Sarah Palin

I gave this several days to settle my thoughts before i posted.
Two days after the announcement, i continue to believe that this is a brilliant pick on McCain's part.

1. The republican base are totally excited. She has all the right marks (reformer, gun toting hunter, pro-life, family oriented, and conservative) to appeal to the conservative base more so than McCain does. Reading the internet boards, many who would not have voted for McCain are now actually excited and even donating money to his campaign (supposedly 6 million dollars within 24 hours of her announcement). For many Reps, she (along with Glenn Steel and Bobby Jindal) represent the future for the Reps. She energizes his base to donate and vote for him.

2. She has lots of appeal to independent. She is a working mom from a middle class family, and have made a success out of herself in the frontiers of Alaska. She is also not a lawyer, ivy league educated, or a professional politician. Other than being a working "hockey mom" her sex has nothing to do with her selection and no, i do not believe she will likely convert many hardcore Hillaristas to the Reps. She doesn't need to. If she can motivate independent working moms to vote for McCain/Palin and reminds the Hillaristas of how Hillary was cast aside, this will be enough. Every time the Obama team criticizes her ability to juggle work and motherhood, they will alienate another Hillarista. She has lots of appeal for independent.

3. Her experience and readiness on first glance appears to be a weakness, but politically a strength for McCain. Firstly, she is joining McCain's team, thus his strength will become her strength; she doesn't have to recruit or build an advising team. She will likely be brought up to speed by McCain's team on her weak areas regarding foreign policy and diplomacy. And her fresh eyes in these areas would be a plus as well. Secondly she does have executive experience that not Obama, Biden, or even McCain have. This means she has made decisions to make things happen as Governor and her judgment appears to have been excellent thus. She has good character. Thirdly while some Reps might bemoan her lack of experience, they will likely vote for McCain anyway. Compared to Obama she is certainly no worse. Finally, every time the Dems brings up the issue of her lack of experience, Obama's lack of experience will be considered as well. She is running for VPotUS, he is running for PotUS. It is a bait and a trap for Obama's team that they will fall into again and again. She reminds everyone of Obama's weakness.

4. She has a track record of fighting for reform against the establishment. This demonstrate ability, willingness, and integrity to enact change; Obama has only talked about change. Politically, this is a huge strength to counter one of Obama's platform of promised changed (she has already enacted change!). Secondly, her ability to have enacted reforms will make her a formidable opponent against Biden without the baggage Pawlenty, Huckabee or Romney bring. Yet she will likely be underestimated by Biden, regardless of how much warning Biden receives not to do so. She undermines Obama's message of change, his perceived strength.

5. With her on the ticket, it makes it a bit harder for Obama to level the charge of "4 more years of the same as Bush" against McCain. She is from the hinterland after all, both geographically and political establishment/DC beltway wise. In addition, he is no longer just another "old rich white republican guy running for office." His historical precedence is being countered. She provides a shield for McCain against Obama.

In summary, a brilliant political pick by McCain, which in itself improves his standing.

McCain choosing Palin.
Palin commands Alaska Missile defense units.
Palin quotes regarding foreign affairs.
Hillaristas comment on Palin.


Georgia vs Russia

It should be accepted that Russia will not withdraw from South Ossetia or Abkhazia. This matter little. Georgia did not have substantive control of these regions before the war anyway. Regarding defensive position against Russia, the Georgians can still cut off the Russians by taking out the Roki tunnel, as well as applying the choke at the pass across the Caucasian mountains when needed. These actions can be accomplished in my opinion without requiring air control if they are appropriately armed with missiles and or unmanned drones. Meanwhile, the Georgians and still infiltrate and destabilize both regions (as will the Russian attempt the same against Georgia)

What to do if Russians do not withdraw from Georgia proper? I believe this will be a significant tactical and strategic error on their part. If they wanted Georgia, they should have taken it before international support came to Georgia. Now with the US airlift, the Georgian could be re-armed as well as upgraded for an irregular war against Russians. Unlike Chechnya, who were not supported by the West, Georgia has a direct support line and defensive mountainous terrain, making them more like Afghanistan in their struggle against Russia.

