Rauhauser vs. McGibney Texas Appeals Case 02-14-00215-CV

The case Rauhauser v. McGibney 02-14-00215-CV was filed in Texas state appellate court right after lunch on August 11th, 2014. The underlying statute being used is the Texas Citizens Participation Act, which you can learn more about at SLAPP’ed In Texas.

The original case behind this was a frivolous lawsuit filed by James McGibney which included me, a New York Community college professor named Jennifer D’Allesandro, “Amelia Sanaka”, the only name known for the operator of the defunct @OccupyRebellion Twitter account, and an alleged member of the Aryan Brotherhood named Thomas Retzlaff. The case number for this is Texas 067-270669-14.

McGibney almost immediately filed another frivolous action in California federal court which again named me, Retzlaff, Sanaka, and that one also includes Lane Lipton, a school teacher who lives somewhere on Long Island. Lipton hired Clark Braunstein, who is just in his second year out of law school, but he works for the firm his father owns, so she is in good hands, and they also filed an anti-SLAPP motion similar to mine. The original federal case number is 5:2014-cv-01059.

Thomas Retzlaff was subject to a variety of threat hoaxes by McGibney, which were done to circumvent the discovery stop provided by the Texas Citizens Participation Act filing. McGibney resides in San Jose, in mid-May I spoke to SJPD detective Nathaniel Braxton, and the next day he told me the case had been referred to the FBI. One individual briefly employed by McGibney this year has a serious computer crimes conviction, and another former employee is under investigation for a hospital intrusion connected to the Steubenville rape case. Usually a referral to the FBI is a local police department punting a complex interstate case, but this time I think there is some substance behind it.

Retzlaff filed a libel suit against McGibney’s attorney, Jay Leiderman, who had referred to him as a “convicted sex offender”. There is a Thomas Retzlaff, same middle initial, who is on the sex offender registry in Oklahoma, but he is under age thirty. The Retzlaff named in the various lawsuits has a daughter who is in her late twenties, even a little bit of due diligence would have uncovered this. I do not know the case number for this one, it’s a state case in Maricopa county, Arizona.

My representation on this case is Jeff Dorrell, a Houston lawyer who worked for Congressman Charlie Wilson during the height of Charlie Wilson’s War. Jeff is a past national president of the Log Cabin Republicans, he is admitted to every Texas state court, all three Texas federal courts, the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2nd, 4th, and 5th districts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. I could not wish for any better representation in what will be a precedent setting 1st Amendment case.

As I mentioned earlier, SLAPP’ed In Texas is an excellent source for technical information on the Texas Citizens Participation act. Ongoing coverage of this saga happens at ViaViewFiles. I used Anonymouse to provide this link rather than making a direct connection. I strongly advise you to use this as the means to browse that site, unless you are comfortable using Tor or a VPN. Some of the regulars are McGibney partisans and any links in the comments should be treated as a trap.

Challenges In Global Affairs

World Lights At Night

World Lights At Night

Eighteen months ago I posted What 2013 Has In Store, and looking back at that single paragraph it seems pretty prescient in terms of the issues I outlined.

I am taking the rest of December off and when I return the direction will be totally different. I have been slowly making my way back to my point of origin – climate, energy, economy, and geopolitics. I will certainly get back on top of global wheat yields and stocks, and I’m going to consider writing about renewable ammonia again, but not until I get a good look at the natural gas market and all of the anti-frac efforts out there.

During my 2013/2014 research cycle I examined Wikistrat, e-International Relations, OpenIDEO, and a number of other foreign policy focused entities that are all in some ways examples of hive-minds. The completely open groups can devolve into Massively Multi-player Mediocrity and I was rebuffed by several of the ‘citation cabal’ entities like Wikistrat.

Long time readers will recall from my work on renewable ammonia and Congressional policy news that obstacles such as lack of any formal education in a given area or no budget aren’t really much of an impediment for me. All I really require is someone foolish enough to tell me I’m not allowed in, and the rest just sort of happens.

Even so, a review of international relations theory and some sort of recognition of studies in the area would be useful. I have been taking classes via Coursera since the start of 2013 and last week I decided to complete Challenges In Global Affairs, one of a number of Specializations offered. This joint project between Universteit Leiden and University of Geneva is going to fill my schedule through the rest of 2014.

