Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Germany arrests spy working for their inteligence agency who was trying to pass on information to Jihadists.

German Intelligence Agency office in Cologne. EPA/Washington Post.

Germany has arrested a spy working for their main intelligence service who is accused of passing on information to Jihadists. Washington Post. The man worked for the German Intelligence Agency (BfV) and was leading a secret double life. Not only was the man a star in homosexual pornographic films as recently as 2011, he also secretly converted to Islam in 2014, despite the fact that he was married with four kids. The man, who's name is being withheld by the BfV, has been charged with conspiring to commit a violent act and violating state secrecy laws. He had entered a chatroom used by Jihadists and tried to pass on information on how terrorists could strike at the BfV, but was intercepted by coworkers who were monitoring the chatroom. The man was a recent hire tasked with monitoring the very Muslims that he tried to help and serious questions are being raised about the vetting process that somehow missed the fact that he was not only a gay pornstar but also a crypto-Muslim.

My Comment:
What a bizarre story. A family man not only lived a secret life as a homosexual pornstar but he then converted to Islam and then got hired by the German equivalent of the FBI. Once there, he betrays them and gets caught. If I hadn't read the story from multiple sources, I wouldn't believe it myself. Indeed, it sounds like something out of a bad thriller movie. 

One thing is for sure though. The people in charge of vetting this person failed and failed miserably. Though I am sure the Germans, as liberal and "open minded" as they are wouldn't disqualify someone for acting in a gay porn, they probably should have found the fact that he was living a double life. I doubt his kids and wife knew that he acted in a pornographic film or two, so that leaves him completely open to blackmail. He never should have been hired. Even if he hadn't been a secret Muslim trying to pass on information to Jihadists. 

Finding out that he was an Islamic convert is even stranger. Indeed, you would think the last person to convert to Islam and help terrorist groups would be a guy that started in a gay film. After all, Islam has a very negative view of homosexuality, with it being a capital crime in some Islamic countries and frowned upon everywhere else. And the people he was trying to help, presumably ISIS or a related group, hate gays so much that they like to murder them by throwing them off of buildings... or worse. 

I don't know exactly how much leeway there is in the various strains of Islam for homosexuality. I know in Afghanistan, rape of boys by older men is common and nobody seems to care about it even though that's way worse then being gay, even by their standards. On the other had though, ISIS murders gay people and Islamic countries oppress the LGBT community pretty heavily. With that being said, I honestly don't know if helping to plan a terror attack would redeem this guy in the eyes of a radical Muslim. I can't honestly believe that it would redeem him in the eyes of a radical Jihadist, but I also think that ISIS and other terror groups are certainly capable of being hypocrites on the issue... Either way, it's a strange twist in an already disturbing case.

I am also concerned that crypto-Muslim sleeper agents could start to be a thing. That is what happened in this case. He converted in secret and then joined the BfV to do as much harm as possible. Such a strategy probably would have worked if he had been smarter about trying to contact Jihadists. He made a huge mistake by chatting somewhere he knew or should have known that his coworkers were monitoring. As always, our best ally against Islamic terrorism is the stupidity of terrorists.

Still, I wonder how common this kind of thing is. There are a lot of people that work in critical areas like this who either convert in secret of harbor Jihadists views that they do not share openly. Since Islamic terrorism is the hot button issue people who are Muslim or speak Middle Eastern languages are in high demand. The problem is that many of them could be double agents. Though this guy trying to start a terrorist attack, who is to say what else he could have done while employed at the BfD? 

Of course, this is nothing new at all. Double agents have been a thing since the beginning of human conflict. It happened all the time during the Cold War, so it shouldn't be shocking that it continues into the war on terror. People will always find reasons to betray their countries. Sometimes it's for something as simple as cash. Other times it is because of poor treatment. Some do it just for the thrill of it. But I think that anyone betraying to ISIS or other terrorist organizations are going to be doing it for ideology... 

What can be done about it? Other then what we do already? Not much. We just have to keep a close eye on the people we trust to keep us safe. We need people to watch the watchers, which makes what this man's coworkers did so important. People, even in the highest echelons of government, need to speak up when they find something suspicious and make sure that sleeper agents don't cause to much damage. 

And this man could have done massive damage to the BfV. If he had succeeded in contacting Jihadists, he could have given them the keys to the kingdom. Not only could he have planned a devastating strike that would have left German intelligence in shambles and many people dead and injured, he could have fed ISIS, or whoever he was trying to get in contact with, critical information on how to avoid detection. I can't understate how dangerous this situation could have been... Let's hope that we keep being this lucky.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Video shows Danish pilot landing a Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk on a ship during rough seas.

The above video is of a Danish pilot landing a Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopter during extreme conditions. The pilot had nerves of steel trying to land that helicopter. Not only did he had to hit a target moving forward, the rough seas were bouncing the ship up and down. That has to be one of the most difficult things to do in a helicopter, which is already one of the harder aircraft to fly.

As hard it is to land a fighter jet on the deck of an aircraft carrier, it's gotta be way worse to land a helicopter on a ship like this. The video didn't say what kind of ship this is, but it was probably a frigate or a destroyer, a very small target indeed.

Not much else to say about this one. It was a slow news day and I couldn't find much else to post about. Still, a crazy video is always worth posting, even if I don't have too much to say about it!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Ohio State University attacker was a Somali Muslim refugee

Abdul Razak Ali Artan as he appeared in an interview with the school newspaper. The Lantern/NBC

The suspect in the Ohio State University attack which sent 11 people to the hospital was a Somali Muslim refugee named Abdul Razak Ali Artan. NBC News. Artan rammed his car into a crowd of people who had evacuated Ohio State buildings after a fire alarm, presumably caused by Artan himself. He then pulled a knife out and started stabbing people before being shot by a police officer. Artan, a student at Ohio State, was by all accounts a good student who had already graduated with an associates degree with honors from a community college. However, police have discovered social media posts where he praised the late al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki and made references to lone wolf attacks. 

My Comment:
As I was following this story this morning I immediately thought that this was probably a terrorist attack. I thought that the use of a vehicle and a knife probably indicated someone who wanted to cause chaos and destruction but didn't have the resources to get a better weapon or explosives. That showed to me that it was probably a lone wolf attacker. I also thought the attack was going to break a few narratives since even before the attack was concluded people on social media were calling for more gun control... despite the fact that the suspect didn't have a gun. 

With this new information out now, I have no doubt that this was a terrorist attack. Artan was a Somali Muslim, which isn't damning on it's own. But the fact that he had social media posts praising Anwar al-Awlaki and ranting about lone wolf attacks pretty clearly indicate that he did this for political reasons, not personal ones. 

Though I haven't heard of any connections to any specific terrorist groups, the type of attack indicates to me that Artan was probably reading Islamic State propaganda. Indeed, they just released a brutal video, that was briefly on youtube, that showed potential recruits how to use knives in a terror attack. They demonstrated their techniques on a real person that they murdered. They have long called for lone wolf attacks using any weapon available, and have even suggested using vehicles as weapons.  

Even if Artan did not directly work for ISIS, it seems probable that he was inspired by the terror group. He followed their instructions closely and was actually pretty clever about how he conducted the attack. Pulling a fire alarm and then attacking the people gathered around outside was a clever move. He failed at killing anyone besides himself but had the police officer not shown up when he did, his attack may have been much more successful. 

