Friday, November 28, 2014

After 44

There isn’t any celebration over America’s retreat.

“Underlying this absence was a palpable sense of resignation on the part of many who once had high hopes for 44, and a regretful sense of vindication for those who never expected much in the first place. The collective feeling of the 300 participants seemed to be that he had his shot, messed it up, and will be lucky to get out of office without a major catastrophe occurring.”

Unfortunately, this has been the sentiment both in the U.S. foreign policy community and among international allies for some time. Back in June, Dick and Liz Cheney wrote about their experience overseas:


In a trip to the Middle East this spring, we heard a constant refrain in capitals from the Persian Gulf to Israel, “Can you please explain what your president is doing?” “Why is he walking away?” “Why is he so blithely sacrificing the hard fought gains you secured in Iraq?” “Why is he abandoning your friends?” “Why is he doing deals with your enemies?”
In one Arab capital, a senior official pulled out a map of Syria and Iraq. Drawing an arc with his finger from Raqqa province in northern Syria to Anbar province in western Iraq, he said, “They will control this territory. Al Qaeda is building safe havens and training camps here. Don’t the Americans care?”


Ouch!

The absence of U.S. leadership and the not-coincidental uptick in violence in the Middle East, increased Russian aggression in Europe and China’s muscle-flexing in Asia should dispel some long-held nostrums of the left and isolationist right. The U.S. makes things worse. Multilateral institutions can handle this stuff. We spend more on defense than practically anyone else, so we should cut back. The Palestinian-Israeli peace process is the most important issue in the region.

In fact, our allies think when America retreats very bad things happen. And they are right. None of the current travails, be they in Iran (boasting now it has brought America to its knees) Ukraine or Asia, result from a failure of U.S. strength. In all three cases, foes have read us as unserious, uncommitted and desperate to avoid conflict even at the risk of our own vital self-interest.
 
In fact, multilateral institutions are generally useless (as in the Syrian civil war) without U.S. leadership. They don’t take initiative on their own and, if left to their own devices, they act in ways contrary to the interests of Western democracies (most especially in their constant vilification of Israel).
In fact, our reduction in defense capacity has been a signal to other powers that they can out-compete us for influence in the world. We spend more because we have global interests and responsibilities. And when we neglect the hard power that under-girds our diplomacy, we limit our capacity to influence events and stave off bigger problems.
In fact, the trouble in the Middle East has virtually no relation to Israel, except insofar as Iran seeks nuclear weapons in order to destroy the Jewish state. But of course, the nation’s ambitions in the region and efforts to undermine Sunni states would go on with no Israel. Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other terrorist groups that are seeking to undermine the international order don’t care if Israel leaves the West Bank. They want to establish a caliphate and exterminate all non-believers, many of whom are Muslims.
As Cliff May writes that while Hamas and the Islamic State — are not a “single entity or even overtly allied,” they are both committed to “the imperative of Islamic conquest and domination. Both target noncombatants as a means toward that end, and both embrace an ideology based on a supremacist and bellicose interpretation of Islamic scripture. The so-called international community pretends not to perceive these parallels.”  And worse, it expects Israel to use kid gloves in dealing with the local manifestation of Islamist terror, Hamas.
 
Therefore, it should be clear that detente with Iran, the sponsor of the Shi’a terrorist side, is an impossibility. To the contrary, we should be seeking to undermine and ultimately change that regime. In the near term, as argued in a task force report co-chaired by former 44 adviser Dennis Ross , we must “compete” much more intensely with Iran:
 

 [A]s elements of its nuclear program have slowed under the interim deal, Tehran has continued its efforts to shift the balance of power on the ground in the Middle East. . . . . To arrest Iran’s regional power play and counter this dangerous perception of retrenchment, the United States could enforce the U.N. arms embargo against Iran, including by intercepting arms shipments to Iraq, Syria (via Iraq) and elsewhere. (The U.S. Navy was prepared to do just that in March 2014 against a ship smuggling Iranian-origin arms through the Red Sea, before the Israeli Navy apprehended the vessel.) Iran is subject to the legally-binding U.N. Security Council Resolution 1747 (2007) prohibiting it from supplying, selling or transferring arms or related materiel directly or indirectly. By assuaging U.S. allies’ fears of Iran’s growing regional influence, such actions could present a more united front against Tehran at the negotiating table, and make a final deal more acceptable to them. By showing that the United States is willing resort to measures beyond just negotiating, such actions could also magnify Iran’s concerns about the costs of diplomacy’s failure.
As Republicans are looking to formulate a post-44 foreign policy, they would do well to avoid 44’s fundamental errors. Like our Western allies, Republicans must go beyond 44. It will fall to them to re-establish American influence, lead and not follow multilateral bodies, restore defense spending and recommit to the eradication of Islamist terror in all its manifestations.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful!