I have long had a SciCast login but I didn’t realize it was part of IARPA’s ForeST until today, when I was reading about IARPA’s Good Judgment Project. Anyone can go to Good Judgment Project and sign up, which I just did. IARPA’s Office of Incisive Analysis and Office of Smart Collection have standing solicitations for innovative work. Viewed as an aggregate, these things provide the right type of entry point for me, and if not IARPA there are plenty of other entities that do things like this.

Over the last six years I have been the principal researcher behind a winning USDA innovation grant (2008) and lead author for a grant request which was a finalist in the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge(2011), both in fields that I had known nothing about eighteen months earlier. Concurrent with the Challenges in Global Affairs Specialization, over the next six months I am seeking an opportunity along these lines:

  • CTO role in a startup working on some aspect of foreign affairs
  • Mixed research/grant writing duty for a group focused on food & water security
  • Mixed analyst/integrator duty for an NGO implementing a link analysis platform

My interests and writing style can be seen here. I bring a computer science education, thirty years of unix experience, fifteen years of internet service provider plant engineering, and five years of data science projects to the table as well. If you see a potential match between your project and my skills feel free to email nrauhauser at gmail.

West Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapse

West Antarctic Glaciers

West Antarctic Glaciers

There have been a steady drum beat of reports about the West Antarctic ice sheet, like this, and this. The news is pretty clear – four feet of sea level rise from this event alone, but playing out over the next 200 to 900 years, and another ten feet of sea level rise after that from other ice being exposed to the sea. Greenland will let go in about the same timeframe, adding another twenty feet. Here is a nice map that permits you to examine what 13m of sea level rise does to your favorite coastal city.

This article in The Hill glosses over the closure of the CIA’s Center on Climate Change and National Security. The recto-cranial inversion wing of the Republican party forced its closure as a matter of their unshakable faith that climate change is just another big conspiracy they’ve discovered. I used to worry about this, but I have decided that after Katrina, Sandy, Cyclone Gonu, Typhoon Haiyan, and a hundred other coldest/hottest/driest/wettest ever events I can simply wait for Mother Nature to hammer home the message in an undeniable fashion.

What does this mean for U.S. foreign policy?

We are loathe to admit it, but the United States is an imperial power, and after nearly 250 years with only a single major discontinuity, we are an elderly, tottering hegemony on its final legs. All empires die, even the isolated Egyptians seldom saw dynasties last more than two centuries without some sort of upheaval. Unfortunately another common characteristic of dying empires is that their elites, insulated from reality by luxury and layers of sycophants, will make exactly the wrong choices, because they can not envision a world where they don’t matter.

The United States will wake up from this eventually, but not as an empire, instead I expect us to have an experience like the Soviet Union did in the 1990s. There is a place in the Ukraine where hundreds of tanks, including the newer T-72 and T-80, are slowly rusting away. The Russian Navy deals with everything from sailors dying due to complications from malnutrition to narrowly averted meltdowns when dock side power is cut to idle submarines due to nonpayment of bills.

I am not going to rehash The Marine Corps Liability, it will suffice to say that we’re building systems today meant to solve problems we haven’t faced in two generations, and it isn’t just the Corps that is doing this, they just happened to be the example I picked that day. I expect we’ll hit some sort of financial pitfall and we’ll flip from building things we don’t need to maintaining systems we can’t afford to deploy. The Russians got bit hard by this one, particularly in submarines. The U.S. hasn’t lost a boat since 1968, but accidents for the poorly maintained Russian subs and their un-experienced crews have been all too regular.

Our soft power will still be considerable even if we do take a major financial tumble, but we’re starving diplomacy for the sake of military expenditures. The State Department’s budget is about the same as black ops, but we’ve doubled covert expenditures while slashing State’s money by a fifth. Benghazi happened in 2012 in large part thanks to an 18% budget cut the year before, which lead to RSOs (regional security officers) who didn’t speak Arabic rotating in and out of that post every thirty days. Some rotation of new staff for the sake of experience is a good move, in the case of Benghazi it was all of them, and the discontinuity was part of the deadly mix. Repairing the diplomatic damage from our adventure in Iraq will take a generation, that clock only starts ticking once we can admit we made a terrible error, and this will not come for free.

We didn’t intervene in Syria because the Russians vetoed that. We tried something terribly cheeky in the Ukraine and it backfired on us badly. I don’t watch the Pacific Rim more closely than reading Night Watch and ten months ago I assumed we were upgrading B-52s in preparation for a Cold War style standoff. I have discarded that assumption.

