sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Passing Observations

Bernie and Jane Sanders have lawyered up (more here) It's interesting that they started by blaming President Trump. 
On January 10, 2016, in the midst of Sanders’ sudden stardom—just weeks before the votes in Iowa and New Hampshire—the U.S. attorney for Vermont was sent a “Request for an Investigation into Apparent Federal Bank Fraud.”
Oops.
Jane and Bernie Sanders
Backed by six exhibits and a dozen documents, the four-page letterdescribed how Jane Sanders had “orchestrated” the purchase of 33 acres along Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont’s largest city, where her husband had minted his populist political brand as mayor. The deal closed in 2010, when the senator’s wife was president of Burlington College, a tiny, obscure, nontraditional school that always seemed to be struggling for students and funds. The letter alleged that to secure a $10 million loan and execute her grand plan to expand the college, Jane Sanders had falsified and inflated nearly $2 million that she’d claimed donors had pledged to repay the loans.
It's one of those things that we have to watch, to see how it all turns out.

It's Just Chump Change

All pigs are equal. Some are more equal than others.
The infamous Clinton Foundation now admits that it took $1 million from Qatar while Hillary was Secretary of State, and forgot to tell the US government. (more here

It could have happened to any one of us. Of course if you're not elite and you do that, you end up in custody with soap-on-a-rope around your neck in the communal prison shower.
Among the thousands of emails hacked from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman John Podesta and published by Wikileaks, one stated that officials from the government of Qatar gave the Clinton Foundation $1 million to celebrate Bill Clinton’s 65th birthday, funds which the foundation did not report to the State Department. 
That would seemingly violate an ethics agreement Hillary Clinton signed when she became Secretary of State in 2009, in which she promised the foundation would notify the State Department's ethics official if a new foreign government wanted to donate or "increase materially" its contributions.

Qatari officials pledged the money in 2011; in April 2012 Amitabh Desai, the Clinton Foundation's foreign policy director, sent an email acknowledging the Qataris wanted to meet Bill Clinton “for five minutes” in New York City. 
Clinton Foundation spokesman Brian Cookstra told Reuters that the $1 million gift was not a "material increase" in Qatar’s contributions. But Qatar had given between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation in total, meaning the $1 million gift represented between a 20% to 100% increase.
America is still waiting for a serious investigation into the Clinton Foundation, shady uranium deals and a host of other "irregular" transactions. The FBI could do a good job here and it might begin to remove the "Comey Stain" that is on the FBI badge. Currently, people allege that the FBI (along with the corrupt mainstream media) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democrat Party. I don't believe that, but I do believe that there is a lot of partisan politics being played instead of following evidence and sticking to a discovery of facts. It makes the Bureau look tawdry.

ObamaCare

The system is broke and insurers are either increasing premiums dramatically while also raising deductibles or they're pulling out of the exchanges/market completely.

The Dems knew that this would happen and under a Clinton presidency, it would have been a predicate for single-payer healthcare mandated to all Americans. In effect, it would have made all healthcare in the us equal to the Veteran's Administration. Care would have been smashed and the cost would have been unsustainable (enter death panels). That was the program. But elections have consequences.

Today it remains to be seen whether Congress will put lipstick on a pig (ObamaCare) or will repeal and replace. The swamp is very deep, my friends. I have no idea where this will land, but the Republicans aren't showing much spine. President Trump promised America a repeal of ObamaCare and a rational replacement that included opening up the entire US to all insurance carriers so that competition could drive down cost.


Geopolitical Commentary

Pusillanimous Pakis

During the past week, the Chinese have offered to mediate Pakistani differences with Afghanistan. When you consider that the Pakistani Intelligence Service (ISI) created the Taliban, and has supported them since the beginning, I don't know what form those mediations will take.

This week the Russians offered to mediate Pakistani differences with India.
The US has tried to use its position as an ally of Pakistan and Afghanistan and a friend of India to persuade Pakistan to halt support to terrorist groups in Afghanistan and in India for the past 16 years. US efforts failed.
The most important countries on earth are getting tired of Pakistani duplicity. Pakistan has become a source of instability and a training ground for international terrorists that now threaten Chinese and Russian interests, not just those of the US. 