Thankful for being an American. Everything else just seems to fall into place.

Pic - "Almighty God - We totally thank thee for raising up this laughing race of free men, avatars of Thy divine deigns that "Whosoever will" - may. That fun and free choice shall not perish from the earth - we are eternally grateful for l'nom d'guerr "Americans" 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Double Standards

In the magical Forever Quest for something something Mid East Peace - ever note the noticable diff betwixt nation/states?

Think about this: Little Satan closes the major crossing point into Gaza. Thousands of Gazans are stranded in other countries and cannot get home.  In Gaza a thousand more people, in need of medical treatment outside, cannot get out. They are “suffering from medical problems including kidney failure, cancer and blood-related diseases [and] seek urgent treatment or further diagnosis….” A health ministry official says “If the closure continues, their health conditions will deteriorate and we may start to witness some deaths.”

Another report states that “Officials of the Palestinian Authority say they are growing increasingly resentful….for continuing the closure of the…border crossing…which has now been closed for over a month.” This report says the number of stranded Palestinians is now 3,500, in addition to the thousand inside Gaza who need medical care outside.

Front page news? “Israel Turns Gaza Into Prison.” UN Security Council resolution? “Urgently demands that the Government of Little Satan open the passage and permit those needing medical attention to reach doctors and hospitals.” The U.S. State Department? Perhaps it says “We are deeply troubled by the humanitarian dimension and believe the passage should be opened immediately….” Marches and demonstrations in European capitals? “This is Genocide!” signs say.

Nope. Because the crossing in question is Rafah crossing, between Gaza and Egypt not Little Satan, and the country keeping it closed is Egypt. The Palestinians are “resentful,” in that story, about the government of Egypt. The health conditions of the people who are “suffering from medical problems” are suffering because of Egypt.

The Egyptian official explanation is that security requires the closing.  Recently the Egyptian terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis pledged loyalty to the Islamic State. In October, 33 Egyptian security personnel were killed by terrorists; last week, 5 more. Why these events require that people in need of medical treatment may not use Rafah, and how that closure enhances Egyptian security, may be debated.

See: were it Little Satan keeping the key passage closed and simply saying security requires it, this would be a very big deal. The condemnations would be constant.

Instead, near silence. Double standard? The usual uninterest in how Arabs treat other Arabs? The desire not to criticize General Sisi’s government in Cairo? So it seems. A Palestinian would be justified in concluding that the world hasn’t the slightest interest in the fate of Palestinians, other than as a battering ram to use against Little Satan.

Pic - "Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Next Defense Secretary

Adios sir!

News that 44's Pentagon Purge starts at the top is out and the semi avuncular Senator SGT Def Sec Hagel has been cut...

He raised the ire of the White House in August as the administration was ramping up its strategy to fight the Islamic State, directly contradicting the president, who months before had likened the Sunni militant group to a junior varsity basketball squad. Mr. Hagel, facing reporters in his now-familiar role next to General Dempsey, called the Islamic State an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” adding, “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen.” White House officials later said they viewed those comments as unhelpful, although the administration still appears to be struggling to define just how large is the threat posed by the Islamic State.
Dang it!

No mention of climate change chiz LOL.

Anywrought,

Aside from being the first former enlisted combat soldier to run the Pentagon, it’s hard to find any achievement that will highlight Hagel in the history books. He didn’t come into office with a clear agenda. He was widely perceived as having been outplayed by a vast military bureaucracy that he never sought to tame. The brash, engaged, occasionally self-centered ex-lawmaker seemed to retreat inward and practically disappear.

Hagel was never a major player in debates among top national security officials, nor did he have the president’s ear as he prepared to handle the scaling down of wars in the Middle East and grapple with the mandatory budget cuts allowed by Congress and the president.

But the world had other ideas: the president extended the American combat commitment in Afghanistan through 2015, and the rise of ISIS made American plans for a drawdown in the region look like foolish, misguided hopefulness.

Pic - "Hope Michèle Flournoy gets the gig!"



Monday, November 24, 2014

Drone War Pakistan

Nishan E Hader!

Everyone's heard the tragic tales - all the babies in Pakistan were in one room and some accursed drone went in and killed them all...

