Monthly Archives: June 2009

Civilian Irregular Combat Camera

Think of the Iranians who captured the death of Neda Agha-Soltan and posted it to Youtube in those terms.

Those images persuaded, changed and influenced more people more rapidly than all the Iranian, American, or any other government Psychological Operations/Strategic Communications/Public Diplomacy efforts put together.

Volunteer, unpaid, informally trained or untrained,  uncredentialed, equipped at their own expense with privately-owned Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) gear acting as Combat Camera on the scene as events occurred provided visual information documentation (VIDOC) of the regime’s repression of dissent.

This is Glenn Reynold’s Army of Davids in action. Distributed Information Operations by Iranian Strategic Citizens.

There are lessons to be learned from Iran for those who seek to prepare themselves.

[Note to self:  learn how to use your damn HTC FuzeTM, dummy! I can use the camera to send a Multimedia Message, if I can figure it out]

UPDATE 20100330

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Basij Basics

Understanding The Basij

. . . bearded plainclothes militiamen have been attacking and harassing the demonstrators in Tehran this past week. These are Basijis, members of a civilian paramilitary organization founded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979. It was conceived of as a civilian auxiliary force subordinate to the Revolutionary Guards, and so it has functioned over the past three decades.

Iran’s Basij Force — The Mainstay Of Domestic Security

The backbone of the Basij comprises 2,500 Al-Zahra (for women) and Ashura battalions, numbering 300–350 personnel each. The IRGC aims to arm 30 percent of these battalions with semi-heavy and heavy weapons. However, all members of the battalions are trained to use light arms and rifles. Since Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari assumed command of the IRGC on September 1, 2007, the Basij have received extensive organizational and logistical support by the Revolutionary Guards that has enabled it to form 30,000 new combat cells, each of them 15-20 members strong, named Karbala and Zolfaqar. These units cooperate closely with the army of the IRGC.

Profile: Basij militia force

The Basij-e Mostaz’afin, (literally Mobilization of the Oppressed in Farsi), officially known as the Basij Resistance Force (Nirouye Moqavemate Basij), has branches in every town.

The Basij Resistance Force

The Basij has a history of martyr-style suicide attacks dating back to the Iran-Iraq War, 1980–1988. Today, its main tasks are thought to assist locally against conventional military defense as well as quell civil uprisings. In addition, one of the Force’s key roles has been to maintain internal security, including monitoring internal threats from Iranian citizens and acting as a “static militia force.” The state of training and equipment readiness for the Basij is believed to be low. No major weapons systems have been reported for the inventory of the Basij.

UPDATE 20090622: Photographs of Iran’s Feared Basiji Special Forces

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The Whole World Is Watching

Murder

Her Name Was Neda

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Out-sourcing Our Air Lift to Crazy Ivan

In fifteen months at KAF I never saw a C-5 Galaxy, but I did see Antonov AN-124’s, beaucoup Il-76’s and a butt load of An-24’s.  A buddy of mine was running with the Transient Alert guys and got invited aboard an An-24 for lunch.  There were no billets made available to most of these guys when they Remained Over Night, so they camped out in their planes like they were RV’s.  Interesting characters! 

Ex-Soviet air lifters carry a lot of the tonnage needed to maintain an army on the other side of the world.  I don’t know if I’ve ever flown in a bird piloted by a Russian, but I’ve ridden with two Uzbeks who probably learned to fly in the old Soviet Voenno-Transportnaya Aviatsiya.

Anyway, read Volga Dnepr Antonov AN-124 forced to land after violating Indian airspace and scratch your head as you ponder what that pilot was thinking about on the way from FJDG to OAKN, and what his cargo might be.

UPDATE 20090622: Intruding Volga Dnepr Antonov AN-124 finally departs Mumbai. Crazy Ivan identifies himself to Indian ADIZ as “VDA 4466” and then identifies himself to Pakistani ADIZ as “RCH 813.”

