Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

In honor of our country's 232nd birthday, here's a picture from back in 2002 of the raising of the Navy Jack on USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716):

Everyone have a good time today, but remember the old saying: "He who has a fifth on the 4th will not come forth on the 5th."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, nifty flag. I got one just like it on the back bumper of my vehicle.

7/04/2008 5:41 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

Has the Snake Jack again been authorized or is the boat being creative? Snake Jack came in during Bicentennial Year 1976 just for that year. This old navigator (during that year) has one tucked away somewhere, but was not aware it came back? Que pasa?

7/05/2008 2:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is to be flown on all Navy ships during the GWOT.

Jim C.
Retired ANAV

7/05/2008 7:34 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

There ain't no 'GWOT.' That's an advertising slogan of the bozos in the White House, cover for an incredibly stupid foreign policy with roots in hubris, ignorance of the world, lust for Mid East oil, and a messianic vision of the worth of the values of the conservative wing of the Republican Party. All will change on 20 January 2009 - we could scour the country and not find anyone as dumb as our current Bozo In Chief.

So my guess is that these jacks will come down next Spring and the boats & ships will cease advertising the mindless madness of the current crowd.

Try to pin down a definition of GWOT and you come back to the world we've lived in for decades and centuries. The Barbary Pirates may have started it, or British men-of-war impressing American seaman in the run-up to the War of 1812. The Boxer Rebellion, the Whiskey Rebellion, the Indian Wars, the troubles of the early 20th Century in Haiti, the Middle East since 1946 and the formation of the Jewish state in 1948, the radicalism of the '60s and '70s in Europe, Norther Ireland, Chesnya, the former Yugoslavia in the '90s, the Philippines, Indonesia, Timor, The Shining Path in Peru, Colombia for many years ... the list is very long, all terror-related, and never qualifying for its own special, endless, vague-blather 'war.' Bad business, but - for this and last century - business as usual.

Fox Fallon refused to talk about 'The Long War' and forbid his staff to. He got sacked. But he was right. Ain't no Long War, just a messy world with multitudinous factions all contending for a bigger slice of a pie growing smaller as the haves continue to increase their sway over the have-nots. News flash: those with perceived grievances may take up arms.

An honest observer would say that our military is going to pieces, our economy is circling the bowl, and American goodwill in the world is in a shabby state. This is what happens when you declare a phony war, 'fight' it alone, and make huge blunders along the way.

I've far too many years at sea and underwater to find this amusing. Snake jacks: visual image of American failure. Time to take 'em down.

7/06/2008 6:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ducky, there was a smoking hole in the ground in NYC on 9/12/01 and a big bit out of the Pentagon that says otherwise. If you want to live under Sharia law, please keep thinking that way. Personally, I'm all for applying Roman law to any bunch of a$$holes stupid enough to think killing mass amounts of our citizens is the road to world domination under the white crescent.

And for your information, if we wanted the damn oil, it wouldn't be costing us 4 bucks a gallon right now. We'd already own it.

And "Snake Jacks" are the proud sign of a proud Navy.

7/06/2008 8:10 AM

Blogger Free The Nucs said...

We don't just want the oil, we want to make sure our competitors (like India and China) don't get control over the flow of oil to boot. People thought turning Iraq into the 51st state was going to ensure cheap oil, but they're not pumping at anywhere near capacity due to sabotage and probably never will.

But it's much more important that we maintain a major presence in the Gulf to prevent some other world power (or even just a local troublemaker like Iran) from interrupting the supply for any of the oil-producing nations in the region. If that oil ever got cut off, you'd see gas lines that would make the late 70's seem tame in comparison.

The job of our government, and our military, is to protect against such an attack on our well-being, and they're doing it (albeit rather clumsily - even the LAPD fabricates evidence better than Bush). I'm sure the Bush government knew they'd have to take one for the team to keep control of the region, and they did just that. It's a shame none of them had the guts to tell the nation the truth.

Make no mistake, we are in the area primarily for economic reasons. There are two basic facts which prove this:

(1) The threat to world peace from both Iran and North Korea was (and remains) much more self-evident that Iraq ever was. We still haven't done anything about NK, and they almost certainly have at least one nuclear device and the ability to make more. Why? There's no tangible return on our investment other than making the world safer, and we're probably not NK's primary target if they ever do launch a warhead.

(2) Iraq had little, if any, part in supporting Al Queda. Yet we committed our limited resources and international credibility to attacking them. They weren't even a threat to their neighbors, let alone the US. Why else would we be there except to control the oil?

7/06/2008 8:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stupid is as stupid does. Fox Fallon had his ass handed to him because he arrogantly spoke out of turn when he made the to-become-public statement that there would be "no Iran war." Last I checked, making that kind of call is just a notch or two above his (former) paygrade.