See, 
Pakistan has absorbed more drone strikes—some four hundred—than any other country, and has been a test bed for the Administration’s hypotheses about the future of American airpower. Between mid-2008 and mid-2013, C.I.A.-operated drones waged what amounted to an undeclared, remotely controlled air war over North and South Waziristan, a sparse borderland populated almost entirely by ethnic Pashtuns. As the campaign evolved, it developed a dual purpose: to weaken Al Qaeda, and to suppress Taliban fighters who sought to cross into Afghanistan to attack American troops after 44 ordered a “surge” of forces there, in December, 2009. (Drone strikes continue in Pakistan; seventeen have been reported so far this year.)

The drone war in Pakistan took place during an increasingly toxic, mutually resentful period in the long, unhappy chronicle of relations between the United States and Pakistan. To many Pakistanis, including Army officers and intelligence officials in the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or I.S.I., drone strikes have symbolized American arrogance. Within the C.I.A. and the White House, a belief took hold that Pakistani generals and intelligence chiefs were unreliable partners in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Administration officials concluded that since Pakistan wouldn’t help adequately to protect U.S. soldiers and American cities, they would send drones to do the job.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

WoW!!

The Watchers Council- it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers

Thus, sans further adieu (or a don't)

Council Winners

  • *First place with 6 1/3 votes!Joshuapundit-A Murder In Jerusalem…And What To Do About It
  • Second place *t* with 1 2/3 votes The Noisy RoomThe Subjugation of Christianity and America to the Muslim Brotherhood and Allah
    Second place *t* with 1 2/3 votes Bookworm RoomFound It On Facebook: Everything That’s Wrong With A Poster From The Left
    Third place *t* with 2/3 votes The RazorThe Left’s War Against Rural America
    Third place *t* with 2/3 vote The Right PlanetCommon Core and Qatar – Sharia Education for All!
    Fourth place *t* with 1/3 vote Simply JewsThe tortuous un-logic of Will Self, a Jewish un-Jew
    Fourth place *t* with 1/3 vote The Independent SentinelSaving Some Wild Chickens With The Largest Federal land Grabs In Modern Times
    Fourth place *t* with 1/3 vote Nice Deb The Gruber Tapes 1 – 10

    Non-Council Winners
    See you next week!

    Friday, November 21, 2014

    Commonwealth Wargames


    Russian jets probing NATO airspace and supersized war drills are spilling Kremlin military secrets and scaring European nations into stiffening their armed forces.

    The alliance said by late October it intercepted more than 100 Russian planes this year, more than three times the number in 2013. A report by the European Leadership Network, a London security research group, termed the incidents "a highly disturbing picture of violations of national airspace, emergency scrambles" and "narrowly avoided mid-air collisions."

    Monitoring drills and Russian aircraft flying along NATO or Finnish and Swedish airspace is yielding intelligence on command and control, communications and tactics - plus - non-NATO members Finland and Sweden upgraded their alliance ties in September.

    After suffering initial setbacks in the 2008 Georgia War, Russia has continued investing in its armed forces. The Kremlin increased military spending by 50 percent since 2005 while NATO has cut spending by 20 percent

    NATO, at its Sept. 4-5 Wales summit, shored up its eastern defenses against Russia as the U.S., which makes up two-thirds of alliance military spending, urged European allies to pay more. The alliance agreed to rotate more troops through eastern Europe and to set up a 5,000-soldier rapid-reaction force.

    The Baltic states are bolstering their armed forces with Estonia vowing more troops on its border with Russia after a security officer was snatched and taken to Moscow.

    Alliance states including Denmark, Poland and Germany also plan to increase defense spending, though in the case of Germany only from 2016. Germany spends about 1.3 percent of gross domestic product on the military.

    Denmark is poised to spend more than $4 billion in its biggest air defense upgrade on either Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)'s F-35, Boeing Co. (BA)'s F-18 Super Hornet or Typhoon fighters, built by the Eurofighter consortium of BAE Systems Plc (BA/), Airbus Group NV (AIR) and Italy's Finmeccanica SpA. (FNC)

    Poland, which shares borders with both Russia and Ukraine, will choose suppliers for helicopters and an air-defense system within a year as it begins a $27 billion program to overhaul the military and replace Soviet-era military equipment. It's also bringing forward purchases of attack helicopters, drones and missiles for Lockheed F-16 jets.

    Pic - "The Airborne Assault Forces, which comprises about thirty-five thousand troops and whose commander answers directly to Putin, is Russia's elite crisis-reaction force. A Special Operations Command, also a reserve of Putin, was created in 2013 to manage special operators outside Russian borders."