171027 War From The Cheap Seats

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It's Friday, so thank whatever deity you do/do not acknowledge that we've made it through a week of d
 

5 NatSec Things

October 27 - Issue #3 - View online
Your Daily Look at War from the Cheap Seats

It’s Friday, so thank whatever deity you do/do not acknowledge that we’ve made it through a week of dealing with other people’s bad decisions and you’ve got a couple days to make some bad ones of your own. Today we’ve got: DPRK gets literal; Trump totally knew his name; more planes for the AAF; Pence gets Biblical; some Buddhists are dicks.

Quote of the Day
“The United States will work hand in hand from this day forward with faith-based groups and private orgs to help those who are persecuted for their faith. This is the moment, now is the time, and America will support these people in their hour of need.”
This guy’s one heartbeat away from the Presidency. The theocrat Mike Pence, everybody!
North Korea diplomat says take atmospheric nuclear test threat 'literally' | Reuters
We throw the “l” word around a lot as humans. We’re lazy with our words, love adverbs, and we live in times where the hyperbolic has become the norm. We are constantly outraged, everyone’s semi-cool shit is instantly savage, and we literally are going to just die. Except in the event of further progress by North Korea down the nuclear road, that might literally be true. 
What’s still laughable here is that the DPRK wants the rest of the world to take the report of a test…literally. Not a threat of anything more sinister, which is super great news for all those of us who aren’t roaches and therefore wouldn’t survive a direct nuclear attack. Just a test, so what could possibly go wrong?
Nothing, in and of itself, except that King Fumblethumbs the Orange isn’t inclined to taking any perceived threat to his sovereignty. And an atmospheric nuclear demonstrates that, well, you can shoot shit into the atmosphere. Shoot it a little further, and you end up dropping nukes on the US. All of which means we’re still at the brink of war with North Korea. And that’s one brink we all need to back away from. Literally.
Trump Praises Gold Star Widow But Insists He Knew Her Husband's Name | Military.com
I…didn’t want to put this one in here. There’s some other more worthwhile shit I’d rather talk about that got bumped as a result. Except that if you’re just joining us because you left your rustic cabin for the first time in years to buy new typewriter ribbon because you’re still working on that care package you’ve been meaning to send, the whole incident underscores how far the office of the president has fallen. 
The controversy centers around whether the Trumpster knew Sgt. La David Johnson’s name when the president called Johnson’s wife, Myeshia, to express his warmest condolences for the loss of her husband, killed by militants in Niger. Le Donald insists that of course he did, because, well, there was a chart. 
On the White House lawn Wednesday, before leaving for a Texas fundraiser, Trump told reporters that he knew he got the name right because it was on a chart before him, apparently prepared by the White House staff.
“I can only say this: I was really nice to her. I respect her. I respect her family,” he said. “I certainly respect La David, who – I, by the way, called La David right from the beginning. Just so you understand, they put a chart in front – ‘La David,’ it says, 'La David Johnson.’”
The damage that this president is doing is probably undoable at some level, and people like me are propagating the absurdity by not focusing on the larger problems this administration presents and instead focusing on whether or not he knew a dead soldier’s name. 
Because while that question is germane to whether this man is capable of leading anything more complex than a conga line at Mar-a-Lago, it’s not the worst thing he’s done. Or will do. It’s just the latest in another self-protective salvos the man feels compelled to launch because we have elevated the petty to the point of the unavoidable.
US orders more attack planes to boost Afghanistan’s air capability - News - Stripes
I’m sure there’s some words I’ve done somewhere on the Tucanos and the Afghan Air Force lingering around a blog I used to run. I’m just too damned lazy to go dig those words out at the moment. Because copy/paste takes time. And I don’t really want to focus on the Tucanos or the AAF right now, since this really isn’t about Afghanistan. It’s about some other things: 
US relations with Brazil
These aircraft are made under license with Embraer by the Sierra Nevada Corporation in Florida. The US would very much like to continue to have solid fiscally-based relations at a defense level with Brazil. This helps enable that.
US jobs
Even though other US companies tried to get this contract shut down and argued that this was putting money in foreign coffers, the 26 Tucanos are being made in the US. 
Foreign Military Sales (FMS)
The airframe’s a solid contender for the kind of operations it’s doing in Afghanistan: you’ve got air superiority, but not at a cost differential you’d have if this were a more complex jet-driven airframe. Which means it’s the kind of plane you’d like to see say, some African countries, put in the air since having an air force is what every despot wants. And the US would be happy to oblige.
Future usage by US forces
I’ve got some distressing news for all those of us who equate jet noise with the sound of freedom. Because the world’s heading a very different direction, and by the world, I mean Pentagon procurement practices. Sure, there will always be a warm spot in the spending cockles for the F-22s and F-35s.
But there’s also a need to put aircraft in the air that can whack a guy with flip flops and a knockoff AK-47. And you don’t need a Raptor to do that effectively. Afghanistan is one big ol’ proof-of-concept operation for that to happen. 
Because if you can take an air force from nothing up to successful air support with an aircraft like the Tucano, think of how effective that same airframe would be in the hands of a whole bunch of super duper trained American military personnel?
Shot of the Day
This is shot in an "undisclosed location," probably because no one wants to admit that this was the best the PAO could do.
Pence says US to stop funding 'ineffective' UN relief efforts | TheHill
Let’s open with some textbook theocratic propaganda: 
“We will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of terrorist groups,” Pence said to applause.