Pakistani leaders do not seem to be getting the message that China will not tolerate Pakistan’s ineffective security operations and selective support for terrorists because they jeopardize China’s Belt and Road initiative. The terms of Pakistani participation virtually allow China to take charge of Pakistani security, if Pakistan cannot meet its responsibilities. 

Russian President Putin made the mediation offer on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization conference in Astana, Kazakhstan, in early June. As the US has exerted increased pressure on Pakistan to terminate its support for terrorist groups, Putin’s advisors perceive an opportunity to increase Russian influence.

Pakistani leaders also have incurred increased displeasure from Saudi King Salman because Pakistan has twice declined to support important Saudi initiatives. Pakistan has refused to support the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and the Saudi-led sanctions regime against Qatar.

The Pakistani leaders do not seem prepared to cope with the complexity of the situation that their policy choices have created. 

There is no good reason that the US should extend .02 cents to Pakistan by way of foreign aid. Let the Chinese watch their bribes disappear onto the pockets of Pakistani leaders without the slightest movement toward improving the lives of the regular people or improving the security situation.

Iranian Missiles

Israel reported that only two Iranian missiles hit Deir ez-Zor. Israeli press also reported that Iran launched seven missiles, not six as the spokesman for the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said.
“Out of the seven ballistic missiles fired at ISIS havens in Deir ez-Zor, only two hit the targets,” Haaretz reported. Two landed in the surrounding area; three landed in Iraq, according to Israeli military sources. 
Iran said the missiles killed 65 Islamic State fighters. 

The Israeli narrative corrects the record, but the inaccuracy of the Iranian missiles might be considered more threatening than more accurate missiles. Inaccurate missiles are arguably more terrifying than precision weapons. The Iranians would accept a mixed result from a missile attack against Israelis.

The problem of Iranian missiles reaching their targets may have something to do with their design being based on North Korean Missiles.

Turks vs Kurds

If a Turk should marry a Kurd, the resulting union would be... puzzle that one out for yourself. Meanwhile...

Several Turkish army convoys were seen heading into Syria on 21 June toward the rebel-held town of Azaz. The Turkish troop movement reinforces rumors of a pending Turkish-backed rebel assault on Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) positioned around the town of Tell Rifaat.

A local analyst observed that a battle over Tell Rifaat, a previously rebel-held town that was seized by the YPG, isn't as sensitive as a direct Turkish attack on core YPG areas, as Manbij has become. 

The Turkish leadership is obsessed with and confounded by the Syrian civil war. President Erdogan’s initial policy was to support the Islamic State in overthrowing the Assad government. That policy failed and backfired when the Russian expeditionary force arrived to save the Assad government and when the US narrowed the fight by focusing on the Islamic State.

Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield succeeded in creating a limited safe zone, around a few villages west of Manbij, but, even with the help of Turkish regular units, the Turkish proxy forces were unable to push the Syrian Kurds back across the Euphrates River. Turkey ended that operation with a promise of returning. 

Turkey hoped to have its proxy rebel forces join the fight for Raqqa and to replace the Syrian Kurds. The US rejected the Turkish plan. 

Erdogan sensed an opportunity in cooperating with the Russians and Iranians in creating the four de-escalation zones. Turkey’s task supposedly was to ensure that the Sunni armed opposition groups complied with the ceasefire terms. The triumvirate has yet to decide where and how the Turks perform this task. That is a primary topic for the next round of talks in Kazakhstan.

The latest move suggests Turkey unilaterally is determining its area of responsibility by committing Turkish army units a second time.

The Turks might be doing to the Syrian Kurds in the north what the US and its proxy force did to the Syrian army and its allies at Al Tanj. That is set up a blocking position to protect its interests. At Tell Rifaat, the Turkish army will ensure that the Syrian Kurds from their two cantons in eastern Syria never create an uninterrupted land corridor to the Afrin Canton. I believe that the Turks will be frustrated in their efforts once again.

USA

The smug, elite, progressive, lying, filthy mainstream media continues their rant against the American people, while the rest of the world just wonders if the American elites have gone completely insane.

The answer to that question would be "yes".

