July 31, 2006

Israelis should not be depressed by the world’s condemnation of their accidental killing of Lebanese kids paired with its silence on Hezbollah’s deliberate killing of Israeli kids. It’s fueled by a dishonest MSM, anti-Semitism, and envy. There’s nothing to be done about any of these pathologies, so they might as well get on with killing off Hezbollah at minimum cost to themselves.

The 2 day lifting of airstrikes in Southern Lebanon will allow some Hezbollah assets to escape, but leaves those that don’t without their protective civilians. They’ll be easy to eliminate, and then Israel gets a defensible free-fire zone.

Providing the US keeps the ordnance flowing, there’s not much Israel’s many other enemies can do to stop it.

With the possible exception of the Syrians, nobody has the combination of the means and motivation – the EU lacks the motivation, and the Muslims the means.

Syria is a risk. It’s army and airforce won’t survive long but – if Israel’s BMD doesn’t work – Syria can make a mess of Tel Aviv with Scuds. The Syrian dictator might think trying and losing will win him prestige and another few decades in power.

On the other hand, the Israeli drone images I’ve seen indicate that they are really world class – high resolution, high bandwidth, nicely image stabilized, and with splendid pattern recognition. So killing the Syrian leaders may not be that hard.

MSM Lies – A Primer

July 31, 2006

A forensic analysis by Richard North reveals that two dead kids from the Qana bombing were paraded for an entire day by one individual – presumably a Hezbollah operative – to enable Reuters, AP and AFP to stage pictures.

You can read the expose here – what follows is a deconstruction of the fabricated event sequence.

The pictures all show the same man, a claimed “rescue worker” who I’ve given the code “A”, and the dead bodies of two kids, who I’ve coded “1″ and “2″.

Here’s the sequence using the times given by the agencies:

“Rescue Worker” Dead Kid Event Time Agency
A 1 Body pulled from wreckage 2:21 PM Reuters
A 1 Display for photographer 12:25 PM Reuters
A 1 Display for photographer 12:53 PM AP
A 1 Display for photographer 1:01 PM AP
A 1 Display for photographer 4:09 PM AP
A 1 Display for photographer 4:30 PM Reuters
A 2 Carrying to Red Cross worker untimed AP
A 2 Display for photographer 10:44 P AP
A 2 Display for photographer untimed AP
A and B 2 Placing body on gurney 7:16 PM AFP
A 2 Placing body in ambulance 10:25 AM AP
None 2 Body in ambulance 7:21 AM AP

It’s a tragedy these kids died, but parading their bodies for a day to stage these sequences was disgusting.

The dishonesty does not stop with AP, Reuters, and AFP – the UN and Red Cross workers on the site must have been complicit.

I hope that this analysis is used to train student journalists in the dangers of dishonest reporting. But doubt it.

Buying Online

July 30, 2006

The laptop quest exposes weaknesses in online vendors and suggests real-world retailers will be with us forever.

Manufacturer websites on my shortlist all have good spec sheets, but don’t answer important questions:
- How hot does it get on your lap?
- How annoying is the fan and how often does it cut in?
- How bright is the screen?
- How quickly does it boot up?
- Are keyboard and trackpoint ergonomics good?
- What’s the battery life like a) now, with screen on full brightness and b) after a year?
- Does it stop you viewing multiregion DVDs?

You look to online user reviews to answer these type questions – but few new products have them. And when they do, they’re either obviously written by their product manager (Fantastic!), or a competitor (Terrible!), or by people enraged by a probably rare quality defect.

That’s in part because if the product works, you don’t use precious time telling the world.

But if there’s a problem with the product, and you’re either public spirited or vengeful, you may post – so where are these negative posts? My experience with CNet & Amazon is that’s because negative posts can be suppressed or delayed, probably for legal reasons.

So online reviews are great for books, but I wouldn’t trust them for anything else.

That’s why people continue to buy big-ticket items from real retailers.

Why Are Muslim Fighters Cowards?

