It’s been several days since MH17 was shot down.  The accepted OPEN SOURCE INTEL readout is that the Russians provided the SA-11 (BUK) that was used to UKR “Separatists” and they used it to shoot down the plane.  There are no OSINT direct links between RU and the separatist who hit the button on the BUK.  RU has been identified as the training source for the “separatists” for much of the armor, AA, and Artillery they have provided.

It is becoming something of an open secret that the “Separatists” are thoroughly leavened with Russian GRU and Russian soldiers to the extent that the smart money now bets on a GRU trigger puller for the BUK.  Voice data intercepts have identified at least one known GRU journeyman Special War leader.


As the bodies crashed into the wheat field of East UKR, loud insistent knocks were heard in President and Prime Minister offices across the EU.  Those same knocks, though softer and less insistent have been heard essentially all spring and summer.  In May they were heard as the Crimean Anschluss was effected by RU.  And throughout June and July, soft repeat knocks were heard as the RU “Special War” in East UKR proceeded.

And now, over the past 6 days those knocks have gone from simply louder to thunderous.  These knocks are of Reality calling.  It would appear that the Reality of RU actions has come to sit on the doorsteps of all of the EU.  While MOST of the deceased were Malay there were a LARGE number of Dutch and a smattering of residents from a number of EU countries.  And as those bodies are identified, and repatriated, there are going to be a number of national Chief Executives with fresh bodies on their lawns.  Nothing QUITE concentrates the attention of a Chief Executive like fresh coffins.


The question is “WHAT to DO?!?”


The country most hurt by this tragedy is the Netherlands.  The Royal Family is doing what Royal Families have done for centuries, contacting, talking, comforting the families of the dead, demonstrating that Fealty IS a 2 way street and binds both ways.

The fragments of Dutch Government statements making their way to my Flyover Country comfy chair strongly suggest that the Dutch have been shoved into ACTION mode.  I have long experience with genetic Dutchmen and while not quick to anger, they CAN  exceed their acceptability limits.  When this happens the response tends to be serious, and implacable.  It often takes as much to STOP us as it does to get us moving.

In the real world, what can the Dutch do militarily.  Having perused a recently updated but also dated as 1985 ORBAT, one finds that the Dutch have a well designed military for their own territorial defense and perhaps the ability to assist in Peacekeeping expeditions.  That SAME ORBAT indicates that the Dutch aren’t going to be rolling hot iron towards UKR anytime soon.

The REST of the EU numbers suggest that the deficits causing the EU to restrict themselves to hand wringing are not materiel, but more in the area of intestinal fortitude deficits.  A goodly portion of this comes from the USA.  We have, for over 60 years, told virtually all of Western Europe that we had their back (and fronts, and flanks as well).  In the last few years we have suggested that they might want to stand on their own two feet in terms of defense but we haven’t said this very loudly.  And now we reap what we sow.

As I commented above, the fragments of Dutch Government statements making it this far into Flyover Country suggest that the Dutch may well be more than ready to act in the sanctions arena.  This will be a double edged sword, in that there are a LOT of areas in which the Dutch are close partners with the Russians.  Which basically means that any sanctions they effect will be substantive.  And hurt the RU.


It will be interesting to watch as the Netherlands, one of the EU’s smaller countries, leads the EU into areas that they have feared to tread the last decade or so.


Time will tell.




AS always, the forgoing is completely the opinion of this swamp dweller with the Blue Navel.




On V V Putin’s Predictability, or why a scared Kremlin is a Bad Thing.

Yesterday in a Twitter conversation with @20committee (John Schindler) I made the comment that as the situation in the Ukraine with reference to the downing of MH17 devolves more and more, it became more and more logical for the Russians to go to a “surprise” cold start or “jump start” invasion of the Ukraine.  I’m unsure of WHO would be “surprised” by an open naked invasion of Ukraine by now, but we’ll go with the standard descriptive term.


Twenty four hours later, on perusing the International Geopolitical Landscape this begins to look distressingly prescient.  I have a track record among folks in my Interwebz community related to my ability to predict anything.  I am 99.44% WRONG on predictions (the one accurate prediction was one of those things where ANYONE could have read tomorrows paper today and made it.)  I take comfort in that track record.  Today I believe it is in jeopardy.


It has become clear in the last twenty four hours that the situation in ref MH17 has deteriorated even more than I had expected it might.  At one point, within the first 24-48 hours, VVP could have RELATIVELY inexpensively stood up and admitted that a mistake had been made.