It would help if the mainstream media could get out of the DC Beltway or off Manhattan Island - but that is asking too much.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Minimum Wages in America

Tell me, is something eluding you, Sunshine?
Is this not what you expected to see?
If you want to find out what’s behind these cold eyes,
You’ll just have to claw your way through this disguise...
--Roger Waters - Pink Floyd, The Wall
Sadly, the reality is that you are paid precisely what you're worth to somebody else. Minimum wage was never intended to be the standard for employment compensation, but since government created a minimum wage thus interfering with commerce, it has been a convenient place to peg salaries for people, many of whose time is actually worth less.

And this is a problem for many employers and employees. 

The cost of living in the USA is not uniform. What is a living wage in Arkansas is a starvation wage in much of California, New York, Hawaii or Washington DC.



Arkansas has the lowest hourly income needed for a two-bedroom rental at $13.72, and the state minimum wage is $8.50/hr. Hawaii demands the highest income of renters: Workers need to make $35.20 to rent a two-bedroom there, and the state minimum wage is $9.25. This means that you need a roommate or two to spread the burden if you plan on turning burgers, for the rest of your life.

The antidote to this situation is to learn a trade or gain a profession where your time is worth more. Sadly, the cant of the progressive left is that businesses should subsidize those whose time is worth less than they're being paid by increasing the minimum wage. It makes no sense unless you are a social justice warrior (and likely don't work for a living and are living in Mom's basement).

Fiddling with and increasing the minimum wage means that some businesses who can't afford to pay workers more go under. This situation has never bothered the progressive left and our former president who reminded us over and over that YOU DIDN'T BUILD THAT. Then again, there is no record of Barack doing a day's labor in his life.


Barack successfully race baited his way into a position of advantage and I guess it's fair to say that he was paid what he was worth. If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit. (hint: bring a teleprompter) It isn't the best solution to the minimum wage issue, but being President is better than flipping burgers, bussing dishes, fluffing for the porn industry or picking cotton. The Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to President Obama for being the first mixed race president is an example of how some can work the situation to their benefit without the need for a minimum wage.

Hillary receives a really nice medal for not doing anything.
Then there's Hillary Clinton, famous wife of Bill (Slick Willy) Clinton who was simply more wicked than her opponents...until she ran into Barack and then The Donald. Politics may be a solution or a road to success for many low skilled people, but there aren't enough Congressional seats for all of them.
A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."

"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."
Government hands medals and awards to their elite in the very same way that Hollywood recognizes its elite. Hollywood does a better job with the pomp and circumstance.

Vice President Joe Biden receives a participation trophy.
Receiving a medal if you are an elite politician doesn't mean that you'll be paid more for your next movie the way that they do it in Hollywood. But in Hollywood, you're only as good as your last game. The same is true for prostitutes and consultants (and there's not much difference - I know - you just don't get a happy ending from a consultant). In government, you have a guaranteed income for as long as you live, a robust pension with survivor's benefits, etc. No particular talent is required - See Barack, Hillary and Slow Joe (above). They all have medals and awards and didn't do a damned thing but make life miserable for the American people. They all got rich on pay to play, but that's another story.

"When you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed." – Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
In government as a legislature, you can vote yourself a pay raise. The California Legislature voted themselves a fat pay raise this week and Gov. Moonbeam is the highest paid governor in the nation. He would tell you that he's worth it. I agree. Scamming (as with Barack) pays at times - thousand times minimum wage. California legislators also receive $183.00 per day in tax free per deim to cover incidentals while they're in session, and a wide range of other perks not available to anyone who is not voting themselves raises. Better than trimming trees? You bet!

No skills, stuck in a minimum wage job? Try politics!
"The government consists of a gang of men and women exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods." - H. L. Mencken

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mid-Week Crazies

Progressive thought...

Antarctica

(WaPo) "Antarctic sea ice hit 35-year record high Saturday." As one could predict without reading the article, the Washington Post (progressive publication) attributes the expanding sea ice to...wait for it..."Global Warming". The article cites suspicious vortexes as the potential cause even while predicting that the ice will melt, seas will rise, etc. To assert anything else would be to reveal themselves as "climate deniers", repudiating "settled science".

(h/t John D. for putting me onto this)


Oh, Canada!

