2014/07/31

Sacred grounds

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About a year ago I casually mentioned the concept of "sacred grounds" in defence policy.

Two examples stand out for this, and a third may qualify:

Switzerland
United Nations Flags - cropped.jpg
Veiew of United Nations European HQ
at Geneva by Tom Page 
Switzerland hosts so many global institutions that, even ignoring its incredible track record of neutrality and peacefulness and their location far from any threat, it would be difficult to imagine an aggression against it. They're kind of host to the world - an aggression would almost be like an aggression against the world.




Saudi Arabia
Mecca.JPG
The Masjid al-Haram and Kaaba
in Mecca by Ariandra 03

Saudi Arabia, guardian of Mecca and Medina, is a rather unrealistic target for aggression, despite the fake allegations from 1990 and a handful of skirmishes on and over the Persian Gulf during the 1980's. Neither a bombardment nor an assault on these two cities seems conceivable given the importance of both to over a billion people on six continents (mostly four).




Panama
Panama Canal - Pacific Side Entrance.jpg
"Panama Canal - Pacific Side Entrance" by
Camilo Molina derivative work: MrPanyGoff
Panama was actually invaded in 1989, but this was a time when it was not in control of the Panama Canal or its guardian. Ever since, any assault on it would be globally considered to be an assault on global trade. The lessons of the Suez Crisis 1956 were learnt, and it seems inconceivable that Panama would be invaded again unless the world is already in flames anyway.*



 To host something that's of global importance** could add to a country's security and help it a lot in gaining supporters and reducing the list of hostile countries. Maybe this is not an exogenous benefit only, maybe it could intentionally be created and fostered in order to pacify a conflict zone?

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

*: Or unless the aggressor is trusted to not disrupt or risk disruption of canal operations.
**: Not just for sightseeing, but something actually important.
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2014/07/30

Death toll in Gaza in perspective

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So far about 1,200 Gaza Strip inhabitants and 55 Israelis died in the current hot phase of the Gaza conflict (BBC).

There are about 1,816,000 Gaza Strip inhabitants (World Factbook), 7,821,000 Israelis (World Factbook), 80,997,000 Germans (World Factbook) and 318,892,000 (U.S.) Americans (World Factbook)*.

The death toll in Gaza represents 0.0661% of the population. The death toll to the Israelis represents 0.0007%.**

The Gaza Strip death rate applied to Germany would be about 53,522 dead and applied to the United States it would be 210,722 dead.

The Israeli death rate applied to Germany would be about 570 dead and applied to the United States it would be 2,243 dead.

I don't think the Western attitude to the conflict parties or the main theme of Western news reporting on the killing does justice to this massacre.
 
I suppose the conflict could be 'solved' quite easily, if 'we' (the Western powers) only pressured the regime in Cairo to take back Gaza within a year or two. It would only take a UNSC decision (mandate that Gaza Strip is Egyptian and Egypt is responsible for it, also mandate demilitarisation with permitted paramilitary presence and UN observer mission), an EU/US air travel embargo (hits tourism) and a hiatus in U.S. subsidies to Egypt.
In parallel, the West could easily force Israel to yield the Golan heights (Syria is for sure no threat for years to come) with demilitarised status and UN observers (UNSC decision), and to completely withdraw from the West Bank within a year or two. The pressure required for this could not possibly exceed an air travel embargo, maritime blockade, a telecommunications cable and satellite blockade and a hiatus in U.S. subsidies to Israel, for Israel is 100% dependent on these lines of  communication with the West.

All the decades of talking to two parties evidently gone crazy yields little because of the seriously fucked up regional and domestic dynamics in the Levante.

The lingering conflict is FUBAR regionally, but it's obvious that only Western tolerance for this status keeps it going on like this. The West could cut this Gordian knot if only it decided to get serious about it and force all parties gone crazy to yield.
But that's not what we do, for we're not serious about wanting peace in that region: Decades-old arrangements and prejudices still reign supreme, and actors from that region feed them.


S O

*: These statistics are for population, not citizens.
**: Israel is winning the propaganda war decisively, though. A few days ago the 24hr news cycle in Germany had the headline that the IDF fears a "9/11" style attack by Hamas - pure fantasy which paints Hamas as AQ-like terror group, but it was also a great distraction from what happens in reality. The mass media loved it, as it offered a spectacular headline. More recently, Israel fed to the media the fear that Hamas has still 10,000 rockets in storage and again, the mass media loved it and coined a 24 hr news cycle with it. I wonder whether they would consider a spectacular headline about Israelis stocks of bombs, howitzer shells and artillery rockets as newsworthy in light of the undisputable fact that Israel kills more civilians by orders of magnitude? I wonder rhetorically only, of course.