The fact is, the U.S. is engaged in brinksmanship 'negotiations' with Iran, which wants Iraq to not become a vassal state of the U.S. and thereby gain some assurance that it will not soon re-live another Iran-Iraq war that cost its citizenry on the order of a million lives and involved very real weapons of mass destruction.

Fallon's dumb mistake was to allow the above to become public and thereby defuse the "you're about to seriously get your ass kicked" threat/negotiating point that the U.S. poses with along with its key ally in the region, Israel.

As to other low-brow sea-lawyer comments here, go read something intelligent and non-political like if you want to gain some minimal inkling as to what the hell is going on.

At the very least, pick up a map of the Middle East and look where Iran sits relative to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan (U.S. friendly), Turkey...and YES...Iraq.

Sign me:

"Damn glad that Rubber Ducky & 'free the nucs' ain't runnin' the show"

7/06/2008 9:31 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

"Ducky, there was a smoking hole in the ground in NYC on 9/12/01 and a big bit out of the Pentagon that says otherwise."

No argument this was a gigantic event and woke us up. But this is the math: dead in 9/11: 2,974 - military dead in Iraq: 4428 - civilian dead in Iraq: est. about 90,000 - military & civilian dead in Afghanistan: over 10,000.

So we have over 100,000 deaths on our side to prosecute an alleged war sparked by the death of 2,974 in the 9/11 attack and perpetrated by 20 guys who were part of a movement with highest estimates of merely 'several thousand members'. That's a losing hand played badly. And we've spent over a half-trillion dollars so far, with best estimate of the total tag to be over 3 trillion.

We started after the Taliban in Afghanistan and initially did well, but the Iraq folly sapped resources from this 'good war' and forced our attention and efforts to another theater in which the only terror connection is what we made: the creation of a new insurgent force, a new enemy. Now Afghanistan is starting to go badly, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs says we're tapped out for forces to do what we need to there, our ground forces are in tatters, the Reserve and Guard wrecked for a generation, and the end result of our debacle in Iraq is a strengthened Iran.

If the GWOT is really a war (rather than a mode of anti-terrorism), it's one in which we're doing badly. Perhaps time to remember Senetor Aiken's answer to Vietnam: 'declare victory and come home.' The path we're on right now is mindless, seemingly endless, and being prosecuted badly. I think the snake's embarrassed.

7/06/2008 9:44 AM

Blogger Free The Nucs said...

If I were running the show there would be more topless bars and less nine-month deployments for all.

7/06/2008 10:59 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

If I were running the show, I'd go free-the-nucs' bail.

7/06/2008 12:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were running the show, the rags would be sitting on a very large, smoldering, glass covered parking lot.

7/06/2008 4:52 PM

Blogger Free The Nucs said...

As if they'd notice. It's not like they live in suburbia...

7/06/2008 5:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much more interesting than listening to head-in-a-bucket submariners' wild imaginations about politics, I bring you something much more practical at this moment: the aerial invasion of balloon guy.

7/06/2008 6:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So……..Rubber Ducky, Let me guess. I’ll bet you’re a Democrat.
While I may think that the war might not have been in our best interest, I have to believe that the President, and Clinton before him, had reason to believe we had to go in. Quite honestly, I would have liked Bush to have amassed all that power in the area over there with the guise of attacking Iran and then telling Yemen and Somalia that they had 24 hours to turn over all the terrorist or we were coming in. That would have stirred the pot.
I just wish we could kick the press and Congress out of the country for one year, let the military run the war and I’d bet it would be over.

That Damn Good Looking Aganger From Iowa

7/07/2008 7:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can go to a lot of blogs to get mindless rightwing/leftwing political banter. Could we leave this one relatively BS free?

Or atleast can we improve upon the standard "You are an idiot/unpatriotic. (insert straw man, racial epithet or talking point here)"?

7/07/2008 7:55 AM

Blogger T said...

No, here you're supposed to say "suck it up, you're in the military" or "vote with your feet". I never really got that one though, because like... well, you can't actually quite your job in the Navy.

add me up in the embarassed to have voted for Bush in 04 block. McCain ain't looking too hot right now either, after opposing the new GI Bill...

7/07/2008 6:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There IS a GWOT--I've got the medal to prove it!

7/08/2008 10:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the hope that this knocks the level of conversation up quite a few notches, here's a permission-granted reprint from Stratfor today. Read. And learn.


The New Era
July 9, 2008

By Peter Zeihan

As students of geopolitics, we at Stratfor tend not to get overexcited when this or that plan for regional peace is tabled. Many of the world’s conflicts are geographic in nature, and changes in government or policy only rarely supersede the hard topography that we see as the dominant sculptor of the international system. Island states tend to exist in tension with their continental neighbors. Two countries linked by flat arable land will struggle until one emerges dominant. Land-based empires will clash with maritime cultures, and so on.