Canadian law panders to fringe psychopathies, sexual neuroses, hysteria, paranoiac delusion, and freakish sociopathies disguised as an abortive political ideology. It's now a violation of criminal law in Canada to use the wrong pro-noun when referring to a person's (perceived) gender. I don't know if the Canadians ascribe to the 31 genders that are all part of law in New York or if they run with the 18 genders in California -- or if they have their own list. (these genders are fluid and to some extent it's how you wake up feeling on any given day and on whether you feel like wearing boxers or panties on that given day)
(Daily Caller) Canada passed a law Thursday making it illegal to use the wrong gender pronouns. Critics say that Canadians who do not subscribe to progressive gender theory could be accused of hate crimes, jailed, fined, and made to take anti-bias training. 
Canada’s Senate passed Bill C-16, which puts “gender identity” and “gender expression” into both the country’s Human Rights Code, as well as the hate crime category of its Criminal Code by a vote of 67-11.
“Great news,” announced Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister.
Going along with the Canadian theory (now law) how anyone could know which pronoun a particular person would prefer? I'm not planning travel to Canada - but if I went and if I got it wrong, I could land in a Canadian prison after being convicted by a kangaroo court after saying "he" when the Canadians assert, that I should have said, "she". I'd end up like the hapless Otto Warnbeir - murdered by North Koreans (only Canadians in this case) and then returned to the USA in a coma days before he expired. Is there a Canadian who reads this blog who could explain it to me and the rest of the readers?

Now for a breath of fresh air.

USA - Supreme Court Declares that "Hate Speech" is Free Speech

Matal v Tam
(National Review) With the Left feverishly attempting to squash unwelcome speech on college campuses, with the president of the United States musing about tightening libel laws, with prominent liberals asserting that so-called hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment, free speech in America at least has one reliable friend — the Supreme Court of the United States. 
In a firm 8-0 decision, the court slapped down the Patent and Trademark Office for denying a band federal trademark registration for the name “The Slants,” a derogatory term for Asian-Americans. The case involves a very small corner of federal law, but implicates the broader logic of political correctness, which is that speech should be silenced for the greater good if there is a chance that someone, somewhere might be offended by it.
Read the entire article.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Nelson

(note: the "today" below is actually yesterday for you, the reader)

Desert Bighorn Sheep in El Dorado Canyon
The 2010 Census showed that Nelson, Nevada had 37 residents. It's no more of a ghost town than Hackberry or Oatman, Arizona are, but it is a town with a historic reputation. In fact, there was a time when residents of Hackberry or Oatman, Arizona had to cross the Colorado River at Nelson's Ferry, to get ore to California and the railroad thus, linking them then - but not today. 

It's 120 degrees (F) in the shade today in Nelson, but the big horn sheep are out in force in El Dorado Canyon. (photo above right) There are a lot of Desert Bighorn in the greater Mojave Desert, primarily because there is a lot of water in the Mojave if you know where to look for it. In this case, they're close to the Colorado River.

Nelson Ghost Town
The City of Nelson was originally called El Dorado in 1775, by the Spaniards who made the original discoveries of gold in the area that is now Eldorado Canyon (read the story). The town was the site of one of the first major gold strikes in Nevada and one of the biggest mining booms in state history. 
In its heyday, the area established a reputation for being rough and lawless. During the War of Northern Aggression, deserters from both Union and Confederate armies made their way to El Dorado in search of a bonanza.  
Desert Bighorn Ram
Among the early mines established was the notorious Techatticup Mine (read the story) in the middle of the canyon. Disagreements over ownership, management and labor disputes resulted in wanton killings so frequent as to be routine and ordinary. Despite the sinister reputation of the mine, it along with others in the town produced several million dollars in gold, silver, copper and lead. The mines in the canyon were active from about 1858 until 1945.

The City of Nelson was named for Charles Nelson, a popular prospector, who was slain in his home, along with four other people, in 1897 by the renegade Indian, Avote. There is a lesson here for the present day...don't let renegade savages into your home (or in your country). And if they arrive with hostile intent, there is always space in Boot Hill. But there is no need for a draw Mohammed contest in Nelson to winnow out the savages. Jihadist Mohammedans avoid the place instinctively even though they do like the desert. 

Between, 1901 and 1905 the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad was built across southern Nevada, through Las Vegas to Daggett, California where it connected to the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad and the complete Salt Lake–Los Angeles line was opened on May 1, 1905. 