Russia has nothing to gain by staying in Georgia. Whether they are smart enough to acknowledge this remains to be seen.


Georgia 2

While things remain on simmer in Georgia, i am skeptical much more will happen.
As it stand, both South Ossetia and Abkhazia have been lost by Georgia to Russia. I do not believe any peace agreement will change this. While a ceasefire is being negotiated, this is not the same as a peace agreement. This might seem a win for Russia, but i think if this is all Russia gets, this will likely mean Russia lost over all. They already had defacto control of these regions before the shooting started. Since the invasion, Russia has been viewed as much more threatening by the West than previously. This will likely mean a gradual shift of Europe from economic activities with Russia. Eastern Europe, long wary of Russia, will militarily strengthen themselves against possible strike by Russia. The other Caucasian states and the Central Asian states will similarly act. Likely same with Turkey.

Had Russia blitzed Georgia completely, they might have won more than they lost with the current arragement. They could have then directly affected the Caucasian oil pipeline. They could have directly threatened the Middle East.

So why did they stop?
1. Russia underestimated global, Western Europe, and US response for Georgia.
2. They could not pin the Georgian military down for a quick destruction in South Ossetia or Gori, thus putting themselves at risk for a protracted war in the Caucasus they could not easily win.
3. They never planned for more than what they did. They might have lacked the resource for more, and or this was a punative strike against Georgia rather than a true invasion/war.
These three are not exclusive of each other. I believe likely #1 and #2, but also possibly #3.
Time will tell.



Russia has invaded Georgia. This is a premeditated action as i have suggested before.
A summary review of the time line from La Russophobe should be reviewed.
At 7:00 P.M. local time on August 7, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili spoke live on national television, announcing a unilateral ceasefire and asking the other side also to cease hostilities. In highly conciliatory words, Saakashvili called for talks “in any format”; reaffirmed the long-standing offer of full autonomy for South Ossetia; proposed that Russia should guarantee that solution; offered a general amnesty; and pleaded for international intercession to stop the hostilities (Rustavi-2 TV, August 7).

Following Saakashvili’s address, attacks on Georgian villages intensified. The village of Avnevi was almost completely destroyed, Tamarasheni and Prisi shelled, and the police station in Kurta, seat of the Sanakoyev administration, smashed by artillery fire. Civilians began fleeing the villages.

These attacks forced Tbilisi to take defensive action. By 10:30 P.M. local time on August 7 the Georgians returned fire. During the night, Georgian forces including armored columns began advancing toward Tskhinvali, the secessionist authorities’ administrative center.

I am not advocating that we enter the war directly with guns blazing. I am advocating that we assist the Georgians in their resistance against the Russian with intelligence information, military and humanitarian supplies, and perhaps a few unmanned planes to take out the Roki tunnel.


South Ossetia

Whether it was smart for Georgia to militarily reclaim this break away region or not is no longer significant. As an ally who have supported our efforts elsewhere (Afghanistan and Iraq) the US should now reciprocate. We should provide them with all the necessary intelligence to defend their territorial integrity and autonomy, as well as hardware and supplies. Our conduct here will have repercussion elsewhere now, as well as in the future. The world, our friends and would be friends, our enemies and would be enemies must never doubt that they have no better friends than the US, and no worse enemy.

Update: the more i think of it, the more i think this is conflict was not an accidental escalation. Russia was clear poised to act militarily in South Ossetia. Their readiness and rapid response is much faster than it should be for the state of readiness the Russian arm forces have been in.


Crimson Tide

It is now nearly uniformly accepted we have turned the tide in Iraq. From the changing emphasis of the New Iraqi Army as noted by DJ Elliot to the reconsidering the great achievement made possible by the steadfastness of GW Bush as noted at the Belmont Club.
But every time i see this video i feel even more for the unheralded sentiment expressed for our men and women in uniform who made this victory possible.