July 30, 2006

Islamic fighters hide behind innocents, a practice we consider cowardly. I suspect it’s all of a piece with Islam’s predilection for rape. The West grew from a high trust religion, Christianity, which emphasizes protection of the weak, whereas Islam is low trust, so treats the weak as fair game.

Western use of human shields is remarkable enough to invite special comment. Here a French WW2 fighter ace described his agonizing decision to proceed with a rocket attack on Wehrmacht tanks the Germans had surrounded by Dutch women and kids.

But Islamic hostage taking is SOP – from the Mullah’s 1981 US embassy hostages, thorough Saddam Hussein’s Brit civilian hostages in the Gulf War, to the present day:

The man suspected in a fatal shooting rampage hid behind a potted plant in a Jewish charity’s foyer and forced his way through a security door by holding a gun to a 13-year-old girl’s head, the police chief said Saturday.

Once inside, police say, Naveed Afzal Haq opened fire with two semiautomatic pistols.

And Hezbollah hiding behind Lebanese civilians:

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed deep regret on Sunday for the harm inflicted on civilians in Qana earlier when at least 57 civilians – 37 of who were children – were killed as the IAF fired missiles at a building in the southern Lebanese town.

Olmert said that the area was a focal point for the firing of Katyusha rockets on Kiryat Shmona and Afula. He said that from the outset of the conflict, “hundreds of rockets have been fired from the Qana area.”

Not to mention Hamas hiding behind a captured Israeli soldier and Arab kids.

I don’t think this behavior arises because it’s the only route available to the powerless – these killers clearly aren’t powerless, they have billions of dollars from Iran and Syria. And would an oppressed Westerner think it OK to hide behind innocents? I don’t think so.

In fact differing attitudes to the weak lie at the core of the clash of our civilizations – Muslims think our protection of the weak is a weakness, which they can exploit. Their religion focuses on physical strength – men can beat their wives, kids can be raped and hanged, and so on.

But in our societies you don’t have to be physically strong to contribute to our prosperity – 13-year-old girls can grow up be a nuclear physicists, or even soldiers. So our nations are rich and theirs are poor.

And that makes the Israelis that died trying to avoid civilian casualties not just local heroes, but heroes of our civilization.


July 29, 2006

Wal-Mart discovers Germans are miserable!

Wal-Mart …,the world’s largest retailer said it was now selling its 85 German hypermarkets… a move that would cost $1bn (£540m) in pre-tax losses, it said.

Wal-Mart entered the German market eight years ago…but despite generating sales of $2.5bn a year, it never posted a profit.

Critics said Wal-Mart failed to understand the different culture in Germany. Its attempts to introduce “greeters” to every store, with orders to smile at every customer, is said to have been particularly unpopular.

Germans shoppers would have flocked to greeters who barked orders at them, delayed them with lengthy complaints about their health problems, and barged in front of them.

Weapons Win Wars

July 29, 2006

Unfortunately few politicians understand this – Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars was a shining exception. Recently, pols in both the US and Israel decided not to deploy essential weapons, and people will die as a result. The president and Mr Olmert should reverse these foolish decisions immediately.

First, a historical example:

The great victory naval over the French and Spanish at Trafalgar was a consequence of one superior Brit weapon – the carronade. This was (p139):

…a short, light, wide calibre gun, with little recoil, known informally as “The Smasher” and…mounted on a fixed carriage. The bores of the guns could be machined with greater accuracy because they were short…as a result, less powder was necessary…

The largest carronade fired a 68 pound ball, making a large ragged and splintered hole in the enemy’s hull, difficult for enemy carpenters to plug. Carronades were, however, useless at long range; Nelson’s tactics were to bring his ships as close as possible to the enemy before he opened fire.

Like all weapons, the carronade was a compromise – devastating, but you had to get in close. It was successful because the Brits had Lord Nelson’s courage, tactical brilliance and leadership to have the Brit ships hold fire until they were very close.

Now consider here’s a modern carronade:

On Thursday, July 20, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee cut funding for the Navy’s Conventional Trident Modification Program, a Bush administration plan to arm Trident-2 ballistic missiles deployed on submarines with conventional, as opposed to nuclear weapons.

