Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Forget The Nukes - Kill The Regime

Bomb Iran - Don't Bomb Iran

All the recent stuff about striking Persia's new clear sites may be a smokescreen. If instead, the US were to strike to the Iranian leadership in a decapitation maneuver events could be super favourable.

USAF's Project Checkmate could be used as a regime killing strike.

"Iran, Le Choix des Armes" by Francois Heisbourg shows how.

1st off, the highest levels of the Regime including the Supreme Leader have congregated and met multiple times since 2009 – something they never did after Operation Iraqi Freedom kicked off under 43's auspices.

A massive aerial bombardment, flights of Tomahawk cruise missiles streaking from submarines and naval warships to strike Iranian command and control centers, ministries, telecommunications facilities and Iranian air defenses, especially Russian-made TOR M-1 missile emplacements.

Iranian Naval and air force assets at Bandar Abbas are hit with a combination of missiles and a French- Saudi Amphibious assault from Qatar and the UAE. Waves of Tomahawk cruise missiles streak through Persian aerospace from ships and subs - effectively targetting the Iranian air force - air fields, missile sites and air defense systems are struck down within hours.
Communications are totally co opted or overwhelmed cybernetically. B2 Stealth bombers sortee to to strike IRRGC command and control HQ's.

"American warplanes and missiles carefully avoid striking research reactors in Teheran and Ispahan as well as the nuclear reactor at Bousher--less than 100 kilometers from Kuwait--as well as the centrifuges themselves at Natanz in an effort to prevent the spread of radioactive material to nearby population centers.

However, other missiles producing electromagnetic pulses do knock out
virtually all of Iran's electric grid and computer systems"

Special Forces strike and hold especial clerical compounds in Tehran and Qom right before Friday prayers. Nearly 20% of Iran's ruling praetorian guards and mullahs are captured, killed or missing by breakfast time.

Within 5 days, Iran is reduced to a state of near paralysis, unable in any sense to retaliate militarily, its entire economic infrastructure in shambles. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