We’ve barely begun to process the sting of Russia saying ‘no’ and making it stick. What will we do when our first and second largest sovereign debt holders get into direct conflict over offshore oil and gas? Don’t answer unless you can factor in the absolute certainty of the initial premise of this post – anthropogenic global warming isn’t a hoax, and it’s not even a theory any more, it’s a grim reality. Mother Nature consistently offers three choices: move, adapt, or die.

A final thought. The white ones are the places the British Empire never invaded. Where are the British now?

British Invasion

British Invasion

Cyclone Tamara Strikes Balkans

Bosnia Baby Rescue

Bosnia Baby Rescue

Normally this would be a heartwarming sight – baby boy gets a very exciting helicopter ride, army comes back later by boat for the parents. But this child is in Bosnia, his parents survived the Breakup of Yugoslavia, the ethnic cleansing of the Bosnian War of 1991-1995, and the blood didn’t really stop flowing in the region until the irredentist center of the highly theoretical Greater Serbia was smashed flat by NATO during 77 days of Operation Noble Anvil in 1999.

Nothing is ever simple in the Balkans, and these maps should help you visualize why this is the case:

Christian Europe slowly fought off the Muslim Ottoman Empire …

Austro Hungarian & Ottoman Conflict

Austro Hungarian & Ottoman Conflict

Ottoman Losses 1807-1924

Ottoman Losses 1807-1924

Austro Hungarian Empire Ethnic Groups Of 1911

Austro Hungarian Empire Ethnic Groups Of 1911

The Austro-Hungarian map completely ignores the presence of Muslim Bosniaks in the Balkans, primarily in Bosnia. Here they are in 1992, just as the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia really got going …

Balkans Ethnic Groups 1992

Balkans Ethnic Groups 1992

And here they are in 2000, after consolidation of ethnic groups into their respective regions. I really wish I could find before and after maps from the same source, but it’s hard to find two from different sources that agree on territory at any given point in time, let alone a good sequence.

Balkans Ethnic Groups 2000

Balkans Ethnic Groups 2000

It can be argued that Operational Noble Anvil was the final dying gasp of the Cold War. Their patience exhausted by the 1998-1999 Kosovo War, in which Serbian tried to remove the 90% ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo, all of the NATO countries, with the exception of next door neighbor Greece, gathered a thousand aircraft, and conducted 38,000 sorties against the Serbs. Future war criminal Slobodan Milošević refused to back down until the United Kingdom produced the first 10,000 of 50,000 soldiers they planned to commit to ground operations.

The final score for Yugoslavia was: Slovenia broke away, the Croats quickly taught the Serbs to mind their own business, Bosnia was a grinding, bloody mess treated by the world as an internal dispute, and when the Serbs made a move on Kosovo NATO made sure it was their last adventure in the region.

Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Macedonia are as much a part of Europe as poor countries with a recent civil war behind them can be. Serbia remains a lone outpost for Russian influence in the region … and now you can see where a climate disaster that hits both Bosnia and Serbia might be seen as a contest between NATO countries and Russia. Eleven months ago I noted that the U.S. has some new Balkan Bases. Serbia is there, hidden under the legend.

Balkans U.S. Bases

Balkans U.S. Bases

Per Wikipedia, the initial response to the 2014 Southeast Europe floods have been broad and generous – the U.N., the E.U. and 34 countries have all provided some sort of aid. The overall damage from this Mediterranean cyclone is enormous.

  • Ninety days worth of rain arrived in just 72 hours
  • 25% of Bosnia’s four million people are affected
  • Serbia’s largest power plant was threatened
  • 80 confirmed dead, more will be found in the coming days
  • Balkans Cyclone Tamara Affected Areas

    Balkans Cyclone Tamara Affected Areas

    Right now the world is still in disaster response mode. Babies are getting rides in helicopter sling lifts, Belgium’s B-FAST team has been scrambled, England’s FAST showed up, Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia all turned out their pockets, their warehouses, and their rescue specialists.

    Floods have united the people of the Balkans, with the only hint of geopolitical calculus being the refusal of assistance from Kosovo by both Bosnia and Serbia. But once the initial burst of enthusiasm wears off I suspect the words above which I bolded might become relevant. The troubles in the Ukraine are going to color every interaction between NATO countries and the nations that make up or were aligned with the former Soviet Union. Serbia has always picked Russia as their first stop regional power in the past.

    I am generally interested in limiting conflict, but this case is a little different. Facing Mother Nature’s wrath, the people of the former Yugoslavia quickly set aside their differences and went to work. Can NATO countries and the former Soviet Union do the same and deal forcefully with this climate disaster?