//No comments allowed for obvious reasons.//
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2014/07/28

To anyone who believes law enforcement wouldn't use modern intelligence-collecting powers in minor cases, only to keep us safe for real

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That's simply not the nature of a LE or intelligence bureaucracy!


Analysis of recordings of license plates, analysis of DNA - to identify some young people who have raised a white flag on a bridge.

Not enough?

Well, then maybe I should remind you about the ridiculously low success rate of London's Metro police stop and searches of civilians:

The Metropolitan Police used section 44 of the Terrorism Act more than 170,000 times in 2008 to stop people in London.
That compares to almost 72,000 anti-terror stop and searches carried out in the previous year. The Met said anti-terror searches had been more widely used since the planting of two car bombs in central London in July 2007.

Of all the stops last year, only 65 led to arrests for terror offences, a success rate of just 0.035%.
The dates are so old because I wrote about this in 2009 already. There's a huge welath of such examples in the Western world. The stop and search thing is no "intelligence collecting power", but I suppose you get the point: 

Don't lead LE or intelligence agencies into temptation, for they will not resist. Limit their powers, and punish transgressions ruthlessly!

S O
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2014/07/27

Lethality of navies

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The Information Dissemination blog has embedded a video titled "The future of Seapower Lethality". I admit right away; I didn't watch a single second of it, nor am I interested in its content.
Instead, it's merely an occasion to write about lethality of sea power myself :


A look at military history shows very few cases in which the lethality of seapower was of prime importance. Frigates of the age of sail cruiser for years or decades without firing a shot in anger, for example. Having enough spare sails in storage and a good tailor to fix damaged sails was more imporant to a frigate captain than whether his ship carried 12 pounder or 18 pounder guns.
Early gunpowder naval combat even rarely saw ships sunk at all; I remember to have read about a battle in which the participant disengaged in horror when -unexpectedly - a ship exploded.

Most utility and importance of seapower in history was to be found in safe routine patrols and in fleet-in-being functions. To have the survivability and strength (numbers) to patrol routinely instead of being the underdog (and be forced to cower in harbours or under water) was of great importance. The Royal Navy became the dominant navy of the world without excelling in lethality - but it was able to let hundreds of ships patrol (cruise). This meant a huge demand for dry docks, coal storages, coal shipping, ammunition depots and many harbours during the Ironclad Age up to WW2. They were not much concerned with lethality, and didn't need to be. 

Navies concerned much with lethality were different navies; underdog navies. The German World War navies were very much focused on lethality, particularly on lethality of the submarines. Eventually, the submarines were defeated or want of survivability, safe communications and logistics.
The really poor underdog navies were the ones which weren't very lethal in at least a niche.*

One might think the American carrier fleets were all about lethality, but their strength was first and foremost their radar-supported survivability in 1943-1945. Their lethality was rather modest (and dependent on luck in 1942), with a rather unimpressive sorties-to-damage_done ratio in most engagements.**


So why would people with naval interests today pay much attention to lethality? Sure, it makes little sense to neglect one aspect, but one ought to admit that the an ESSM missile hitting a speedboat gets more attention than the performance of some plastic foam that's usable to fill up compartments for damage control***.

Maybe lethality - potentially spectacular and easy to grasp as it is - has a little bit too much attention nowadays, and maybe this is one of the many peacetime aberrances which military bureaucracies develop after not being tested for real for generations?


S O

*: The First French Republict had at least some fine corsairs, the German World War navies were lethal with submarines (and MTBs in WW2) at least initially, the IJN had its six-month straw fire with an imperssive amount of prizes captured and the Italian World War Navies had at least fine frogmen (and MTBs in WW1). A complete sucker was the Russian/Soviet navy in both World Wars, and the French World War navies were utterly inconsequential as well.
**: There are not enough low hanging fruits for a spectacular average if you are extremely active, of course.
***: or whether good-enough stocks of ammunitions are available to sustain operations.
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2014/07/26

Fred Kaplan: "Israel's Deadly Gambits"

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I largely agree with Fred Kaplan's column here. He's quite often a sensible, intelligent commentator on affairs I'm more or less interested in.

