This Ready Room installment will be a little different, functioning more as a way of getting some headlines out there than as a more select batch of analyses. Events are flying thick and fast, and in some ways it isn’t useful to keep going over the same old ground with them (e.g., “Iran nuclear negotiations,” which are lame and tired and haven’t changed in character for at least 18 years).
Nothing has changed with Iran negotiations, except the level of uranium enrichment
In fact, let’s just start with that. Back in 2013, when the pre-JCPOA “Petunia” was being negotiated with Iran – what became known as the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) – I pointed out that Iran was participating in talks in order to delay decision points for the West. (Petunia is explained here.) The “West” mainly signifies Israel. The Iranian regime’s strategy was to keep a negotiating process going in order to keep Israel immobilized: deterred by the ongoing process from taking action. The same strategy was behind Iran’s engagement with the JCPOA talks in 2015.
It’s 2021, and none of that has changed.
Since it’s the third time around (JPOA, 2013; JCPOA, 2015; now 2021), Iran is even more cynical and disdainful about the Western powers’ supine posture. The regime has reaped the benefits of less intrusive UN inspections since January 2016, along with the suspension of sanctions for most of the same period, to improve the efficiency of uranium enrichment operations. Iran is already enriching to 60% purity, and reportedly is preparing to enrich to 90%, or weapons grade.
This is in spite of setbacks from recent explosions and damage at the Natanz enrichment facility and industrial production complexes east of Tehran.
In January 2014, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS Institute, or the “Institute”) estimated that, using the centrifuges in operation at the time, Iran could enrich enough uranium for a bomb, from 19.75% to weapons grade (90%) purity, in as little as 1-1.6 months, or from the lower purity level of 3.5% to 90% in 2-3 months. This was based on information from IAEA inspectors obtained in 2013, about the time the original JPOA was implemented. (A separate analysis published the next month, February 2014, reflected the same estimate.)
In 2021, those same estimates would apply, although they’d probably no longer be the worst case. Iran would probably be able to enrich from lower purity to 90% faster than in 2013. She could also enrich more uranium at a time on the faster schedule.
But since Iran is already enriching to 60%, and has initiated the use of more efficient, capable centrifuges, the worst-case estimate for enough material for a bomb is now said by IAEA to be three weeks (from 60% to 90%), or .75 months.
This is what the 2015 JCPOA bought. Better centrifuges and the likelihood of a faster breakout time.
An explosion at the Natanz enrichment facility this past weekend is of course interesting, in light of these circumstances.
Noteworthy developments with Turkey are many, but others are highlighting the more commonly noted ones.
I just want to introduce two. One is Turkey’s agreement to sell drones to Ukraine for military use.
There’s no reason why Turkey shouldn’t sell drones to Ukraine, but in terms of geopolitical dynamics Russia would look on this with extreme disfavor (and is said to be doing so). Ukraine and Turkey flank Russia’s path to the Mediterranean through the Black Sea, and cooperation between them, even at this level, looks like a threat from Russia’s standpoint.
Throw in the facts that Turkey is a NATO nation and the whole beef over Ukraine is about how much Kyiv will be oriented toward the EU, and potentially have a special relationship with NATO, and you have a fraught situation. Obviously it doesn’t help that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a neo-Ottoman radical.
This is the kind of thing U.S. diplomacy (not military deployment; diplomacy) could help alleviate. But we don’t have an administration that prioritizes such opportunities or such a role.
The second item is Turkey’s contract with Cuba to supply electric power to the island with floating, offshore power plants.
Turkey won’t be raking in profits from this deal. Cuba has been stuck in self-inflicted poverty for 60 years.
And it isn’t about the electric power. It’s about the offshore floating rigs. Bookmark this update, because it’s going to matter. There’s no end to the mischief foreign actors can get up to with such platforms. Transferring things between afloat platforms is by no means unthinkable, nor is storing things on the rigs.
It’s been of concern for a decade that China and Cuba are cooperating on offshore drilling. Cuba’s attractions aren’t economic; they’re geostrategic. Cuba is famously 90 miles off the coast of the United States. That’s why nations like Russia, China, Iran, and Turkey bother with Cuba, which doesn’t bring cash or any extraordinary abundance of resources to the table, and stifles her hard-working people’s initiative as much as any communist regime.
Remember, if you can imagine it, someone is trying to do it.
Omicron Variant grab-bag
So far the Omicron variant has been a nothingburger, with early reports indicating symptoms even milder than the Delta variant. It’s not clear yet how infectious it is, but estimates are about as infectious as Delta, or perhaps a bit more so.