He could have then either said that the mistake had been to provide the weapons for the Separatists (read GRU) or that the training had been insufficient and the operators of the BUK had mistaken the plane for a military one, OR that the Russian operator had mistaken the plane.

RELATIVELY inexpensive, but not cost free.  He would have been required to have people tried and punished, or made available to the ICC in The Hague.


It became apparent as soon as 24 hours after the shoot-down that the Russian direction was not to be nearly as open as the US was in 1983 when we shot down the Iranian airliner, and stood up, admitted it, and paid damages.

The Russian answer was, at that point, clearly obfuscation and denial.  A categorical list of the OPEN SOURCE evidence against Russia in this case is not within the scope of this blog.  I would recommend as perusal of several blogs and Twitter time Lines for that evidence.  Best investigator on the BUK and it’s presence or absence from UKR AND it’s repatriation in the dead of night can be found on the TL of @NatSecWonk.  Further discussion of evidence can be found on 20committee blog ( ).


Another option open to VVP has always been to stonewall and delay until the Western Media found another scandal or celebrity wardrobe malfunction, counting on our short attention span.  This would simply have been to ignore, delay, NOT inform and simply power through the West’s outrage.  He and the rest of the Kremlin operatives have either disregarded this option or never thought about it.  It becomes apparent to those of us who remember shoe thumping “WE will bury you!” film bites that THIS Kremlin is not the Kremlin of Olde.  @thewarroom_Tom (Tom Nichols) on his blog points out that there is a very telling difference in how the Kremlin TODAY is handling this issue.


To paraphrase Mr Nichols, the Kremlin of Olde was much like a collection of Mafia Dons.  Something would happen, they would recognize they had a problem, and would SOLVE the PROBLEM.  Perhaps their solution might have been inelegant,  or of a blunt object or brute force approach but it would be SOLVED with a minimum of fuss and perhaps only a bit of yapping from the global chattering classes.

The Kremlin this week appears to be a whole different entity.  Saying they were running scared would be inaccurate as that would imply a coherent direction of travel.  They are CERTAINLY hyperventilating over the current situational devolution.  The last 3 days have seen suggestions that ranged from space aliens to US shooting down MH17.  As each new suggestion comes out from the Kremlin or its disconnected minions, the feeling of finally having jumped the shark repeats anew.  If it weren’t for the apparent and increasing gravity of the situation, thinking observers would be hard pressed to remain in their chairs due to the attacks of the giggles.

It begins to look as though the Soviet PR machine (term used very loosely here) has become a spaghetti factory, throwing enormous quantities at a wall to see what sticks.  NOT the Kremlin of Olde.


So what are they afraid of?  They are afraid that their “Special War” operatives who have been sheltering as “separatists” and “Little Green Men” will be unmasked for what they are, Russian Soldiers and Intel Officers leading the “Special War” in the Ukraine.  Up until now the Kremlin  has been fully figleafed, and not OPENLY associated with the “separatists” as they ran their insurgency and their atrocities.  That figleaf, and that deniability is about to be stripped away by MH17 and the current devolving situation.  And for a regime that has worked for decades to be “accepted” as a part of the International Community that exposure will be catastrophic.


And thus we come back to my not exactly throw-away comment from yesterday.  It becomes more and more logical that a full on, open, “surprise” or “Standing start/cold start/jump start” invasion is in the near future.  It would erase most of the squawking from the West’s chattering classes over the shoot down, and would in the fairly near term give VVP Eastern Ukraine, should his troops meet the expected feckless counters from the West.  One should understand that this has been MUCH of the goal since the Anschluss of Crimea.


At one point yesterday there was a VERY brief mention that RU had moved “100 units to the UKR border”.  I BARELY noticed that as it flashed through my Twitter feed and there was no further mention  of it that I saw.  This begs the question 100 of WHAT KIND of units? Armor and MLRS units? Platoons? Companies?  I’m sure we’ll learn the answers in the coming hours and days.


Sitting in my comfy chair here in Flyover Country USA, I can almost SEE the calculus being run in the Kremlin.  Understand that the Bear is injured.  Yes it is becoming clearer and clearer that it is a self inflicted injury but that means virtually nothing.  If you have ever hunted Black, Brown or Grizzly bears, you know that an INJURING shot is a HUGE mistake as the injured bear lashes out with all of its remaining strength.  This is NOT a good picture in either bear hunts or international relations.


Thus an invasion becomes one of the Kremlin’s logical responses.  Not a high probability of success response but certainly a logical one that GEN. Breedlove and the rest of SACEUR and NATO should be considering seriously.