Petit vs. Grand Geopolitic
But the grand geopolitic — the framework which rules the interactions of regions with one another — is not the only rule in play. There is also the petit geopolitic that occurs among minor players within a region. Think of the grand geopolitic as the rise and fall of massive powers — the onslaught of the Golden Horde, the imperial clash between England and France, the U.S.-Soviet Cold War. By contrast, think of the petit geopolitic as the smaller powers that swim alongside or within the larger trends — Serbia versus Croatia, Vietnam versus Cambodia, Nicaragua versus Honduras. The same geographic rules apply, just on a smaller scale, with the added complexity of the grand geopolitic as backdrop.

The Middle East is a region rife with petit geopolitics. Since the failure of the Ottoman Empire, the region has not hosted an indigenous grand player. Instead, the region serves as a battleground for extra-regional grand powers, all attempting to grind down the local (petit) players to better achieve their own aims. Normally, Stratfor looks at the region in that light: an endless parade of small players and local noise in an environment where most trends worth watching are those implanted and shaped by outside forces. No peace deals are easy, but in the Middle East they require agreement not just from local powers, but also from those grand players beyond the region. The result is, well, the Middle East we all know.

All the more notable, then, that a peace deal — and a locally crafted one at that — has moved from the realm of the improbable to not merely the possible, but perhaps even the imminent.

Israel and Syria are looking to bury the hatchet, somewhere in the Golan Heights most likely, and they are doing so for their own reasons. Israel has secured deals with Egypt and Jordan already, and the Palestinians — by splitting internally — have defeated themselves as a strategic threat. A deal with Syria would make Israel the most secure it has been in millennia.

Syria, poor and ruled by its insecure Alawite minority, needs a basis of legitimacy that resonates with the dominant Sunni population better than its current game plan: issuing a shrill shriek whenever the name “Israel” is mentioned. The Alawites believe there is no guarantee of support better than cash, and their largest and most reliable source of cash is in Lebanon. Getting Lebanon requires an end to Damascus’ regional isolation, and the agreement of Israel.

The outline of the deal, then, is surprisingly simple: Israel gains military security from a peace deal in exchange for supporting Syrian primacy in Lebanon. The only local loser would be the entity that poses an economic challenge (in Lebanon) to Syria, and a military challenge (in Lebanon) to Israel — to wit, Hezbollah.

Hezbollah, understandably, is more than a little perturbed by the prospect of this tightening noose. Syria is redirecting the flow of Sunni militants from Iraq to Lebanon, likely for use against Hezbollah. Damascus also is working with the exiled leadership of the Palestinian group Hamas as a gesture of goodwill to Israel. The French — looking for a post-de Gaulle diplomatic victory — are re-engaging the Syrians and, to get Damascus on board, are dangling everything from aid and trade deals with Europe to that long-sought stamp of international approval. Oil-rich Sunni Arab states, sensing an opportunity to weaken Shiite Hezbollah, are flooding petrodollars in bribes — that is, investments — into Syria to underwrite a deal with Israel.

While the deal is not yet a fait accompli, the pieces are falling into place quite rapidly. Normally we would not be so optimistic, but the hard decisions — on Israel surrendering the Golan Heights and Syria laying preparations for cutting Hezbollah down to size — have already been made. On July 11 the leaders of Israel and Syria will be attending the same event in Paris, and if the French know anything about flair, a handshake may well be on the agenda.

It isn’t exactly pretty — and certainly isn’t tidy — but peace really does appear to be breaking out in the Middle East.

A Spoiler-Free Environment
Remember, the deal must please not just the petit players, but the grand ones as well. At this point, those with any interest in disrupting the flow of events normally would step in and do what they could to rock the boat. That, however, is not happening this time around. All of the normal cast members in the Middle Eastern drama are either unwilling to play that game at present, or are otherwise occupied.

The country with the most to lose is Iran. A Syria at formal peace with Israel is a Syria that has minimal need for an alliance with Iran, as well as a Syria that has every interest in destroying Hezbollah’s military capabilities. (Never forget that while Hezbollah is Syrian-operated, it is Iranian-founded and -funded.) But using Hezbollah to scupper the Israeli-Syrian talks would come with a cost, and we are not simply highlighting a possible military confrontation between Israel and Iran.

Iran is involved in negotiations far more complex and profound than anything that currently occupies Israel and Syria. Tehran and Washington are attempting to forge an understanding about the future of Iraq. The United States wants an Iraq sufficiently strong to restore the balance of power in the Persian Gulf and thus prevent any Iranian military incursion into the oil fields of the Arabian Peninsula. Iran wants an Iraq that is sufficiently weak that it will never again be able to launch an attack on Persia. Such unflinching national interests are proving difficult to reconcile, but do not confuse “difficult” with “impossible” — the positions are not mutually exclusive. After all, while both want influence, neither demands domination.

