First of all, I’d like everyone to know that Rob Henderson and I are going to do some podcasts on the new Jeffrey Dahmer miniseries from Netflix. It’s about a gay white guy who eats black men, so there will be a lot to talk about. I’m also about to start the last season of The Shield, which I’m probably going to do a show with Andreessen on. So, if you’d be interested in listening to those conversations, and you haven’t seen the Dahmer miniseries or The Shield, I’m giving you a heads up so can have time to watch them beforehand.
Also, I may paywall future podcast episodes, at least for a short while before releasing them. The arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards having to pay for content. I’m still planning to keep the main articles free and made available to everyone at the same time.
1. The Wall Street Journal is embedded within a Himars unit in Ukraine. A lot of detail on how the weapons have changed the battlefield.
One evening at dusk the men in this unit were making dinner when orders for their fifth mission of the day arrived: to target Russian barracks and a river barge ferrying munitions and tanks 40 miles away.
Six men piled into their two Himars: a driver, targeter and commander in each, accompanied by the battery commander and a security detail in an armored personnel carrier. The commander plugged coordinate data into a tablet computer to determine the safest location for firing.
Within minutes, the two Himars rumbled out from cover under an apricot grove toward the launch spot in a nearby sunflower field. Thirty seconds after arriving, they fired seven missiles in quick succession. Before the projectiles hit their targets, the trucks were returning to base camp.
Ten minutes later came another pair of targets: Soviet-era rocket launchers some 44 miles away. Off rolled the Himars again and fired another barrage of missiles.
Soon after, the soldiers were back at camp and finishing their dinner. Some pulled up videos on Telegram showing the fruit of their labor: burning Russian barracks…
Russian artillery—like most such systems since World War I—lacks precision. To destroy a target, troops generally level everything around it. Gunners following maps rain shells in a grid pattern that aims to leave no terrain in a quadrant untouched. Russian forces in Ukraine are lobbing dozens of shells per acre to hit one objective, analysts say.
Himars can do the job with one rocket carrying a 200-pound explosive warhead. Each Ukrainian Himars carries one six-rocket pod that can effectively land the punch of more than 100,000 lbs. of traditional artillery.
Artillery is cumbersome. During Operation Desert Storm in Iraq in 1991, it accounted for more than 60% of a U.S. division’s weight. Moving it demands soldiers, trucks, fuel and time, plus additional soldiers and vehicles to protect those supply operations.
All that support sucks resources and makes a juicy target, as the world saw in the opening days of the Ukraine war, when a Russian supply convoy halted by Ukrainian attacks outside Kyiv became a 40-mile-long sitting duck.
“It’s not just the precision of Himars that’s revolutionary,” said Gen. Scales. “It’s the ability to reduce the tonnage requirements by an order of magnitude or better.”
The supply chain for Himars units consists of factory-packaged rocket pods stashed at pickup points in the nearby countryside and usually hidden by foliage. A cargo truck deposits the camouflage-green pods—each a little bigger than a single bed—at a string of designated locations, not unlike a commercial delivery route.
Himars teams drive to the ammo drop spots, where a waiting three-man loading team removes spent pods and swaps in full ones within five minutes, using a crane integrated into the vehicle.
“Himars is one of, if not the most, efficient type of weapons on the battlefield,” said Lt. Koval, a jocular 22-year-old with a Pokémon ringtone on his cellphone. “This gives us an opportunity to react quickly, hit in one place, move to another, and destroy effectively.”
Russia’s best truck-based rocket launchers, by contrast, can require around 20 minutes to set up in the launch spot and 40 minutes to reload—critical time when the enemy tries to return fire. The Himars can drive faster and has an armored crew cabin…
Now, inexpensive microprocessors are putting what Gen. Scales dubs “cheap precision” in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers.
“If I enter the coordinates of this hole,” said Lt. Koval, standing by a molehill the size of a shoebox, “it will hit this hole.”
2. The share of executives at S&P 1500 firms who are Republican increased from 63% in 2008 to 68% in 2020. I’ve always figured that something like this must be true. If academia, journalism, and many other fields are 80% or 90% liberal, Republicans must exist somewhere.
3. Russian influence is crumbling in Central Asia, with recent fighting between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and also Armenia and Azerbaijan.
4. The search for extraterrestrial life through looking for signatures of the chemical byproducts of advanced civilization.
5. There have been a few pieces responding to my article “The Year of Fukuyama.” Freddie de Boer reminds us that history is long and a lot can happen, which, sure, I agree with, but I think in the context of a normal human lifespan, liberal democracy is in pretty good shape. Michael Barone discusses the article and describes me as a “provocative presence on the internet.” In The New York Times, Ross Douthat upgrades me to “right-wing gadfly.” He brings up Iran as another instance where a non-Western model of legitimacy and governance has failed, and I had actually considered including something about that country in my original piece. Major cities and universities appear to be in open revolt against the theocratic government. This is bad news for social conservatives who think all they need to do is seize the culture and people will listen to them. Haven’t Iranian mullahs been willing enough to use power and indoctrinate the public to accept their ideology? One can blame American global propaganda, but at some point one just has to admit that religious conservatism cannot be forced onto educated urban elites.
6. Yglesias on the growing success of YIMBY in California. A lot of good advice on practical politics here.