This nearby railhead ended the need for steamboats at El Dorado Canyon. The landing and the stamping mill there was abandoned. It was cheaper to hire drayage to haul raw ore to the railhead and have the precious metal extracted elsewhere.

Today in the heat, the Desert Bighorn herd, sited at dawn (first bighorn photo) made its way down to the shore of the Colorado River, for another deep pull on the water. 

Who can deny them a drink? You'll note the family across the little bay, escaping the heat in a similar way with the help of an E-Z Up. It's not Desert Bighorn hunting season, so they're not the least bit afraid. The nervy elk at the White Wolf Mine behave the same way, taking what they feel is due them.

Nelson is a short detour from the Road Less Traveled that leads up and up into Mogollon Rim Country and the White Wolf Mine.

Can Desert Bighorn Sheep be part of art philosophy? I don't know, but why not?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Hackberry

On the road to the White Wolf Mine, you will pass through the (almost ghost) town of Hackberry. Today Hackberry has a post office, which serves 68 residential mailboxes with the zip code of 86411.


Hackberry, Arizona Territory (1879)

Context and Precedence

Hackberry dates back to 1864 when prospectors set up a mining camp on the east side of the Peacock Mountains. After having discovered rich deposits of silver, the Hackberry Silver Mine was soon established, named for a large Hackberry tree growing near a spring adjacent to the mine. Before long, the valuable ore warranted a five stamp mill, which quickly doubled its capacity. Reportedly, this rich vein was about 400 feet in width and large amounts of silver were taken from the mine.

Hackberry general store and gas station (above and below)
as it appeared yesterday.
Today it is part of the Road Less Traveled, which is how you get to the White Wolf Mine on Arizona's Mogollon Rim.

The only way that these businesses stay open is when the infrequent travelers stop and buy something. It's important to stop even though you are rushing from Point A to Point B with oh-so-important things to do.


(There is nothing to purchase at the White Wolf mine. Going there and screwing with the old miner will buy you nothing but trouble. The best case you can hope for is having scripture read over your cooling corpse before you are rolled into a shallow grave in Boot Hill**.)
Back to Hackberry...

Expanding your self-guided tour of the area in your high-clearance four wheel drive vehicle means that you will discover things previously discovered and then forgotten. Such is the nature of the road less traveled.

The general store has been around since 1992 and was established Hackberry became "gentrified". Hackberry is not all that far from Oatman. If you follow this blog, you'll recall Olive Oatman's ordeal and the city named for her. (here)

If you're going into the Mojave Desert from Hackberry, the sign warns that you have 300 miles of desert ahead of you...


There are a lot of mines in the area. It's one of those things where you proceed at your own risk. However, shoring that worked 150 years ago is likely to be less stable today and you could find yourself buried under a mountain if you don't exercise extreme caution. As for me, taking a photo is exploration enough.

Then there is the matter of art - which some would say is where you find it. I am not an 'art philosopher' like our fellow blogger, Juliette/Jules, so I stick to the capture of a moment for its own sake and leave the philosophizing to either a Sunday Sermonette or just to your own interpretation.

Sometimes it's art, and sometimes it's just a rusty water tank on a hardscrabble farm that wasn't able to make it to the extent that the owner might have hoped.

There's always hope in the future, though, because the windmill is a new one, perched on an older tower, pumping water for the livestock.

One thing that the desert never has too much of is wind. Don't get on a global warming/cooling rant here. It's just wind.



** The most notable use of the name "Boot Hill" is at the Boothill Graveyard in Tombstone, Arizona. 31°43′11.6″N 110°04′13.6″W Formerly called the "Tombstone Cemetery", the plot features the graves of Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury and Tom McLaury; the three men who were killed during the gunfight at the O. K. Corral. 

Geopolitical Overview

American Homeland

Crooked Hillary Clinton - still has a security clearance...
Another week begins, with events unreported and unexamined by the corrupt, elite, smug, evil, lying, mainstream media, which is focused on removing President Trump from office and replacing him with somebody more acceptable to them -- somebody like Hillary (Crooked Hillary) Clinton, queen of the Deep State. They would also have accepted Jeb!