Apparently this is not the first intrusion by this aircraft; it has been happening for the past 15 days. The failure of the Indian authorities to register this intrusion earlier, has raised several questions about the alertness of the agencies entrusted with the task of giving air clearances to all flights using Indian airspace.

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The Counterrevolution Will Be Twittered

The Contreristas are coming!  And they will be Twittering.  And they will be demonized and compared to genocidal Hutus.

Read The Dark Side of Twittering a Revolution.  Here is a slightly modified excerpt:

Consider, for a moment, what we’re seeing happening in America: mass-action coordinated, at least in part, through Twitter; traditional media in America having lost any legitimacy for the angry populace, alternative media–like Twitter–increasingly becoming the sole source of information; and a growing sense of persecution and crisis, abetted by the limited streams of rumor-heavy news.

The Politically Incorrect Political Party is taking shape, and elements of the Politically Correct  Party are beginning to notice, and worry.

There are lessons to be learned from recent events in Iran. What are they?

UPDATE: There’s Intelligent Life In The Twitterverse and Iran Proves It

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Janet Contreras and a Whole Bunch of Us

Just saw Janet on TV a few minutes ago.  Glenn Beck called her the Thomas Paine of our age.  He read her letter on his show the other night.   If you haven’t read it yet, here it is:

I am Janet Contreras, a concerned, home-grown American citizen. I’m a home grown American citizen, 53, registered Democrat all my life. Before the last presidential election I registered as a Republican because I no longer felt the Democratic Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. Now I no longer feel the Republican Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. The fact is I no longer feel any political party or representative in Washington represents my views or works to pursue the issues important to me. There must be someone. Please tell me who you are. Please stand up and tell me that you are there and that you’re willing to fight for our Constitution as it was written. Please stand up now. You might ask yourself what my views and issues are that I would horribly feel so disenfranchised by both major political parties. What kind of nut job am I? Will you please tell me?

Well, these are briefly my views and issues for which I seek representation:

One, illegal immigration. I want you to stop coddling illegal immigrants and secure our borders. Close the underground tunnels. Stop the violence and the trafficking in drugs and people. No amnesty, not again. Been there, done that, no resolution. P.S., I’m not a racist. This isn’t to be confused with legal immigration.

Two, the TARP bill, I want it repealed and I want no further funding supplied to it. We told you no, but you did it anyway. I want the remaining unfunded 95% repealed. Freeze, repeal.

Three: Czars, I want the circumvention of our checks and balances stopped immediately. Fire the czars. No more czars. Government officials answer to the process, not to the president. Stop trampling on our Constitution and honor it.

Four, cap and trade. The debate on global warming is not over. There is more to say.

Five, universal healthcare. I will not be rushed into another expensive decision. Don’t you dare try to pass this in the middle of the night and then go on break. Slow down!

Six, growing government control. I want states rights and sovereignty fully restored. I want less government in my life, not more. Shrink it down. Mind your own business. You have enough to take care of with your real obligations. Why don’t you start there.

Seven, ACORN. I do not want ACORN and its affiliates in charge of our 2010 census. I want them investigated. I also do not want mandatory escrow fees contributed to them every time on every real estate deal that closes. Stop the funding to ACORN and its affiliates pending impartial audits and investigations. I do not trust them with taking the census over with our taxpayer money. I don’t trust them with our taxpayer money. Face up to the allegations against them and get it resolved before taxpayers get any more involved with them. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, hello. Stop protecting your political buddies. You work for us, the people. Investigate.

Eight, redistribution of wealth. No, no, no. I work for my money. It is mine. I have always worked for people with more money than I have because they gave me jobs. That is the only redistribution of wealth that I will support. I never got a job from a poor person. Why do you want me to hate my employers? Why ‑‑ what do you have against shareholders making a profit?

Nine, charitable contributions. Although I never got a job from a poor person, I have helped many in need. Charity belongs in our local communities, where we know our needs best and can use our local talent and our local resources. Butt out, please. We want to do it ourselves.