al Qaeda Versus ISIS

In theory anywrought,  it may seem like aQ and ISIS should be hip and haunch on their drive to change the ME.
Which do you think is more likely to attract the attention of an 18-year-old boy dreaming of adventure and glory: a badass video with CGI flames and explosions, or a two-hour lecture on the Koran from a gray-haired old man?
The Islamic State and Al-Qaeda fundamentally differ on whom they see as their main enemy, which strategies and tactics to use in attacking that enemy and which social issues and other concerns to emphasize.
Although the ultimate goal of Al-Qaeda is to overthrow the corrupt “apostate” regimes in the Middle East and replace them with “true” Islamic governments, Al-Qaeda’s pri­mary enemy is the United States, which it sees as the root cause of the Middle East’s problems.
The Islamic State does not follow Al-Qa­eda’s “far enemy” strategy, preferring instead the “near enemy” strategy, albeit on a re­gional level. As such, the primary target of the Islamic State has not been the United States, but rather apostate regimes in the Arab world—namely, the Bashar Assad regime in Syria and the Haider al-Abadi regime in Iraq.
Baghdadi favors first purifying the Islamic community by at­tacking Shia and other religious minorities as well as rival jihadist groups. The Islamic State’s long list of enemies includes the Iraqi Shia, Hezbollah, the Yazidis (a Kurdish eth­no-religious minority located predominantly in Iraq), the wider Kurdish community in Iraq, the Kurds in Syria and rival opposition groups in Syria (including Jabhat al-Nusra). And (surprise!) the Jews.
Al-Qaeda considers Shia Muslims to be apostates but sees killing sprees against them as too extreme and thus detrimental to the broader jihadist project. Al-Qaeda believes that the “Muslim masses,” without whose sup­port Al-Qaeda will wither and die, do not really understand or particularly care about the doctrinal differences between Sunni and Shia, and when they see jihadists blowing up Shia mosques or slaughtering Shia civilians, all they see are Muslims kill­ing other Muslims.
In fact, Al-Qaeda believes in playing nice with other jihadists in general; the Islamic State does not. Jabhat al-Nusra, Zawahiri’s designated affiliate in Syria and the Islamic State’s rival, works with other Syrian fighters against the Assad regime and, by the low standards of the Syrian civil war, is relatively restrained in attacks on civilians—in fact, at the same time the Islamic State was making head­lines for beheading captured Americans, Jabhat al-Nusra made headlines for releasing the U.N. peacekeepers it had captured.
The Islamic State embraces some of these goals, but even where there is agreement in principle, its approach is quite differ­ent. The Islamic State seeks to build, well, an Islamic state. So its strategy is to con­trol territory, steadily consolidating and expanding its position.
Part of this is ideo­logical: It wants to create a government where Muslims can live under Islamic law (or the Islamic State’s twisted version of it). Part of this is inspirational: by creating an Islamic state, it excites many Muslims, who then embrace the group. And part of it is basic strategy: by controlling territory it can build an army, and by using its army it can control more territory.
Al-Qaeda in theory supports a caliphate, but Zawahiri envisioned this as a long-term goal. Back in the day, although Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri supported Al-Qaeda in Iraq publicly, in private they did not approve of its declara­tion of an Islamic state in Iraq. In particu­lar, Zawahiri feared that AQI was putting the cart before the horse: you need full control over territory and popular support before proclaiming an Islamic state, not the other way around.
Indeed, Al-Qaeda has never shown much interest in taking or holding territory in order to set up an Islamic state and govern, despite the fact that doing so is one of its stated goals; on the contrary, the only reason it has ever shown interest in territory is as a safe haven and as a place to set up training camps.
The two groups’ preferred tactics reflect these strategic differences. Al-Qaeda has long favored large-scale, dramatic attacks against strategic or symbolic targets. The Islamic State evolved out of the civil wars in Iraq and Syria, and its tactics reflect this context.
The Islamic State seeks to con­quer, and thus it deploys artillery, massed forces and even tanks as it sweeps into new areas or defends existing holdings. Terror­ism, in this context, is part of revolutionary war: it is used to undermine morale in the army and police, force a sectarian backlash or otherwise create dynamics that help con­quest on the ground.
Military efforts also matter tremendously. For Al-Qaeda, the constant drone campaign has diminished its core in Pakistan and made it harder for it to exercise control over the broader movement. For the Islamic State, defeat on the ground will do more to diminish its appeal than any propaganda measure. Washington should also work with regional allies to ensure cooperation on in­telligence and border security.
Only time will tell how this all ends, but in the immediate future, some degree of continued infighting between Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State is the most likely outcome. The good news is that the fight within may consume much of the two groups’ at­tention; the bad news is that anti-American violence or high-profile attacks in the Mid­dle East may become more intense as each side seeks to outmatch its rival.
Yet while spikes in violence may occur, such infighting will undermine our enemies’ ability to shape regional politics, diminish both movements’ influence and discredit jihadism in general.

Friday, March 27, 2015

To Stop Iran...

May have to gird our loins and commence bombing!

For years, experts worried that the Middle East would face an uncontrollable nuclear-arms race if Iran ever acquired weapons capability. Given the region’s political, religious and ethnic conflicts, the logic is straightforward.
As in other nuclear proliferation cases like India, Pakistan and North Korea, America and the West were guilty of inattention when they should have been vigilant. But failing to act in the past is no excuse for making the same mistakes now. All presidents enter office facing the cumulative effects of their predecessors’ decisions. But each is responsible for what happens on his watch. 44’s approach on Iran has brought a bad situation to the brink of catastrophe.
In theory, comprehensive international sanctions, rigorously enforced and universally adhered to, might have broken the back of Iran’s nuclear program. But the sanctions imposed have not met those criteria. Naturally, Tehran wants to be free of them, but the president’s own director of National Intelligence testified in 2014 that they had not stopped Iran’s progressing its nuclear program. There is now widespread acknowledgment that the rosy 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which judged that Iran’s weapons program was halted in 2003, was an embarrassment, little more than wishful thinking.
Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident. Now the arms race has begun: Neighboring countries are moving forward, driven by fears that 44's diplomacy is fostering a nuclear Iran. Saudi Arabia, keystone of the oil-producing monarchies, has long been expected to move first. No way would the Sunni Saudis allow the Shiite Persians to outpace them in the quest for dominance within Islam and Middle Eastern geopolitical hegemony. Because of reports of early Saudi funding, analysts have long believed that Saudi Arabia has an option to obtain nuclear weapons from Pakistan, allowing it to become a nuclear-weapons state overnight. Egypt and Turkey, both with imperial legacies and modern aspirations, and similarly distrustful of Tehran, would be right behind.
Ironically perhaps, Israel’s nuclear weapons have not triggered an arms race. Other states in the region understood — even if they couldn’t admit it publicly — that Israel’s nukes were intended as a deterrent, not as an offensive measure.
Iran is a different story. Extensive progress in uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing reveal its ambitions. Saudi, Egyptian and Turkish interests are complex and conflicting, but faced with Iran’s threat, all have concluded that nuclear weapons are essential.
The former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal, said recently, “whatever comes out of these talks, we will want the same.” He added, “if Iran has the ability to enrich uranium to whatever level, it’s not just Saudi Arabia that’s going to ask for that.” Obviously, the Saudis, Turkey and Egypt will not be issuing news releases trumpeting their intentions. But the evidence is accumulating that they have quickened their pace toward developing weapons.