Israel has long-lost the underdog role, and ever since its intervention in the Lebanese Civil War its grand strategy seems to have turned stupid. They're failing to show strategic self-discipline and long-term thinking while having a position of strength - similar to French policies towards social democrats-led German governments in the late 20's. Their strategic behaviour fits what an average 15 year old boy might suggest to do.

The parallels to Crusader history may be quite disconcerting to someone who is paying attention to history. They came from overseas, have mostly religious claims on the land, showed superior martial prowess in face of superior numbers, their enemies are divided, their enemies are weakened by wars among each other and against foreigners, they depend to some degree on immigration, they depend on continued support from overseas (...).

The crusader states survived for about two centuries. Israel survived for about seven decades already. The question is now how far go the parallels - and will they turn towards a smart-enough grand strategy for survival?*


S O

*: Nukes or MAD alone are no guarantee in the long term. The purpose of the state Israel is to provide security, a crisis under the Sword of Damokles known as MAD might force a future Israeli government to yield to meet its purpose.

///Reader comments are shut off because I'm not stupid enough to not know that Israel-related discussions and comments turn ugly way too often.///

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2014/07/25

Human shields - repost

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I think current events make it worthwhile to point readers at an old Defence and Freedom blog post about "human shields":


Long story short: Hamas is not using human shields unless it keeps civilians from fleeing by force. To just tell them not to go isn't a war crime afaik.

(c)Gringer, 2009
It was ridiculous to expect the Gazans to leave the Northern half of the Gaza Strip anyway: The Northern half is where most of them live (see image), they cannot flee from the general war zone anyway (neither into Egypt nor into Israel, obviously - and the Mediterranean Sea isn't helpful either). And if there's anything Palestinians can agree on, it's that fleeing from the IDF is very risky. Israel has earned a reputation for not necessarily letting refugees return. Many Arabs in the Gaza Strip know this from their family history.

This reminds me of another 2009 blog post, about relevant Chinese history. Some expectations or advices from foreigners sound quite foolish once you consider the history of the country in question.


S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

// Reader comments on this topic have been disabled already.//
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2014/07/22

"Chaos in Iraq"

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[Deutsch] 'Sicherheitspolitik' ist seltsam wählerisch

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Ich erinnere mich noch, wie Bundesminister der Verteidigung Rühe mit der Salamitaktik der deutschen Auslandseinsätze begann: Ein Bundeswehrhospital in Kambodscha. Das Land litt noch unter dem Bürgerkrieg.
Wer konnte sich schon einem derart edlen Unterfangen widersetzen? So ziemlich niemand. Und so begann es. Schritt für Schritt ging es weiter mit der Militarisierung der Außenpolitik (damals noch beschrien von den Grünen) bis man 1999 mitmachte beim Luftkrieg gegen Jugoslawien (mit einer rot-grünen Regierung!). Recht kurz danach standen auch Heerestruppen in Kabul.

Einer von Rühes Nachfolgern, Struck, prägte den allgemein als lächerlich empfundenen Satz "Die Sicherheit der Bundesrepublik Deutschland wird auch am Hindukusch verteidigt".

 
Nun gibt es eine Ebola Epidemie in Westafrika. Wiederum könnten ein paar Bundeswehrsanitätstruppen Leben retten. Und dieses Mal ist es weniger lächerlich zu behaupten, dass eine Entsendung von Truppen irgendwie auch Deutsche daheim schützt.

Aber irgendwie scheint niemand diese Option auch nur öffentlich zu diskutieren.

Mag dies sein, weil

* dort zu helfen wohl keine diplomatischen good will erkaufen würde?

* Politiker ihre Abenteuerspielchen lieber mit echten, potentiell kämpferischen,  Soldaten spielen? 

* es weder den Egoismen von Bürokratie noch von der Industrie dienen würde, da ein solcher Einsatz wohl kaum zusätzliche Ausgaben für Truppen, Fahrzeuge usw. zur Folge hätte?

* es in der EU kein Äquivalent zum Chef-Falken der NATO, Rasmussen, und seiner Bürokratie gäbe? Bei Optionen für Militäreinsätze sind die scharf darauf, die "Relevanz" der NATO zu beweisen.

* die Fußball-WM die Massen für eine Weile ruhiggestellt hat? 


* ein Ebola-Epidemiegebiet für Journalisten nicht so attraktiv ist (obendrein Malariagebiet) und es relativ wenige Berichte zur Krise gibt?