What Did Obama Really Say at West Point? (via LobeLog)

President Obama At West Point 28 May 2014

President Obama At West Point 28 May 2014

What Did Obama Really Say at West Point? by Robert E. Hunter appeared on LobeLog today. The author, Robert E. Hunter, not to be confused with this genius, has served as ambassador to NATO, taught at National Defense University, and otherwise has a sterling resume of diplomacy and statecraft.

This is only the second time in eighteen months that I have simply reproduced what someone else has written. I’m marking the bits I find notable in bold.

A supertanker sails a long way, they say, between the moment the helmsman sets a new course and the vessel fully responds.

This was the task President Barack Obama took on this week, as he sought to set a new course for the U.S. ship of state in international waters.

What he said today in his commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York was nothing less than turning the wheel hard over for U.S. foreign policy.

Even though, as commander-in-chief, he is the nation’s chief helmsman, it will be some time before the U.S. supertanker responds, and even then not necessarily on the new course Obama is trying to set. The balance of his presidency will show how well he can succeed.

To extend the metaphor, Obama must also navigate between the Scylla of critics who want the United States to continue military power as its principal tool of destiny, and the Charybdis of those who would like to see war abolished in favor of other, non-lethal instruments.

He has no lack of critics. Even before the last third of his speech, one leading U.S. news channel cut to an attack by one of Obama’s conservative Congressional adversaries. Another was ready to take Obama on while he was still shaking the hands of newly commissioned army second lieutenants.

What is the president’s sin in the eyes of these naysayers?

Obama understands that the world has changed since the end of the Cold War, which saw the collapse of Soviet internal and external empires and European communism; the diffusion of power; the rise of new economic competitors and globalization in general; and a shift from state monopoly of violence to what are euphemistically called “non-state actors.”

In fact, speaking in politically defensive-mode, Obama went to great lengths — perhaps too great — to argue that the U.S. “remains the one indispensable nation” and, tempting the lessons of history, that this “will likely be true for the century to come.”

He also paid the politically necessary homage to U.S. exceptionalism — “I believe in [it] with every fiber of my being” — but then usefully redefined it in terms of support for the rule of law and recognition that “more lasting peace…can only come through opportunity and freedom for people everywhere.”

In trying to defang critics who argue that Obama does not care for the use of military force, it was no accident that he spoke at West Point.

It was no accident that he visited with US troops in Afghanistan this week; and no accident that he will travel to Omaha Beach in Normandy next week for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

To be fair to critics who argue that Obama is less enamored of the use of force than many of his predecessors, they have a point, at least in analyzing his proclivities.

Indeed, if his approach to the outside world can be reduced to a single phrase — as is so often true of presidents — it would be “no useless wars.”

That injunction has surely colored his successful withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and the end of a U.S. combat role in Afghanistan at the end of this year (though he intends to leave some 9,800 troops behind, assuming that the new Afghan president agrees, as the likely winner has said he will do).

In fact, given that the 2003 invasion of Iraq remains one of the worst foreign policy blunders in U.S. history, and that no good U.S. national security interest has been served by our staying in Afghanistan as long as we have, Obama deserves credit for quieting most of his domestic critics as he has slowly extricated the US from both military ventures.

Obama used his speech to justify the US blocking itself from being sucked into the military conflict in Syria, a stance supported by most Americans, if not the Washington commentariat.

He has also emphasized the U.S. choice of diplomacy over military power in dealing with the Iranian nuclear program — though he also said, “we reserve all options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

While he characterized Russian policy “toward former Soviet states” as “aggression,” and implied the same about Chinese behavior in the South China Sea, Obama did, however, project an ambiguous position, preferring to define the range of debate while leaving his own choices unclear.

Instead, the president laid out standards for judging.

On the one hand, “the United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it — when our people are threatened; when our livelihood is at stake; or when the security of our allies in in danger.”

Even so, we have to ask “tough questions about whether our actions are proportional and effective and just.”

In other circumstances, the “threshold for military action must be higher,” and we should seek allies and partners.

Then, in his one sally into alternatives — otherwise a notable lacuna in the speech — “We must broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development.”

Obama also tried to put the best face he could on what has so far been Russian president Vladimir Putin’s tactical victory in Ukraine (though, in all likelihood, a long-term Russian strategic defeat), by stressing all the things that the US and others did to soften the blow.