As always, my opinions are my own, here in the Swamp.




The recent almost unbelievable breach of Diplomatic Etiquette in Egypt should give EVERYONE pause to read the message.


A word on comments.

I’m an old guy.

I formed my standards for public polite discourse in the late 60’s, and early 70’s.


So, if you wouldn’t be comfortable using the words or phrases you are considering using sitting at the kitchen table in mom’s house over a Pinochle game and a few brewskies with her there, I likely won’t be comfortable ok’ing and publishing your comment.  I have some responsibilities. And some standards.



The forgoing does NOT mean I will NEVER use offensive language etc…This IS for rants after all.


IMMIGRATION – Where to go from here.

Fair warning.

I’m not going to be careful of feelings as we go along.
Just thought you ought to know.

We are now in a “situation” that is very nearly impossible to solve easily. There are so many facets that need fixed.
First, the issue of the illegal immigrants in the country now. Not the first piece to solve, but the first that presents itself for discussion.
I can see how people can believe that there needs to be a path to citizenship and I can be convinced of this but there need to be some specific parameters in place. Citizenship should NOT be an automatic thing. Doesn’t matter how long you have been here you STILL NEED TO GO THROUGH the Citizenship classes, and SWEAR IN as a US Citizen. It MUST mean something.
You need to learn about your country and its backgrounds.
And that education SHOULD still take several years so that Citizenship is an EARNED status.
Social Service “entitlements” MUST BE FOR CITIZENS. Frankly, we simply can’t afford the financial burden of completely supporting immigrants. Nor can we treat all of the varied ailments coming in free.
I could recount pages of reasons why this needs to be addressed.
Waste of time.

Where do we go from here?

First, slam the border shut. No longer can we afford the lovely fiction of the longest unfortified border in the world. It needs to be fortified.
Step one: Put the National Guard on the border to assist the Border Patrol in securing the border.
This actually takes NO legislation to enable it. Our POTUS has a Constitutional DUTY and Responsibility to secure the border. THIS would be an appropriate use of his famous Phone and Pen.
Step 2: Fortify the border. Yes this takes some authorizations for funding.
Yes, the fortifications will take time to build but it should not take more than 3 months if the .mil and civilian sectors join hands to get it done.
Then that border MUST be manned and guarded. You get through the frontier and caught, you go back. No sammichs, no bed, no nothing. Back across right now. It’s past time we had a REAL border.
Once the border is SHUT, we can begin the incredibly difficult, painful, hurtful process of in-processing all of the current resident illegal aliens.

We need to go back to the STANDARDS for Immigration that we have had for decades. Yes, dear reader there ARE STANDARDS that a person needs to pass to be able to immigrate. Health standards, employability, self-supportiveness standards.
If you have legal immigration disabilities you ARE going back where you came from. Until you can clear those disabilities or go through an appeals process.
If you have health issues you have a choice. We transport you back where you came from RIGHT NOW, or you go to some facility set up to deal with your health issues. With TB and drug resistant TB endemic in the immigrating population, as well as in the Illegal resident population, this WILL mean dislocations as you go to some facility some where.
I can forsee the reopening/rebuilding of the Great Sanitaria in Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and in the Colorado Rockies for TB and such.

In-processing of Illegal residents – – How do we find them and start processing.

Step 1(a): Pre-Identified Voluntary Inprocessing.

This starts with all of the people who have gotten ID’s as “undocumented workers”. They are requested to report for inprocessing exams etc and to start the process. Photo, fingerprint, biometric registration and documents issued, and entry into a Citizenship Class program culminating in the Oath of Citizenship. Failure to complete the Class program yields time certain deportation, no appeals.

Step 1(b): Second wave voluntary inprocessing.

This is for people who are willing to be legally approved as immigrants and placed on the Course track leading to the Oath. Offers are publicized, and processing is just like Wave 1. Same requirements for health, supportability, etc as for Immigration. After all those requirements are REQUIREMENTS.

Step 2: Involuntary Inprocessing.

This is where Civil Libertarians and some Constitutionalists will become enraged.
It involves sweeps, mass arrests and incarcerations to be processed as an Immigrant. This is a very hard thing for people to see as needful. HOWEVER there ARE precedents for this (cf: Nisei). This can be done both effectively and efficiently. Humanely though, perhaps not as much as some would want.

BUT, in order for the borders to be reopened (even in a limited manner) it must be accomplished.
All the requirements of Immigration would obtain, same remedies as above. The same programs would be available to be entered into and the same deportation options would be on the table.

