Links – January 2, 2017

This story goes back to 2007, when Israel bombed a nuclear reactor under construction in Syria. It’s a detailed account from Michael Hayden, who was director of the CIA at the time. The uncertainties and the complexity of the story are normal for international affairs, and thus the story is a good example of the kind of thing President Donald Trump will face. Short version: Syria builds a nuclear reactor to produce bomb material. Israel wants America to destroy it. America refuses, Israel bombs the site. The world learns it was a reactor. But the whole thing is worth reading. Photo: The reactor before it was bombed. 

Recent EmDrive claims are evaluated here. I have not followed the EmDrive closely, but it seems to work in contradiction of established physical principles. Here’s the Wikipedia article on it for some background. That evaluation looks responsible to me; it asks the kinds of questions that I expect to see asked about any new scientific phenomenon and looks for the kind of evidence that I expect in support. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary support, in addition to the basic support that any scientific claim requires. It appears that, so far, that support has not been offered for the EmDrive.

Patrick Tomlinson, American conservative: Donald Trump and the GOP, I want my party back. Significant concern across the country about a Trump presidency; some analysis here. The head of the Office of Government Ethics is concerned too. The folly of Trump’s palace guard.

Putin won 2016, but Russia has its limits as a superpower. I’m not convinced Putin won 2016.

Kim Jong Un says North Korea is getting ready to test an ICBM.

New Year Speech by Finnish President Sauli Niinistö on 1 January 2017. Finland celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

How journalists covered the rise of Hitler and Mussolini. Hint: Not their finest hour.


  1. The Blog Fodder · January 4, 2017

    Wish I were less frightened going into 2017. Have you read Motyl’s article in the Atlantic Council?


  2. Cheryl Rofer · January 4, 2017

    I wish I were less frightened. I had not read Motyl’s article. Thank you for the link.

    My general sense of Motyl is that he’s a good analyst and provides some good insights. His predictions, however, tend to be alarmist in my opinion. There are a number of fringey commentators in Russia who are getting air time. I think that, like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin likes to keep us guessing, spiced up with a dose of fear from time to time. So I take things like this with a grain of salt.

    I did an analysis a while back of the military strength Russia would need to take and hold Ukraine. There wouldn’t be much point to a war all across Ukraine unless Putin wanted to put it under control. IIRC, my calculation was that Putin would need much of the army, taking troops from the Chinese border and that expansion he’s trying to do into the arctic.

    And Putin is riding high right now, with Donald Trump about to assume the US presidency. So there’s no need for a war.

    The short version is that I don’t think there will be such a war, but all the old rules seem to be changing.


    • The Blog Fodder · January 5, 2017

      Thanks, Cheryl. I hope you are right. A Russian offensive in Ukraine has been predicted several times over the past three years. It may yet happen. He could simply bomb Ukraine into submission, without invading, as was done in Serbia over the Kosovo issue.


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