Friday, May 31, 2002

Will Indo-Pak Nukes Even Work?

StrategyPage has a post that discusses the likelihood the Indian and Pakistani A-Bombs may be very unreliable, judging by both nations? history of crappy weapon reliability.

I like this. Shitty engineering may save millions of lives.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Observation of the Day

A crowded city bus is no place for a paranoid schizophrenic.
US Intervention in the Sub-Continent Inevitable?

I just stumbled onto a debate on the Alan Keyes show, on the Indo-Pak situation, and, for once, it wasn’t just Keyes telling some president of the local young democrats how wrong she is. I missed the names of the panel, but former representative Bob Dornan was one of them. I only mention the debate because it mentions some ideas on the crises that I’d only heard so far in the blogosphere. But maybe that’s just because I’ve been reading too many blogs.

Most Important among these was the possibility of American military intervention. The most mild of options discussed was running a joint US-Pakistan operation in Kashmir to wipe out the militants there. The more forceful position, presented by Keyes, advocated dumping Pakistan altogether and letting India go buck-wild with American support.

I’m not a big fan of Keyes, but on this issue I agree with him. Pakistan, like the PLO, is letting terrorists fight a proxy war that the army can’t possibly win. Worse, the Pakistanis don’t even have the lame-ass “I’ve been stopped by the damage the evil Israelis left” excuse that Arafat uses. The western half of Kashmir is fully under Pakistan’s control, and their security service could permanently put their local terrorists out of commission in a matter of days if they want to. But they don’t.

India isn’t blameless in the latest rounds of violence, but Indian nuclear scientists haven’t been having tea and biscuits with Mullah Omar. If we have to come down on one side in this war, I’d much rather have us backing secular, democratic India.
I'll Rainbow Six Your Ass!

Kevin McGehee has posts over at blogoSFERICS and Flyover Blogdom Today (link via Instapundit) in part discussing his hypothesis that US threats to wipe out Pakistani nukes was the key contributer to Pakistani support in Afghanistan. He may be right, and, related to my earlier suggestion below, similar US threats or actions may help prevent a nuclear exchange. I hope so, but I am unsure that we have the assets in place to make good on any threats.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Fresh, Clean, and Minty

New template. I thinks it's a little cleaner. And more fantastical.

Unfortunately Blogger is being a little bitch, so I can't get access to the archive template... argh!
Oil shortage may hinder Indo-Pak war

Statfor has a brief article on how the Indian goverment's relatively small 15 day strategic oil reserve will limit any the duration of any military operation.

Not really sure if that's a good or bad thing if things escalate.
Afghanistan is, like, so gay!

On a lighter note, another link from StrategyPage to a Scotsman article on the, uh, friendly reception a group of British marines recieved in the Afghan countryside. A brief excerpt:

An Arbroath marine, James Fletcher, said: "They were more terrifying than the al-Qaeda. One bloke who had painted toenails was offering to paint ours. They go about hand in hand, mincing around the village."

While the marines failed to find any al-Qaeda during the seven-day Operation Condor, they were propositioned by dozens of men in villages the troops were ordered to search.

Ho-ho! I can almost see this as a Monty Python skit gone horribly, horribly wrong. Picture the look on those hardened marines' faces. Pure hilarity, who says war isn't funny!
More India Fun

Continuing the Indo-Pak speculation, StrategyPage reckons that Pakistan won't go nuclear over Kashmir alone, but that once India conquers the whole of the province, they'll face the same militant problems coming from the Pakistani border. When India retaliates there, Pakistan will go nuclear.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Indo-Pak Cold War

Anne Applebaum's (She’s the only foreign affairs writer at Slate that I actually like) latest Foreigners column discussing the similarities between the current Indo-Pakistani tension with the Cold War. She makes a number of good points on why there’s reason to hope this Balance of Terror will force stability in the relationship.

I hope she’s right, but I fear that the Balance may not yet be terrible enough for deterrence to work effectively. I don’t think even my casualty estimates of around 100 million (and many are far more optimistic than me) is enough to convince both sides that “victory” through nuclear means is impossible.

Irony is everywhere in history’s lessons. The massive arms buildup of the Cold War produced absurdly lethal weapons, weapons that guaranteed the destruction of both sides if used. However, the very lethality of these weapons ensured that they would never kill anyone. The threat of Mutually Assured Destruction meant that even when the opposing governments were a little flaky, the fear of escalation and war kept everyone from making any huge moves.

I don’t think that the problem in India and Pakistan is that they don’t know the true nature of these weapons, it’s that they do, and some of them think that any outcome of a war is worth the cost. India and Pakistan aren’t ever getting rid of their nukes. Perhaps the only way to increase stability in the region is to increase the deadliness of their weapons.

Would India seriously be contemplating an invasion of Kashmir if both sides were armed with H-bombs? Somehow I doubt it.
Warheads of pure Ass.

Ok, so I've made a few posts around ye old blogosphere on the topic of a possible nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan, and I wanted to get the jist of them down here for my own future reference. My thoughts can be broken down into three major parts:

  1. The likelihood of war.

    I'm clearly of the pessimistic opinion on this one. Although there are encouraging signs that both sides may be backing down from the precipice, I don't see any stability here. The militants in Kashmir are still there, ready to pop over to the Indian side of the line of control to leave their ever so thoughtful little gifts.