Yes, Involuntary Processing is horrendous. But we’ve made a mistake here in the US. We have allowed our country to no longer be an assimilative entity. Our history has always been that the immigrants brought their strengths to the National Table and they got assimilated into “AMERICA”. Not the border shaped country but the thought bounded entity. This stopped happening when we stopped restricting who came here to live. It started well before the Mariellita Boatlift but that is a point on the path to our current failed enterprise.


This should not be considered as a call to Ethnic Cleansing. It is no such thing. Yes, we need to pull the health issues out and we need to restart the assimilative process.
How important is this?
If we do not get a handle on this and soon, like –oh– last year, we will lose the one thing that makes the US America. We will lose our sovereignty. This is what borders are FOR!


Closing thoughts


Educate yourself on this because it has relevance to this blog entry.
In 25 or less:

“Add as many people as we can to the Public Assistance Rolls in order to ‘Bring The System Down'”


This situation has been allowed to develop. It is now being encouraged and exacerbated. You get to decide what YOU believe as to why.

As for ME, it is being PUSHED until some “Comprehensive Immigration Strategy” can be written which effectively will be NO LIMITS, because, what are we gonna DO with all them that are here ALREADY (WAAAAAAH!)

Remember it is EASY to say “Do THUS!” when one is not going to have to deal with the results of DOING THUS.

Another rant from the backwaters. As always, this is my opinion and mine alone.


Benghazi as sighted by Brandon Webb

**WARNING** Benghazi rant: If politicians wanted to truly get to the bottom of Benghazi they would stop political grandstanding on both sides of the party lines and they’d do two things straight away.

1. Take care of the families involved. I can’t speak for the other three Americans but my friend Glen Doherty’s family/estate hasn’t received a death benefit or an insurance payment through his DBA policy with the CIA. His friends and I paid to put him in the ground out of our own pockets.

2. They would start to demand that Patrick Kennedy (yes he’s a “Kennedy”), the DOS Undersecretary of management, be held accountable at State. His leadership resulted in denied security requests, and he purposely slowed down the follow on investigation at State. He left his people and Stevens in perilous danger, and his neglect, and lack of leadership (Lions led by Lambs at DOS) contributed to four dead Americans.

And I don’t care about some goddamn sound byte on Fox news by some American Congressman that’s never held a real job, and isn’t affected by the same rules as the rest of us but figured out how to use Benghazi for his own political benefit. I certainly don’t care about some political “investigation” to get to the bottom of things until 1 and 2 are addressed.

I care about taking care of Americans and holding people accountable for their actions.

Out here. -BW




Stolen shamelessly from Brandon Webb’s FB posting.


I agree, though with more venom.


I’ll have more down the page.

Boko Haram, Joseph Kony and the “FTO” or Foreign Terrorist Designation, 2012 and Today.

The question has arisen in one corner of the Twitterverse as to why in 2012 Joseph Kony’s Army of God” was declared a Foreign Terror Organization and at the time Boko Haram (more accurately termed “Jama’atu Ahlus Sunnah Lid Da’awati Wal Jihad” but hereinafter “BH”) was not.


The arguments for Kony and his “Lords Resistance Army” were fairly straight forward and easily understood.  He was running an insurgency in Africa, had graduated to a small war, and was using “children” that had been impressed, drugged, brainwashed, and then trained as “soldiers” to run said war.  His army was actually prosecuting a war, both against the government of Uganda and the people.  He was staffing his army PRIMARILY with kidnapped children, and he had the misfortune of having generated a movie about his Lords Resistance Army.  While the Movie (an Internet Viral sensation) may have been “Current fact poor” it energized enough folks that his declaration was almost a virtually required response from the American Government.

The actual FACTS should have stood on their own.  Kony had been prosecuting a disjointed and only marginally successful war against both the Ugandan Government and the Ugandan People, based on a highly bastardized understanding and interpretation of Catholic Lore.  (LRA originated as the Holy Spirit Movement in Ugandan hill country.  When the original leader was caught and deported, Kony took over due to his relationship to the original leader and his being in general the only available person strong enough to succeed her).  Kony had been actively kidnapping his troops for years, and for a time thousands of children “night commuted” walking from villages into towns/cities to sleep in schools and churches to avoid being kidnapped and impressed into the LRA.

