John: Disagree on one point. New name would be "Imam Mahdi."
The Spectacle Blog
British naval source tells me that Iran now posesses at least three German-built, most-silent, electric-powered submarines that are a threat to a carrier battle group in the Persian Gulf or Arabian Sea.
It also is said that the Iranians may have altered the German boats. I do not not know how the boats have been altered, nor do I know if aleration could include a missile launcher.
My guess of Iranian Navy deploying a submarined based missile threat is derivative of the Indian Navy threat that is reported to me.
Also, separately, I am told from a signals source that the Iranians are planning on achieveing a market-risk-scenario (therein lies the tale) that produces an $80-$100 barrel of oil to achieve their strategic power projection goals in the next years.
A 25% to 60% increase in oil from now will buy whatever boats are being shopped, not to rule out the Iranian Navy acquiring Black Sea Fleet hardware.
A reader is alarmed that my bag made it onto the flight without me:
if it were me I would contact DOHS (doh !) and FAA at once with the details. Heads should roll.That was a very, very bad thing that happened. That's so elementary it predates 9/11 by more than a decade. I can remember flights I took in Europeback in the 1980's where all baggage was removed from the plane, lined up on the tarmac and all passengers made to deplane and identify their bags. Unclaimed bag = no flight.
I had suspected this was a problem. I've now called TSA's press office for an answer. I'll let y'all know what I find out.
John: Why sea-based? Iran can disperse, harden and create a tremendous nuclear arsenal without the necessity of basing them at sea. They won't have the sub-launched missile capability for decades (unless China sells it to them, which would be too crazy for China, at this moment) and to base it at sea on surface ships would enable us to track them minute-to-minute. I think they can do all they want to with a land-based force. Once the missiles are mated to warheads, their ambitions are reached.
Best Iran source reports that Iran now deploys many more Shahab-3 missiles than previously determined. Iran likely has up to 300 Shahab-3, which are forward deployed. There is no confirmation of what kind of warheads are now mounted.
At the same time, source reports that North Korean missile technicians are in residence at the Hemmat Missile Industries in Tehran, where they are working with Iranian Defense Ministry teams to develop the Ghadar missile. This is the multistage weapon with a range of 3000 kilometers and a baby bottle nipple like warhead that is capable of mounting a miniaturized nuclear weapon.
Tehran knows that its acquisition of breeder reactors and centrifuge cascades will not provide protection and a diplomatic dagger until and if Iran can mount a credible, well-defended, well-dispersed (sea-based) nuclear tipped strategic missile arsenal.
For those who argue (as more and more do) that blocking Iran's nuke ambitions is a futile mission, consider that Iran will use its enriched uranium product to construct a strategic missile threat to the Saudi Arabian oilfields, to India, Russia, and Berlin, as well as to the easy to reach Israel.
So JetBlue had the lowest on-time arrivals for January. This is making headlines because JetBlue's supposed to be that different, hip, customer service oriented airline. In light of my travels with them last month, color me unsurprised.
This was my second flight on JetBlue. This one was to San Diego, but both were cross-country flights from Dulles to California. Last time was pleasant enough -- cheap fares, satellite TV, and generous snacks. This time, the satellite was busted, but the movies were still available. And to top it off, JetBlue sent a $15 voucher to compensate for the broken satellite a couple weeks later.
John, 1,000 times yes on India, but -- Russia is the necessary piece to build along with India more than a tight tense balance of power, at least over the next 20 years. Real source of concern: Pakistan, which cannot go on precariously like this forever; every month is borrowed time on the im- or explosion of Pakistan, and India looks infinitely stronger with a self-contradictory and U.S.-compliant Pakistan beside it instead of an ex-Musharraf fellow-nuclear fire-breathing monster. All points and counterpoints -- Japanese/Chinese, European/Muslim, and Indian/Pakistani -- lead toward the Russian hinterland...
Why is the U.S. negotiation with India over nuclear weapons critical to the long term (century long) defense of the United States?
Examine the facts on the ground. Call this neo-realism. Best India source confirms that India now possesses 30-40 nuclear weapons in position to use. The arsenal includes sea-based missiles (submarine launched) and mobile-based missiles. The warheads are based entirely on plutonium derived from breeder reactors built over the last forty years with Canadian and Indian involvement.
What India wants is the ability to manufacture at least 30 weapons per year entirely from plutonum from breeder reactors. This is why India does not want the new breeder reactors to be available to inspectors as commercial/civilian sites.
India does not want to rely upon the nuclear weapons umbrella of the United States.
There is a nuclear arms race on the South Asian continent. India has a no first use policy. Pakistan does not have a no first use policy. China is pell-mell to outgun India and the U.S. and Australia and Japan.
According to this Bloomberg report, a new Quinnipiac poll puts the Prez/s support down to 36%. The earlier CBS poll, derided as it should have been for weighting Dems' opinions more heavily, may have been close to the mark. But the Quinnipiac poll is much more worrisome: it reports 52% disliking the president's handing of terrorism and 60% opposing his Iraq approach. What's to be done?
President Bush needs to be out there, visibly leading on the miost important issues. There's much damage to be repaired. And much action to be taken. Speeches are important, and the president needs to be making them to the people, not to the press. And he needs to do it all around the country.
Talk about behind the ball -- an Italian investigation reports that the Soviets were behind Ali Agca's assassination attempt on Pope John Paull II in 1981. I know the Italian life is leisurely, but this is ridiculous. (hat tip: Icarus Fallen)
UPDATE: I should mention that Marek Jan Chodakiewicz has an excellent article detailing the Soviets' secret file on JPII in our March issue. But you'll only know if you subscribe -- a digital subscription is a measly $19.95 a year. And knowing's half the battle.