2018/01/23

An open letter to fellow pacifists

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Hello folks,

I understand all those campaigns against military small arms, even for small arms export bans, have a little bit of hope that this might curb wars in the background. I also understand that the overtly offered argument against such small arms  is that they are the killer #1 in many of those messy little wars in the Third World, especially in Africa.

Folks, the idea that without small arms = less killing doesn't work. Axes, clubs, steel bars, machetes knifes and even stones are always available in the necessary quantities when humans want to massacre each other. We saw that in Rwanda and Burundi. In Biafra there wasn't even a need for much active killing - hunger did much of the killing.

One should use one's fights wisely, spend political capital that's available wisely. The campaigns against small arms may be good for generating donations, but they won't affect the outcome of wars.

Here's another, much more promising and easier target: Autonomous killer drones/missiles that are either recoverable/reusable or have an endurance of greater than three hours* (excluding underwater munitions).

There are no such things in service yet, which makes it relatively easy to get those banned. A ban on small arms export would merely provoke a few poor countries to discover small arms manufacture and export as a profitable market niche.

Autonomous killer drones on land and in the air are freaky enough and have so much Sci Fi background that mobilising support for a ban would be guaranteed to generate much support. Moreover, such drones could overthrow the current peace-preserving military (im)balances and lead to wars because powers that are kept in check today might see an opportunity to "win" in a war.

There's hardly any success to show after 15+ years of campaigning against small arms. It's all-too obvious that even the Arms Trade Treaty won't affect the small arms supply in Africa noticeably.

Let's campaign against autonomous killer drones instead! Western popular culture is already de facto allied, and this Pandora's box is still closed. Let's weld its lock closed (as much as a treaty can do so)!


S O

*: The definition has to exclude ordinary fire-and-forget missiles or a ban would be unrealistic.
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2018/01/22

[temporary] Update on the warship series

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The article series on warships is about 80-90% done, most of the remaining delay will be the wait time for previews. I let some people look at the articles in order to avoid substantial errors in the released version. The series stands at 18 k words so far, which is equivalent to 45 book pages text.

The 'wrap it up' conclusions part still has to be written.

edit: I wrote that one, too. It's not planned to be previewed, unlike most other parts of the series.

S O
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2018/01/14

[temporary] low ops

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I'm writing on a series of mostly long posts that summarize info, thoughts and conclusions on warships. This takes a lot of time (finding all those pictures and links is the worst about it), so there won't be much other writing in a while.

The good news is I finally repaired the spellchecker on my browser, so there will be fewer embarrassing typos in the future.

S O
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2018/01/11

"Hybrid" Russian invasions

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There has been much talk and many articles about "hybrid" approaches of Russia to warfare. Cyber, invading army in incomplete uniforms, attempts to manipulate right wingers with fake news, attempts to manipulate social media with fake comments and upvotes et cetera.

A very widespread conclusion from this is that if Russia made a move against NATO, it woudl do so with a hybrid approach that mattered - not just some 'Since 6 o'clock we're returning fire." false flag nonsense as the nazi stunt in '39 that would be relevant but for the most gullible part of the domestic audience.
As a consequence, questions are being asked such as what NATO would do if Russian army troops crossed the Estonian borders posing as Russians living in Estonia.

I have argued against this a couple times, but this time I'll argue against it more elaborately.

First, let's ward ourselves against falling for the nonsense that what the Russians did in the Ukraine was anything new, imaginative or unusual.



So it wasn't really new, imaginative or unusual.

It was a move designed to achive multiple things
- calm the more gullible part of the domestic audience
- give foreign sympathizers a way to not think or Russia as an aggressor first and foremost
- delay Western reactions TO A CRISIS IN A NON-ALLIED COUNTRY

There we have the key difference between such theatre in the Ukraine and in Estonia. The bar for Western military reactions was incredibly much higher in the case of the Ukraine. It's extremely dubious if any Western military would have been sent to assist the Ukraine even if Russia had formally declared war on the Ukraine with a stated war goal of 100% annexation.

A NATO member on the other hand is an altogethehr different thing. To neglect the duty to help an ally-by-treaty that's under attack would destroy the standing of any great power. It would even destroy the deterrence value of a nuclear arsenal. Most of Eastern Europe would likely surrender to Russia, seeking favorable terms if nto an alliance in which servitude as allies is the payment for continued sovereiugnty.

There's no way NATO would not at the very least react with a non-violent counterconcentration of military power in Poland and Germany (likely Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Norway and Denmark as well) if Russian fake secessionists appeared in the Baltics.

Those who expect a similar playbook as in the Crimea and Donetzk basin are making the typical mistake of extrapolation. They neglect to think about the reasons for the observed behaviour, and whether such reasons would exist in a future scenario as well. The intelligence put into making such an extrapolation can be provided by the computer chip of a microwave oven.