Speaking of which, the cop that shot down Artan is a hero. He stopped a terror attack that could have killed a lot of people. Like I said, Artan was smart and the only reason nobody died but him is because he got shot. 

This attack also strengthens the argument against taking in refugees from Muslim countries. From what I understand, Artan was one of the good ones before all this happened. He was doing well in school and was part of the community. Had he not done what he did he would have been held up as a propaganda tool for the supporters of immigration. A guy going to a top university who already graduated with honors from a community college seems like someone that has a future. 

Instead he decided to devote himself to terrorism. Instead of becoming a productive member of the community, he decided to die trying to murder as many people as possible. Which begs the question, if someone like Artan can fall to the false song of Jihad, why can't the rest of the Somali Muslims brought into the country? If one of the "good ones" who has a bright future and looks like he had a good shot of integrating into American society commits a brutal terror attack, what chance does someone with a lot fewer IQ points and no prospects do? 

Indeed, if we have never brought Artan into this country then this attack never would have happened. I think the people that let him into the country deserve almost as much blame for this terror attack as the man who pulled if off. I am hoping that our president elect takes a new direction when it comes to immigration from Muslim areas. I also want to say that this was a reason why I didn't vote for the governor of Ohio, John Kasich in the primaries. He has been pro-immigration from the start and right now he is reaping what he has sown. 

However, such a change will not do anything about the Muslims already here that may be considering terror attacks. What can we do about them? Honestly, not much. The propaganda from the Islamic State is easily accessible and not something we can really prevent.  And trying to do so would probably be unconstitutional. 

What might help though is if people would actually report people when they start praising famous terrorists and ranting about lone wolf attacks. The fact that nobody turned in Artan for his social media posts tells me one of two things. Either nobody that he was friends with thought what he was posting was all that bad or people were too afraid of being called racists or bigots to report him. 

We can do things about both issues. We need to encourage American Muslims to report suspicious people like this. To be fair, many of them do and have reported Jihadists, but the ones that haven't need to be reached. Secondly, we also need to make it acceptable politically to report Muslims who express Jihadists ideology. Doing so alone isn't illegal but given how dangerous the threat is, people who profess support for terrorist should be investigated. 

I think it is significant that this attack occurred at a college. I think if a college student had seen what Artan was planning they would be even less likely to report it then people in the real world. To do so, especially through school channels, would risk being labeled a bigot and could even lead to being expelled. And given how apologetic the left is to Muslim terrorists, there is a good chance that many people were convinced that what Artan was saying was acceptable. 

That needs to change and it needs to change now. It's not bigoted to report someone who is making threats, even if that person is a Muslim. It is also not bigoted to call for a halt to immigration from Muslim countries when refugees and 2nd generation immigrants are committing horrible terror attacks. Perhaps someday if Islam has a reformation movement it will become safer to let these people in. But right now it doesn't seem to be worth the risk... 

Syrian regime recaptures 1/3rd of Aleppo, splits rebel territory in two.

Syrian soldiers celebrate the victory. BBC/SANA

The Syrian regime has recaptured one third of the territory in Aleppo, in a major victory against the rebels. BBC. Regime troops have captured the Sakhour district from the rebels. The capture of Sakhour has split the rebel holdings in Aleppo in two and makes their position much worse then it was. The advance comes after heavy bombing and Syrian troops are clearing mines and booby traps before they continue the offensive. Thousands of civilians have fled the fighting, many of them to the Kurdish controlled enclave in the city. 

My Comment:
This is a massive victory for the Syrian regime. Aleppo has always been Syria's 2nd city and to have it be a major base of the rebel movement has always been a thorn in the side of the Syrian regime. The city has been a battlefield since the start of the war and to finally begin to recapture it is a huge moment for the regime. 

And it looks like the regime is going to win in Aleppo. If you look at the map posted above it seems pretty clear that the rebels have been split in half. I am not sure how accurate that map is, or how strong the regime's control is of the area, but if it is true then the rebels are in some serious trouble. 

Aleppo was already cut off and the rebels were having some serious supply problems already. They are running out of food and ammo and will not be able to resupply without outside intervention. The massive defeat in the Sakhour district will only compound these problems. Not only have their forces been split in two, they also presumably lost quite a bit of supplies and weapons in the chaos of the offensive. Not to mention the loss of troops. 

It also seems likely that morale among the rebels is very low and that they finally broke. I think they realized that nobody is going to rescue them and that their situation is untenable. Still, you would think that they would fight right? There isn't anywhere to flee since the regime and Kurds control all the territory around Aleppo and they are under siege. Their only hope is to hold on long enough so rebels outside the Aleppo pocket can battle to relive them. That probably isn't going to happen but any hope is better than no hope at all... 

I wonder what will happen after Aleppo finally falls. The way things are going I can see that happening in the next month or so. I worry that the Syrian regime will show no quarter to any rebels left in the city. After all, the brutality of the Syrian regime is a major reason the rebellion happened in the first place. I hardly expect Assad to offer up an olive branch. Slaughter is generally the default end to a siege throughout history and even in the 21st century I think that is still true

I think that the international community could make this situation better. If there was pressure on the rebels to surrender perhaps a deal could be made to spare their lives? That seems to be the only way that the rebels could survive in anyways. Either they will die in combat, starve or they will end up dying in the regime's prisons. 

No matter what though, it looks like the rebel's power base in Aleppo is broken. Though Aleppo has not yet fallen, it seems inevitable. When that happens, I think that the rebels are essentially done. There are some exceptions, the Turkish rebels and the rebels working with the Kurds will still survive, but the main rebel groups will have their power broken and destroyed. 

With the main rebel groups routed that means that the Syrian regime and their Russian and Iranian allies can move their focus to the Jihadist groups, such as ISIS and al-Nusra. Al-Nusra Front, or whatever they are calling themselves these days, controls vast swaths of Western Syria. ISIS still controls much of the East and are still besieging the city of Dier Ez Zoir. 

My question is which group the regime will focus on first. Both groups are dangerous but I think ISIS is the greater threat to the world. Al-Nusra might be the more immediate threat to the regime so they might go first. If not though, expect a drive towards either the de-facto capital of ISIS, Raqqa, or a relief column to Dier Ez Zor. 

No matter what happens it seems as though there is some light at the end of the tunnel for the Syrian civil war. With the rebels losing in Aleppo it seems as though the regime will survive. Though Assad is a brutal and evil dictator, letting the war continue would be worse. I sincerely hope that the war will finally end... 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

A few thoughts on the death of Fidel Castro...

Cuban Americans celebrate the death of Fidel Casutro in Miami Florida's Little Havana neighborhood. USA Today/Naples Daily News.

Fidel Castro, the communist dictator of Cuba, has finally died. He had transferred most of his power to his brother, Raul Castro quite some time ago, but he still had quite a bit of significance. People are celebrating and mourning his death throughout the world. In Little Havana, Cuban Americans are celebrating his death, while leftists across the world are mourning him. 