The best parts of President Obama’s speech — at least, let us hope, the most lasting — dealt with longer-running problems facing humankind: the importance of democracy and human rights; the empowering of civil society; the fight against extremism, the promotion of useful international institutions; the need to ratify the Law of the Sea Convention; and, as a unifying theme, the role of US leadership in all these areas and more.

Yet he made only a passing reference to climate change, supposedly a hallmark of his agenda.

What was lacking, unfortunately, was “connective tissue” in terms of process, especially the need to relate regional apples and oranges to one another.

While renewing the U.S. priority on countering terrorism, Obama failed to identify its sources in the Middle East or discuss the risks of regional conflict “…as the Syrian civil war spills across borders.”

He did not propose means for resolving the new Russian challenge to George H.W. Bush’s goal of a “Europe whole and free” and at peace, or indicate that the U.S. would stop ignoring the continent.

Nor did he even mention recent Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts championed by U.S. Secretary of John State Kerry, or introduce what is supposedly a keystone of his foreign policy, the “pivot” or “rebalancing” to Asia.

In the final analysis, the test of President Obama’s foreign policy for the balance of his term will depend on whether he will finally begin integrating different elements of his approach; relate different instruments of power and influence to one another; upgrade strategic thinking in his administration; and place resources where the new world he conjures requires.

Obama’s only money item today was to ask Congress to spend $5 billion more on counter-terrorism. Instead, these funds should just be taken from a Pentagon budget still out of balance with his goals.

The president should instead be directing money to non-military areas, beginning with diplomacy and development, which can enable him to meet the goals he usefully set forth today.

At West Point, President Obama made a good start. But the U.S. “Supertanker-of-State” cannot be set firmly on a new course without a coherent set of strategies or at a low cost.

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a commencement speech at the U.S. Military Academy Graduation and Commissioning Ceremony in West Point, New York on May 28, 2014. Credit: Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Fincham

President Obama didn’t specifically say Quadrennial Diplomacy & Development Review, but Secretary of State John Kerry launched the 2014 effort on April 22nd – Earth day. The symbolism does not escape those of us who watch such things closely.

USS Bataan & Escorts To Libya, Rigged For Evacuation

USS Bataan

USS Bataan

The USS Bataan home ported in Norfolk, Virginia, is on its way to Libya, per the 27 May 2014 NightWatch. The Bataan is the first LHD purpose built to house women as well as men, with room for 450 total. The ship’s complement is 1,200 and it can carry about 1,900 Marines. Only a thousand Marines are aboard, leaving plenty of room for passengers.

This Wasp class assault ship has a well deck that can hold up to three LCACs. Only 15% of the world’s coastline is accessible to the traditional landing craft we’ve been using since World War II, while the LCAC can safely access about 70% of all coastline.

Landing Craft, Air Cushion

Landing Craft Air Cushion

Amphibious assault ships can carry a mix of helicopters, the V-22 Osprey, and the A/V-8B Harrier. Rebels reputedly captured Libya’s last surviving Foxtrot class submarine in Benghazi during the 2011 revolution, but there is no evidence that Libya has actual put any of their original complement of six boats to sea since 1984. The point is that anti-submarine patrol needs are low, the ship will have escorts that carry ASW helicopters, and the Bataan could be carrying as many as 20 of the Osprey or 40 helicopters.

There were eight attacks on U.S. diplomatic posts between 2002 and 2012. The Obama administration has been beset by claims of incompetence in the handling the Benghazi attack, despite the Republican dominated House cutting the State Department budget 18% the prior year. The other seven attacks all occurred during the Bush administration.

That Benghazi remained in the news for more than two Sunday’s worth of talk shows is the work of Groundswell, an effort by wealthy conservatives to regain some measure of control over the doings of the Tea Party. They were exposed last summer but the Benghazi smear and a related effort against the IRS continue to limp along.

Libya’s Reversal is a problem for the whole region. Algeria, Egypt, and Tunisia have all closed their borders to contain extremists while the Hifter government rounds them up.

The Obama administration is seeing the events unfolding in Libya as both a threat and an opportunity. They have to dispatch ships and troops, but a string of bold rescue operations five months before the U.S. election will leave anyone trying to promote the Benghazi smear in the uncomfortable position of having to discredit recent Marine Corps & Navy successes.

“Why do you hate our troops?” would be the very first thing out of my mouth to anyone from the fringe right who even tried such a maneuver, then I’d ask them about their support for the Muslim Brotherhood, as it would be easy to make the case that rapid, muscular extraction like back in 1967 was done so the new Libyan government could mop up extremists without them holding western hostages.