Ich behaupte, dass eine rationale Regierung (die irgendwie doch den ISAF-Einsatz für sinnvoll hielt) sicherlich einige Flugzeugladungen und Bundeswehr-Sanitätspersonal nach Westafrika schicken und dort der Führung durch vorhandene Koordinatoren (wohl WHO) stellen würde. Oder sie würde zumindest ein ziviles Engagement zeigen, womöglich auch mit in bezahlten Urlaub geschicktem Bundeswehr-Sanitätspersonal für Ärzte ohne Grenzen.

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

P.S.: Es sind ganze zwei Wissenschaftler der Bw in einem Diagnoseteam dort, sowas nehme ich hier nicht als nationales Engagement ernst: Link.
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2014/07/21

'Security policy' is strangely selective

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I remember how the German minister of defence Rühe began with the salami tactics towards German military missions overseas: A military hospital in Cambodia, which was still suffering due to the civil war.
Who could object to saving lives, without killing anyone? Nobody. That's how it began. And then they progressed slice by slice, until 1999 German combat aircraft were participating in air attacks on Yugoslavia, and shortly thereafter ground troops were in Kabul.

One of Rühe's successors, Struck, coined the often-ridiculed line about how Germany is supposedly 'being defended at the hindukush' (in Afghanistan). 

Now there's an Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Again, a few military hospitals could save lives. And this time it's less ridiculous to claim that sending troops (military hospitals) there would in some way protect Germans at home.

Yet nobody is even discussing this option in public.

May this be so because 

* helping there would not be perceived as creating bargaining chips for diplomacy?
 
* playing games with combat troops as game chips is more 'fun' to politicians?
 
* there would be no bureaucratic or industrial special interests being served, since such a mission wouldn't justify extra expenses such as extra troops, extra vehicles et cetera?
* there's no equivalent in the European Union to NATO's hawk-in-chief, Rasmussen, and his bureaucracy, which are hell-bent on proving 'relevance' through highly visible expeditions?

* the football world championship has satisfied the masses enough for a while?

* an ebola epidemic zone isn't all that attractive to journalists and thus there are few reports about the problem?


I suppose in a rational government which by whatever info came to the conclusion that military action in Afghanistan is worthwhile would certainly send plenty cargo aircraft and some military hospitals to West Africa and put them under control of whatever coordinator institution there is so far (I suppose WHO). Or it would at least create a civilian response under the lead of Médecins Sans Frontières, possibly giving military medical personnel paid leave for it.

S O
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2014/07/19

The cynicism and naïveté behind calls for ceasefires

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It had been noted during the 1990's that the UN's imposition of ceasefires (usually supported or driven by great powers) had in some cases prevented a relatively unbloody violent conclusion of a conflict and prolonged it very much.
The idea to tell people to stop killing each other (and the enforcement by great powers showing off their big sticks) had a strong charm, and these policies were easy to enact.
They were also mis-used by great powers to press the 'pause' button whenever their preferred party was about to lose.

Those were first and foremost policies of denying the enemy a 'victory', and of preventing the defeat of preferred parties.
The Western great powers advanced on this path farther, and by the time of the civil war in Libya they weren't satisfied to ask for ceasefires or safe zones and threatening with invasion - they actually got a UNSC resolution allowing them to intervene with violence to keep their preferred team(s) from getting defeated. Again, the non-preferred team wasn't allowed to win.

But then there are people who didn't get the cynicism in such policies and are actually naive enough to still buy into the idea that ceasefires, no-fly zones and so on are really first and foremost protective for the civilians.
These naive people sometimes call for ceasefires at the 'wrong' time, such as when the Ukrainian government was finally in the process of collapsing the separatist/infiltrator territory.
The less naive pols didn't join this chorus, of course.

And then there are the really, really inept ones who don't only accept the naive interpretation, but also completely lost an understanding for what the word "war" means. People such as those who now call for a ceasefire, so the remains of flight MH17 can be investigated properly.
They seriously call for a break in a war so something can be investigated.

That's like asking a stadium to wait a minute during a professional sports match so some marker on the grass can have its white refreshed a bit.

That's so very much outlandish and stuck in mindset of peace that I can only expect the Ukrainians and Russians to totally lose respect for such fools.

The Ukrainians have a civil war mixed with a paramilitary aggression at home, and are only days or weeks from settling it for good. I wonder how much stupidity and naïveté it takes to ask them to wait for days or weeks with this.