Count me in the first category. I'm not Cuban but I despise Communism and I am happy to see the last cold warrior go. I never liked Castro and hated his politics. I am glad he is dead. He's a brutal dictator and had a huge role in the Cuban missile crisis. Had we not been really lucky with that crisis, the world might have ended before I was even born. 

Castro also had a horrible record on human rights. He often jailed his political appointments and has routinely opposed LGBT people. Fidel Castro generally treated his people horribly and is not someone to be looked up too.

Worst of all he was a champion for Communism, the most evil and stupid ideology to ever exist. And he did a lot to spread that cancer throughout the Americas. Many of the communist revolutions in South America happened because Fidel Castro and his government were funding or even sending troops in support of the ideology. 

Which is why I am so disgusted to see so many people on the left praising Castro, most notably Prime Minster Justin Trudeau of Canada. Though no figure is so evil that there isn't something admirable to find in them, even Adolf Hitler liked dogs, it's horrible to defend Castro. Whatever good he did for the Cuban people it was far outweighed by the damage he did to them and the chaos and destruction he caused in South and Central America. Not to mention his role in the Cuban Missile Crisis...

So what happens next in Cuba? Unfortunately, I don't see much change happening. Raul Castro is still in power and I don't see him changing anytime soon. Cuba will still be a Communist dictatorship and the Cuban people will still be oppressed. Though Obama lifted the sanctions on Cuba, there is a good chance that Donald Trump will bring them back. Nothing will change. Essentially, it's the status quo for the foreseeable future. 

What is needed in Cuba is a second revolution where Raul Castro and the Communist party are overthrown. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening anytime soon. Dissent is Cuba has been stamped out for so long that I doubt that even a civil war would work. There is always a chance of a peaceful transition of power but I have lot hope of that happening anytime soon... 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Yet another ISIS terror plot broken up in Europe, this time in France.

A French soldier patrolling in Strasbourg. AFP.

Another major ISIS terror plot has been broken up in Europe, this time targeting France. NBC News. The plotters had been directed from ISIS leadership in Syria and had a stockpile of weapons. Four were arrested in Strasbourg and one was arrested in Marseille last Sunday but the arrests weren't announced until today. The targets were not confirmed but an amusement park was listed as a possible target and the attack was supposed to have happened on December 1st. All of the suspects had attempted to travel to Syria and had notes saying they pledged allegiance to ISIS. The men arrested were part of two separate cells, one in Strasbourg where four were arrested, and the other in Marseille, with a lone man being arrested. French officials believe that both groups were being coordinated by ISIS and that the attackers planned to live stream the attacks via Periscope. 

My Comment:
This plot comes on the heels of another major terror plot in Europe. Just a few days ago another terror attack was disrupted during the planning stages in Kosovo and Albania. It certainly seems like the terror threat is increasing in Europe, as this is the 2nd major attack in as many weeks broken up by security officials. 

And I want to point out how good of a job that Europe's security forces have been doing lately. They have managed to disrupt many of these attacks, and probably have taken out terrorists without it ever making the news. Europe has done well preventing as many of these terror plots and they have greatly disrupted ISIS's plans in the region. I think that this has been a major factor in why we haven't seen any major terror attacks in the past few months. 

Of course, the terrorists only need to be right one time and the security officials have to be right all of the time. In this case the good guys won. We might not be so lucky next time. I am sure that ISIS is plotting more terror attacks and there may be some semi-competent lone wolf terrorists out there that will, sooner or later, get lucky and kill a lot of people in Europe. Or, perhaps, in the United States. 

Still, it is very good news that this terror attack was broken up. It seems that ISIS is ramping up the pace of their terror attack, but they do seem to be using the same tactics.  It seems likely that this was going to be another Paris style hybrid attack. My guess is that they would have used suicide bombs and rifles to kill as many people as possible. The 2nd, one man, cell in Marseille might have launched their own attack at the same time, causing more chaos and limiting the possible response to each attack. That is a fairly sophisticated way to attack and shows how complex this operation really was. 

Some news outlets are reporting that an amusement park was one of the possible targets. To date, I am not aware of any attacks targeting amusement parks but if one were to occur it would be horrific. Of course, the main concern would be the large number of children at any such park. I have no doubt in my mind that ISIS would kill children and a major strike at an amusement park would be a massive atrocity. 

I also thought it was interesting that ISIS was planning on live-streaming the attack via the Periscope app. I speculated in my post about the Kosovo/Albania plot, that they might use a drone to live stream the attack there and it looks like ISIS is certainly thinking in that direction. As I mentioned before, a terror attack playing out live on the internet would multiply the effectiveness of any terror attack and would horrify people, especially if their target was an amusement park...  

As much as I hate to say it, I don't think Europe, or the United States for that matter, will continue to be this lucky. Sooner or later an ISIS cell or lone wolf is going to succeed in an attack. Indeed, there was a scare yesterday involving a stabbing at an old folks home in France, but the government has said that it was just a run of the mill murder. Perhaps the next time it won't be a false alarm...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Turkey blames Syrian government for the death of three Turkish soldiers.

A Turkish tank in Syria. AFP

Turkey is claiming that three of their soldiers were killed by a Syrian airstrike. AFP. The deaths are the first that Turkey has blamed on the Syrian government since their entry into the Syrian Civil War three months ago and comes on the 1st anniversary of Turkey shooting down a Russian airplane. Local sources say that the strike hit at around 3:30 am local time and occurred near the al-Bab area. 10 soldiers were also wounded in the attack, which was earlier blamed on ISIS militants. Turkish troops are in Syria to both fight ISIS, which is what they are doing near al-Bab, and fight the Kurds, which explains why their next target is Manbij. Turkey has now lost 15 soldiers since their operations in Syria have begun. 

My Comment:
I am getting pretty sick of Turkey causing some kind of drama on November 24th. Last year they shot down a Russian fighter jet on this date, which ended up with a dead pilot and a massive increase in tensions. Indeed, people were panicking last year with the threat of World War III breaking out for stupid reasons. Well, it looks like the Turks have done it again. This time they are accusing the Syrians of attacking them. 

Do I buy it? Without any other proof I am skeptical to say the least. My concern is how do the Turks know that this was a Syrian airstrike? Isn't the first explanation, an ISIS bombing, more likely? Right now all we have is what the Turks are saying and they have motivation to lie. After all, they hate the Syrian government and consider Assad to be one of their biggest enemies. I also think it is extremely unlikely that a Syrian fighter jet could get that close to Turkish troops without there being some kind of response from Turkish or American fighter jets. I just don't see a Syrian jet being able to pull this off. 

And I also don't think it makes any sense for the Syrians to kill the Turks in the first place. If it happened, it's not a rational act. Right now the Turks are killing the Syrian's mutual enemies, ISIS and the Kurds. Letting the Turks liberate al-Bab doesn't really hurt the Syrian government in any way. Especially since the Turks aren't that close to the city yet anyways. They still have quite a few towns and villages to clear before they even get close. It is true that there isn't much between the Turks and the Syrians after al-Bab, but again, they aren't in al-Bab yet. 

The only reason I can think of striking these troops is for a false sense of pride. After all the Turks have invaded Syria and that is an act of war, even if they are killing people that are fighting against the Syrian regime. The Syrians may want to invoke their sovereignty... 