Opponents have argued that such a weapon could cause Russia, China, or another third party to mistakenly perceive a U.S. nuclear missile attack.

That means that the US will not have the option of using kinetic weapons to take out the Iranian nuclear program.

So now the US must use nukes (which it won’t), or lose B-2s and F-15s to the Russian/Iranian missile defenses. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s decision is particularly idiotic because the US can deal with the Russia/China concern (no doubt raised by State pinkos) by just extending the protocol the 3 nations now use to warn each other of test firings.

The Israelis can be doltish too (my ellipsis):

Uri Rubin, former head of the Arrow project (ABM system deployed against SRBMs), told me in an interview from Israel this week that the relatively poor accuracy of the cheap Katyushas has been an argument against investing in an expensive anti-Katyusha defense system. This cost-comparison calculus was one reason Israel shelved plans to deploy Northrop Grumman’s THEL system, whose lasers routinely have shot down Katyushas at the Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Speaking this week about the earlier decision, Mr. Rubin said, “You also have to compare the cost of no defense”–for lives or infrastructure.

Mr. Rubin shared with me an unpublished paper he wrote with Dan Hazanovsky on “The Emerging Threat of Very Short-Range Ballistic Missiles,” or VSBMs…the same dynamic that makes cheap, fast electronic products available to consumers will do the same to electronic missile weaponry.

Rubin is saying that Israel shouldn’t spend money on shooting down Katyushas – 1500 have hit it recently – but instead worry about an as-yet nonexistent threat of GPS guided short-range rockets. His is a common engineering management failing – he wants to solve tomorrow’s problem rather than use today’s boring and imperfect technology. Especially because solving tomorrow’s problem brings lots of nice R&D contracts! Brits call this reasoning “The best is the enemy of the good”.

Israel is fighting for its existence, and the US faces a high mid-term risk of losing cities to Iranian and/or NoKo nukes. Neither nation can afford to entrust its weapons procurement to incompetents.

The president should immediately fund the Trident kinetic warhead as a black program – it’s so inexpensive, nobody will notice it. And put a John Bolton type in charge of the Russian/Chinese negotiation – State will just block it.

The Israelis should deploy THEL immediately – it won’t be perfect, but the IDF will quickly find how to use it best – positioning, provisioning, decoys etc. And, quite possibly, they’ll find all they need to de-fang Hezbollah is a THEL screen in S. Lebanon, which will greatly improve Israel’s political options.

French Electricity

July 28, 2006

Brits believe in Free Trade, so tolerate French buying Brit companies even though the French stop Brits buying theirs. But there’s a price to putting the French in charge – they kill you.

From London today:

Another wave of power cuts could shut down parts of the capital for the second day running, energy giant EDF warned today.

EDF said high demand caused by hot weather was still putting extra pressure on the network.

In a statement, EDF said it “hoped to avoid” further power cuts today, but said: “the current problems, combined with high demand due to the ongoing hot weather, are continuing to put additional pressure on the local network infrastructure.”

Jace Tyrrell, spokesman for the New West End Company which represents traders on Oxford St and Regent St, said: “You would expect a company like EDF to have proper plans in place to restore power supply to the West End and communicate with businesses.

EDF is the French state owned Electricité de France, which in 1998:

Electricite de France (EDF) …won the battle to buy London Electricity from US owner Entergy for a total price tag of £1.9bn ($3.14bn).

Brits presumably weren’t bothered by control moving from a a US company to the French state. But then in 2003:

The French Government has come under attack for its handling of the heatwave gripping the country, which doctors say has claimed 100 lives.

Power remains critical, as French giant EDF urges consumers to reduce their electricity use.

Seems they didn’t reduce their power use enough (my emphasis):

2003 European Heat Wave

14,802 people, mostly elderly, died in France from heat, according to the country’s largest funeral service.