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It's easily debatable whether the aimed escalations that I project in scenarios of Russian aggression would really be dared. Meanwhile, I also assume that certain escalations would be avoided (I think they would keep Belarus neutral in a Baltic conflict). Escalations are tricky and depend on judgment that cannot be predicted.

What can be predicted is that any fake secessionists as first stage of invasion would utterly fail to make any difference in favour of Russia. Fake secessionists might provide some propaganda value well before an invasion - but adding a fake secessionist uprising as a first stage only wastes the element of surprise and time. The Russian military is not entirely ignorant of Suvorov - a rapid coup de main for fait accompli is MUCH more plausible than them wasting days.

related:

S O
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2018/01/08

Link drop Jan 2018, part II

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"Previous research has shown that when confronted with a factual statement that appears to go against an ideologically held belief, a percentage of people tested will move their position away from the factual information – a so-called “backfire effect.” This notion was rapidly incorporated into the skeptical narrative, because it seems to confirm our perception that it is very difficult to change people’s minds. However, more recent research suggests that the backfire effect may not exist, or at least is exceedingly rare."

I mentioned this effect in some blog post years ago, jsut cannot find it. Apparently, I did not use the term. My experience fits better with the notion that the effect is commonplace than with the notion that it isn't - at least regarding things that people find comfort in believing.
Did I prove my point? ;-)

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I don't get it. It worked fine before!


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An old one, but back then I wasn't in the mood becoming all rational cassandra again. Errorism is petty compared to this:


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In case you didn't notice; the French state of emergency ended a while ago after two years - it was replaced by one of those primitive reaction 'law and order'ish laws that pop up after terrorism and then stick for no good reason whatsoever. Germany has such leftovers from the 70's on the law books.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/france-state-of-emergency-end-terror-attacks-paris-isis-terrorism-alerts-warning-risk-reduced-a8029311.html

So when one mourns the decline of liberal democracy in Europe, don't just look at Poland, Hungary or maybe Spain.

S O
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2018/01/04

quick note on retracted articles

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I retracted a few articles over the last ten years. Today I pulled one titled "Interceptors vs. wonder weapon fighters" from 2009. I have felt for a long time that I didn't properly take into account the kinetic and potential energy difficulties and effects of datalink networks on the tactic I mentioned.

I also pulled (long time ago) one about a RAND study (the study was widely criticised), one about downsides of high speed in ships (faulty data), a couple blog posts that were meant to be temporary all along and a few that were about the blog itself. I have a couple drafts of which I don't know if they were never publsihed or rather reverted from published to draft.

It happens once in a while that I pull articles, but if you ever miss a blog post of mine there's still the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive. I can't do anything about its long term memory.

S O
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2018/01/02

Link drop January 2018

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This doesn't give me a good feeling. On the other hand, there was more than a decade delay between Rambo in Afghanistan and Americans wanting to go there.


I may have mentioned this before.
This wake reduction is not only of interest for fuel savings. Navies might be interested in it to reduce vulnerability to wake-homing torpedoes and saterllite/aerial radars that can detect ships going more than about 5 kts by spotting their wakes.

Think of this as mounted on a 4x4 car, moved every 2-4 minutes by 500+ m. And this thing is visibly (see antenna) not even close tot he state of the art!

A low frequency towed active sonar system for FAC-sized naval units. What's the excuse for "AAW" frigates and destroyers to nto be general purpose units again? 

Years ago I did (IIRC) doubt that low frequency active sonar would be available for ASW helicopters (or did I only doubt it would be available with sonobuoys?). Well, I was ignorant of this thing, obviously. So costs and survivabilikty against (potetnial) submarine air defences are the two main problems left with ASW helos then. AFAIK.

A reasonable concept, might be even better if they turned it into a palletised solution - but I've yet tio read about any MULTI/PLS/EPLS/DROPS equivalent in Russian use.


I mentioned in comments that NOSTRADAMUS might be relevant against the hypothertical cruise missile surprise salvo. This was what I meant:


This reminds me of the coloured and sugared water that was handed out in German air force barracks to meals.First time I saw "Jägermeister" flavor as a drink. Quite a disappointment; it was rather based on the dessert than the beverage.

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and for germanophone people:

http://www.taz.de/BND-speichert-ohne-Rechtsgrundlage/!5467835/
Nichts Neues im Westen.

https://www.reporter-ohne-grenzen.de/pressemitteilungen/meldung/wegweisendes-urteil-gegen-den-bnd/

Konnte man sich auch so denken.


https://netzpolitik.org/2017/eu-kommission-versteckte-unbequeme-piraterie-studie-zwei-jahre-vor-der-oeffentlichkeit/
So sollte Politik und insbesondere Demokratie nicht funktionieren!

S O
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