Of course the most obvious possibility is that this was all just a mistake. The fog of war is real and it can occasionally lead to accidents, and those accidents can be mistaken for enemy action. It is possible that the Syrians did do this strike but they thought they were hitting ISIS or rebels. Such a mistake isn't uncommon, indeed, America did something similar in Dier ez Zoir a while back.

No matter what the cause of this strike, and even if it isn't real, the consequences could be severe. Local Arab sources are saying that Turkey is going to have some kind of response to this incident. Depending what that response is, this incident could expand into a larger war. Remember, Turkey is a member of NATO and Russia is Syria's sponsor and protector. Any war between Syria and Turkey could lead to World War III. That is pretty unlikely, but this incident makes it more likely than it was before. 

It's a shame because it looked like Syria was finally on the way to stabilizing. Once Aleppo falls, the rebellion will largely be over. And with a new offensive against ISIS in Raqqa, it is possible that ISIS could be on the way out as well. Our new President, Donald Trump, seems a lot more likely to work with the Russians than Obama was and he could probably end the war... assuming that it hasn't spun out of control by his inauguration...

Of course, there is the probability that this entire thing is for domestic consumption in Turkey. Turkey and her president, Tayyip Erdogan, aren't in the best position right now. Turkey just had a failed coup attempt that greatly destabilized the country and they haven't quite recovered yet. Setting up Syria to be a major enemy, killing their troops, could unite Turkey's people against a common enemy. Let's hope that it doesn't go beyond that... 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

As everyone in America should know, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I hope everyone has a good holiday! As for me, I may or may not have a post up tomorrow, but I will be enjoying Thanksgiving with my family.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Donald Trump backs down from prosecuting the Clinton family.

In a major reversal, Donald Trump and his transition team has confirmed that he is not interested in pursuing charges for Hillary Clinton for her e-mail scandal and foundation. Politico. Though Trump didn't take the threat of investigations off of the table, he did say that he thought that dropping his campaign promise would help unify the country. He also said that he didn't want to "hurt the Clinton's". Trump's move would not be unprecedented as many other presidents have let similar issues go once elected. Many conservatives are unhappy with the move and consider it a betrayal of a campaign promise. No matter what though, the president elect has little control over what his pick for attorney general, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, decides to do when assigned. Sessions has been extremely critical over the way that the FBI and Justice Department handled the e-mail investigation.

My Comment:
I've got mixed feelings about this, if it is indeed where Donald Trump wants to go with the investigations. On the one hand, Hillary Clinton and her entourage deserve to go to prison, full stop. Her e-mail scandal alone was criminal and there is probably enough evidence there alone for a conviction. And that says nothing about her foundation, which is essentially a pay to play scheme. 

Plus there is the whole issue of the other massive scandals bubbling under the surface with the Clinton's. They have been accused of many horrible things and even if a quarter of them are true, then they are truly horrible people. I think the American people deserve to understand what kind of people the Clinton's really are. Her supporters should be made to understand the crime they almost committed when they attempted to put Hillary Clinton back in the White House. 

On the other hand, pursuing a case against Hillary Clinton would be extremely divisive and would look terrible. It's fairly unprecedented for a president to come down with the wrath of God on a political opponent after a major election. To do so would anger pretty much all of Clinton's supporters and a fair number of people who didn't support her but also didn't support Donald Trump.

Dropping the investigation would do a lot to heal some of the wounds inflicted during the presidential campaign. Given the fact that the whole country is on edge there is certainly something to be said for ratcheting down tensions. It would also, theoretically, calm down the absolute hysteria in the media about a Trump presidency. Though I have no doubt the media would spin Trump as a monster even if he raised the dead and gave every American their own pony, their attacks wouldn't be taken as seriously if it's clear that Trump is striking a reasonable tone. 

I also have to point out that nothing is set in stone here. I think there is a real possibility that something else is going on. Trump is a master of manipulating and controlling the media and he has been known to use misdirection and deceit to throw them off of what his true goals are. Here's a few scenarios that could play out:

-Trump fully intends to prosecute Hillary Clinton and is only saying this to avoid a Barack Obama pardon. This makes sense, as Obama still has quite a bit of time to do so and if Trump was making a lot of noise about throwing crooked Hillary in jail then Obama probably would pardon her. This move by Trump may not take that threat off of the table but it does make it more unlikely that Obama will pardon her. And if Obama does pardon Clinton, it's a win-win situation for Trump. It makes both Obama and Clinton look like they have something to hide. 

-Donald Trump understands that if the activities of the Clinton's were to ever come to light it would have extreme consequences, foreign and domestic. If the rumors of what the Clinton's are involved in are true, then it would be extremely damaging to pretty much everyone involved in government, including Donald Trump. If it were to be revealed that the Clinton's were involved in human trafficking, for example, it would have the potential to take down the government. Such an outcome really isn't in anyone's best interest and Trump may decide to either ignore the issue or handle it off the record... 

-Donald Trump doesn't have a full accounting of what the Clinton's were up to. He probably hasn't seen the evidence that the FBI has gathered on them. Trump might genuinely think that there was only the email issue and hasn't seen the information about the foundation. He may revisit the issue when he gets an update from Jeff Sessions.

-Donald Trump views the whole matter as a distraction from his other goals. Trump's status as a president is vulnerable and doesn't want to do anything that would weaken or distract him from his other goals. Remember, Trump is trying to do some incredibly difficult things, including completely reforming immigration and dealing with various foreign policy problems. 

All that being said, I hope that the moratorium on the Clinton's doesn't apply to her various supporters and campaign members. People like Anthony Wiener, Huma Abedin and, especially, John Podesta need to be investigated and prosecuted. Unlike Hillary Clinton, many people that worked for her are still likely to work in Washington if they aren't prosecuted. 

My personal hope is that Trump will revisit this issue when he is more established. I really think that Hillary and Bill Clinton deserve to go to prison and for their crimes to be brought to light. I also understand that doing so would have massive consequences that could seriously damage the Trump presidency. I personally would crucify the Clinton's for their crimes, even if the cost would be high, but I certainly understand why Trump made this move... 

Monday, November 21, 2016

4 police officers shot in 24 hours on Sunday.

A person of interest in the San Antonio case. CBS News/San Antonio Police Department

Four police officers were shot, one fatally, in four separate incidents across the country yesterday. CBS News. In San Antonio, officer Benjamin Marconi, a 20 year veteran, was killed while writing a traffic attack in what has been described as an ambush attack. In St. Louis, another officer was shot twice in the face in a separate ambush attack, though that officer is expected to survive. This officer was not involved in any traffic or call but was shot while sitting in his car, and the suspect, who was wanted for violent crimes, was later shot and killed by other officers. In Gladstone, Missouri, another officer was shot in a traffic stop incident that devolved into a gunfight. The suspect in that incident was killed and the officer suffered non-life threatening injuries. Finally, in Florida, a Sanibel officer was shot in the shoulder during a traffic stop. The incidents come after this summer's attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge and several other incidents where police officers were murdered in ambush style attacks. 