“The United States will work hand in hand from this day forward with faith-based groups and private orgs to help those who are persecuted for their faith. This is the moment, now is the time, and America will support these people in their hour of need.”
Pretty sure not all of you reading this aren’t Christians. But it’s possible, maybe, that you have some other faith you embrace. Maybe that’s Islam, Judaism, or Bob the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Whatever. You’re still a person of faith. 
Except in Pence’s world, you’re not. And that feels a little exclusionary to my liberal ears. But that’s not the worrisome part of this little spiel. 
It’s that he’s thrown this term “ineffective” in there when he’s talking about defunding US dollars that currently go to help UN relief efforts. And that’s the kind of isolationist rhetoric that bodes ill for future international relations. 
Let me be clear on one thing: the United Nations is synonymous with being ineffective. It’s a terrible organization run by some super great people stuck in a bureaucratic beast that continues to grind on and has a real hard time demonstrating any real good beyond sending yet another angry letter to whoever reads those damn things. 
However.
The vague Penceism at play here leaves a lot of alarming leeway for why something might be deemed ineffective by Pence and his favorite puppet president. And that could mean a lot of things that do actual good might be in danger of going away. 
I’d like to think that this is just more bluster from an administration that’s turned blustering into a terrifying new art form. But I fear that it’s not. And that means no good can come from things that, at their heart, are meant to buy the US a little more goodwill and at the end of the day do some actual good.
In Myanmar's Rakhine, aid workers blocked from entering Muslim camp amid tension | Reuters
Who the fuck does this? Buddhists, apparently. Because in Myanmar and elsewhere some Buddhists are raging dicks more than happy to bring harm to people that ain’t them. Maybe it’s time we ship ‘em some tiki torches? 
Also: I’m guessing the Pencester doesn’t file either Buddhist or Muslim charities as being “faith-based.” Because, well, not Christian. Fuck.
Here’s why this made it into a letter about defense issues: you’ve got a people group being displaced. What’s happening is genocide. And every genocide has a consequences beyond racking up the awful karma for its perpetrators.
The secondary and tertiary effects of what’s happening in Myanmar will resonate, like every other massive displacement of persons has done throughout history. This is how you get terrorist groups, sure, but it’s also how you end up with an entire generation that loses key functions like education. And that makes it almost impossible for that generation to be a solid partner to anyone in their vicinity.
And then you have to start all over again. Let me be stupidly clear: what’s happening here kills me. Like on a visceral level. But keeping my pragmatic lenses in place, it’s also bad for reasons that aren’t entirely altruistic.
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