April 04, 2015

While We All Wait

.... with baited breath, to discover who amongst us will make the next misstep on the constantly shifting tightrope of acceptable discourse and get inducted into the Emmanuelle Goldstein society, we should not ignore the wackiness transpiring elsewhere. 

Norway has...well...mislaid something....

Only six years ago, Norwegian politicians decided that Russia no longer posed a significant threat and that it was time to sell its top secret base called Olavsvern, which was hewn into a mountain and equipped with the most sophisticated electronics available. It’s located near the small town of Ramfjord near Norway’s border with Russia.

That's certainly...awkward.


In other news the negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear program has produced some tentative results.
None of Iran’s nuclear facilities — including the Fordow center buried under a mountain — will be closed. Not one of the country’s 19,000 centrifuges will be dismantled. Tehran’s existing stockpile of enriched uranium will be "reduced” but not necessarily shipped out of the country. In effect, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will remain intact, though some of it will be mothballed for 10 years. When the accord lapses, the Islamic republic will instantly become a threshold nuclear state.

That from the bastion of reactionary rightwingery that is the Washington Post. 

Actual footage of our crackerjack negotiating team negotiating.

Next Big Future looks at the numbers and notes that alarmist claims that Iran will be able to make 32 bombs a year are overblown. In fact the worlds largest state sponsor of terrorism will only be able to make 25 nuclear bombs a year. 


China seems to be building a naval base in Namibia


The Middle East continues to deteriorate.
The US is asking all Americans to leave Yemen...but won't provide an evacuation.


Al Shabab has killed nearly 150 people at a university in Kenya. Neo has thoughts and links here


My State's bar association turns out to be a little bit evil


Finally, on a arguably less serious note, the President of Russia's Academy of Geopolitical Problems demonstrates why he does not run the Academy of Geological Problems...
"Geologists believe that the Yellowstone supervolcano could explode at any moment. There are signs of growing activity there. Therefore it suffices to push the relatively small, for example the impact of the munition megaton class to initiate an eruption. The consequences will be catastrophic for the United States - a country just disappears," he said.  

Even multi-megaton nukes pale in sheer scale to geological processes. Besides, while the Yellowstone magma chamber is huge, it is currently about 85% solid. Now a 20 megaton nuke ( the largest the Russians have) would leave 800 foot deep crater, so there might be a tiny chance that several of them going off simultaneously might suddenly excavate enough material to relieve enough pressure to cause something to happen (besides a Russia ending retaliatory strike), but it would probably not be a VE-8 eruption. They'd likely be infinitesimally  better off targeting Clear Lake, Newberry, Medicine Lakes or Long Valley and would be better served still by not being so silly. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 05:03 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
Post contains 518 words, total size 7 kb.

1 "in hindsight it’s clear that selling [Olavsvern] was not a good decision."
Hm.  Sounds like some Europeans, at least, are starting to wake up.  Good news, hopefully.

Posted by: RickC at Sat Apr 4 13:25:24 2015 (0a7VZ)

2 One thing Obama has done which has a good side: he's finally made clear to the Europeans that they ultimately can't depend on the US to defend them. Since the founding of NATO the Europeans have been free-riding on American defense spending (while sanctimoniously criticizing it, since the fall of the USSR) but now they can't any more.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Sat Apr 4 20:22:30 2015 (+rSRq)

3 You know... might it not be time to wind up NATO?

It's clearly warping Russia's perceptions - they see this big, expanding military alliance against them and think "man, if we let down our guard it's gonna be 1941 all over again!" (not that we need any lebensraum, thanks, we already got plenty...) And it's causing them to do stuff that we interpret as needlessly hostile and paranoid, which causes us to respond and have them react similarly, etc.

Ultimately Europe's security is going to rest on the same thing that kept the US and the Soviet Union from going at it hammer and tongs - nuclear arsenals that make direct invasion an invitation to mutual annihilation.

Is there really a reason for us to stay in, as it were? Yes, it imposes a peace between the European nations - Germany and Greece aren't going to go at it with anything more than hot rhetoric - but the days where Germany can seriously be a threat against the world are over. It's just too -little-.

And if we can ratchet Russia's tension down, a lot of our other problems get easier to handle too.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Sat Apr 4 23:35:25 2015 (zTHWs)

4 Re: Namibia, it would seem that my Nicaragua paranoia wasn't paranoid enough.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Sun Apr 5 02:13:55 2015 (ZJVQ5)

5 Yes, and if we can only make Hitler less paranoid, he won't invade any more countries! Honest!

Putin doesn't want the Crimea as a buffer state against NATO or anyone else. He wants Ukraine, and he wants everything that used to be in the USSR, and he wants all the landmass that the USSR never quite managed to grab, like Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. (Although I suspect that would be "without the current inhabitants.")

Truly, this isn't difficult to figure out. It's pretty standard for Russian imperial ambitions. Third Rome, blah blah blah.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Mon Apr 6 16:11:01 2015 (ZJVQ5)

6 Sure. But if we're going to commit to anti-Russian expansion - if they are, once again, The Enemy - then let us not pussyfoot around.

Are we better off where the list of rogue nuclear nations corresponds more or less to the list of Russian client states? If the Russians are happy for us to deal with a nuclear North Korea or a nuclear Iran, then why shouldn't we give them a pack and a half of headaches, nuclear Poland, nuclear South Korea, nuclear Taiwan? Nuclear Latvia and Finland. And that gives us an answer to Russian aggression short of "end the world", no?

The alternative is what? Draw a line in the sand and abandon anything beyond it? Draw an endless succession of red lines which Russia can skip over until they finally find the one that makes us drop the bomb? Or just Cold War II, Internet Boogaloo edition?

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Mon Apr 6 22:15:01 2015 (zJsIy)

7 Right now, nobody in the world believes that we will do anything, or at least, not anything useful or sustained. We have refused to give our allies defensive weapons that we had previously promised to them, and we have reneged on a bunch of other stuff.

Meanwhile, Russia and China have plans which they are carrying out.

We aren't doing anything much, except helping Iran's government. The more we let the situation go on, the more likely that we will have do something aggressive back. The sooner we start helping with mutual defense and providing what we've promised our allies, the more likely that Russia and China will slow down or back off.

(Or there's always the option of letting everybody else get conquered, and then being conquered or becoming a client state. But I don't like that option.)

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Fri Apr 10 15:40:10 2015 (ZJVQ5)

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