It's this kind of folly which makes me doubt that leading Western politicians are still capable of strategy, or even only strategic thought.

S O
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2014/07/18

A rather big link drop

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A link drop relevant to Defence and Freedom topics, in no particular order:



Debrief: A Complete History of U.s. Aerial Engagements - 1981 to the Present
This book isn't anywhere in a single German library, and thus unavailable to me for interlending.
I seriously consider to donate a copy to a library.


(Stanley Baldwin should have asked Canada to enact a Nickel embargo)

(one example of the gems in there)

(basically naval chaff, could appear in 'multispectral' smoke on land as well)



The Great Model 8 and 81
(This could have been an excellent quick fire carbine in WWI, especially with Spitzer bullet)

Before The Sturmgewehr: Assault Rifle Developments Prior to 1942

'B' - the flying car
(drive/VTOL drone concept)

SAM simulator
(exactly was it says)

Battle Report #10: Rossbach and Leuthen 1757
(A very nice summary of mid-18th century European land warfare state of the art)

Lorenzoni Repeating Flintlock Pistol
and
Girardoni Air Gun

Machine Guns vs DRONES - In real life
(video)

MMC Husqvarna Army Automatic
(proven Swedish snow-ready motorcycle)

Legal but not fair (Hungary)
(Hungary is slipping away from democracy, and almost everybody in Europe knows. There's much to learn from Hungary - in order to avoid a repeat)

It began with a Lie
(5 Parts TV documentary on Kosovo Air War propaganda/warmongering)

ground report: Motorcycles used as force multiplier in Afghanistan
(This clearly was beyond the horizon of large Western armed bureaucracies, though the small Lithuanian army's light infantry ('special forces') did this successfully.)

Acemoglu/Robinson: What's the problem with (Spanish) Catalunya?
On the birth of nationalism and conflict

YouGov: Umfrage: Deutsche wollen kein größeres militärisches Engagement

Sukhoi Test Pilot explains 'Supermaneuverability'

Wired: German Official: U.S. Spying ‘Biggest Strain’ in Relations Since Iraq War

Kurfürst - The Messerschmitt Bf 109 performance site

Heinkel He 100
(I didn't know there was a video of it, but the Japanese preserved one! Britain was so lucky it never entered mass production; its speed and range would have been devastating over South England in 1940.)

Forum thread on late Mirage 5 series
 (It's amazing how much these first Mach 2 generation airframes were adaptable later on.)

NYTimes: The Biology of Risk

Yes, this link drop is in part a compensation for my laziness regarding real, text-heavy, blog posts. 
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2014/07/15

Digital Eye in the Sky

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This is well past tolerable, and I seriously want this kind of technology outlawed completely. In the constitution.


S O
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[Deutsch] Digital Eye in the Sky

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Diese Technologie bzw. Kombination von Technologien ist weit jenseits von allem Tolerierbarem. 

Wir sollten dies verbieten, vorzugsweise in der Verfassung.

Und wenn das nicht funktioniert wäre das dann wohl der Artikel 20(4) Fall*.


S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

*: Natürlich weit gefasst und bezogen auf die Hardware, nicht auf Personen.
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"Maneuver Warfare: German Experiences in WWII"

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Those interested in the U.S.Army's Germanophilia of the 70's or  some German officer's' anecdotes will find seven likely interesting documents a the "The Blaster" blog:

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2014/07/11

Cowardice meets arrogance in UK surveillance stitch up

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For the British readers, and as a warning for others:

BoingBoing

The leadership of the major UK political parties are set to ram through a sweeping surveillance bill without debate or study. It's a perfect storm of cowardice and arrogance (...)
 
 

2014/07/08

Islamic [terror] threat is exaggerated by ‘oxygen of publicity,’ says former MI6 chief

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Finally!

Just two example articles:

"ISIS threat has been exaggerated, says former MI6 chief: Sir Richard Dearlove thinks 'pathetic' Britons spreading messages on internet should be ignored"

Islamic threat is exaggerated by ‘oxygen of publicity,’ says former MI6 chief


I've been saying (and writing) that the errorism threat is exaggerated for years.
The people who alerted so much about the errorists weren't the though ones; they were the easily-scared chickens or worse, professional cynical fearmongers.

S O
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2014/07/06

A guide for demanding a higher military budget

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I'm tired of the insultingly low level in some contributions to 'security policy' debates. Again, minutes of my life were wasted by reading just another pointless text on how "interests" -> "sea" -> "ships" -> "win!" without any logical connections, merely pretending to make any sense.


