Link drop February 2019


What happens when an Austrian goes to war?
The British blame the Germans! ;-)

I tracked the developments in Syria in part through the very high quality ISW blog and its maps. I saw the daesh territory shrink to nothing. This rather geography-minded narrative was very different from the 'news' media narrative, where daesh losing ground was reported in a very fuzzy and debatable way. I get that maps didn't show the full truth, but their fake clarity apparently allowed for more accurate reporting.

Recently, I caught myself wondering how exactly could the U.S. troops possibly fight daesh to eradication in Syria (even with their Kurdish allies)? All it takes for daesh to survive is to evade into some non-Kurdish-controlled part of Syria.

The safest territories may be Turkish controlled ones, but even the Government's territories are probably quite safe for a clandestine presence. The government has bigger necessities than to hunt for some hiding daesh followers. Those are defeated and waiting for the next violent salafist brand to take over, just as daesh did from AQ.

Once again, the U.S. armed forces appear to be in a stupid war with maximalist (extremist, eliminationist) objectives that cannot be achieved and even complete success in the territories where they actually have freedom of movement would mean nothing: It wouldn't mean that the U.S. government or the people in the U.S. recognise this as a good time to withdraw, but it would also be no 'victory'.

The least stupid excuse for the continuation of the mission appears to be a combination of occasional manhunting against people who are no real threat to CONUS combined with "buying time" for some allies who presumably first need to fortify their position before they could be left alone.

And the U.S. media appears to be (on balance) a cheerleader for continued stupid war participation.

It's really Afghanistan all over again.

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As so often, Scandinavians and Netherlands lead, and Germany gets a good place. (This ranking is about perceptions only. One could read it as describing public trust in the integrity of their government.)

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What the fuck?

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Oldie, but Goodie:

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The video has some of the worst land artillery muzzle flashes I've ever seen. Those muzzle flashes dwarf 120 mm tank gun APFSDS muzzle flashes!

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This made me wonder which of these anonymising techniques were, are or will be used in warfare. They're probably much better-suited to guerrillas than to conventional armed forces, but there might be valuable lessons for low force density land warfare. I'm thinking of pre-seeded 'dead drops' (as they call it) a.k.a. hidden supply caches for armoured recce or long range scout-observers. The supply flow could happen whenever the conditions allow it, and withdrawal of supplies from caches by the recce troops could happen when needed, after an encrypted inquiry (and reply) about the location of a cache with the needed items. The primary problem with this would by how to move and hide the supplies at acceptable risk.

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Last week, Trump told reporters that he was disinterested in stopping a Saudi Arabian “investment of $110 billion into the United States,” despite tensions over Khashoggi’s disappearance.
“I know [senators are] talking about different kinds of sanctions, but [Saudi Arabia is] spending $110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs,” Trump said Thursday. “I don’t like the concept of stopping an investment of $110 billion into the United States.”
While Washington has several arms agreements with Riyadh, it is unclear where the $110 billion figure comes from, aside from a potential wish list of future deals.
Presently, Saudi Arabia has put forward approximately $14.5 billion in purchases in the form of letters of offer and acceptance or LOAs, a Pentagon official told CNN.
What’s more, the State Department has announced only six contracts worth a combined total of $4 billion since Trump’s visit last year  [S.O.: that was in May 2017, 17 months before the article was published!] to Saudi Arabia.
CNBC, already written in October '18 (red is my emphasis)

I told friends that the lying moron's 110 billion figure was the usual nonsensical lying-bragging B.S. shortly after it was floated in May 2017. (Aside from that B.S., purchasing something from a country isn't the same as investing there.) The media considered the 110 bn figure to be good infotainment and ran with it. Some gullible people did believe it. I suppose most people simply ignore such obvious B.S., but it should be challenged every single time.
An embarrassing detail: The lying moron may actually believe his own made-up nonsense instead of knowingly repeating yesteryear's lie.

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What the fuck part II ?

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For Americans: /anti-defamation-league-report-right-wing-extremists-2018-murders
Compare to evil Mooooslim murders in the U.S. during 2018: Zero, same as in 2017

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The old geezers are at fault!

Caveat; it's but one study, so this study means little so far. Scientific findings become very reliable only a while after they were published. Peer review usually only weeds out the rather obvious crap, even if done well. Scientific discussion usually takes time to weed out (often by failure to reproduce experimental results) errors.

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BROACH - I wrote about it before. I still didn't (re-)find the article about the American Tomahawk test with a similar tech, though.

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Someone recently commented here that Western media had run propaganda for so long that this kept some of us from recognising Russian propaganda as something extraordinary. My reply was that Western media typically has a narrative bias and typically doesn't spew outright propaganda. There's a substantial difference. Here's an example for how this works (for those who don't know the "Manufactured consent" book):

It's not intentional propaganda, and certainly not a centrally coordinated propaganda effort. There's not necessarily any lying involved. It's simply about presenting news with a certain angle, using a narrative, and giving the different voices different opportunities to reach your audience. The end result is a strong and lasting bias in favour of one side of an issue. 
Many incentives and disincentives furthermore lead to a pro-establishment bias. Many extremists from both right and left mistake this for the media being left or right wing, for they are farther on the extremes than the media's biased narratives are.
The attention on politicians who are in office suffices on its own to distort debates about major policy decisions. The media prefers to repeat the statements of known people over the statements of unknown people even if the latter are less partial and more informed and more qualified. This also explains the terrible overreliance on universal dilettante reporters instead of proper use of specialised reporters and specialised journalists who actually know much about the subject.