My Comment:
I'm not even going to pretend to be impartial about these attacks. I have a lot of friends who are cops and I am honestly worried about all of them. These kinds of ambush murders are becoming all too common and I am hoping that I won't wake up someday to see someone I know in the news as a victim of one of these attacks. If that happens, I am going to be extremely angry and extremely sad... 

I have to note that the Sanibel shooting has been described by other outlets as a drive-by style attack, and should probably be counted in along with the San Antonio and St. Louis attacks. In all three cases officers were targeted specifically even though they were not doing anything especially dangerous. The forth case, in Missouri, seems like a much more "routine", as if there is such a thing, police involved shooting, and shouldn't really be considered part of the trend. It's obviously still a tragedy though. 

And yes, there is a trend. Cops have always faced danger doing their jobs, but this is the first time in my memory that the police are being targeted for assassination. This goes far beyond the normal dangers of being a cop and crosses over into actual terrorism. 

It's unclear what, if any, cause these attacks were done for. It could very well be that one or more of these attacks were just random. I don't think it is likely but it is certainly possible, there are a lot of crazy people out there that attack others for reasons that make no sense to anyone. We can't discount these being the actions of a lone psycho(s). 

 Another possible motivation is Islamic terrorism. ISIS and other groups have long called on "lone wolf" terrorists to attack and kill police officers. Though there is no evidence that these most recent attacks have any connection to any Islamic terror group, I would be remiss to discount the possibility. Honestly, given how large the threat is from ISIS, I would not be surprised if at least one of these attacks was inspired by the terror group, or failing that, an attack of this nature could come from that direction soon. 

 Of course there is a very obvious potential motive for these attacks. Black Lives Matter. Though the group was not involved directly in the attacks in Baton Rouge and Dallas, the attackers certainly were inspired by the group. Their anti-police rhetoric is almost certainly responsible for the large spike in these kinds of murders and attacks. 

And the worst part is that Black Lives Matter's complaints are mostly fabricated out of whole cloth. They have never, and will never, have a valid point about race relations in America. In almost every case where they have complained about police violence, actual investigation has shown that, at the very least, the cops shot someone who was acting criminal. In many, but not all, of the cases, the incidents were totally justified and BLM had to lie though their teeth to even make it look like there was any issue whatsoever. 

I think the election has a role to play in these attacks as well. The media, to their eternal shame, have tried to paint Donald Trump and his supporters as racists who hate black people. That line of reasoning has never made any sense at all and has very little basis in actual reality. The media, and the Democratic Party should be held accountable for every death that has occurred due to these attacks. 

I guess is isn't surprising. If I took the media seriously, thought BLM had any credibility at all and honestly believed a word that came out of the Democratic Party's mouth, I too would think that there is an actual problem. Even then though, nothing justifies attacks on the police. Violence is almost never the answer, and certainly shouldn't be deployed when there are plenty of non-violent options to protest and change things. Nothing justifies these attacks. 

My sincere hope is that the election of Donald Trump will start to change things. I don't think he is a miracle worker and he has inherited an awful mess from Barack Obama. Though I think Trump's policies have the potential to make things better in terms of race relations, at the very least we won't have an enabler in office cheering on BLM and other groups... 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

ISIS all but eliminated from their Libyan stronghold in Sirte, but the threat remains.

A Libyan fighter takes cover during the battle against ISIS in Sirte. Reuters. 

The Islamic State is on the verge of defeat in Libya as they only control one square kilometer in their former base of operations in Sirte. Reuters. No quarter is offered or expected in a brutal battle that has lasted since last May. ISIS fighters and Libyan soldiers and militiamen fight close enough to throw insults at each other and ISIS fighters are fighting to the bitter end. The few surviving ISIS fighters have inflicted heavy casualties on the Libyan forces fighting against them, killing as many as 660 and wounding 3000 more. And even when the last fighters are cleared out of Sirte, the threat to Libya remains as hundreds of fighters were able to escape before the military was able to take control of the city. These fighters are now launching raids and terror attacks against the Libyan's rear areas. ISIS leader Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi has called for new Jihadist recruits to travel to Libya to join the fight. There is also fear that the Libya's two rival governments will pick up fighting after the last holdouts in Sirte are killed. 

My Comment:
Sirte and Libya have largely fallen off the radar, overshadowed by bigger battles in Iraq and Syria. The local government there has declared victory in the battle several times already, but it's clear to me that the battle will continue as long as at least one of these ISIS fighters still draws breath. ISIS has held out well here, despite overwhelming odds and US air support. 

Part of the problem is that the people fighting ISIS aren't really professionals. Many of them are local militiamen, poorly trained and under immense pressure. I recently posted an excellent piece of journalism from RT showing how intense the battle is. That video showed how amateurish and unprepared the Libyan fighters are. Given that most of them are just guys that picked up rifles, either during the revolution against Qadaffi, or during the recent civil war, they deserve credit for doing as well as they have, but it's clear that their lack of expertise is what is prolonging this battle. A more professional army with better weapons would probably have won this battle by now. 

I have to admit, that these ISIS fighters are being pretty brave. Don't get me wrong, I despise ISIS and I hope every single one of the fighters currently fighting in Sirte dies, but it takes courage to fight under these conditions. It's a pity that they are showing such courage in service to such an evil cause. Either way though, these men are going to fight to the end. 

The battle for Sirte is an ominous warning for the battle of Mosul in Iraq. Currently Iraqi forces are engaged with heavy fighting and ISIS hasn't been surrounded yet. When that happens though, expect the battle for Mosul to end up the same way as Sirte did. Some ISIS fighters will escape, but those that do not will fight and fight hard. They know that their is no mercy to be had for them and they will fight like hell. Plus, unlike Sirte, Mosul is still full of thousands of civilians, many of whom are going to be caught in the crossfire. 

Indeed, brutal close range fighting in urban areas might be the norm for awhile. ISIS still controls several major cities and city fighting is nothing if not horrible. I am guessing that each of these battles, Mosul, Raqqa, Dier Ez Zor, and Tal Afar will be just as bloody and excruciating as Sirte was. Once those cities are liberated, ISIS will continue to fight, but they will probably morph into a more traditional terrorist group, launching raids and terror attacks as opposed to taking and holding territory.

No matter what though, it looks certain that Sirte will fall. It may take a while to clear out the holdouts, but it will happen eventually. What happens to ISIS in Libya then? I agree that it isn't the end of the line for ISIS in Libya. They still have a couple hundred fighters that escaped the battle and there is even a tiny chance that a few might escape from the Sirte pocket. Those survivors will try and regroup and reorganize and will probably eventually emerge again, either in Sirte again, or somewhere else where their enemies are vulnerable. Either that or they go underground and revert back into a terror organization. 

There are also more terrorist flowing into Libya. Border security isn't really something that exists in Libya and I am guessing it's not that hard to get into considering how many miles of coast and border that would have to be covered. With the route to Syria and Iraq largely cut off, Libya might make a much easier and more attractive destination for terrorists, especially those that are from North Africa and Europe. 

And it's not like their is any unity in the country right now. Libya has two government and also has several other factions that control large swaths of the country. ISIS isn't even the only Jihadist faction in the country, and all of these factions mostly hate each other. The fear is that when these other factions start fighting each other again in earnest, that will leave a new opportunity for ISIS to rise from the ashes. That is how they gained control of Sirte and several other cites in Libya in the first place.  