Remarkable progress has been made during the past six months. The two sides have cooperated in bringing down violence in Iraq, now at its lowest level since the aftermath of the 2003 invasion itself. Washington and Tehran also have attacked the problems of rogue Shiite militias from both ends, most notably with the neutering of Muqtada al-Sadr and his militia, the Medhi Army. Meanwhile, that ever-enlarging pot of Sunni Arab oil money has been just as active in Baghdad in drawing various groups to the table as it has been in Damascus. Thus, while the U.S.-Iranian understanding is not final, formal or imminent, it is taking shape with remarkable speed. There are many ways it still could be derailed, but none would be so effective as Iran using Hezbollah to launch another war with Israel.

China and Russia both would like to see the Middle East off balance — if not on fire in the case of Russia — although it is hardly because they enjoy the bloodshed. Currently, the United States has the bulk of its ground forces loaded down with Afghan and Iraqi operations. So long as that remains the case — so long as Iran and the United States do not have a meeting of the minds — the United States lacks the military capability to deploy any large-scale ground forces anywhere else in the world. In the past, Moscow and Beijing have used weapons sales or energy deals to bolster Iran’s position, thus delaying any embryonic deal with Washington.

But such impediments are not being seeded now.

Rising inflation in China has turned the traditional question of the country’s shaky financial system on its head. Mass employment in China is made possible not by a sound economic structure, but by de facto subsidization via ultra-cheap loans. But such massive availability of credit has artificially spiked demand, for 1.3 billion people no less, creating an inflation nightmare that is difficult to solve. Cut the loans to rein in demand and inflation, and you cut business and with it employment. Chinese governments have been toppled by less. Beijing is desperate to keep one step ahead of either an inflationary spiral or a credit meltdown — and wants nothing more than for the Olympics to go off as hitch-free as possible. Tinkering with the Middle East is the furthest thing from Beijing’s preoccupied mind.

Meanwhile, Russia is still growing through its leadership “transition,” with the Kremlin power clans still going for each other’s throats. Their war for control of the defense and energy industries still rages, their war for control of the justice and legal systems is only now beginning to rage, and their efforts to curtail the powers of some of Russia’s more independent-minded republics such as Tatarstan has not yet begun to rage. Between a much-needed resettling, and some smacking of out-of-control egos, Russia still needs weeks (or months?) to get its own house in order. The Kremlin can still make small gestures — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chatted briefly by phone July 7 with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the topic of the nuclear power plant that Russia is building for Iran at Bushehr — but for the most part, the Middle East will have to wait for another day.

But by the time Beijing or Moscow have the freedom of movement to do anything, the Middle East may well be as “solved” as it can be.

The New Era
For those of us at Stratfor who have become rather inured to the agonies of the Middle East, such a sustained stream of constructive, positive news is somewhat unnerving. One gets the feeling that if the progress could hold up for just a touch longer, not only would there be an Israeli-Syrian deal and a U.S.-Iranian understanding, the world itself would change. Those of us here who are old enough to remember haven’t sensed such a fateful moment since the weeks before the tearing down of the Berlin Wall in 1989. And — odd though it may sound — we have been waiting for just such a moment for some time. Certainly since before 9/11.

Stratfor views the world as working in cycles. Powers or coalitions of powers form and do battle across the world. Their struggles define the eras through which humanity evolves, and those struggles tend to end in a military conflict that lays the groundwork for the next era. The Germans defeated Imperial France in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, giving rise to the German era. That era lasted until a coalition of powers crushed Germany in World Wars I and II. That victorious coalition split into the two sides of the Cold War until the West triumphed in 1989.

New eras do not form spontaneously. There is a brief — historically speaking — period between the sweeping away of the rules of the old era and the installation of the rules of the new. These interregnums tend to be very dangerous affairs, as the victorious powers attempt to entrench their victory as new powers rise to the fore — and as many petit powers, suddenly out from under the thumb of any grand power, try to carve out a niche for themselves.

The post-World War I interregnum witnessed the complete upending of Asian and European security structures. The post-World War II interregnum brought about the Korean War as China’s rise slammed into America’s efforts to entrench its power. The post-Cold War interregnum produced Yugoslav wars, a variety of conflicts in the former Soviet Union (most notably in Chechnya), the rise of al Qaeda, the jihadist conflict and the Iraq war.

All these conflicts are now well past their critical phases, and in most cases are already sewn up. All of the pieces of Yugoslavia are on the road to EU membership. Russia’s borderlands — while hardly bastions of glee — have settled. Terrorism may be very much alive, but al Qaeda as a strategic threat is very much not. Even the Iraq war is winding to a conclusion. Put simply, the Cold War interregnum is coming to a close and a new era is dawning.

This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to Stratfor

7/09/2008 1:57 PM


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