Many bodies were not claimed for many weeks because relatives were on holiday. A refrigerated warehouse outside Paris was used by undertakers, because they didn’t have enough space in their own facilities.

In any other civilized country, a company complicit in 15,000 deaths would have been sued to death – but this was France. It’ll be interesting to see if Brit victims of EDF are as supine.

En passant, France could stop the Middle East fighting simply by putting EDF in charge of Hezbollah’s power supply – without aircon, the terrorists will be Frit in their bunkers. Mmm.

(Sorry about the formatting – Blogger has gone nuts – maybe another EDF customer?)

Time For The Fallujah Option

July 27, 2006

Israeli soldiers are dying as they try to protect Hezbollah’s human shields. The IDF should radically reduce its casualties by adopting the US tactics used in Fallujah. Short term, more civilians will die, but long term Israel’s enemies will be cowed by a quick defeat of Hezbollah, reducing future slaughter.

Israeli troops are facing an enemy that – courtesy Iran, Syria and the UN – has had 6 years to dig in, accumulate weapons stocks, establish a robust communications network, survey ambush routes, plant mines etc.

In the Israeli tradition of leading from the front, it has deployed its best and brightest – yesterday in one street fight it lost a Lieutenant Colonel, 3 Lieutenants, 2 Staff Sergeants and 2 Sergeants.

The battle lasted for several hours during which Asor and his men sustained heavy casualties and killed at least 40 Hezbollah guerrillas, some in gun battles at point-blank range.

This kill ratio of 5 Hezbollah to 1 Israeli will get better as IDF tactics evolve, but it’s way too high

In hand to hand fighting, barbarians are just as effective as we are – even better, because their moral defects can give them an advantage. Hezbollah’s use of civilians as human shields means the IDF has to hunt them retail, rather than just destroying their bases and bunkers from afar. In battle Hezbollah will kill civilians as a matter of policy, be indifferent to their own dead and wounded, and torture and kill captives.

They’re the same as the Dervishes Winston Churchill fought in the Sudan, the Somalis in the Black Hawk Down episode, and a string of other tribes the Brits and Americans have fought over the years.

So fighting barbarians face-to-face is a mug’s game – you need overwhelming firepower. In the Battle of Fallujah, about 70 US soldiers died but the enemy lost about 1300. Here’s Wikipedia (I don’t trust their numbers):

The city suffered extensive damage. Before the war, it was estimated that the city had 200 mosques. Some claim 60 of these had been destroyed in the fighting. Perhaps half the homes suffered at least some damage. About 7,000 to 10,000 of the roughly 50,000 buildings in the town are estimated to have been destroyed in the offensive, and half to two-thirds of the buildings have suffered notable damage.

That’s a kill ration of about 20 to 1; a number I suspect has been pretty constant since the time of the Romans.

The big difference between Fallujah and Lebanon was that the US had cordoned off Fallujah, so that anyone still there was almost bound to be a terrorist. That enabled it to use massive bombardment without fear of heavy civilian casualties, so minimizing hand-to-hand combat (although there were still plenty of those).

In Lebanon, the population has not been cleared out and the UN is acting as a human shield – there are analyses of Annan’s duplicity here and here.

Israel is a small nation and no doubt feels vulnerable to charges that it kills civilians and UN observers. So it hasn’t adopted Fallujah tactics, opting for very dangerous house-to-house fighting.

This will work, but at a cost in high quality Israel lives, money, and time. There are said to be about 6,000 Hezbollah, and they can be destroyed as a fighting force by killing their leader and about half their fighters – say 3,000. At 5 to 1, that’s 600 Israeli dead – weighted for population, equivalent to 6,000 Brits or 30,000 Americans. Not huge by WW2 standards, but a big hit for our softer modern societies.

The Fallujah approach would kill more civilians and any UN soldiers daft enough to stick around. But at 20 to 1, only 150 Israelis will die – a lot, but arguably a price worth paying for a few decades of peace.

The Israeli government should demand – perhaps with Canadian support – the withdrawal of all UN troops and non-combatant civilians leave within 36 hours. Then the IDF should use heavy weaponry to kill Hezbollah in its bunkers.