This gold standard is now everywhere in jeopardy because the president’s policy is empowering Iran. Whether diplomacy and sanctions would ever have worked against the hard-liners running Iran is unlikely. But abandoning the red line on weapons-grade fuel drawn originally by the Europeans in 2003, and by the United Nations Security Council in several resolutions, has alarmed the Middle East and effectively handed a permit to Iran’s nuclear weapons establishment.
The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.
Rendering inoperable the Natanz and Fordow uranium-enrichment installations and the Arak heavy-water production facility and reactor would be priorities. So, too, would be the little-noticed but critical uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan. An attack need not destroy all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but by breaking key links in the nuclear-fuel cycle, it could set back its program by three to five years. The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.
44’s fascination with an Iranian nuclear deal always had an air of unreality. But by ignoring the strategic implications of such diplomacy, these talks have triggered a potential wave of nuclear programs.
 The president’s biggest legacy could be a thoroughly nuclear-weaponized Middle East.
Pic - "We have made some progress but there are still gaps, important gaps, and important choices that need to be made by Iran in order to move forward.”

Thursday, March 26, 2015

ISIS Crisis

As the JV cats devour more turf - The Islamic State’s rise is, in other words, not over, and it is likely to end up involving an attack on America.

Three reasons why such an attempt is inevitable:


ISIS’s Strategy Practically Demands It
Imbued with existential hatred against the United States, the group doesn’t just oppose American power, it opposes America’s identity. Where the United States is a secular democracy that binds law to individual freedom, the Islamic State is a totalitarian empire determined to sweep freedom from the earth. As an ideological and physical necessity, ISIS must ultimately conquer America. Incidentally, this kind of total-war strategy explains why counterterrorism experts are rightly concerned about nuclear proliferation. The Islamic State’s strategy is also energized by its desire to replace al-Qaeda as Salafi jihadism’s global figurehead. While al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIS had a short flirtation last year, ISIS has now signaled its intent to usurp al-Qaeda’s power in its home territory. Attacks by ISIS last week against Shia mosques in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a were, at least in part, designed to suck recruits, financial donors, and prestige away from AQAP. But to truly displace al-Qaeda, ISIS knows it must furnish a new 9/11.

 Its capabilities are growing
Today, ISIS has thousands of European citizens in its ranks. Educated at the online University of Edward Snowden, ISIS operations officers have cut back intelligence services’ ability to monitor and disrupt their communications. With EU intelligence services stretched beyond breaking point, ISIS has the means and confidence to attempt attacks against the West. EU passports are powerful weapons: ISIS could attack — as al-Qaeda has repeatedly — U.S. targets around the world.  
An Attack on the U.S. Is Priceless Propaganda
For transnational Salafi jihadists like al-Qaeda and ISIS, a successful blow against the U.S. allows them to claim the mantle of a global force and strengthens the narrative that they’re on a holy mission. Holiness is especially important: ISIS knows that to recruit new fanatics and deter its enemies, it must offer an abiding narrative of strength and divine purpose. With the group’s leaders styling themselves as Mohammed’s heirs, Allah’s chosen warriors on earth, attacking the infidel United States would reinforce ISIS’s narrative. 

Of course, attacking America wouldn’t actually serve the Islamic State’s long-term objectives. Quite the opposite: Any atrocity would fuel a popular American resolve to crush the group with expediency. (Make no mistake, it would be crushed.) The problem, however, is that, until then, America is in the bull’s eye.

Pic - "Off Shore Balancing - again..."


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Those Summer Of Love Borders

"Got to admit - it's getting better - a little better all the time (Can't get no worse)"

Aside from the delightful little Sgt Pepper ditties the All You Need Is Love Summer of Love bequeathed the world, there are also those magical pre war 1967 borders betwixt Little Satan and what is now termed something something Palestine.

