Gaza - the blood is on Hamas' hands

As anyone with even a passing familiarity with Hamas could have predicted, civilian casualties in Gaza have climbed - by design.
Not Israel's - Hamas's. The death of their civilians is part of their plans.
Yet the Western media, and a number of Western leaders, rarely if ever acknowledge it. And even when they do, the acknowledgement is couched in mamby-pamby language that clouds the truth rather than illuminates it.
A case in point is a story in the Washington Post today by Terrence McCoy that does a good job attempting to point out what the real situation is. For example, it includes these paragraphs:

According to longtime Mideast analyst Matthew Levitt, Hamas has long planted weapons in areas inhabited by vulnerable residents. “It happens in schools,” he wrote in Middle East Quarterly. “Hamas has buried caches of arms and explosives under its own kindergarten playgrounds,” referencing a 2001 State Department report that said a Hamas leader was arrested after “additional explosives in a Gaza kindergarten” were discovered. . . .
 For years, Hamas has “planned carefully for a major Israeli invasion,” according to a Washington Institute for Near East Policy report. In addition to an elaborate tunnel system, there was the “integral use of civilians and civilian facilities as cover for its military activity; schools, mosques, hospitals, and civilian housing became weapons storage facilities, Hamas headquarters, and fighting positions … IDF imagery and combat intelligence revealed extensive use of civilian facilities.”

But it also begins with attribution presented in a way that inevitably introduces doubt: "alleges" rather than "states," for example, as well as a long paragraph that condemns an Israeli strike.

Don't get me wrong - that story is far, far better than most, since it does make clear that Hamas purposely stores weapons in area where civilians will die if attacked. But it quickly pulls back from making the obvious conclusions that Hamas wants its civilians to die - the weapons are stored in schools and hospitals in an attempt to have Israel kill them. It's as if the writer - or maybe his editors - are afraid to draw that obvious conclusion, because then they would have to admit that Hamas is in fact evil - and not the equivalent of Israel. I'm sure they know it; they just feel they can't say it, because that would mean they weren't objective.

But the object of journalism isn't objectivity; it's truth. And the truth here, even if no one wants to face it, is that a strong faction of Hamas leaders want civilians to die, since those deaths will give them power.

If you're not willing to acknowledge that, you'll never really understand what's going on there.

Overdue . . .

. . . and yet radical at the same time.


A 20-year Air Force strategic forecast, spurred in part by looming budget constraints, also calls for a faster pace, with lower price tags, in developing both airmen and the technology they use, warning that the current way of acquiring warplanes and weapons is too plodding.

Story. (NYT subscription) What's gone under the radar is how deep some of the cuts to the military have gone. It seems counter-intuitive - maybe even heretical - but it's possible we need to allocate more money to defense, or will in the near future.
Chris Kyle

A statement on the Ventura-Kyle trial result:
(updated 7/30)

The plaintiffs managed to convince eight people that three or four years before anyone ever mentioned the possibility of writing a book to him, Chris Kyle concocted a plot to catapult that unwritten book to fame, lied to his family, friends, attorney and co-writer, and enlisted a dozen or more people in the conspiracy.
I’m not sure whether that’s a statement about American jurisprudence, our education system, or our drinking water.
I stand by the testimony I gave in the case. According to media accounts, eleven witnesses for the defense verified the various aspects of the altercation that Chris and I wrote about in American Sniper. Those witnesses included people who didn’t know Chris, and even admired his accuser. I personally talked to four people who were there, as well as two people who’d spoken to others.

I continue to believe in Chris.

Marine mover . . .

The Marines are looking at a new concept for hitting beaches. This is essentially a promo video for the concept. Remind anyone else of Transformers?

Behind the lines in Ukraine

Interesting piece from a Bloomberg reporter from Russia who was arrested by the Ukrainian authorities:

In eastern Ukraine, one text message can turn you into an enemy. In my case, it was sent to my father. “Talked to Borodai at night,” it said about an interview I had with a rebel leader.