Thus here's a beginner's guide for how to make a coherent, logical and waterproof argument for an increase in military spending:

Step 1
Identify something dissatisfying in the distant future in a scenario with the baseline budget. Past, present or near future issues don't matter, for budget increases take effect slowly.*

Step 2
Monetarise the issue. You cannot possibly make a logical, conclusive, uninterrupted case for more spending when you don't convert from "issue" to "currency" at some point.*

Step 3
Discount the issue using the long term government bond real interest rate as internal interest rate. Money in the far future isn't the same as money right now, after all.

Step 4
Get an idea for how the military could lessen the issue (by doing ...).* Put a price tag on it, discounted.*

Step 5
Execute an ethics check. Benefits from bullying are unethical, drop any such plans.

Step 6
Reason and justify by how much the change in military spending could lessen the future troubles.* We're not stupid enough** to fool ourselves into thinking it could be a 100% cure, right?

Step 7
Discount the extra military spending. 

Step 8
Now you can compare the discounted reduction of troubles with the discounted extra expenses. Stop right here if the latter is higher.

Step 9
Identify alternative uses for the extra budget. Infrastructure investments, civilian foreign policy, education, disease prevention, crime fighting, whatever. Identify how much benefit could be gained* by the most promising alternative.

Step 10
Quantify the economic benefit from keeping the people in civilian jobs instead of hiring them as extra personnel for the military.* Discount this benefit.

Step 11
Compare the future benefits from more military spending with the most promising non-military alternative. 
STFU about more military spending if it doesn't show a superiority over the most promising civilian opportunities.

Step 12
Now consider the damages done to society by government revenue.* This puts an extra 1-30% price tag on government spending; administrative expenses of revenue gathering, judicial expenditures, cost of tax advisers, monetarised damage from suboptimal behaviour of dodging taxes with otherwise inefficient exploitation of tax loopholes etc.

Step 13
Compare the pro-more military funding net benefit left over from Step 11 with the costs from step 12.
STFU about more military spending if the "more military spending" case doesn't prevail.
You may wonder why not compare the extra military budgeting with the least efficient civilian spending already in the budget and then possibly shift the resources. They reason is simple; you may argue for the wasteful spending's removal separately, for it has no justification independent on what you do with the military budget. And when you did so with all wasteful spendings, you would have no such wasteful spending as benchmark left.


This isn't how wannabe advisers do it, of course. The just like the idea of the military having this or that additionally. They don't make an uninterrupted, logical case for more. They just prefer more, from gut level.

The many uncertainties involved in these steps prohibit a conclusive, uninterrupted case for a particular proposal for more military spending. Only god-like knowledge could build such an uninterrupted case for it. Nobody who argues for more military spending can prove his/her point. It's impossible. They may fake to have a strong case, though. And that's why there are so many phonies, so many "much style, little substance" types involved in this, and why officials with supposed authority of being insiders can fake making a good case for more military spending so well.

And that's why they all talk and write nonsense when the pretend to have a strong case for more military spending.


S O
*: Uncertainties involved in here.
**: Huge uncertainty involved in here.
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2014/07/04

On the current German drone debate

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(This text was a hasty one, wasn't written well. Read it as a mere pointer at a single aspect of the debate only, please.)

There's now a discussion in Germany about whether to buy armed drones or not.
This was to be expected, as I had noticed anecdotal evidence for a widespread aversion to armed drones caused by their use as assassination weapons and civilian deaths producers by the U.S.military and the CIA.

The people who are now oh-so exasperated about the drone thing aren't exactly strong on details.

Just a few examples;
  
(1) The Bundeswehr invested much money into the development of an autonomous attack (kamikaze) drone, and its introduction was prevented more by the end of the Cold War than by anything else: Taifun/TARES.
There was a budget for this development for years, yet seemingly none of those who now complain about ethical or other issues are remembered as having opposed this.
   
(2) There are already armed drones in use with the Bundeswehr. Some naval mine-hunting drones drop demolitions or explode themselves.
   
(3) What about artillery? A drone operator does at least see whom he kills or what (s)he destroys - few artillerymen ever do so.
   
(4) What about GBU-54? It's a marvellous piece of ammunition*; inertial navigation system, GPS, semi-active laser seeker - all attached to a good-sized bomb and to be dropped from 15,000+ ft altitude.
Germany imported it years ago without a public debate. The Typhoon pilot dropping this would look at a screen just as a drone pilot would. And don't get me started on Taurus...
   
