sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A Few Opinions

2020 Follies

Washington State passed a bill through their lower legislative house that would require any candidate running for president in that state to release five years of tax returns prior to appearing on the ballot. It's clearly aimed at keeping President Trump off the ballot. If it passes the Washington State Senate, and becomes law, everyone expects that the matter will end up in the US Supreme Court. There is Article 2 language that is ambiguous and the Supremes will have to sort it out.

To me, the real question is not whether a career businessman who became a billionaire should release tax returns, but whether a career politician who became a billionaire while in office should release tax returns.

Yellow Vests

The French Administration wants a confrontation on the matters of taxation (for the sake of the "Global Community") for the benefit of people outside of France. On 18 March, French Prime Minister Philippe said Paris’ police chief had been sacked and that the government would shut down “yellow vest” protests if violent groups were identified among the ranks of “yellow vest” protesters.
“From next Saturday, we will ban ‘yellow vest’ protests in neighborhoods that have been the worst hit as soon as we see signs of the presence of radical groups and their intent to cause damage,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced in an interview.
Yes, THAT always works to bring the population into line. The French problem includes the inclination of the police to side with the protestors in many situations...

This announcement is guaranteed to be understood by the yellow vests as a challenge and an invitation to test the government. Next Saturday, there will be clashes specially prepared for the Champs Elysee. The Ministry of Interior reported that some 32,300 protesters demonstrated in French cities on the 18th weekend of Yellow Vest protests. Up to 10,000 were in Paris. That makes the 18th protest about 4,000 larger than the 17th. Predictions that the protests were winding down proved premature.

Many French people are tired of socialism and would like their excessive taxes used in France for the benefit of the nation - what an un-progressive thought.

Pakistan vs India vs China

The Indians and Pakistanis view nuclear weapons as a type of heavy artillery, available and on-call. It's that sort of outdated strategic thought that creates the sort of problem that we are seeing in the Subcontinent.

The Pakistanis and Indians are sparring over military escalation (sort of a dick-measuring contest). India has a superior nuclear arsenal in terms of weapons and launch platforms, but Pakistan has China, and China vowed not to allow Pakistan to lose a war. Now how you define 'winning and losing' in a nuclear exchange is a more of a challenge.  India is larger and would likely come out on top in the end (even with China intervening) but in no sense could you call that a 'win'.

For at least the fifth time since the 1971 war, US and UK mediation persuaded the potential belligerents to de-escalate. In 1999, international mediation failed to prevent the Kargil War, but it was instrumental in stopping it.


Both Indian and Pakistani leaderships remain stuck in outdated thinking about the practical use of missiles and nuclear warheads in minor crises. 

Each leadership boasts that its side would win a general war that included launches of nuclear missiles. Retired General Musharraf, however, told the press during the height of the latest conflict that Pakistan should be careful because 16 Indian missiles would destroy the country. 

If a war began conventional, Pakistani forces could not prevent the Indian Army from occupying large swaths of Pakistani territory. That scenario was played out twice in the two near-war crises of 2001-2002. In both episodes, Pakistan had to activate its nuclear missiles to deter a conventional Indian attack. 

The implication is that the next crisis that threatens a conventional war between India and Pakistan also threatens the world’s first nuclear war. There is no conventional war option that leaders on either side could risk because they do not trust each other.

There was an Indian threat to launch a couple of weeks ago. It didn't happen, but once Pakistan detected in-bound Indian missiles, Pakistani leaders would have no choice but to assume the worst about what warheads they were carrying and order a counter attack. 

Owing to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the closeness of the strategic partnership, we doubt China would watch Pakistan be destroyed by Indian missiles and do nothing to deter India or to aid Pakistan. 

China’s steadfast commitment to aid Pakistan in wartime was illustrated in the 1971 India-Pakistan War. Chinese ammunition and supply truck convoys stretched from Xinjiang through the Kunjerab Pass to Rawalpindi in deep winter to prevent Pakistan from running out of ammunition. That route is the upper end of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor today.

India’s willingness to escalate to general war over a terrorist attack and to use ballistic missiles as the instrument of escalation is inflexible strategic thinking. Pakistan’s willingness to allow a proxy terrorist attack to drag it onto an escalatory staircase including the use ballistic missiles as the instrument of retaliation also is rigid strategic thinking. In both cases, the tail wags the dog.

One open source study by three US universities in 2007 estimated that in an exchange of 100 15-kiloton weapons (50 Hiroshima bombs each), India and Pakistan would kill 21 million people in a week from the blast, burns and radiation. Half the world’s ozone lay would be destroyed, resulting in a nuclear winter that would lead to the starvation of 2 billion people… all potentially triggered by a teenager who conducted a terrorist attack in Kashmir. (Think of the Serbian who assassinated Arch Duke Ferdinand and started the First World War - that sort of thing can still happen, because the world is made of dominoes)

The next general war in South Asia will be nuclear and will involve China. The difference with past wars and border crises is that now a lone suicide bomber in Kashmir can be the trigger for a nuclear exchange that damages the world., not just South Asia.