Provided the US keeps the bunker busters and daisy cutters flowing, that should be the work of a few weeks.

The useful idiots will excoriate Israel, but they’ll do that whatever.

The destruction of Hezbollah will teach Israel’s enemies that the human shield tactic doesn’t work against a nation fighting for its existence. Then we’ll have decades of peace and – who knows – Iraqi led democracy taking over the Middle East.

Not So Friendly Fire

July 26, 2006

The United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) has been a spectacular failure, even by the standards of that corrupt organization, and should be withdrawn to prevent the deaths of more of its un-peacekeepers.

It was tasked with (my ellipsis):

…the following objectives:

(1) Confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon;

(2) Restore international peace and security;

(3) Assist the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area.

(4) Additionally, the 2006 mandate extension required assisting the Lebanese government in establishing a “monopoly” on military action, adding impetus to disarm Hizbullah guerillas.

UNIFIL has clearly failed to achieve items 2, 3 and 4. Led by a Frenchman (a French general set up the UN’s (un)safe havens in Bosnia), and with 2,000 poorly-equipped men, it was never going to take on Hezbollah. Instead, it supported them and put itself right in the middle of the war it failed to prevent (my emphasis):

Prior to the…Israel-Lebanon conflict of July 2006, Israel had been lobbying for UNIFIL to either take a more active role vis-a-vis Hezbollah (for example, preventing Hezbollah from setting up military posts adjacent to UNIFIL’s in the hope this will deter Israel from attacking them), or to step out of the region (thereby voiding the Lebanese government’s excuse for not deploying its army along the border).

Letting terrorists to build their bases next to your own is suicidal, since it makes you vulnerable to friendly fire, which kills about 20% of combatants.

UNIFIL’s troops should head home and leave the Israelis to clear up the mess they were tasked with preventing.

And the UN should accept that no civilized country will ever again rely on its corrupt, sexually abusive and incompetent “peacekeepers”.

Dead Man Talking

July 25, 2006

The Hezbollah leader talks like an incompetent junior manager – with the difference that making a big mistake in business gets you fired, whereas the Israelis will kill this guy.

This is from Captain’s Quarters (great Minnesotan blog!), a transcript of an Al-Jazeera interview with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah (my ellipsis):

Interviewer: “Did you inform (the Labanese government) that you were about to abduct Israeli soldiers?”

Hassan Nasrallah: “I told them that we must resolve the issue of the prisoners, and that the only way to resolve it is by abducting Israeli soldiers.”

Interviewer: “Did you say this clearly?”

Hassan Nasrallah: “Yes, and nobody said to me: ‘No, you are not allowed to abduct Israeli soldiers.’

Even if they had told me not to… I’m not defending myself here. I said that we would abduct Israeli soldiers, in meetings with some of the main political leaders in the country. I don’t want to mention names now, but when the time comes to settle accounts, I will. They asked: ‘If this happens, will the issue of the prisoners be over and done with?’ I said that it was logical that it would.

And I’m telling you, our estimation was not mistaken. I’m not exaggerating.

Anywhere in the world – show me a country, show me an army, show me a war, in which two soldiers, or even civilian hostages, were abducted, and a war was waged against a country – and all for two soldiers.

This has never happened throughout history, and even Israel has never done such a thing.”

He’s saying it’s not really his fault, because someone in authority told him it was OK, and that he failed to foresee the consequences of his actions.

I once fired a manager who talked exactly like this idiot – he’d bullied a long standing, strategic, and trusted supplier to our company. So they’d shut off shipments to us, preventing us making a key delivery.

The manager claimed he’d mentioned his plan to his boss when they were in the men’s room and his boss hadn’t replied (he hadn’t heard), and that he never expected they’d shut us down. He was out the door in 5 minutes.

Hezbollah killed the last Israelis they kidnapped, and Nasrallah has probably killed the latest two. So now he knows that, with this Israeli government, he’s a dead man.

It would take a heart of stone, etc.


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