Nevertheless, within hours of the initial reports of Omicron, pharmaceutical companies were announcing their plans to develop and test another booster.
It’s not evident that the deranged policies being enforced in Australia had any connection to Omicron, as their implementation preceded it.
Likewise, in Austria, the national lockdown for the unvaccinated (now being vigorously protested by the people) was apparently in the works before Omicron was heralded to the world. But the sequence of events in Austria is arresting: the previous chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, was accused of corruption and stepped down in October, whereupon Alexander Schallenberg assumed leadership of Kurz’s People’s Party and hence the chancellorship. Very shortly after Kurz stepped down, vaccine “passports” were instituted. (Kurz opposed “passports,” and in general held more civic-nationalist and what Americans would call “conservative” views than the EU approves. One view was an uncharacteristic – for Austria – level of support for Israel.)
The national lockdown was announced to begin in December – and now Schallenberg has also stepped down. This doesn’t look like a naturally-occurring set of developments. It looks like the electoral success of Kurz and the People’s Party being neutralized by back-room maneuvers, with some of the most draconian COVID-19 policies in Europe implemented at the same time.
We can’t know for sure, of course. Meanwhile, Germany is implementing a national lockdown – for unvaccinated people only – that is partly in response to the Omicron variant, although it also references a current COVID “wave” of infection cases.
Both Germany and Austria are eyeing mandatory vaccination population-wide. Austria’s will reportedly take effect in February 2022; Germany is still debating the question.
Most worrisome are two other reports. Many readers will be aware that the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill last week that funds a national vaccination database, which would collate vaccination information on all Americans (though not, of course, on illegal migrants). Some 80 Republicans voted in favor of the measure.
The vision this suggests for public health management is inevitably dystopian, relying not on empirical reality – i.e., that the very point of vaccination is that, for purposes of the commonweal, we don’t need to know who is vaccinated – but on attempts to control human factors we cannot actually control.
The latter, dystopian attempts never end well. Control is invariably the real goal, not public health or some other ostensible objective. Look at any situation in which more data than necessary is being demanded on the people. The data can be used to pursue, punish, or deny things to individuals – but using the data never results in preventing the problem supposedly being addressed, such as the spread of infection. (If anything, the opposite is practically always the result. The more intrusive the surveillance and attempts at control, the worse the situation is always said to be. Witness the stratospheric rise of “hate crimes” in the U.S., once hate-crime laws were instituted, or the ever-failing 70-year campaign in the former Soviet Union to exterminate the scourge of anti-proletarian thought crime.)
The second report is that the president of the EU, Ursula von der Leyen, is by inference prepared to discuss a postulated need to roll back the Nuremberg Code applying to involuntary injections into human subjects. She expressed this opinion when queried in a BBC interview. Her specific response in that interview was about making vaccination mandatory; critics of such a policy point out that it would conflict with the Nuremberg Code.
The Nuremberg Code was, of course, adopted in 1947 to protect people against things like involuntary injection. It was inspired by the ghastly “experiments” of Joseph Mengele, among others. It is frequently invoked as the line of defense against involuntary injection of the COVID-19 “vaccines.” (Whose performance we need not disparage, but must properly acknowledge to not be that of a vaccine, traditionally defined, since they don’t confer immunity. They offer protective assistance to the body’s own immune system if it becomes infected.)
A “fact-check” on the von der Leyen report concluded that it was being misrepresented – not because von der Leyen didn’t say what she said, but because, in the words of the fact-checkers, the Nuremberg Code applies to “research” rather than public health measures.
But, of course, experimental researchers in Nazi Germany (and the Soviet Union, and elsewhere) justified their “research” as being a public health measure. One thing is certain, and will remain so: the entity with the government charter and the gun defines what is a “public health measure.” Events caught on camera in Australia in the last few weeks preview what public-health coercion can be expected to look like.
Ron DeSantis proposes reactivating an old state institution
Florida Governor DeSantis announced a proposal being sent to the legislature last week: a proposal to resurrect Florida’s inactive state guard.
Along with that measure, DeSantis wants to spend significantly more Florida funds on the Florida National Guard – a point of equal import, although it didn’t get the same attention as the state guard proposal.
State guards are nothing new. In fact, they are actually the descendants of the “well-regulated militias” referred to in the Second Amendment. If the count at Wikipedia is correct, there are 16 states with active state guards (many people know of perhaps the most famous one, the Texas State Guard). Florida has been among the 34 states whose guards are inactive, or that never chartered a state guard.
