Dispute among U.S. officials; IRG Terror Designate? Trump administration Iran arms control report

(Reuters) Exclusive: Dispute flares among U.S. officials over Trump administration Iran arms control report. Quoting

The report’s publication follows the administration’s formal designation on Monday of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iran’s elite paramilitary and foreign espionage unit, as a foreign terrorist organization.

The case that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism has the very respectable General James Mattis attached.  Quoting from General Mattis; Iran continues to sponsor terrorism; Iran, Iran, Iran,

“At the time when I spoke about Iran I was a commander of US central command and that (Iran) was the primary exporter of terrorism, frankly, it was the primary state sponsor of terrorism and it continues that kind of behavior today,”

At the time I argued with use of the word:

I agree with all but the choice of words. Iran is in an expansionist, revolutionary phase, not unlike the early years of the Soviet Union. Unlike any other state adversary extant, it also exports an ideology, with the gleam of the caliphate, something we were hoping would not recur since the downfall of communism.

Iran has at times lead the world in assassinations on foreign soil, and continues to have a very active program. But so does Russia.  Particularly hateful to Mattis is the slaughter of Marines in the Khobar Towers bombings in 1996. The principal  Iranian controlled agent, Ahmed al-Mughassil was captured in 2015. (Brookings) Captured: Mastermind behind the 1996 Khobar Towers attack. Some say the Iranians deliberately betrayed him. This is possible, since at the time the moderates were ascendant.

The domino theory, so popular during the Cold War, is alive again. I might be one of the proponents, but unlike those who justified the Vietnam war with the fear that North Vietnam would take over Southeast Asia, I have no solution. If there is a row of dominoes, Iraq is first in line. This proposition is partly indexed in Trump wants U.S. military in Iraq to ‘watch Iran’: CBS interview. The blog search for Sistani brings up all the pieces.

The gist is that Iran, several times the center of an empire, will, with a certain degree of inevitability, swallow its politically weak neighbor. Complicating any U.S. effort to prevent this is the prediction that Iraq will in a few years become inhospitable to any U.S. presence. (2/4/2019 NY Times) Trump’s Plan for U.S. Forces in Iraq Met With Unified Rejection in Baghdad. Quoting,

President Trump’s unexpected announcement that he wanted American troops in Iraq to stay there to “watch Iran” achieved a previously unattainable goal on Monday: unity in the Iraqi political establishment….The unity was a collective rejection of his proposal, and added momentum to proposed legislation that could hamper American troops’ ability to operate in Iraq.

The Trump administration has innovated a number of aspects of U.S. foreign policy in positive ways. This is not one of them. As an author of the idea that Iran will absorb Iraq,  I would certainly like to avert the event. But Pax Americana is done with, and we have to pick our battles. To declare the IRGC a terrorist organization offers advantages with respect to sanctions and rules of engagement, but not enough to overcome the hostility of a whole region, including the part to be defended.

Talk loudly and carry a small stick? Talleyrand (if you like him), or a Kissinger (whether you like him or not), were successful at statecraft in a world of diminishing influence, which Kissinger actually anticipated  by 40 years. Both understood force, diplomacy backed by force, and had the bargaining skills of a union organizer. They also knew how to fold most advantageously.

Of choices to be made, with limited resources, I  prefer Venezuela.



(CNN) North Korea tests ‘tactical’ weapon; Kim’s Panzerfaust / Davy Crockett

(CNN) North Korea tests ‘tactical’ weapon, report says. Quoting a South Korean assessment,

A South Korean government source with military knowledge told CNN that weapon was likely a piece of long-range artillery “likely to be a multiple rocket launcher.” At the time, South Korean Unification Ministry deputy spokeswoman Lee Eu-gene downplayed the significance of the 2018 event, saying Kim had been continuing his inspections in the military sector “intermittently.”

The downplay could reflect the actual state of affairs. But there is a worrying alternative, made possible by the participation of physicists from the former Soviet Union. In the past few years, the North’s nuke program, formerly glacial, has produced a torrent of results.


No missile launch was detected by US Northern Command and Strategic Command, according to US Department of Defense officials.

The absence of a missile launch detection, if not a very small missile, still allows a weapon like the nuclear Davy Crockett M-28, which resembles an upsized Panzerfaust antitank weapon from World War II. The recoilless rifle design consists of a launcher tube containing a powder charge that acts against a stick  within the barrel. At the forward end of the stick is a bulb that contains the destructive device. The Panzerfaust contained a conventional shaped charge. The Davy Crockett contained a version of the W54 nuclear warhead.

Is Kim inviting us to fill in the blank after “tactical” with “nuclear”? An assessment  could center on the shape of the plutonium pit in the “primary” of a warhead. Two practical choices exist: round, or like a football (elliptical)/ linear implosion. Round is most efficient, and requires the least fissile material. Elliptical/ linear implosion is the choice of space limited applications, like a skinny MIRV warhead,  a nuclear artillery shell, or a Davy Crockett.