Dreaming of a Cold War world 

Russia continues to escalate its involvement in Ukraine. From CNN:

Aside from cementing Putin's grand vision of Russia as World Heel, it's hard to see the long-term benefit of any of this to Russia. But what's really baffling are the actions of the rebels, who are fighting for the right to become a rump state beholden to a dictator whose greatest ambition is to return to a 1950s world.

Clearly, teaching history is as out of favor in eastern Europe as it is in the U.S.

Gangsters & detectives

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the release of Double Indemnity, a movie many credit with being the first real Film Noir. In honor of that anniversary and the film, a set of articles is planned over at written by Jake Hinkson exploring the genre. Here's a taste of his first entry on Indemnity:

The making of Double Indemnity—particularly the writing of the script—is the stuff of movie legend. Adapted from the novel by James M. Cain, the screenplay was written by director Billy Wilder and novelist Raymond Chandler. This was an impossibly talented duo, though not exactly the match made in heaven that it might have looked like on paper. Chandler was curmudgeonly under the best of circumstances, and he neither approved of Cain’s book (“Everything Cain touches smells like a billygoat”) nor enjoyed working with Wilder (“an agonizing experience”). Perhaps those fat studio paychecks gave him the strength to endure.

The full entry is here.

Film critics and movie buffs can discuss the origins of film noir endlessly -- which movies were the precursors, what was the first, best, worst, etc. One thing that I rarely see, though, are nods to the gangster movies of the 1930s, which to my mind were a big influence, arguably more so than the foreign movies often cited in scholarly discussions.

Here's a scene from Public Enemy (1931), where James Cagney takes in on the chin:

This isn't film noir, but the feel and dialogue could easily fit into the movies a decade later.

Send Russia's LHDs to Japan?

The continuing conflict in Ukraine, to say nothing of the recent downing of the Malaysian airliner, have served to underline just how bad France's decision to sell two amphibious warships to Russia really is.

A story in the Diplomat sums up the situation and gives good background on the vessels:
One of France’s most important but least known naval platforms is the 21,300 ton Mistral-class amphibious assault ship (LHD).  These helicopter carriers have a 69,000 square foot flat top deck with six helicopter landing spots.  Their massive hanger is large enough to hold 16 helicopters, which access the flight deck via heavy lift elevators.  The ships’ size allows them to operate with up to 30 embarked helicopters.  In addition, their vehicle hangers can accommodate 40 main battle tanks, and they provide quarters for up to 500 soldiers or marines.  The troops can be transported to shore by helicopter or by amphibious catamarans housed in the ships’ well dock.  Amphibious operations are controlled from a nearly-10,000 square foot command center fit for 150 officers and staff.  The ships carry a medical facility equivalent to a hospital for a 25,000 inhabitant city with a complex surgery center.


The writer suggests that the U.S. buy the ships, but a far better customer would be Japan. Given local conflicts over disputed islands, North Korea's continued belligerence and China's growth as a regional military power, the carriers would be a good addition to the naval defense force.


Will the pattern repeat itself endlessly?

Hamas provokes and provokes, until finally Israel is forced to take action. Israel responds with restraint and measures unprecedented in the history of warfare, but eventually civilian tolls add up. The media carries stories about Palestinian deaths. Gradually, public pressure builds on Israel.

It's an absurd, cynical, and morally bankrupt strategy employed by Hamas, which uses its the people it's supposed to be protecting as fodder; in the end, it achieves nothing but more misery for Palestinians.

And the most absurd thing of all is that the people of the Gaza Strip voted for Hamas.

Saw Quinn Sullivan a few weeks ago at Saratoga - he keeps getting better and better, and he's already scary good.

Independence Day

I was asked for a few thoughts on July 4th.  Here's an excerpt:

Everyone talks about freedom these days, but I think what a lot of people forget is that freedom is a responsibility more than a right. You have a responsibility to support your neighbors and the community in general. You need a vision of the future, and sometimes to do things that aren’t easy or just fun. Freedom during the revolution meant “volunteering” for the militia, going away from your farm and family for weeks and risking your life. The things most of us do for our country pale by comparison.

The rest of the article is here. Thanks to Elise Cooper and my friends at the American Thinker.