TOC Ready Room 6 May 2022: Intel superheroes of America

What’s wrong and right in the world.

Unfortunately, U.S. officials handed NBC a disclosure on Thursday that the U.S. had assisted Ukraine in targeting the Russian cruiser Moskva, which was sunk by a Ukrainian anti-ship missile attack on 14 April.

Touting such activities in the media is foolish and unnecessary.  Providing assistance in locating and identifying Russian weapon systems that are then immediately targeted can be read as becoming a belligerent in the war.

Crowing over it, in the manner we saw Thursday, also looks like taking credit for superficial politics’ sake, and that always comes off as weak and undisciplined.

It’s one thing to announce without caveat that you attacked something, take full responsibility, and issue an unmistakable warning through your tone and your terse explanation of why.

But that’s not what U.S. officials did. Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 6 May 2022: Intel superheroes of America”

TOC Ready Room 28 April 2022: How do you solve a problem like the Navy? (and other naval musings)

What’s wrong and right, afloat.

Modern naval problems, it turns out, look pretty much like naval problems from any time.  The parameters are resources, logistics, geography, and technology.

This will be a tweet-enriched lightning round.  The big punch comes at the end.  It’s a doozy (and yes, I know:  if I were tediously pedantic I’d spell it Duesy.  Life is short).

A number of negative things are happening in a concentrated burst.  One is that the Navy brass – “Big Navy” – has just proposed to whack out a big chunk of the fleet for the foreseeable future.  With a target over the last half-decade of 355 ships, the Navy would decline from its current 296 ships to 280 in Fiscal Year 2027 (FY27).  In the best case among three options proposed by the Navy, the fleet would recover to 299 by FY32, 10 years from now. Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 28 April 2022: How do you solve a problem like the Navy? (and other naval musings)”

TOC Ready Room 9 April 2022: Russia-Ukraine, Adieu mon status quo; Echoes of info ops dance in our heads

What’s wrong and right with the world.

The first order of business in the Ready Room is the state of the status quo six-odd weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Per our RR convention, this won’t be an in-depth look.  But it’s important to point out that the status quo has already changed, in ways that are likely to be irreversible, and that have been flying under the radar up to now.

I think a lot of people realize this is happening, even if they can’t readily think what the specific details are.  Only one border has been breached so far, after all.  NATO hasn’t been drawn into “World War III.”  How bad can it be?

We’ve looked at one detail already:  the immediate failure of NATO’s missile defense linchpin. Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 9 April 2022: Russia-Ukraine, Adieu mon status quo; Echoes of info ops dance in our heads”

The unclubbable Mr. Trump: China, Ukraine, and a surprise banking oversight action

A world, disrupted.

On 20 March, we checked in with a story from the period 2014-2016, when the French bank BNP Paribas was, initially, greenlighted by the Obama administration to do business with Iran, as sanctions were relaxed, and then months later was hit by U.S. government authorities with the biggest settlement forfeiture in banking history for a prior record of sanctions violations (including sanctions on Iran).

In the interim between the first development (January 2014) and the second (June 2014), BNP Paribas flagged – to UK officials – a suspicious transaction by the owner of Burisma, Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky.  The date of the notification, March 2014, fell in the period when Vice President Joe Biden was holding frequent phone conversations with top Ukrainian officials as the “Maidan Revolution” crisis expanded.  About a month after BNP Paribas alerted the UK to Zlochevsky – who had fled Ukraine in February 2014 – Hunter Biden and Devon Archer joined Burisma’s board, and payments from the company began flowing to them. Continue reading “The unclubbable Mr. Trump: China, Ukraine, and a surprise banking oversight action”

TOC Ready Room 29 March 2022: Eyes front (not back), on attacks in Israel

What’s wrong and right with the world.

This will be a brief Ready Room; basically little more than a string of tweets.  But it’s important. The subject is the terror attacks in Israel in recent days, which have now taken the lives of 11 people.  The first was a gruesome mass-knifing attack, the other two shooting attacks.

Terror using small arms is not unusual in Israel, but the attacks we’ve been seeing also don’t fit recent patterns. Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 29 March 2022: Eyes front (not back), on attacks in Israel”