U.S. Drones In Africa

U.S. Military Presence in Sub-Saharan Africa

U.S. Military Presence in Sub-Saharan Africa

Washington Post provided MAP: The U.S. military currently has troops in these African countries earlier this week. This is interesting to compare to the map of drone bases in U.S. Military In Africa, which I posted just over a year ago.

U.S. Bases In Africa

U.S. Bases In Africa

Time For Congress To Build A Better Drone Policy was posted eighteen months ago. This OpEd originated with Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison and it focuses on legality, oversight, and how we are perceived overseas. While those are very important political considerations, drones aren’t going away, but our doctrine needs to change.

There are two types of drones that do most of the damage. The first is the MQ-1 Predator. We have 360 of these and their performance is roughly equivalent to a World War I fighter. They can carry two of the AGM-114 Hellfire or the newer, smaller AGM-176 Griffin, which was created to do what the Hellfire does, but with reduced collateral damage.

MQ-1 Predator

MQ-1 Predator

The second type is the MQ-9 Reaper. We have 104 of these and their performance is similar to a World War II attack plane. They can carry four of the AGM-114 Hellfire and two GBU-12 Paveway II, a 500 pound laser guided bomb.

MQ-9 Reaper Used By U.S. Customs & Border Patrol

MQ-9 Reaper Used By U.S. Customs & Border Patrol

Our problem isn’t just overall drone policy, there is a much more specific issue – we need sensible rules of engagement for armed drones. We learned in Vietnam that we could not bomb our way to victory. We are repeating that experiment with the Predator and Reaper, and we are slow learners. Here is a starting point for such a discussion.

First, we used the 1980s vintage AGM-114 Hellfire because it was easy to adapt from helicopters to drones. The AGM-176 Griffin is half the weight of the Hellfire but it retains 65% of the explosive charge. This missile isn’t much of a downgrade in terms of explosive charge, it’s half the weight of the Hellfire due to thirty years of improved electronics and a reduced propellant load. The GBU-44 Viper Strike is the same size as the Griffin but with 15% of the explosive load of the Hellfire. If we truly are using drones just for high value targets this is the right tool for the job.

Second, drones can fill multiple roles. These include:

  • Eye In The Sky – like a satellite or forward air control planes such as the O-1 Bird Dog
  • Close Air Support – if we have ground forces in play no limit on weapon type or count
  • Aerial Sniper – the targeted kill job usually done by CIA or Special Forces

The Reaper had a failed add on package known as GORGON STARE, which was a video camera array. The execution was poor but the concept is excellent – set up a 24×7 watch on a problem area, figure out what is really happening. We’ll see another system like this eventually put into production. This is a natural role for aircraft that can loiter up to 36 hours.

No one is going to say a word if a fully loaded MQ-9 Reaper shows up twelve hours before a ground unit goes in and then lingers twelve hours after they withdraw. We have produced purpose built close air support planes for seventy five years, this is a natural evolution.

The drone attacks that make the news are these:

AfPak Drone Strikes

AfPak Drone Strikes

Helmand and Kandahar were always the most dangerous place for coalition troops, we now know that this was fueled by madrassas in nearby Quetta that were fostered by Pakistan’s ISI. Yet the drone strikes are inside Pakistan in the breakaway tribal area of Waziristan.

The wedding parties where dozens of guests are dismembered by Hellfire strikes are explained away as faulty intelligence. Collective punishment of the families of key leaders would be a more sensible explanation for the frequency of such ‘failures’, and I can see little difference between this and the manner in which Russia handles the families of Chechen separatist leaders. We ought to be better than this and if not, we ought to be wiser, because such a policy just drives further radicalization.

We are trying to draw a line in the sand, literally at the edge of the sand, where the Muslim Maghreb meets the Christian/animist sub-Saharan Africa. Oil rich Nigeria already has a de facto divide between the coast and the interior, but unlike Sudan did with South Sudan, they can’t just abandon the troublesome area. Boko Haram will keep showing up to ‘tax’ their neighbors, because terrorists mutate into insurgencies and those always become crime networks if their environment provides the opportunity.

The world has a multiplicity of troubles, but most stem from the iron triangle of collapse – economy, energy, and environment. There is little point in taking on COIN duties if neither we nor the state we are nominally supporting can do anything about the underlying issues that caused the insurgency in the first place. We do not have unlimited resources and we should be focusing what we have on taking care of home first.