In flight, the Davy Crockett is a skinny stick with a bulb on the front. The fatter the bulb, the less aerodynamic it is. The greater yield of the round design is of no value with very short range, as some distance is required to survive even a very small nuclear explosion.

Although the U.S. makes wide use of linear implosion primaries with elliptical pits, a publicity photo of a happy Kim with a North Korean  “physics package”  goes against this design. Missile warheads are more sensitive  to weight and yield than to shape. Linear implosion requires more fissile material, with greater weight for a given yield than a “round” design.

Should we look for evidence of linear implosion to rule in/out a battlefield weapon of Davy Crockett ilk? This risks captivation by the U.S. approach to weapons design, which aims for best-in-class. North Korea’s iffy rockets  dispose of this.

A battlefield tactical nuclear weapon could be astonishingly primitive yet still deliver the goods. A sufficiently vertical trajectory, as with a mortar, can optimize the range of the most awkward projectile.   Similar astonishment comes with Russia’s Hypersonic Missile; Reverse Engineering Secrets of Avangard.

However primitive, resumption of nuke testing is implied, to optimize a physics package to fly on the front of a stick.

They know how to do it at Warwick Castle.








Khalifa Haftar Attacks Tripoli; Physical Illness?

Khalifa Haftar’s assault on Tripoli is described in some circles as a massive  failure of judgment,  a rash strategy breaking from previous   tactical brilliance. This point of view is supported by reports of uncoordinated moves by small units of the LNA, resulting in ambushes and captures of some LNA units by the defenders.

Explanations  for Haftar’s  risky assault  center on alleged defects or new facts of character, based mainly on anecdotes and interviews. To break with one’s own established character is a privilege of free will, but a theory that relies upon it is weak.

At the cost of one more hypothesis, we can avoid this. The hypothesis: Haftar is physically ill. Critical condition is not required; all that is required is a chronic sign of mortality, a signal that he may not have the half decade or required required to finesse all the opposing elements.

Haftar was  hospitalized in April 2018 with what was claimed by some sources to be a stroke. Given his short hospitalization, the most likely event is a TIA (transient_ischemic_attack). Other possibilities include the mass effect of a benign tumor, a low grade malignancy, or an early-stage neurodegenerative disorder, such as Parkinson’s disease.

Most neurological disorders in the elderly leave constant reminders of their presence. Sometimes the symptoms are unapparent to others; they may progress in ways that interfere with the image and reality of power.  Physical illness requires Haftar to act with haste.

Absent a medical history, Occam’s Razor discourages the addition of this hypothetical to what is known, in order to solve the problem of Haftar’s behavior. But the hospitalization supplies the predicate.

With the predicate, we can disregard Haftar’s hyperbolic speech, which cannot be reliably distinguished from showmanship.





Guide to Bob’s Solo Manhattan Art Show

School of Visual Arts Link:   Project Space.  Through April 29. For hours and locations see  Bob’s Manhattan Art Show; Burning Man.

Exhibit Guide

At 209 E. 23rd:

I’m Inna Shower. Acrylic on canvas.

Fish Eye. Acrylic on Canvas.

Portrait of a Spaceman. Oil on canvas.

Generations. Oil on canvas.

The Devil of 7th Avenue. Sumi ink and oil pastel on paper

How Will They Remember Us? Commentary on the Technological Singularity . Oil on traditional gessoed panel.

Burning Man. Oil on canvas.

At 380 2nd Ave. 8th floor:

Paintings in Acrylic

Uber Ride Times Square

Jacob’s Ladder

Oil Painting

Joe and Mary Six Pack Admired by Their Miraculous Baby

Relief Paintings with Molding Paste

George Washington Cracked

Abraham Lincoln

A Day at the Beach

The Monuments of Mars

Bob’s Manhattan Art Show; Burning Man

You are cordially invited to view my art, now on display at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, as a solo show, in two location, through April 29. Open to the public at no charge.

Burning Man (click to enlarge)

  • Location #1:  SVA Gramercy, 209 E. 23rd Street, north side, between 2nd & 3rd, ground floor hallway off lobby.  Open 8 a.m – 10 p.m, 7 days/week.
  • Location #2: 380 2nd Avenue, 8th floor, SE corner 2nd & 22nd, 8th floor, opposite guard desk. Open 8 a.m – 10 p.m., weekdays only.

This solo show includes oil and acrylic paintings, and relief sculpture, a kind of hybrid between painting and sculpture.

This is a MUST SEE for all hackers, spies, station chiefs, and news reporters (Take note, CNN and Reuters, it’s only a brisk walk from your HQs), for whom Intel9 is the blackest of mysteries. Practice your brush-passes, exchange microdots and secret handshakes while you look for steganographic codes in my paintings.

If you find any hidden meaning, let me know. This is, after all, the essence of modern art. But is there a hidden agenda? Consider (Independent) Modern art was CIA ‘weapon’.

See the art. Then make your report.