Getting Little Satan to unAss borders au courant is like a new exclusive idea via 44

This is actually old news - 43 lol'd the 1967 idea way back before Surge Time

"...As part of a final peace settlement, Little Satan must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties. … In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Little Satan populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949."

Only now - 44 wants to redo the borders back to pre 1967

If a new and independent Palestine conducts Westphalian Statecraft - creating Mutual Military Assistance Pacts, leasing bases to foreign militaries, crafting alliances etc., events could spiral out of control with funintended consequences of immense  proportions.

If one K'Ssam too many starts exploding skyscrapers in Tel Aviv or her near abroad is compassed with scary armies by governments - or semi state backed non state terroristical actors  - that routinely call for Little Satan's destruction - Little Satan could launch a preventive pre emption herself - to wipe clean and draw again the face of the Middle East - resulting in an even more bigger Little Satan - that will make 1967 look quite tame.

Pic - "Moreover, an agreement that pulls the IDF out of the West Bank right now, with ISIS and Hezbollah and Iranian troops roaming around Syria, is a formula for war and terror in Jordan and Israel."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"Death To America"

Iran’s Supreme leader called for “Death to America” on Saturday, a day after 44 appealed to Iran to seize a “historic opportunity” for a nuclear deal and a better future, and as Secretary of State claimed substantial progress toward an accord.
Supreme Leader exhorted the faithful that Iran would not capitulate to Great Satan and not to buy into any anti regime feelings. When the crowd started shouting, “Death to America,” the ayatollah responded: “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure.”
“They insist on putting pressure on our dear people’s economy. What is their goal? Their goal is to put the people against the system”
The ancient Ayatollah did get one thing right about 44's Unserious Foreign Policy -
“The politics of America is to create insecurity.”
Pic - Supreme Leader is dying - and the cats up next may not be particularly interested in maintaining deals cut in good faith"

Monday, March 23, 2015


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.

Without further adieu - (or a don't) here are this weeks winners

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rebuilding Foreign Policy

Anyone who reads 44's new “National Security Strategy,” might come away believing that six years ago American embarked on a successful course of world leadership. They might believe we’d succeeded, as a superpower must, in reducing the danger we and our allies face and by spreading stability around the world.

The truth is precisely the opposite.

America’s foreign and defense policies are weak and in disarray. The world has grown far more unstable in the past six years as a result of the president’s failure to lead, his policies and his consistent practice of restraining America’s influence around the world.

First, our foreign policy should be closely interwoven with our national defense and economic policies. Properly formulated, each would complement the others.

Second, U.S. foreign policy has to be constructed around strategies and initiatives undertaken only after careful deliberation of the foreseeable consequences, four or five moves up the chess board. We have to anticipate how our adversaries and allies will respond to each initiative. Because 44 has pursued his initiatives in willful disregard of facts on the ground and the clearly foreseeable consequences, we have lost much of our credibility among nations and with it the ability to influence important events.

Our loss of credibility— and with it our superpower influence— has led directly to highly dangerous developments in the Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and across the Middle East. Too many of our allies (including the Saudis and Israelis, both of whom have been vocal in rejecting 44’s actions) have divorced themselves from 44’s policies. Too many of our allies, especially Israel, have been damaged by his actions. Diminished credibility and miscalculation based on false threats— such as 44’s “red line” in Syria— only increases instability and ultimately leads to unnecessary war.

Third, our next president has to have honest discussions about foreign policy— and national security policy— with the American people. When major decisions are to be made, such as 44's earlier strategic arms agreement with Russia and the nascent nuclear deal with Iran, the president should explain to Americans why his important decisions benefit our national security. If he cannot, the action should not be taken. This is an essential part of leadership that 44 has never displayed.

Pic - "Divide and conquer"

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

If Bi Bi Loses...

1. In the last year, peace talks with Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority have hit a complete dead end, with relentless mutual attacks in the media between Netanyahu and Abbas. Netanyahu has gone so far as to say Abbas should be blamed for inciting Palestinians to carry out terror attacks in Jerusalem. 
Herzog and Livni will do everything in their power to try and restart the delicate peace talks. Livni has held Abbas's trust in the past, and she even met with the Fatah leader in London, without authorization from Netanyahu. In the past few days, the Palestinians have threatened to cut off security ties with Israel - Abbas himself recently said that a decision won't be made until after the Israeli election. If Herzog wins and becomes the next prime minister, Herzog and Abbas are very likely to work out a deal on security cooperation. Herzog will also reach out to Abbas to kick peace talks back into gear.
2. Herzog will view a mending of relations with the  administration as an essential first step. It is important to note that when Herzog was given the opportunity to travel to Washington with Netanyahu to address the U.S. Congress on Iran, Herzog declined the invitation. Herzog's government is sure to avoid such contentious moves as announcing settlement construction plans while a top U.S. official visits Jerusalem, and Herzog's coalition will go to work immediately to re-establish strong ties with Washington. If Herzog forms a government, an invitation to the White House should soon follow. Netanyahu and Herzog have similar policies toward Iran, but Herzog has said he believes it is important to work with the  administration and other Western countries rather than circumventing the president and speaking directly to the U.S. Congress while slamming the 44th administration through the media. 