(5) Naval warfare in general. Quite some separation of decision-maker and target in there, too. So why is there no ethical problem if this disassociation is supposedly such a problem with armed drones?
________________

That being said, the ministry of defence excuse that armed drones are necessary because of the fiduciary duty (~ don't expose men to risks if avoidable) is hardly a solid one. A Typhoon flying at 15,000 ft is safe in a war of occupation. A Reaper-like drone would not be of use in a real inter-state war. A Barracuda-like system might be survivable enough in a real inter-state war, but then the risks to 200 pilots are clearly overshadowed by the need for efficacy, as hundreds of thousands of troops and possibly sovereignty would be at stake.



I fear this is one of the many ill-guided anti-military fever attacks, similar to the silly campaign against small arms exports. They attempt to keep a Pandora's box closed that's not really closed any more, and has plenty substitutes anyway.
The whole military drones topic is a very mixed bag, and much could be said against the high endurance high altitude class which looks very much like an assassination- and occupation-only vehicle class to me. Some other drones make much sense.
Whatever anti-war energy is available should be directed better.

related:

S O

*: You could equip a combat aircraft with MICA IR and GBU-54 and would be able to fly about 90% of missions with just these two munitions.
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[Deutsch] Bezüglich der aktuellen Diskussion über bewaffnete Drohnen

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(edit: Dieser Text war ein reltaiver Schnellschuss, ist nciht gut geschrieben. Bitte lest ihn als bloßen Hinweis auf einen Einzelaspekt der Debatte.)

Wir haben nun also eine Diskussion über die mögliche Beschaffung bewaffneter Drohnen.
Man konnte diese Debatte eigentlich schon erwarten; ich hatte schon einige anekdotenhafte Wahrnehmungen einer weitverbreiteten Aversion gegen bewaffnete Drohnen, angetrieben durch die amerikanischen Drohnen-Attentate und die zahlreichen zivilen Opfer von Drohnen-Angriffen.

Doch eben diejenigen, die sich jetzt so echauffieren über diese mögliche Beschaffung scheinen nicht gerade standfest zu sein in den Details.


Hier mal ein paar Beispiele:
(1)Die Bundeswehr hat viel Geld in die Entwicklung autonomer Kampfdrohnen (die sich auf ihr Ziel stürzen und explodieren) ausgegeben, und ihre Einführung wurde bisher mehr vom Ende des Kalten Krieges als irgendwas Anderem verhindert.: Taifun/TARES
Es gab also Budgets hierfür über Jahre, doch scheinbar hat sich damals keine der jetzigen Gegenstimmen gemeldet gehabt.

(2) Es gibt bereits bewaffnete Drohnen in der Bundeswehr. Einige Minenjagddrohnen zum Beispiel legen Sprengladungen bei Seeminen ab oder sprengen sich selbst, um die Mine zu zerstören.

(3) Und Artillerie? Ein Drohnenpilot sieht zumindest wen er tötet oder was er zerstört - doch kaum ein Artillerist (der schießenden Artillerie) tut dies jemals.

(4) Und was mit der GBU-54? Das ist eine phänomenale Munition*; Trägheitsnavigation, GPS, halbaktiver Laserzielsucher - alles an eine Bombe von vielseitiger Größe montiert und auf etwa 5 km Höhe oder mehr ohne viel Risiken abwerfbar.
Deutschland hat die schon vor einigen Jahren importiert ohne irgendeine öffentliche Debatte. Doch ein Typhoon/Eurofighter Pilot, der diese Munition abwirft würde ebenso auf einen Bildschirm schauen wie ein Drohnenpilot. Und dann wäre da noch Taurus...

(5) Seekriegführung ganz allgemein. Da gibt es auch eine erhebliche Trennung zwischen Entscheider über Leben und Tod und Ziel. Also warum gibt es dort kein ethisches Problem der Trennung zwischen Entscheider und geschehen wie angeblich beim Drohnenpiloten?
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Doch die Ausrede der Bürokraten und Politiker von der Hardthöhe dass bewaffnete Drohnen wegen der Fürsorgepflicht nötig seien hat auch nicht Hand und Fuß.
Ein Pilot in einer Typhoon/Eurofighter Maschine auf 5 km Höhe ist in einem Besatzungskrieg wie Afghanistan praktisch sicher. Eine Reaper-artige bewaffente Drohne wäre jedoch in einem vollausgewachsenen Krieg zwischen Staaten ein leichtes Ziel und nutzlos. Eine Drohne im Stile von Barracuda mag sich darin zwar eher behaupten, aber in so einem Kriege sind die Risiken für um die 200 Piloten geradezu vernachlässigbar. Viel wichtiger ist dann die Wirksamkeit, denn am Boden stehen dann die Leben von hunderttausenden Soldaten auf dem Spiel, und womöglich auch die Souveränität.