    The terrorist bombing of an Indian Army base is what started this latest brew-ha-ha, and the security setting hasn't really changed. Pakistan isn't going to crack down on these "freedom fighters", and even if it did, all it'll take is one splinter group to re-ignite the whole thing. This is a situation very similar to Israel's, and I think India (rightly) feels the only way to secure their part of Kashmir is to wipe out the terrorists on the Pakistan side.

    Of course, if they do this Pakistan will retaliate. This is nothing new, but tensions haven't been higher in years. Plus the risks are much more serious.

    Hindu Nationalists ala the BJP have been stoking the flames of sectarianism ever since Ayodha in the early 90's, with Pakistan as the great enemy. And we all know how charming the Islamic Fundies can be. There's a seething hatred that simmers across the border and its gonna go off sooner I fear, rather than later.



  2. Casualties

    Again pessimism flows through my thoughts like a bad hot dog through my mom's old Shih Tzu. Steven Green linked to this story at the Guardian. It claims the CIA estimates around 12 million dead from the nuclear explosions alone. This number sounds completely reasonable to me.

    However, counting firestorms, fallout, breakdown in order and infrastructure, civil war, and resulting famine, this number will multiply many times. We're looking at 100 million dead folks, and the site of one of mankind's oldest civilizations is soon going to produce hundreds of million more in cancer victims over the next century. Even if my estimates are to high by a magnitude of 10, we're still looking at one of the single largest mass-slaughters in human history.

    This is bad, bad juju man.



  3. Intervention

    So, I've thought about how bad it could get, and past a certain point of horror, it's really just mental masturbation. At this point we can only ask, is there anything the USA can actually do about all this?

    Short answer: probably not (pessimism rules supreme again!).

    For the long answer, I have seen promising signs from the diplomatic areas. I usually hold the word diplomacy in low regard, but with the USA, the Euro-Wankers and even the Russians telling both sides to cool it, things do seem to be calming over these last few days. But this just isn't a long term solution unless Kashmir gets resolved.

    Now as far as military intervention, I've had some radical thoughts on the matter. One of the things I've been reading in all the news reports is how both sides feel they have no alternative to a massive offensive nuclear force because they can't quickly take out their opponent's nukes. The USA is the the only power on the planet that does.

    Do we have the intelligence and attack capability to wipe out one side's (or both's) arsenal. I know it sounds far fetched, but could we maybe make some secret deal with the Indians (I assume they would have intelligence on where the weapons are) to take out Pakistan's weapons before they can be launched? Pakistan's defeat would certainly make our war on terror more difficult, but not as much as the chaos that would result from even a limited exchange. I don't think the administration would do it, and it's doubtful that they could even if they wanted to.

    It's Interventionist, Imperialistic, and dangerous. In any other situation, I would be completely opposed to such an act, but this could be a big, world-changing (for the worse) event, and we need to do something. Aside from the nightmarish death toll involved, a nuclear war on the sub-continent will destabilize the entire world. The war on terror could easily be lost in the background of global chaos. Taking out one side's arsenal is the only sane solution.



So, to recap: This is bad, I'm scared, and I don't think anything will be done until it's far too late… Sweet dreams world.

Monday, May 27, 2002

Insomnia

OK, it’s 4:00 AM, and I’ve got Fox news running in the background. Bush and Jacque Chirac are meeting in Paris and giving speech. Chirac is mentioning all the common bonds our two countries share, such as our historical bonds of “sister revolutions”. Now as repellent as this comparison seems to my instinctual Francophobe tendencies (hey, if millennia old ancestral hatred is good enough for people in the Balkans, it’s good enough for my 300 year distant English blood), there is some logic to the metaphor.

The American Revolution is the sister who emerged from mildly dysfunctional parents and went on to graduate college, have kids and live in a nice neighborhood. The older sister, America is a type A over-achiever.

France is the younger, seemingly prettier sister. And, although brilliant in her youth, was always treated a little rougher by the parents.

Once they threw off their parent’s dominance (which the two sisters helped each other through), both had a tough time of it. America sloughed through these growing pains and eventually got her shit together. France, however, immediately went on a 25-year bender.

Now, as France was recovering from this turbulent period of her life, America was going through a painful divorce, in which both France and America’s Mother mildly sided with her husband. However, that soon ended, and all three began to reconcile.

France was unfortunately still drinking heavily, abusing various other substances, and turning to a life of ill repute. This led to a number of unsavory encounters with Germany. After several assaults, Germany repeatedly raped France in the bunghole, and attacked America’s young step-sister, Israel.

Like a good sister, America came to her sibling’s defense, and after several ugly incidents, stopped Germany and castrated him. America got France into rehab, but it never worked out.

Fast-forward a few years. America is getting on in age, but is still looking pretty good despite a few wrinkles. France, however, is left with the sunken eyes and wrinkled face that befall a used-up woman. She’s even gotten engaged to her now pacified ex-client, Germany. Mother is for some reason halfway supporting the marriage, and all of them seem to have it out for the troubled Israel.

America’s relations with the rest of the family are strained. France now seems to blame her sister for everything that’s going wrong with her life, ignoring her own lack of responsibility. And America’s getting pretty damn tired of having her credit cards go missing every time she lets poor France crash at her pad.


Well, OK, it’s a silly metaphor. But I think it has some truth to it. Give me a break, it’s late.