Still, the destruction of ISIS's main stronghold in Libya has broken their back. There was a great fear that ISIS would use Libya as a backup plan after their territory in Syria and Iraq was liberated. That is still a possibility, but it is looking quite a bit less attractive then it did before. When Sirte is finally completely liberated it will be a major victory for anyone and everyone opposed to ISIS. 

There are other candidates for a backup base for ISIS though, some of which are closer than Libya. ISIS is active and holds territory in both Eygpt and Yemen, and they have been expanding in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well. If we do end up kicking ISIS out of Iraq and Syria, that means that the threat will still remain. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

360 degree video of a MIG-29 flying through the stratosphere.

The above video is pretty cool. It's of a MIG-29 Fulcrum breaking through the stratosphere, which is the 2nd layer of Earth's atmosphere. RT has more background on the flight here. And yes, the video is fully 360 degrees. You can actually use the button on the upper left corner to change the perspective of the camera and it looks pretty amazing. I have never seen that function on a youtube video before and I hope it is something that is used more often.

Not much else to say with this one, I just thought people might enjoy something a bit more positive and unusual then the normal fare here. I mean, it's obvious Russian propaganda but that doesn't mean that it isn't awesome. Aviation is one of my interests and I love watching videos like this. I hope you guys enjoyed it as well.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Major ISIS terror plot targeting Israeli soccer players and other targets in Albania and Kosovo has been disrupted.

A major ISIS terror plot in Albania and Kosovo, in part targeting the Israeli soccer team, was been disrupted. NBC News. 18 plotters were arrested in Kosovo and an additional 6 were arrested in Macedonia and Albania. Weapons, explosives, electronic equipment and even a drone were recovered as well. The attacks were to have been synchronized and would have targeted the Israeli soccer team. The team moved their World Cup qualifying matches to a different city as a precaution. Two Albanian members of ISIS were coordinating the attack before their arrest. Kosovo has a large Muslim population, but most are not radicalized, though some have joined the ISIS terror organization.

My Comment:
Wow, this looks like it was going to be a huge terrorist attack. The complexity and choice of weapons is proof enough of that. My guess is that this would have been as bad as the Paris attacks last year or even worse. There could have been dozens or even hundreds dead if this attack had been pulled off.

This attack looked extremely complex and if it had been attempted, I doubt that the local authroites would have been able to respond effectively. This would have been an international terror attack, targeting two countries and involving quite a few fighters and bombings. Indeed, I would put money on this being another ISIS "hybrid" attack involving both suicide bombers and gunmen working together to kill as many people as possible.

The fact that ISIS had a drone was especially concerning. Drones have been a possible bomb vector for quite some time and it looks like ISIS was finally going to give it a go. If they had done so, others would have encouraged them to do the same thing. I don't know how effective such an attack would have been, but it would have been a propaganda victory at least and would probably lead to more restriction on civilian drones.

It's possible that the drone had another purpose as well. As horrible as it is to think, I wonder if it wasn't there to record the terror attack. Can you imagine that? A birds eye view of a terror attack, possibly broadcast live on the internet? That would have been a propaganda coup for ISIS and would have greatly increased the impact such an attack would have made. Such a possibility is a bit far fetched, but I wouldn't be shocked if that was their plan in this case.

I am not surprised that this plot was targeting a soccer stadium. Remember, in the Paris attacks, ISIS launched multiple suicide bombers at a soccer match that French president Francois Hollande was attending. That attack was as much as an assassination attempt as a terror attack, but it failed when security guards caught the bombers before they could enter the stadium. They blew themselves up outside, but if they had managed to get in, there would have been dozens of casualties, possibly including the French president.

When this happened I predicted that ISIS would try the same tactic again. The attack failed mostly because of bad luck and good security. I am guessing that they would have had a better chance in Albania then they did in France. Not to slight Albania, but I doubt their security is up to snuff when compared to France. It was very fortunate that this plot was disrupted before those defenses were tested.

It is also significant that they were targeting a stadium where Israelis were present. ISIS has rarely attacked Israel since it's inception. Some of that is just due to the fact that they are far away from Israeli lands. ISIS also hasn't been able to get much of a foothold in the Palestinian territories due to the domination of Hamas.

Because of those reasons, ISIS has been accused of going easy on Israel. This plot proves that they hate the Israelis as much as they hate everyone else. They just haven't had that many opportunities to strike them.

It really seems as though Europe dodged a bullet here. The pace and scale of ISIS attacks has dropped off a great deal since the summer of terror that we all lived through this year. Since then there haven't been anywhere near the same number of terrorist attacks.

Part of that is due to misfortunes for ISIS in Iraq, Syria and Libya. ISIS has had setbacks in all three countries and their main forces are now cut off from the outside world. The lines of communications that are used to order and launch attacks are not anywhere near as secure as they used to be.

Still, we are way overdue for a major terror attack. I am glad this one was disrupted. It looked to be one of the worst in recent memory and had the potential to be worse then the Paris attacks. We still need to remain vigilant though. ISIS remains a major threat and I think that there will be another major terrorist attack soon. I am honestly shocked it hasn't happened already.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Press freaks out when President elect Trump ditches them to have steak with his family.

Donald Trump. Michael Vadon

I've been struggling to find topics to post about on this blog lately. It's not that there isn't interesting things going on in the world because there are. The battle of Mosul is heating up, South Korea has a massive political scandal involving cults, crazy feminists and shadow governments and there are massive protests across the United States.

Unfortunately it is very difficult to find quality sources to use for any of those subjects because the media has gone completely insane. Instead of doing their jobs, the media has gone on a crusade against President elect Donald Trump. They have given every single thing his transition team has done 24/7 coverage despite the fact that it's barely been a week since he won the election.

The most hysterical and senseless story that has come out lately is the one about Donald Trump ditching the press in order to have a nice steak dinner with his family. Here's a story from NBC News that is one of the more sensible ones. Others went even further saying that Trump is going to be the worst president in terms of press access ever.

Obviously, this makes the press seem insane. I have no idea why they would need to accompany a president elect when he goes out to eat. What news to they expect to cover there? I mean I guess he could choke on a piece of meat, but do we really need the press there for that? More likely they wanted to see how he ordered his steak so they could bash him no matter how he wants it done.

It also seems like they are throwing a temper tantrum. Trump has played them from the start and it's obvious he doesn't respect them. His appointment of Steve Bannon as chief strategist bothers him as well. Bannon's website, is not part of the traditional media, and the press worries that alt-right websites like Breitbart will have more access then outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post. This, more than anything else, explains the attacks Bannon is getting. He's not an anti-Semite, but he threatens the mainstream media, so he will be portrayed as a monster.

Since the press has gone insane it's been extremely difficult to find decent stories. They are making the election all about them. Trump had his role in this as well, since he has been playing the media from the start, but all semblance of good journalism has been lost.

I am hoping things calm down soon. I really do rely on the media to at least inform me of what is going on in the world. Right now they aren't doing a good job at all, which makes it much more difficult to write this blog. Hopefully that changes soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Russia begins new air offensive in Syria using their aircraft carrier in combat for the first time.

Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. Russian Defense Ministry.

