Sunday, September 20, 2009

Iran and its Nuclear Threat

Let's project out a few years from 2009. Iran and its mad President create their first atomic bomb, small, yet can be mounted onto one of their mid-range rockets. Iran's press tells the world press of this event makes Iran part of the nuclear club. Iran's surrounding neighbors are very concerned and turn to the US and Europe for assurances they will be there if attacked. Iran decides to test its new influence modestly making demands from other nations using its "threat of nuclear attack" dialogue. Most fail. No nation bites at such threats since the West is nearby.

Israel, of course, must do something about this, but what exactly? At best, conduct a secret, covert air attack which requires them to have access to either Iraq's or other Arab nation's air space. The US may or may not allow them, but even if the attack occurs, the problem of which of many nuclear reactors to hit is paramount and unknown. Not effective, which would provoke Iran in using it.

A stalemate will probably occur on both sides. Iran, having achieved its goal now has the problem of defending it from sabotage or attacks and what to do with it. Do they simply use it like a threatening sword at the world to get its way? Do they be so bold to use the few created to obliterate Israel or shock Europe? Would they even be able to launch them with all spy satellites pointing at Iran? You know, as soon as intelligence indicated a nuke was the payload aboard the rocket, countermeasures would commence. Iran also has to worry about its own population of 30 million under 35 years, most not completely brainwashed by the rhetoric.

Recent mass demonstrations in Tehran and elsewhere show the young Iranians are angry at the fraud, being told what to wear, what to say, what to believe, how to live, and the recent fraudulent voting that has divided the ruling party. Many of the young look at the rulers, the old men, as their ball and chain that prevent them from truly being free as those Iranians living out of the country. Just as the young fundamentalists viewed the US and the Shah of Iran back in 1979 as their "ball and chain", today's Internet savvy young Iranians may be able to bring a change from within to make Iran a more open and moderate society that the West would embrace. Iranian culture and people are warm and friendly, a far cry from the ruling government of a mad man and old men resistant to modern times. Many Iranians value what the West has to offer privately.

While the Iranian public would feel proud about having a nuclear weapon, many would not approve how its leaders use it or plan to use it. Few would say "attack" because of the retaliation factor both militarily and economic from the World. Iran would be isolated and would collapse once its own people rebelled. It has happened. That was in 1979. The ruling party now has this occurring on a small scale and recall back when the Shah was tossed out. They are careful not to be overly heavy handed. Maybe Iran's nuclear attack would provoke a government overthrow even more, another coup d' etat. Clearly, it is a consideration for them.

Iran with a nuke would refrain from a first strike on their part. Too much to lose and little to gain. Thus, once the shock effect wore off, it would be back to political postering by them and others. No country wants to be the first to use it without some sort of major provacation. Few think Iran really has global ambitions akin to Hitler and Europe. But even a regional ambition like this would create a world war if the correct octane and emotion allowed it.

Iran with a nuke may just have a "ball and chain" impact on its governing body. It is a pandora's box for them and the world. One mis-step at the wrong time might prove to be deadly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

THE LAST HURRAH: Rostov, 1920

January proved to be a tough month for the torn up White army under General Denikin. The Red juggernaut was steamrolling over them pushing them back and back and back. All seemed hopeless to the White cause that had lasted since 1918, to stop the advance of Bolshevism (aka Communism).
The White army was reaching a thread-bare existance despite the millions of aid in weapons and equipment the British had provided in 1919. It was the British proxy war or others had coined it, "Churchills War".

Denikin's Volunteer Army had the best soldiers and weapons and throughout 1919 were the ones that advanced to within 200 miles of Moscow in October 1919. However, by November, everything had reversed and now the White's were on the retreat.

By February 1920, Denikin's army was nearing the city of Rostov, which he had hoped to hold. When this failed, his troops fell back to Bataisk, south of the city and the Don River for protection. The river was frozen in many places but was a huge obstacle for the advancing Red army. The barrier gave Denikin respite from the Red steamroller, which by now crawled. The weather had taken its toll on both sides. A few Red units did cross the river and face off with the Whites, but they were too weak to overrun them. Much of Rostov was actually devoid of Red soldiers since many units were still far off. Only the Red cavalry managed to reach the city.

Denikin now planned for his last successful counterattack using all remaining Mk V tanks and any aircraft. He gathered his remaining Volunteer Army as the main strike force, which although had suffered losses, were still more than a match for the Red peasant soldier. Other units were also gathered and supplied for this last hurrah. Denikin knew time was against him the more he waited, taking Rostov, would give the White morale a huge morale boost.

Denikin struck and despite all odds succeeded in retaking much of Rostov and its environs. This put the Red army leaders into a mad panic. The battle raged and became fierce as more and more Red units arrived until after 4-5 days of White success, numbers prevailed and the White units were once again forced to pull back behind the river for safety.

This is the subject of Firefight Games latest release, The Last Hurrah!.

The Helter Skelter War: Afghanistan and the Lost Cause

Back in 1969, at Woodstock, the climate was a definite anti-war tone against the US in Vietnam, a country that pales in size when it comes to Afghanistan. Then, it was the band, Country Joe and Fish singing, "what are we doing there, I don't give a damn about Vietnam".

Fast forward to now

There is a small chorus of scholars and media that are now asking the same, "what are we doing there", "at best, it is a draw", "what is winning anyway"? Despite the patriotic support for the troops (you know, it was also there in the Vietnam war, also) many are looking at this long war (as they did with Nam) and question it.