By the time the net-based movie “KONY2012” was released, the LRA had been thinned and mostly dispersed to neighboring countries.  It helped the American Government that they had the movie and the LRA’s Christmas Massacres (2011) to work with for the designation.  It is, however difficult for a reasonable person to disagree with the FTO designation for the LRA and Kony, except perhaps to suggest that the designation ought to have come years sooner.

IN the same general time frame that the US government was debating the LRA designation, there was also a move to designate Boko Haram (BH) as a FTO as well.  At the TIME the BH was an active insurgency in Nigeria.  BH was then an 8 year old movement, which had been responsible for numerous small scale actions over the course of 7 of the prior 8 years.  In 2011 they began to transition from a small scale insurgency into something that was being noticed outside of Nigeria.  Through 2011 and early 2012 they were making a name for themselves, developing “insurgency street creds” by performing increasingly large attacks with an increased body count. 

Due to the increasingly deadly attacks, there was a move to demand FTO designation to BH (likely riding on the wave of outrage generated by KONY2012) within portions of the US Government.  At the time, the AfricaFocus Bulletin posted the following in a request for the rejection of the declaration as an FTO for BH:


Petition to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder, President Barack Obama and Members of Congress 

We urge you not to support the formal designation of Boko Haram in Nigeria as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” (FTO). Such a move would be a counterproductive mistake with far-reaching negative consequences for both Americans and Nigerians. 

It is correct for the United States to join the vast majority of Nigerians in condemning the group for the brutal violence it has inflicted on innocent civilians in Nigeria and their threats to national unity and security in that country. 

But U.S. government designation of the group as a FTO, as currently proposed by several Members of Congress and some officials in the the Department of Justice, would increase rather than diminish the threat from Boko Haram. It would give the group additional visibility and credibility among international terrorist networks. It would increase the chances that the group would direct its attacks against U.S. targets. 

Most significantly, it would reinforce militarization of Nigerian government actions against the group. Repressive actions by Nigerian security forces in the past have already contributed to increasing support for Boko Haram among those affected. What is needed instead is a multifaceted strategy. Such a strategy must include not only security measures to protect civilians but also flexible diplomacy and serious attention to development issues, particularly in the disadvantaged North of Nigeria where Boko Haram finds support. 

FTO designation would also cause enormous collateral damage, making it difficult for both the U.S. government and non-profit groups to address humanitarian and development issues, particularly in the North. It would hamper any efforts by third parties to encourage dialogue and it would introduce new tensions into U.S.-Nigerian relations. It would also pose serious bureaucratic obstacles to travel and family remittances for Nigerian Americans and other Nigerians resident in the United States. 

The Nigerian government is well aware of the counterproductive effects of a FTO designation for Boko Haram and has expressed its opposition. So have more than 20 of the top U.S. scholars on Nigeria. We urge you to heed their informed advice. 

To endorse this petition as an organization, please send the name of your organization and contact details to For more information, visit

It is interesting to note that the above bolded paragraphs being the rationale for NOT designating BH as a FTO amount to;

       1) It will giove them street cred and will make them easier to support.

       2) It will make the US a target for BH

       3) It will entice the Nigerians to militarize and handle the insurgency in a military manner

       4) It will make humanitarian aid more difficult

       5) It will make developmental aid (USAID and Peace Corps types of aid) problematic

       6) The Nigerians don’t really want this

       7) It will increase tension between Nigeria and the US.



Those arguments prevailed in 2012.


Today we are dealing with a mature though not HIGHLY effective insurgency which has bloomed fully formed on the World Stage, which. like any other “Overnight Sensation” has been incubating for a dozen years.  Instead of a group capable of small attacks, minimal body count events, which disappeared into the general background noise of the world unless you were actually looking in the correct direction or were immersed in the field (like, for instance Michael Yon we are now observing a much more visible movement.

One might well ask if the US Government did a good thing in rejecting the FTO designation for BH 2 years ago.





Boko Haram timeline


Boko Haram Petition to reject FTO Designation

Boko Haram Discussions in Congress

Again, the above represents my own opinions and thus any errors or omissions are mine.




Everest, Requiescat in Pace

This hits close to home.  I spent just less than a month (4 weeks) in the Himalayas in 04 as part of a geological expedition to K2 Base camp.  I had to leave the group at 10,500 owing to running out of oxygen.

I’ve ALWAYS had a fascination with mountains, the bigger the better.  To see 13 Sherpa porters and guides killed this easily hurts.  These guys KNOW what they’re doing and usually do it VERY WELL!!


Heart goes out to the families and survivors.


Requiescat in Pace this season.