3. The Middle East has been profoundly and permanently reshaped by the Arab Spring, and for the first time in Israel's history, the tiny Jewish state finds itself sharing an array of interests with its Arab neighbors. A Herzog-led government is sure to take an interest in working with those countries, and it would not surprise me to see such an administration cooperate quietly with neighbors that share its goals. Opportunities abound: In the past month, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi declared Hamas a terrorist organization and vowed to keep militants in Sinai from attacking Egyptian troops. Security analysts have noted that Israel's security cooperation with Cairo is the closest it has ever been, and it will only get closer so long as Sisi stays in power. Israel's stance on Iran also increasingly dovetails with the views of Arab states. Saudi Arabia doesn't want Iran to acquire nuclear weapons any more than Israel does, and Riyadh could find itself working with Israel to make sure it doesn't happen. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

If War Is The Best Option

The logical flaw in the indictment of a looming “very bad” nuclear deal with Iran that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered before Congress this month was his claim that we could secure a “good deal” by calling Iran’s bluff and imposing tougher sanctions. The Iranian regime that Netanyahu described so vividly — violent, rapacious, devious and redolent with hatred for Israel and the United States — is bound to continue its quest for nuclear weapons by refusing any “good deal” or by cheating.
This gives force to the administration’s taunting rejoinder: What is Netanyahu’s alternative? War? But the administration’s position also contains a glaring contradiction. National security adviser Susan Rice declared at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference before Netanyahu’s speech that “a bad deal is worse than no deal.” So if Iran will accept only a “bad deal,” what is 44's alternative? War?
44’s stance implies that we have no choice but to accept Iran’s best offer — whatever is, to use Rice’s term, “achievable” — because the alternative is unthinkable.

But should it be? What if force is the only way to block Iran from gaining nuclear weapons? That, in fact, is probably the reality. Ideology is the raison d’etre of Iran’s regime, legitimating its rule and inspiring its leaders and their supporters. In this sense, it is akin to communist, fascist and Nazi regimes that set out to transform the world. Iran aims to carry its Islamic revolution across the Middle East and beyond. A nuclear arsenal, even if it is only brandished, would vastly enhance Iran’s power to achieve that goal.
Such visionary regimes do not trade power for a mess of foreign goods. Materialism is not their priority: They often sacrifice prosperity to adhere to ideology. Of course, they need some wealth to underwrite their power, but only a limited amount. North Korea has remained dirt poor practicing its ideology of juche, or self-reliance, but it still found the resources to build nuclear weapons.

Sanctions may have induced Iran to enter negotiations, but they have not persuaded it to abandon its quest for nuclear weapons. Nor would the stiffer sanctions that Netanyahu advocates bring a different result. Sanctions could succeed if they caused the regime to fall; the end of communism in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, and of apartheid in South Africa, led to the abandonment of nuclear weapons in those states. But since 2009, there have been few signs of rebellion in Tehran.
Otherwise, only military actions — by Israel against Iraq and Syria, and through the specter of U.S. force against Libya — have halted nuclear programs. Sanctions have never stopped a nuclear drive anywhere.
Does this mean that our only option is war? Yes, although an air campaign targeting Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would entail less need for boots on the ground than the war Obama is waging against the Islamic State, which poses far smaller a threat than Iran does.
Wouldn’t an attack cause ordinary Iranians to rally behind the regime? Perhaps, but military losses have also served to undermine regimes, including the Greek and Argentine juntas, the Russian czar and the Russian communists.
Wouldn’t destroying much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure merely delay its progress? Perhaps, but we can strike as often as necessary. Of course, Iran would try to conceal and defend the elements of its nuclear program, so we might have to find new ways to discover and attack them. Surely the United States could best Iran in such a technological race.
Much the same may be said in reply to objections that airstrikes might not reach all the important facilities and that Iran would then proceed unconstrained by inspections and agreements. The United States would have to make clear that it will hit wherever and whenever necessary to stop Iran’s program. Objections that Iran might conceal its program so brilliantly that it could progress undetected all the way to a bomb apply equally to any negotiated deal with Iran.