This war is 50% longer than the combined US involvement in the 1st and 2nd World Wars! For the most part, Afghanistan is a US war sparked by terrorism. Afghanistan is the second worse place for a war, Somalia is the first. It is a HUGE country. The government is corrupt and created by the US, just as the US tried South Vietnam with President Thieu's regime. Afghanistan's para-military is corrupt as was much of the South Vietnamese Army despite the modern weapons given to them from 1966-74. Then, our mission was to stop Communism. Now, its another form of this system, worse, fueled by hatered of the West and Islam.

Our mission now is to clear, hold and build in key areas of the country and given the lack of troops, it creates a series of outposts, islands of democracy that once US presence exits, returns back to its former state- warlords and Taliban.

Kabul and the Karzai government only control 1\3 of the country. The rest is a free for all, many areas are pure Taliban, untouched or unfazed by the war. Take Helmand Province. Unless you realize that this province is the size of the State of West Virginia (which is 25,000 sq. miles or 62,000 sq, km) one might think little of it. However, there are only 4000 US Marines there to fight the war! They can do little more than patrol and skirmish with the Taliban in their assigned area. The local government and police are thieves. They take bribes from the Taliban, they steal, say one thing, do another when the Americans are not there. The Afghan "soldiers" indicate they are there for a vacation and seldom fight. The situation in Afghanistan is NOTHING like Iraq, where there is hope things will turn out alright. Things seem viable there. Iraqis have a history of good relations with the West.

Economically, the whole country of Afghanistan has a $23 Billion dollar budget. While it sounds impressive, it is a drop in the bucket when you realize that the the City of Boise, Idaho, has the same amount for their budget! This is a medium sized city, not a country!

Back to Helmand Province. Why is this area important? Poppies. Drug money. The province accounts for 75% of the countries opium crop, which provides revenue. But, we only have 4000 troops there trying to persuade farmers with our own "bribes" to grow other crops. None that will bring in revenue.

President Karzai, like President Thieu, does not enjoy popularity with the commoners. Many think he is corrupt, inept and predatory, according to the Economist. Some of the commoners really want a return to the "warlord" system because it is less brutal. The country will have 68,000 US troops and 9000 British troops. Commanders know from their military training that to fight this kind of guerrilla hide and seek war requires well over 150,000 troops because of its size. Nobody has an appetite for that one. Now, the recent "democratic" election has been declared fraudulent in many provinces by international observers that demand a new re-election.

But what is the purpose of destroying Taliban or al-Qaida bases there, if they are untouched in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan? They still will exist, train and grow. They still will conduct terrorist attacks. And we all know that when the Americans and British leave this country, things will deteoriate and the country will either slowly return to its former 2001 state or some variation of it.

When the US left Vietnam in 1973-4, South Vietnam only lasted until May, 1975. Despite the years of training, building, supplying its large army and airforce, when the North conducted its last attack, even they were surprized how quickly the South's troops fled and ran overall, how quickly the government fell into chaos.

Ditto for Afghanistan.
Our own "warlords" promoting this war can put any kind of spin on it they want but that is all it is. History is repeating and while we are not making all the same mistakes as in Vietnam, enough are being made and the adversary is as tough to make the outcome very similar once US troops vacate the Afghanistan premises.

Public Law 110-252: The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Catch-22

Many reading this may be getting unemployment from job loss. In most states, including California, there is the EUC, Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which extends your claim filed. Most claims filed expire within a six month period, the maximum rate one can receive in California is $950 every two weeks. Claimants eligible for this can receive this for about five months.

After your intitial claim ends, the EDD will automatically file for a federal extension for another 20 or weeks, once that expires, one can get a second federal extension based upon the original rates.

Public Law 110-552 which deals with the extensions for many is a false promise and false security for many, key provisions in it intentionally favor those that are in professions that earn more than $40-45 hr, not those earning even $35 hr or less.

According to the EUC, it is a Catch-22 law, for the last date that a first extension can be begin was March 22, 2009. The last date a second extension can begin is Dec. 27, 2009.

What this means is that if you did not file for unemployment until March 23 or later, you can be denied your first extension after your claim comes to and end 5-6 months from that filing. So, for many who applied for unemployment in late March or after, their claims are just now ending in September and they think they will get the first extension. Well, it is already too late to qualify!

The law also can deny you benefits due to various amendments. On Nov. 21, 2008, the law was altered so that a wage earner would have to have earnings in excess of 40 times a weekly benefit amount OR 1.5 times in the highest quarter in their base period in which the claim is based upon.

What does it mean?

It is the Catch-22. Even if your income during employment was great enough and in excess of 40 times a weekly benefit amount or 1.5 times the highest quarter in the base period, your first extension can be denied because the LAST DATE the extension could have begun was way back on March 22, 2009. A date, that for many, had yet to file for unemployment benefits!

So, if you are one of the millions feeling secure about your first extension, you might think again, as you may not get it-many have not got it. The extensions are really for those who did earn a considerable amount of money, their taxed income was high. Those who worked and earned less $20,000 in a quarter are likely not to get it.

Like I said, even if you do qualify, the March 22 date could stop it.

If you are one of them in California, the Appeals Board is at:

San Bernadino Adjudication

POB 641

San Bernadino, CA 92402