As usual, this blog will try and bring you up to speed in part with events that the media neglects to share.

Great Britain

The British still are in a position of not knowing whether to, "shit or go blind" in regard the ongoing problem with Mohammedans and the reaction of the British population to the beloved Muslims. There is a lesson here. Irresponsible immigration problems including EU foolishness, can have severe, long term, repercussions. In England the most popular baby name in 2016 was "Mohammed". Make of that what you will.

Afghanistan

I've commented a number of times on this blog about the causation of the current situation in Afghanistan and it's not a secret. Pakistan manufactured the Taliban lock, stock, and barrel. A generation of Afghan children are reaching maturity now who have never known a time when non-Afghan military forces have not been present and fighting in their country. The fighting has no end in sight. The Taliban will be defeated, if ever, in Pakistan, where the leadership still lives comfortably. Even then, Pashtun tribal fighters would still attack foreign soldiers, but attacks would be less organized and less well-supplied.

China has inserted itself as a Pakistani ally even more forcefully over the past three years so US action against "Taliban in Pakistan" could be construed to be an attack on a Chinese ally.

There was a time when I was a species of expert on Afghanistan (back before Afghanistan was cool), and the situation there is unlikely to improve in the long term no matter how many soldiers that the US puts in place. How many trillions of dollars is it worth to put young American men in danger for the sake of a conflict that we can't solve without crushing the head of the snake (Pakistan)?

Insider Attacks - often result from personal friction between Afghans and foreign soldiers in the same base. They are not necessarily the result of Taliban sleeper agents, but often the result of the profound cultural differences between modern Western soldiers and Afghans. Nevertheless, the Taliban invariably claim responsibility. For example, on 11 June, the Taliban claimed responsibility for an insider attack in which an Afghan soldier killed three US soldiers and wounded a fourth in Nangarhar Province.

Whatever the motivation, these attacks have significant consequences beyond the casualties. They destroy the trust that is essential in an allied fighting force and compel enforcement of safety precautions that can demean the Afghans, such as bans on weapons or ammunition for Afghans during training or at meetings.

Taliban Attacks - On 18 June, a Taliban force of six gunmen and a suicide bomber attacked a regional police headquarters in Gardez, the capital of Paktia Province.

One attacker blew himself up in a car at the entrance to clear the way for the others to rush into the building. Afghan police special forces killed four of the insurgents but two held out for several hours.

The attackers killed six policemen and wounded nine police and 13 civilians.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the raid. “Around 6:20 this morning a martyr attack was conducted by our mujahideen against a special forces base in Gardez, Paktia.” He claimed the attack killed and wounded more than 100 people.

The base is located in the center of Gardez and contains both regular policemen and police special forces. Despite the lapse in security that enabled the attackers to reach the police headquarters, this attack failed.
US Perspective (commentary) - I don't disagree that if the US withdraws from Afghanistan that the government would fall to Islamic extremism and the place would become a nesting ground for terrorism that could indeed find itself involved in attacks in the US in the future. But there is no exit strategy from that perspective, because of Pakistan (and China). It will continue to be a festering, weeping, wound. While it's true that US soldiers and marines gain a great deal of combat experience while serving in a cauldron such as Afghanistan, I hate the idea of exchanging lives and treasure for combat experience. My son-in-law is a 50% disabled veteran from his service in Afghanistan and I have (an old) scar across my scalp from service (long before official US intervention there) there. Both of us are Navy - and Afghanistan has no shoreline...
Syria

Iran in Syria

On 18 June, Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) announced that on Saturday, the 17th, it launched several missiles into Syria, targeting Islamic State fighters in retaliation for the attacks in Tehran on 7 June. 
“Medium-range missiles were fired from the western Iranian provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdestan, and a large number of terrorists were killed and weapons destroyed," the Guard said in a statement published on Sunday.

It said the attack targeted "a command base of the terrorists in Deir ez-Zor…. The spilling of any pure blood will not go unanswered.”
Iran did not identify the type of missiles launched, but Israeli press reported they were Shahab-3 medium range ballistic missiles. This missile is a derivative of the North Korean No Dong ballistic missile and has a range of 1,200 kms/ 800 miles.