A British blogger-economist coined the term "mediamacro" for the anglophone media's misrepresentation of economics that appears to be rather driven by pro-establishment bias and attention to CEOs and financial sector 'analysts' rather than to actual academic experts on macroeconomics. (We had something similar here in Germany when the discussion about the common European currency area was almost perfectly devoid of the economic sciences' state of the art optimum currency area models.)
He accuses the BBC of such bias quite regularly, but there's no reason whatsoever to accuse them of propaganda.

There are hardly any reporters or even journalists who can be accused of intentional lying to the public. One among thousands is a fraud once in a while, but there's little reason to believe that reporters or even journalists systematically produce propaganda. I doubt even that Springer press authors are lying intentionally despite the Springer press' known systemic contractual bias on some topics (I'm not so sure about the Murdoch empire, where lots of the less well-known TV personalities appear to be biased rather for the money than because of their individual background).

A bias is a systemic issue that can only be reduced to some degree, for bias is human.
A propaganda campaign on the other hand is something that emphasises convincing or confusing people regardless of reality over both profit and delivery of actual information. Bits taken from reality are but a plausibility- and deniability-enhancing ingredient to propaganda. Propaganda can be beaten back.
Reporters and journalists meanwhile take bits of reality as a good to deliver. I accuse almost all of them of delivering biased infotainment rather than information and analysis, but that's a far cry from them being lying propagandists.

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Germany concludes a bilateral treaty with alliance-ish component with France.
It's been signed on January 22nd, and will almost certainly be ratified soon. I don't expect an official English version of the treaty text, but there surely is a French one somewhere.

Article 4(1) is the relevant part. It doesn't appear to be a bilateral alliance in its own right as it merely confirms already existing obligations. I'm a bit discouraged by article 4(3) because it elevates joint missions (stupid small wars) to a kind of goal. Article 6 may be partially unconstitutional in Germany, because policing is within the authority of the 16 states, not the federal government. So article 6 may be limited to intelligence services and the federal (rail, airport, border) police.

Overall, the treaty is mostly reaffirming what's already known and is very vague on almost all of what's new. It looks like a letter of intent that may lose much of its meaning with the next French president.

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The longest I ever wore a NBC mask felt like hours.
Guess why!

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some more WTF, not very on-topic
This reminded me of the story of Western allies pilots having a compass hidden in a button.

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It's but one of many websites describing Bombentorpedos.

The 1946 U.S. report on this and other German explosive ordnance:
file page 48, original document page 44

They were meant to be dropped like bombs during very low altitude level flight, to impact in front of a ship, to travel by kinetic energy under water for about 50...70 m until they hit the hull under water or pass below the hull. It would have been a more accurate (especially against fast-moving and agile targets such as destroyers) and much, much cheaper munition than aerial torpedoes. Aerial torpedo attacks around Europe were quite unlike the ones in the Pacific region; they were often done at night or dawn (thus up close), and the main targets were cargo and landing ships.
No Bombentorpedos were used in anger, for the development of a suitable fuse wasn't completed in time (a combination of a simple impact delay fuse and a regular aerial torpedo magnetic fuse should have worked IMO).  The Allies had a similar approach with some 5" rockets, which were able to enter the sea without instant explosion and without bouncing - and then they could struck the hull underwater to cause a small leak with a small explosion.

I mention this because it appears that hardly anyone appears to publicly write of this as a possible mode for anti-ship missiles. The Bombentorpedos had a far from optimal shape for achieving a high explosive mass fraction, but they still did have a decent one: The smallest Bombentorpedo was BT400. The claims about its filling vary, but the fraction was apparently very close to 50%, comparable to general purpose free-falling bombs. A Bombentorpedo didn't need thick walls, for fragmentation effect was of no use.
A typical modern "500 lbs class" anti-ship missile warhead of Bombentorpedo design could very well have about 100 kg of high quality explosive - easily enough to ruin a frigate with an underwater hit. Meanwhile, we know from experience that above-water hits with warheads of that size are often 'unsatisfactory' (see USS Stark and INS Hanit as well as the disappointing effect of many kamikaze and Hs 293 attacks with less than 300 kg explosives each back in WW2).

A missile that dives into the sea for an underwater hit would not have the option of re-engaging if it was duped into engaging decoys, of course. That's a simila rproblem as with hypersonic and quasiballistic anti-ship missiles

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WTF part IV and V:

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This was for Americans who laughed at the France/Italy piece. ;-)

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...and this for the British ;-)

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(Ignore the title, it's about the carburetor issue and its fix. You may like it if you liked the previous blog post.)

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  1. The link to murders by right wing extremists. I'm still mind-boggled that otherwise intelligent people regard Antifa as a clear and present danger to US Democracy. To me that's several orders of magnitude more ludicrous than the supposed Muslim threat.

    1. Antifascists are the real fascists - newspeak taken hold for years already, that shouldn't surprise.
      1984 and Idiocracy were disturbingly good at pointing out human society failure modes.

  2. There has been purposeful propaganda by other government affiliated agencies repeated in our media. These half-truths and lies might be called out after the achievement.

    The definition of media used in manufacturing consent is based on more hierarchical information dissemination than is currently the case.
    There's a quantitative and qualitative difference in the use by state actors, but the techniques can also be observed among non-state actors using more non-hierarchical dissemination.

    I wonder what Russia wants to signal and cui bono?