Russia has begun a new air offensive against rebels and terrorists in Syria. New York Times. Russia claims the airstrikes will target ISIS and the recently renamed al-Nusra Front in Idlib and Homs provinces. The operation marks the first time that Russia has ever used carrier based forces in a combat role. Other Russian ships and ground based launchers are firing cruise missiles against targets in Syria as well. The Russian deployment hasn't gone off without a hitch though, they have already lost one MIG-29, which crashed due to a "technical failure". The pilot was able to eject safely. 

My Comment:
Russia seems to be emboldened right now and I am guessing it has something to do with the election of Donald Trump. Trump has always been in favor of letting Russia fight the terrorists and rebels in Syria, and it seems that he may have given the Russians his blessing for these airstrikes. He certainly wants the war in Syria to end. 

It seems that the main targets of these strikes are not ISIS, but al-Qaeda's former affiliate, al-Nusra. Though they changed their name and have tried to re-brand themselves, they are still a brutal terrorist organization who controls large swaths of Syrian territory. By targeting them Russia is doing the world a great service. 

Of course, the non-Jihadist rebels are being targeted as well. I also view this as a positive development. These rebels are hardly saints and even the secular ones have committed war crimes. And even the ones who haven't, have thrown their lot in with al-Nusra. As far as I am concerned that is a death sentence. 

There are limits of what air power can do though. These airstrikes and missile strikes will not break the will of the rebels alone. For that they need ground forces, and the Syrians seem like they are almost depleted. They also seem to have stopped their other offensive operations to focus entirely on Aleppo. Aleppo is clearly the key to the war and if it finally falls then the war is essentially won. 

The rebels are in dire straights though in Aleppo. They have been cut off from their supply lines and they will eventually run out of arms, medicine and weapons. Given that nobody is going to be deploying forces to protect them, and the peace process is dead, they are essentially doomed. They are only continuing the fight because they have no other choice. 

These Russian airstrikes will further demoralize and damage the rebels in Aleppo. I am guessing that these attacks are either going to be targeted strikes on leadership and supply depots or they are going to be close airstrikes in support of Syrian fighters. The first option is more likely because the second option needs forward air controllers on the ground to ensure that only the enemy gets hit. 

It is also important to note that this is the first time that the Russians have ever used one of their aircraft carriers in a combat operations. The Admiral Kuznetsoy may be a rust bucket of a carrier and pretty out of date, but it's still a powerful ship and it's about time the Russians have used it in some role. They have already lost one plane due to a supposed technical problem, but that is par for the course unfortunately. Either way, the Russians are getting critical real world experience in how to use carriers in war. In the past they only had war simulations and hypothetical's. 

It almost seems like the Syrian Civil War is being used by Russia as a testing ground for all of their weapons systems. Not only have they deployed their aircraft carrier, they are also testing out their anti-aircraft systems and other weapons. Russians have had quite a bit of combat experience in Chechnya, Georgia and Ukraine, but they haven't had many chances to test their naval weapons. 

My hope is that the Russian involvement won't last much longer. I am hoping that the Syrian Civil War will largely end when Aleppo falls, so the sooner that happens the better. If it does fall soon, the entire issue will be moot because then the only people left in Syria to fight will be ISIS and al-Nusra, two groups that everyone wants to see fail. And with a new American president, we will be working with the Russians to defeat both groups... 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Donald Trump says he will deport or imprison at least 2 to 3 million illegal immigrants.

A section of the current border wall in Tijuna, Mexico. James Reyes/Public Domain. 

President-elect Donald Trump revealed that he has plans to immediately deport two to three million illegal immigrants. CBS News. In an interview with CBS News on 60 Minutes, he said that the millions of illegals would be deported or incarcerated because they are criminals, drug dealers and gang members. After those people are deported, his next focus will be securing the border and building a wall, though he admits that some of the border could be fences as well. After both of those goals are accomplished, Trump said he would look at the rest of the immigrants in the country illegally, describing some of them as terrific people. 

My Comment:
Some people are saying that Trump has broken his campaign promise on this issue already. Those people are fools because Trump never said he was going to deport everyone. Multiple times in the campaign he said that some illegals were decent people and that they might have a chance at getting back in. He also was always consistent about his greatest concern being the large numbers of criminals and drug dealers crossing the border. 

I also don't think there is anything inconsistent with him proposing some of the wall being fencing. Saying that is come kind of campaign promise broken is just arguing semantics. Either way there will be a barrier that will make it more difficult for immigrants to breach the border, so assuming he can pull it off, even a full fence would be better then what we have now. We do have some border barriers now, which is not something people mention often. A quick check shows that of the 1,954 mile border with Mexico, 580 miles already have either a pedestrian border fence or vehicle fences. Trump's plan would just expand that and would reinforce weaker areas. 

What's my take on Trump's plan? Well, I'm glad that many of these people are getting deported. It never made any sense whatsoever to let people who have broken the laws of this country, and are here illegally, stay. Getting rid of those people immediately is the right thing to do, morally and legally, and I am glad that we are finally going to start doing so with gusto. This should be a priority for our government and though we do deport criminals already, there are still far too many of them here. 

What about the rest of the illegal immigrants though? The sources I have seen says that there are roughly 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants in this country. While getting right of two or three million would help the problem, especially when those immigrants are the worst of the worst, letting almost 10 million stay would not be a good thing. 

Which makes me wonder if more won't be deported. I am guessing that not all of them would be. From what Trump has said in the past, he is extremely wary of deporting people in a way that breaks up families. Though he made some noise in the primaries about it, he does seem to think people that have "anchor babies" might be allowed to stay. 

But I think he will eventually get around to deporting others who are here illegally. People that haven't put down roots and have no family links to this country. I have no idea how many or who gets to stay for sure, but my guess is that he will be deporting more then the two to three million he talked about in the CBS report. 

Should Trump people be upset by that? I don't think so. It's way more then Hillary Clinton would have deported and I am assuming that the number doesn't count all the people that are turned away at the border. Barack Obama, for all his faults, was pretty good at deporting people trying to enter the country, even if he wouldn't deport anyone else. During his presidency, he deported around 2.5 million, the vast majority of which were either criminals or people caught at the border. Trump will add to that number and will be much more aggressive then Barack Obama was. 

What about the border wall? As always, I don't think the wall will actually be that effective. People will always try to dig under it or go around it. But there will also be people who will be deterred by the inconvenience and I think it will have some effect. The deportations will have a larger one though. I mostly like the wall for the psychological effects and the fact that it's a major jobs program for the border states.  

Does it make sense for some parts of the border to have a fence instead of a wall? Sure. There are some pretty barren areas that very few people would even try to cross anyways. In those areas, fencing would be fine. But in more populated areas, a stronger and tougher border wall would help more. 

I also have to say that there are differences between illegal immigrants. The best ones are people that came to find a better life and have mostly assimilated. Some are people that just overstayed their visas and others are here because their families are here. There are also criminals, rapists and drug dealers as well, but all of these people have broken the law. We might be able to cut a deal with some of these people, but I really do hope that Trump is able to get rid of the worst of the worst. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

President-Elect Donald Trump is likely to end support Syrian rebels

A member of the Syrian Defense Force fighting ISIS. New York Times/AFP/Getty.