Ten, corporate bailouts. Knock it off. Sink or swim like the rest of us. If there are hard times ahead, we’ll be better off just getting into it and letting the strong survive. Quick and painful. Have you ever ripped off a Band‑Aid? We will pull together. Great things happen in America under great hardship. Give us the chance to innovate. We cannot disappoint you more than you have disappointed us.

Eleven, transparency and accountability. How about it? No, really, how about it? Let’s have it. Let’s say we give the buzzwords a rest and have some straight honest talk. Please try ‑‑ please stop manipulating and trying to appease me with clever wording. I am not the idiot you obviously take me for. Stop sneaking around and meeting in back rooms making deals with your friends. It will only be a prelude to your criminal investigation. Stop hiding things from me.

Twelve, unprecedented quick spending. Stop it now.

Take a breath. Listen to the people. Let’s just slow down and get some input from some nonpoliticians on the subject. Stop making everything an emergency. Stop speed reading our bills into law. I am not an activist. I am not a community organizer. Nor am I a terrorist, a militant or a violent person. I am a parent and a grandparent. I work. I’m busy. I’m busy. I am busy, and I am tired. I thought we elected competent people to take care of the business of government so that we could work, raise our families, pay our bills, have a little recreation, complain about taxes, endure our hardships, pursue our personal goals, cut our lawn, wash our cars on the weekends and be responsible contributing members of society and teach our children to be the same all while living in the home of the free and land of the brave.

I entrusted you with upholding the Constitution. I believed in the checks and balances to keep from getting far off course. What happened? You are very far off course. Do you really think I find humor in the hiring of a speed reader to unintelligently ramble all through a bill that you signed into law without knowing what it contained? I do not. It is a mockery of the responsibility I have entrusted to you. It is a slap in the face. I am not laughing at your arrogance. Why is it that I feel as if you would not trust me to make a single decision about my own life and how I would live it but you should expect that I should trust you with the debt that you have laid on all of us and our children. We did not want the TARP bill. We said no. We would repeal it if we could. I am sure that we still cannot. There is such urgency and recklessness in all of the recent spending.

From my perspective, it seems that all of you have gone insane. I also know that I am far from alone in these feelings. Do you honestly feel that your current pursuits have merit to patriotic Americans? We want it to stop. We want to put the brakes on everything that is being rushed by us and forced upon us. We want our voice back. You have forced us to put our lives on hold to straighten out the mess that you are making. We will have to give up our vacations, our time spent with our children, any relaxation time we may have had and money we cannot afford to spend on you to bring our concerns to Washington. Our president often knows all the right buzzword is unsustainable. Well, no kidding. How many tens of thousands of dollars did the focus group cost to come up with that word? We don’t want your overpriced words. Stop treating us like we’re morons.

We want all of you to stop focusing on your reelection and do the job we want done, not the job you want done or the job your party wants done. You work for us and at this rate I guarantee you not for long because we are coming. We will be heard and we will be represented. You think we’re so busy with our lives that we will never come for you? We are the formerly silent majority, all of us who quietly work , pay taxes, obey the law, vote, save money, keep our noses to the grindstone and we are now looking up at you. You have awakened us, the patriotic spirit so strong and so powerful that it had been sleeping too long. You have pushed us too far. Our numbers are great. They may surprise you. For every one of us who will be there, there will be hundreds more that could not come. Unlike you, we have their trust. We will represent them honestly, rest assured. They will be at the polls on voting day to usher you out of office. We have cancelled vacations. We will use our last few dollars saved. We will find the representation among us and a grassroots campaign will flourish. We didn’t ask for this fight. But the gloves are coming off. We do not come in violence, but we are angry. You will represent us or you will be replaced with someone who will. There are candidates among us when hewill rise like a Phoenix from the ashes that you have made of our constitution.

Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian. Understand this. We don’t care. Political parties are meaningless to us. Patriotic Americans are willing to do right by us and our Constitution and that is all that matters to us now. We are going to fire all of you who abuse power and seek more. It is not your power. It is ours and we want it back. We entrusted you with it and you abused it. You are dishonorable. You are dishonest. As Americans we are ashamed of you. You have brought shame to us. If you are not representing the wants and needs of your constituency loudly and consistently, in spite of the objections of your party, you will be fired. Did you hear? We no longer care about your political parties. You need to be loyal to us, not to them. Because we will get you fired and they will not save you. If you do or can represent me, my issues, my views, please stand up. Make your identity known. You need to make some noise about it. Speak up. I need to know who you are. If you do not speak up, you will be herded out with the rest of the sheep and we will replace the whole damn congress if need be one by one. We are coming. Are we coming for you? Who do you represent? What do you represent? Listen. Because we are coming. We the people are coming.

I recommend you post this on your blog, and paste it on sites you frequent. Need as many eyes on this as we can get. They will rue the day when they provoked the Silent Majority to action.

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“The Amriki country is exactly in the right place. Everything good is to be found there. There is no country like the Amriki country.”

Peter Zeihan, writing for STRATFOR, had a piece last week entitled The Geography of Recession that explains American Exceptionalism and American patriotism:

The United States and the Free Market

The most important aspect of the United States is not simply its sheer size, but the size of its usable land. Russia and China may both be similar-sized in absolute terms, but the vast majority of Russian and Chinese land is useless for agriculture, habitation or development. In contrast, courtesy of the Midwest, the United States boasts the world’s largest contiguous mass of arable land — and that mass does not include the hardly inconsequential chunks of usable territory on both the West and East coasts.

Second is the American maritime transport system. The Mississippi River, linked as it is to the Red, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee rivers, comprises the largest interconnected network of navigable rivers in the world. In the San Francisco Bay, Chesapeake Bay and Long Island Sound/New York Bay, the United States has three of the world’s largest and best natural harbors. The series of barrier islands a few miles off the shores of Texas and the East Coast form a water-based highway — an Intracoastal Waterway — that shields American coastal shipping from all but the worst that the elements can throw at ships and ports.

The real beauty is that the two overlap with near perfect symmetry. The Intracoastal Waterway and most of the bays link up with agricultural regions and their own local river systems (such as the series of rivers that descend from the Appalachians to the East Coast), while the Greater Mississippi river network is the circulatory system of the Midwest. Even without the addition of canals, it is possible for ships to reach nearly any part of the Midwest from nearly any part of the Gulf or East coasts. The result is not just a massive ability to grow a massive amount of crops — and not just the ability to easily and cheaply move the crops to local, regional and global markets — but also the ability to use that same transport network for any other economic purpose without having to worry about food supplies.

The implications of such a confluence are deep and sustained. Where most countries need to scrape together capital to build roads and rail to establish the very foundation of an economy — transport capability — geography granted the United States a near-perfect system at no cost. That frees up U.S. capital for other pursuits and almost condemns the United States to be capital-rich. Any additional infrastructure the United States constructs is icing on the cake. (The cake itself is free — and, incidentally, the United States had so much free capital that it was able to go on to build one of the best road-and-rail networks anyway, resulting in even greater economic advantages over competitors.)

Third, geography has also ensured that the United States has very little local competition. To the north, Canada is both much colder and much more mountainous than the United States. Canada’s only navigable maritime network — the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway —is shared with the United States, and most of its usable land is hard by the American border. Often this makes it more economically advantageous for Canadian provinces to integrate with their neighbor to the south than with their co-nationals to the east and west.

Similarly, Mexico has only small chunks of land, separated by deserts and mountains, that are useful for much more than subsistence agriculture; most of Mexican territory is either too dry, too tropical or too mountainous. And Mexico completely lacks any meaningful river system for maritime transport. Add in a largely desert border, and Mexico as a country is not a meaningful threat to American security (which hardly means that there are not serious and ongoing concerns in the American-Mexican relationship).

With geography empowering the United States and hindering Canada and Mexico, the United States does not need to maintain a large standing military force to counter either. The Canadian border is almost completely unguarded, and the Mexican border is no more than a fence in most locations — a far cry from the sort of military standoffs that have marked more adversarial borders in human history. Not only are Canada and Mexico not major threats, but the U.S. transport network allows the United States the luxury of being able to quickly move a smaller force to deal with occasional problems rather than requiring it to station large static forces on its borders.