DeSantis reportedly envisions a state guard of some 200 guardsmen, which could be activated by the governor to respond to emergencies. His proposal calls for $3.5 million to train and equip them.
But he also wants to use additional state funds, to the tune of $100 million, on the national guard. That, as much as the state guard proposal, is a signal that he wants a more capable guard – and potentially greater independence for the state in calling up forces with “guard” charters.
The president must approve national guard call-ups, which won’t change; and ordinarily Title 32 activation (under the state governor) is funded by the federal government. But if there’s a dispute on guard use in which the president might authorize activation but withhold funding, a well-prepared state spending its own funds may have options a less-prepared state would not.
The $100 million figure is a lot. (The Florida National Guard website indicates that annual state funding has been $18 million in recent years, compared to $454 million from the U.S. government.) DeSantis wants to put the bulk of the $100 million into improving a Guard readiness center in Miramar, and creating three new armories.
He envisions the resurrected Florida State Guard being a civilian force:
“I’m going to be recommending in the budget $3.5 million to reestablish the Florida State Guard. The Florida State Guard will act as a civilian volunteer force that will have the ability to assist the national guard in state-specific emergencies,” DeSantis said. “This funding will support the necessary training and equipment, and other support functions for up to 200 members who can aid in response to hurricanes and other natural disasters and other state emergencies.”
DeSantis’s move looks especially dramatic because, unlike Texas, Florida hasn’t retained an active state guard in recent years. One construction being put on his decision is that guard call-ups in the past 18 months have put a strain on states’ national guard contingents, making it more challenging for them to maintain readiness for state emergencies. That is certainly logical, and may be at least a partial explanation.
But more obvious things going on are probably also in play. Oklahoma has initiated a standoff with the Defense Department over the vaccine mandate for the national guard, and however that ends, it’s likely that governors around the country will want to take a long-headed look at the status of their national guard assets. Putting state money behind the state’s own plans for the national guard drives a stake where there wasn’t one before.
The U.S. National Guard was created by the federal government in a series of actions starting in 1903 with what is known as the Dick Act. The basic project was to regularize the relations of state guards and a national guard entity, but over time, most of the states either allowed their state forces to become inactive, or — in the newer states — never chartered state forces at all. The decisive split was formalized more than 100 years ago, in the National Defense act of 1916. Since then, state-level initiative in rethinking the need for and uses of state guards has been rare.
This isn’t a small tremor, in the tectonic connections of our federal system.
Feature image: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Felix Garza Jr. (Via Wikimedia Commons)
2 thoughts on “TOC Ready Room 5 Dec 2021: Iran, nukes, Turkey, Ommy-cron – and DeSantis, oh my”
Good that you linked your flower reference, because the last time that we discussed a “Petunia” it involved shock, awe, firepower, and maneuver.
On the Omidgod version of this virus – this is a never ending (until the public finally rebels and calls an end to the madness) fear porn drama like a cheap horror movie. This is Friday the 13th Part 37 and a 1/3rd. Jason keeps coming back to kill the non-virgins, no matter how many times the cute little girl in the lumberjack flannel shirt and her underdrawers runs him over with a tractor pulling a disk harrow. This is the Marxist/Democrat power grab and it’s going to be repeated time and time again until it stops working.
The facts are pretty stark. No vaccine will ever work because this is an RNA virus that mutates faster than the vaccine can be engineered to produce T-Cells and other antibodies to fight. That means theraputics, early detection, and time for the human mass organism to neutralize it down to a relatively harmless chest cold like the flu and noroviruses. Time to learn to live with it. There is no risk-free society and certainly no way to eliminate COVID. It’s here to stay… So everyone quit panicking, quit the silly stupid face diaper show, and stop abusing people’s rights over their personal healthcare choices.
Israel sold a lot of drones at the recent Dubai Air Show.
Busy week in the Persian and/or Arabian Gulf. Timing!
TbZ, always wearing super-sunglasses, is MbZ’s brother.
Also on Dec. 6, KSA’s MbS started his GCC visits in Oman, followed by UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, to discuss bilateral relations.
Meanwhile, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will pay an official visit to Qatar on December 6-7, 2021 at the invitation of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar to attend the 7th meeting of the Turkey-Qatar Supreme Strategic Committee. “All aspects of the bilateral relations between Türkiye and Qatar will be reviewed,
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