President-Elect Donald Trump is likely to end US support for Syrian rebels fighting the regime. New York Times. Instead, Trump is going to focus on working with the regime and Russia in the fight against ISIS. The United States is actually supporting multiple rebel groups in Syria and Trump is more likely to end support for one group over the other. The Syrian Kurds and their Arab allies, who are currently attacking ISIS near Raqqa will probably continue to receive support. But the other rebel groups fighting inside of Aleppo and other parts of Syria are likely to be cut off. The United States has been supporting these rebels in their fight against the regime by giving them heavy weapons, most notably anti-tank missiles. Trump has long condemend the practice, stating that "we don't know who these people are" and pointing out that many of the rebels have worked with the al-Nusra Front, recently renamed Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, which has strong ties to the al-Qaeda terror organization. 

My Comment:
This is welcome news and I am glad that it appears that Donald Trump is going to keep his campaign promise on this issue. Indeed, Trump's policy on Syria is a major reason I voted for him, but far from the only one. I like this policy a lot better then Hillary's "overthrow Bashar al-Assad at all costs, even if it means nuclear war with Syria". She wanted a no-fly zone in Syria and to enforce it she would have had to have shot down Russian and Syrian jets and strike ground anti-air forces in Syria and destroy Russian ships in the Mediterranean. That would have resulted in World War III and the destruction of large chunks of civilization. 

Thankfully we won't be going to war with Russia over Syria anytime soon. In fact, they are probably welcoming this move with open arms. There is a very good chance that we will be working directly with Russia in Syria and instead of enemies we would be allies of a sort. I'm not sure how close our relationship will be. It may end up being an alliance of convenience, but it may be the start of something bigger. I have always loved the idea of turning our former enemies into friends. 

And Donald Trump is completely right. We don't really know who the people are fighting Bashar al-Assad. We know that a lot of them have connections to terrorist organizations. The former al-Nusra Front is a major terrorist organization, and if it wasn't for ISIS, they would be considered a major threat. Indeed, many think that al-Nusra is major threat, including the Russians.

The real question is how closely these rebel groups are aligned to al-Nusra. Many of these groups are with al-Nusra because al-Nusra fights and they have had more success then any of the other rebel groups except for ISIS. Others are with al-Nusra because they agree with them ideologically. And some of these groups started out with the first motivation and ended up with the second motivation. It's extremely hard to tell one group from the other and I would argue that either motivation is disqualifying for US support. Working with al-Qaeda allied groups should be a death sentence, even if they are fighting people we don't like. 

If we had continued on the same path and the Syrian regime was overthrown, the country would likely have been taken over by al-Nusra and ISIS. Either result would have been a complete disaster. All religious minorities, including Shia Muslims, Durze, Alawites, Christians and other groups would be wiped out and the area would be used as a major base for terrorism

That isn't going to happen now, thanks to Donald Trump. What is going to happen? Well possibly nothing that wasn't going to happen anyways. It sure looks like the regime is going to capture Aleppo, and with it in regime hands, the rebel movement will likely wither and die. The only major groups outside of Aleppo are either al-Qaeda supporters or the Kurds and their allies in the north. It's very possible that all of this will be decided long before Trump is sworn in. And I think that would have been true no matter who was going to be president. The only thing that could save the rebels would be massive airstrikes against the regime and perhaps the deployment of ground troops, but that is not going to happen now. 

There is a question about whether or not this is the morally correct thing to do. Some would argue that we should keep supporting the rebels because by going back on our word now would be a betrayal. I would argue against that because we don't owe loyalty to people that betray us. By throwing their lot in with al-Nusra and other Jihadist groups, these rebels lost any right to complain when we cut them off. Assuming that any of them really are moderate anymore, my thought is that all of them were wiped out a long time ago. 

What about all the deaths that will occur in Aleppo and other parts of the country? Shouldn't we do something about that? I would argue that by ending the battle of Aleppo and allowing the Syrian regime to finally defeat the rebels, we would be saving many more lives than allowing the regime to fall, or even worse, have the war to continue. Even though al-Assad is a bad person, who will likely kill his enemies, allowing him to stay in power is probably the best solution for the country. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Anti-Trump protests and riots erupt across the nation.

Anti-Trump vandalism at the Lee Memorial. Fox News/AP.

Anti-Trump protests and riots have erupted for the 2nd day after the election of the businessman. Fox News/AP. However, questions are being raised about how organic these protests are. People have reported buses full of protesters being brought in and adds on craigslist asking for full-time protesters. These protests have occurred in almost every single city and have included vandalism. In New Orleans, vandals spray painted threats and profanity against Donald Trump on the Lee Memorial. 

My Comment:
I have mixed feelings about this. One the one hand, I am obviously disgusted by this behavior and my only solace is that these protests are not organic. Someone is paying these people and if it wasn't for the influence of George Soros and others, they would not be happening, or at least not on the scale they are now. I am, of course, totally opposed to this kind of political violence and this should never, ever happen. 

On the other hand it is always gratifying to see one's enemies double down on a failing strategy. I think that the violence against Trump supporters and violent riots in general were a major factor in why Trump won in the first place. People were sick and tired of people destroying cities because they didn't get what they want, especially when the reasons for those riots were completely unjustified. 

Once again, I don't think the left realizes how counter productive these kinds of protests are. Trump supporters, and most people in general, value peace and stability and they are not going to blame Donald Trump for these riots. They are going to blame the protesters and the leftist leaders that are directing and funding them. 

These protests are also confirming many of the negative stereotypes the right has of the left. Not only are we confirming that a large subset of the left is completely unhinged, we are also confirming the "weak millennial" stereotype. I personally view this as a giant temper tantrum and it confirms that the left is full of people who would rather burn the country down then build it back up. 

I also have to say that the reason for these protests are incoherent. They are saying that Trump is going to destroy all rights for LGBT people, women and minorities. Were these people paying any attention at all? Remember, just a little while ago Donald Trump was onstage holding up the "Rainbow" flag that represents the LGBT community.  


Indeed, Donald Trump is the most supportive candidate for LGBT rights the GOP has ever elected or run for president. Even though he has vowed to protect the LGBT community after the Pulse nightclub shooting, even though he said that the bathroom law in North Carolina was a mistake, and even though he said he had zero problem with Caitlyn Jenner using the female restrooms at the Trump Tower (which actually happened without incident), Trump is still being treated as some kind of homophobe. It has absolutely nothing to do with reality. 

The same could be said for woman's rights and the treatment of minorities. Trump has said time and again he wants to help all Americans, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, and race. Though I understand why some people would be upset with some of Trump's policies but people are acting like he is going to be the next Hitler when there is nothing close to that happening. He is the most centrist GOP president to be elected ever on social issues, with immigration being the sole exception. Shouldn't that be cause for celebration for the left? Even if they lost the election, they are winning the argument on LGBT rights and other issues.  

These protests will eventually die out. After the election day freakout people are starting to calm down and accept a Trump presidency. People are realizing that it's going to happen and there isn't anything they can do about it. To their credit, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have helped things by conceding and ensuring that the turnover will be smooth respectively. Eventually, the rank and file Democrats will go along with their leadership.