Like the transport network, this also helps the U.S. focus its resources on other things.

Taken together, the integrated transport network, large tracts of usable land and lack of a need for a standing military have one critical implication: The U.S. government tends to take a hands-off approach to economic management, because geography has not cursed the United States with any endemic problems. This may mean that the United States — and especially its government — comes across as disorganized, but it shifts massive amounts of labor and capital to the private sector, which for the most part allows resources to flow to wherever they will achieve the most efficient and productive results.

Laissez-faire capitalism has its flaws. Inequality and social stress are just two of many less-than-desirable side effects. The side effects most relevant to the current situation are, of course, the speculative bubbles that cause recessions when they pop. But in terms of long-term economic efficiency and growth, a free capital system is unrivaled. For the United States, the end result has proved clear: The United States has exited each decade since post-Civil War Reconstruction more powerful than it was when it entered it. While there are many forces in the modern world that threaten various aspects of U.S. economic standing, there is not one that actually threatens the U.S. base geographic advantages.

Is the United States in recession? Of course. Will it be forever? Of course not. So long as U.S. geographic advantages remain intact, it takes no small amount of paranoia and pessimism to envision anything but long-term economic expansion for such a chunk of territory. In fact, there are a number of factors hinting that the United States may even be on the cusp of recovery.

The North American continent is the most favored land mass on the planet. The bounty of the soil was the source of the wealth that built a bastion of Western Civilization in a sparsely populated wilderness. Americans with some connection to the land, some appreciation for just how favored our continent is, tend to be proud of it, and protective of it. Americans in the great coastal megalopolitan connurbations don’t have that connection, and tend not to have the same pride and protectiveness as us rubes out here in Fly Over Country. Rural vs. Urban is a campaign in the Culture War.

My grandfather used to proclaim to me during our jaunts about west central Ohio that Logan County was God’s Country.  And to him, it was.  To me, Cade’s Cove is God’s Country.  So is Halliday Well.  So are a lot of places. 

But let us give the account of the country as rendered by Arapooish, a Crow chief, to Mr. Robert Campbell, of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company.

“The Crow country,” said he, “is a good country. The Great Spirit has put it exactly in the right place; while you are in it you fare well; whenever you go out of it, whichever way you travel, you fare worse.

“If you go to the south, you have to wander over great barren plains; the water is warm and bad, and you meet the fever and ague.

“To the north it is cold; the winters are long and bitter, with no grass; you cannot keep horses there, but must travel with dogs. What is a country without horses?

“On the Columbia they are poor and dirty, paddle about in canoes, and eat fish. Their teeth are worn out; they are always taking fish-bones out of their mouths. Fish is poor food.

“To the east, they dwell in villages; they live well; but they drink the muddy water of the Missouri–that is bad. A Crow`s dog would not drink such water.

“About the forks of the Missouri is a fine country; good water; good grass; plenty of buffalo. In summer, it is almost as good as the Crow country; but in winter it is cold; the grass is gone; and there is no salt weed for the horses.

“The Crow country is exactly in the right place. It has snowy mountains and sunny plains; all kinds of climates and good things for every season. When the summer heats scorch the prairies, you can draw up under the mountains, where the air is sweet and cool, the grass fresh, and the bright streams come tumbling out of the snow-banks. There you can hunt the elk, the deer, and the antelope, when their skins are fit for dressing; there you will find plenty of white bears and mountain sheep.

“In the autumn, when your horses are fat and strong from the mountain pastures, you can go down into the plains and hunt the buffalo, or trap beaver on the streams. And when winter comes on, you can take shelter in the woody bottoms along the rivers; there you will find buffalo meat for yourselves, and cotton-wood bark for your horses: or you may winter in the Wind River valley, where there is salt weed in abundance.

“The Crow country is exactly in the right place. Everything good is to be found there. There is no country like the Crow country.”

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