Ich fürchte, dies ist bloß einer der vielen schlecht beratenen Fieberschübe der anti-Militär Bewegung, ähnlich zur aussichtlosen und dummen Kampagne gegen Sturmgewehre und so weiter. Die Bewegung will eine Büchse der Pandora geschlossen halten, doch die ist eigentlich längst offen, und ob offen oder nicht ist angesichts der Auswahl an Alternativen eigentlich unerheblich.
Das gesamte Thema der militärischen Drohnen ist sehr durchwachsen. Vieles kann eingewandt werden gegen Drohnen der Art, wie die Amerikaner sie für Attentate und Besatzungskriege verwenden. Andere Drohnen sind sehr sinnvoll.
Was auch immer die Friedensbewegung für Energiereserven mobilisieren kann - sie sollten besser gezielt eingesetzt werden.

themenverwandte Blogtexte:

S O

*: You could equip a combat aircraft with MICA IR and GBU-54 and would be able to fly about 90% of missions with just these two munitions.
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2014/07/02

A dissonance between leading decisions of the same day

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Yesterday was a strange day: Both the European Court of Justice for human rights and the German Federal Court of Justice published rulings, and they don't quite fit together.

The European Court ruled that a law which forbids people to wear face masks (basically an anti-Burqa law) is fine, for such covering up of the face is contrary to social interaction and thus undermines society.

Meanwhile, the German court ruled that the identity of the anonymous author of an online comment doesn't need be revealed, even if he lied. An exception is only fine for prosecution of crimes. So basically it upholds an individual's right to stay anonymous in one's interactions with others as long as one doesn't commit a crime.

example press reports: FAZ "Anonyme Äußerungen im Netz bleiben anonym" and FAZ "Straßburg erlaubt Burka-Verbot"
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This doesn't fit together in my opinion, and I have a strong suspicion: Later generations will rather reject the former than the latter decision. The European court's decision has a smell of a majority pushing (back) a minority, while the German court has the smell of supporting an established practice.


The French (and other countries') anti-burqa (rather anti-niqab) legislation doesn't seem to be wise anyway, but rather looks like an unnecessary infringement of freedom. It's a crude tool in a fight against an imported culture that hasn't been integrated well enough to be considered a subculture.

Veils don't necessarily look modest.
This is often a problem with large immigrant minorities; their communities often concentrate enough on a few spots (few cities, or city quarters) to retain much of their original culture (usually a rather rural and not very modernised subculture of their homeland). This is very often entirely unproblematic and may even be considered a useful seed - especially if they import previously unheard-of trades. The Chinese beer brewery central of China is the small former protectorate/colony/whatever of Tsingtao, for example. German food choices have been enriched very much by Turks, Greeks and Italians - and then blends of indigenous and foreign food cultures were created.

What doesn't work so well is when immigrants maintain their culture enough to persist as foreign bodies in a society instead of as a subculture group - and especially so if their incomes stagnate below average (much above average isn't without issues either; see the Lebanese traders in Africa).

An inaccurate ban on a visual symptom of non-integration is crude and regrettably best-suited to provoke a perception of oppression. I doubt the court would have upheld the law with the same reasoning about social interaction if there was no Burqa debate and the plaintiff was a club of motorcyclists, a fan club of full beards and reflective sunglasses or a Tuareg representative (in which the men wear full face covers). The social interaction thing is likely just a pretence, an excuse.

We need to find smarter ways to address cultural integration issues. The French have a particularly rich choice of options in this regard.


S O

P.S.: Not all pseudo-Islamic headwear is a Burqa:
link to January 2014 Mail Online article on how the different headwears are called, and where they are popular. 
Another link to the Islamic Myths blog writing about how the Qu'ran actually doesn't require such headwear.

The Al-Amira/JJiljab/Hijab headwear was IIRC up to the 1990's a typical elderly woman headwear in Germany.
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