The Iranian missile strikes are the first reported ground-to-ground attacks from Iran into Syria since the civil war started in 2011. Iranian press said these were the first missiles fired at targets outside Iran in 30 years.

This attack has important implications. If there was any doubt, the Iranians just demonstrated they also can use long range weapons to target and attack the Islamic State and any other enemies of the Assad government. That could include US-backed forces in the US-led coalition. 

Previously the Russians were the only combatant to launch missile attacks. They tested new missiles and tactics. This attack conveys Iran that can do the same thing and is willing to do so. Iran’s missile forces gained some targeting experience, just days after President Putin said the experience was priceless.

The selection of targets in Deir ez-Zor is noteworthy. The attackers in Tehran were recruited from within Iran, according to Iranian news reports. Iran’s revenge against the Islamic State was delivered in Syria. Even an Islamic State command complex in Syria most likely would not have been aware of the Tehran attacks, being a bit preoccupied.

The genius of the Iranian targeting is that the missile attack avenges the Tehran terrorist attack, while providing support to the Iranian-backed militias that appear to be trying to reach Deir ez-Zor before the US-backed Free Syrian Army militias based at Al Tanf and Zakf.

US in Syria

Echoing a report that our fellow blogger, Brig, sent by e-mail, US Central Command officials confirmed that on Sunday, 18 June, a US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22. At this point we do not know whether it was flown by a Syrian or a Russian pilot.

The US command said that two hours before the aircraft was shot down forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked SDF fighters, "wounding a number" of them and driving them from Ja’din, a village slightly north of Resafa.

The US command said that it called the Russians on the de-confliction phone line “to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing,” before the air engagement.

The US said its forces acted in self-defense after the Syrian aircraft dropped bombs near US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters. "In accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of Coalition-partnered forces, the aircraft was immediately shot down," said the US military in a statement.

The Syrian army said its aircraft was on a mission against an Islamic State target when it came under fire, according to state television. The Syrian government warned that the incident could have "dangerous repercussions" on efforts to fight terrorism. One news report said the Syrian pilot was killed in the crash.

This is the fourth incident in which US forces have attacked forces fighting for the Syrian government that threatened US-backed militias. US and US-backed forces are in the interior of Syria against the express public orders of the Syrian government. The Iranian missile attack provides a glimpse of one possible escalation scenario. The Iranians have Syrian authorization to attack groups that seek to overthrow the Assad government.

These can no longer be considered inadvertent incidents. The Syrians are no match for US forces, but the incidents are reinforcing President Assad’s message that US forces have no legal right to be in Syria. Without Syrian authorization, there also could be legal ramifications from losses of life and property damage.

Ja’din village is on the south side of the Euphrates River and some distance from the river itself and from Raqqa. It appears to be another expansion of the perimeter of US-backed militia forces. Expansion of the US perimeter at Zakf could lead to more clashes with forces fighting for the Syrian government. The same warning applies to the forces at Raqqa. 

The Syrian government’s forces and allied forces want to take Deir ez-Zor. They also expect that control of Raqqa will be transferred to the government of Syria. If the US-backed SDF declines to transfer control to the Syrian government, the civil war will enter another new phase. (The Syrian Kurds want to claim Raqqa as part of Syrian Kurdistan)

As the Islamic State declines, the alliances of convenience are breaking. There will be more clashes as the government asserts its right to rule and looks beyond the destruction of the Islamic State. 

Mali

Four gunmen attacked a luxury resort popular with Western expatriates east of Bamako on 18 June. They killed two people and injured two. Mali’s Security Minister said that four gunmen were killed.

French counter-terrorism forces assisted the Malian forces in gaining control of the situation. Mali is part of French Equatorial Africa and as such is one of their vital interests. As has been pointed out on this blog in the past, Mali and Niger supply uranium to France. France derives 80% of its domestic power grid from nuclear power.

Initially, government authorities thought this was a bandit attack, but they are now calling it a terrorist attack. No group has claimed responsibility. It is the first attack in Bamako since November 2015. Mali continues to merit its reputation as the most dangerous UN peacekeeping mission.

US Commitment to Africa

The US under the Obama Administration vastly expanded its commitment to African security by adding US bases and personnel. For the most part that activity has not been reported by the media, but it always bears watching.