knowing that it would change anyone's plans. But at least it would give us some kind of an idea whether you have a real problem with the situation or merely want to appear to be superior without doing any heavy thinking.

Personally I think the Iraqis are doing great. 95% of them are good people, and proud, as they should be. I think they will get what they deserve in a historically short time frame - that is, a moderately peaceful and stable society within a few years. Certainly, their neighbours will have something to envy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

OK, Angry Now

I saw a report on the TV news just now of a passenger plane (military transport, supposedly) which crashed into an apartment block.

It's pretty sad, lots of people were killed, none of them deserved to be in an accident like that.

Then, at the end of the report, the woman doing the voiceover said something to the effect of "This is not an isolated incident... many of Iran's military transports are ancient and are involved in many accidents. The age of the fleet is because America refuses to allow new, Western aircraft to be sold to Iran."

OK, firstly, that's not why this plane crashed, and it's pretty low to blame America for an Iranian plane crash. There are many old planes still flying all over the world, with proper maintenance they can last a long time. Some of them are DC-3s (C-47s) from the 1940s, still in commercial use!

Secondly, Iran just bought 1 billion dollars worth of Surface-to-air missile systems from Russia. They couldn't afford to buy a few of the cheap, effective Russian transport planes to replace the oldest in their fleet, in order to prevent accidents like this one happening again?

I'm sure Russia and France would both love to sell Iran some new planes. I doubt America can do more than block the sale of Boeing aircraft, which are not the only option out there. While they're at it, maybe they could spend less money on building nuclear weapons to wipe out Israel and spend it instead on aircraft maintenance.

Thirdly, Iran's policy of "Death to America" is probably at least partially responsible for their poor trade relations.

This is a most disgusting episode of reporting. I feel very sorry for the people affected by this accident, and I wish we could fix up their planes, but until Iran's leaders are ready to become mature and denounce their policies of terror and destruction, we're not going to be going out of our way to sell them military technology.

The Anti-American sentiments in our media are getting almost insidious as the Nazi's Anti-Jew sentiments. Everything that goes wrong is blamed on them! How am I the only person noticing this?

As I said... Angry Now.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Storm Clouds

Dark storm clouds are gathering on the horizon, and so far the S. S. Iran is steaming full speed ahead into the maelstrom.

This could get bad. Very bad. Iran has publically called for the destruction of Israel and the United States. Israel has said they will not tolerate a nuclear armed Iran (for obvious reasons). Israel is estimated to possess between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads. Presumably at least some of those are mounted on their short- and medium-range missiles, many if not all of which can reach Iran. The rest would probably be in the form of aerial bombs.

Both Israel and now El Bardei have said that Iran is mere months away from a nuclear weapon. Israel has said they will wait for diplomacy to take its course, but if it can't solve the problem before it's too late (and I seriously doubt it can, the way Iran is behaving) then they will take matters into their own hands.

How it pans out depends on two things - how well they time it and whether the US get involved. Assuming they strike before the first weapon is completed, they will have to mount a campaign of air strikes, probably lasting for at least a whole night, possibly several days. It will be much easier and more effective if the US helps.

If the US helps (and I think they must) there will be an incredibly intense night of strikes, knocking out every possibly nuclear facility in Iran. If I were them, I'd follow them up with an armoured dash from two directions (Iraq and Afghanistan) to all the hardest targets - underground facilities, etc. - ensure their destruction and get out.

I don't see any way that this situation can get anything but bad. I hope Hamidreza, a commenter here and at Fourth Rail/ThreatsWatch, will be OK. I'm not sure if (s)he currently lives in Iran or not. For that matter, I hope that all the Iranian citizens come out of this OK. But if their leaders continue on their current course unthinkingly, I'm afraid for their safety.

UPDATE: It now seems as if El Bardei's comments have been miscontrued; he said the would have a bomb within months of resuming production. Still, it seems as if a showdown is looming. It would be folly for Israel and the US to wait until Iran probably has produced at least one bomb before taking strong action (diplomatically or otherwise).

Cope India 2005

I only have time for a quick post, so here's a link:

USAF vs. Indian Air Force -- Cope India 2005

The hype surrounding this event (as well as Cope India 2004) bother me. Here's what we know:

* Indian aircraft (Su-30MKI, Mirage 2000, upgraded MiG-21s and MiG-27s) are good, although the -21 and -27 are a bit short-legged.
* Indian pilots are reportedly excellent.
* India and the USAF get a lot out of these exercises.

Both years, I've heard reports that the USAF were "surprised" and "thorougly beaten", and that US technology and piloting skills are inferior and slipping.

What isn't always so obvious is that these exercises consist of many different engagements between each side. In fact, sometimes Indian and USAF pilots will team up against another (Indian, USAF or Indian/USAF) threat, to see how they can work together. Each mission has a different combination of airplanes, different goals and different rules of engagement.

In Cope 2004, the controversy was that India won 90%+ of the engagements. Well, I don't have all the information, so I can't really say - but I bet most of them were set up to be advantageous to their side.

For example, reportedly at Cope India 2005, the USAF didn't simulate the use of AIM-120 AMRAAMs at all. Anyone with a good familiarity with American jet aircraft knows just how vital a tool this weapon is. I can't imagine going into (simulated) air combat without it - it just wouldn't be the same. AIM-7 Sparrows are difficult to use effectively, prone to failure and jamming, and AIM-9 Sidewinders are very short range. The AIM-120 is the most versatile AAM the US aircraft carry these days. To judge the competence of the USAF by the results of combats which rule out the use of their most important weapon seems foolish to me.

I don't know if India simulated the use of the similar R-77 (AA-12) - probably not. But either way, this increases the change of the aircraft getting into close-range dogfights, where any potential electronics advantage of the US aircraft is much diminished.

Additionally, many of the exercises might pit, say, 4 F-15s again 4 SU-30MKIs and 8 MiG-21s. Is it any surprise that the Indian side tends to win more often than not?

Now, as I stated right at the beginning, the Russian/Soviet aircraft the IAF fly are good planes, and their pilots are reportedly excellent. Therefore, I'm not trying to impinge upon the quality of either. Rather, I think we need all the information before we can judge what the outcome of these exercises means.

All I'm certain of is that both participants gained valuable knowledge and experience!