And finally, wouldn’t Iran retaliate by using its own forces or proxies to attack Americans — as it has done in Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia — with new ferocity? Probably. We could attempt to deter this by warning that we would respond by targeting other military and infrastructure facilities.
Nonetheless, we might absorb some strikes. Wrenchingly, that might be the price of averting the heavier losses that we and others would suffer in the larger Middle Eastern conflagration that is the likely outcome of Iran’s drive to the bomb. Were Iran, which is already embroiled in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Gaza, further emboldened by becoming a “nuclear threshold state,” it would probably overreach, kindling bigger wars — with Israel, Arab states or both. The United States would probably be drawn in, just as we have been in many other wars from which we had hoped to remain aloof.

Yes, there are risks to military action. But Iran’s nuclear program and vaunting ambitions have made the world a more dangerous place. Its achievement of a bomb would magnify that danger manyfold. Alas, sanctions and deals will not prevent this.

Monday, March 16, 2015


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.

Thusly sans further adieu (or a don"t)

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Sunni Allies

When an allied leader openly criticizes the American president, you know the relationship is in trouble. And these days that’s exactly what President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is doing. When recently asked about perceptions of U.S. leadership in the Arab world, el-Sisi responded carefully: “difficult questions.”
Joined to Egypt’s flirtations with Russia, el-Sisi’s message isn’t hard to translate. So what’s the issue? Well, while it’s easy to blame U.S. restrictions on arms supplies for the rancor, the truth is more complicated. Ultimately, el-Sisi is furious about a deeper problem: the  administration’s lack of interest in the rot of political Islam. Believing, rightly, that ISIS and other Islamist terrorists are empowered by an irredeemable form of Salafi extremism, el-Sisi wants the U.S. to openly identify and confront this rot.
And absent American leadership, el-Sisi is filling the vacuum. Recent Egyptian air strikes against ISIS in Libya are just one example. Meanwhile, however, by failing to support Egyptian efforts to seize the initiative on counter-terrorism, 44 has failed to restrain el-Sisi’s political authoritarianism. As a result, human rights in Egypt are suffering, and opportunities for counter-terrorism success are being neglected.
Jordan’s General Intelligence Directorate is America’s most reliable intelligence partner in the Middle East. Across the region, its officers are recruiting agents to infiltrate ISIS and other terrorist groups. These efforts save American lives and inform American policymakers. And as the service of Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasasbeh proves, Jordan has the rare courage to act overtly and aggressively. Yet today, the  administration is failing this crucial ally. Desperate for new means to defend its territory and confront ISIS, Jordan wants American drones. While it has congressional support in this endeavor, 44 hasn’t authorized action. When the Wall Street Journal asked why, the White House “referred questions to the State Department.” The lack of interest is defining: 44 just can’t be bothered. One understands why Jordan doubts America’s reliability as an ally.
Although it remains deeply repressive, Saudi Arabia also remains a critical American ally. Above all, Saudi Arabia is the physical and psychological home to Islam. This grants the Saudis great influence over the development of political Islam. And while the House of Saud has done much harm via its support for Wahhabi extremists, in recent years, facing al-Qaeda’​s attempts to overthrow it, it has taken a tougher line against terrorists (in contrast to Qatar, which throws money at Western capitals and jihadists alike).
To be sure, this doesn’t make Saudi Arabia a natural, ideals-based ally. But it does make Saudi Arabia indispensable. Unfortunately, however, there’s a growing risk that the Saudis may increase their support for Sunni extremists. That’s because Saudi Arabia makes foreign policy through the prism of its existential struggle with Iran. With Iran advancing across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is increasingly tempted to flirt with proxy groups — including al-Qaeda — to counter Iranian power. While that’s a despicable reflex, it’s one that America has to face up to.
The risk is simple. Unless 44 shows the Saudis that he’ll challenge Iran — for example, on its efforts to turn Iraq into its new dominion — and that he’s serious about preventing the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons, the Saudis may consider a new deal with Salafi jihadists.

Yes, America is often ill-served by our Middle Eastern allies. Their political dysfunction is both an undeniable human tragedy and a strategic nightmare. Yet reality is reality and must be confronted. At present, with 44 a bystander to chaos, the chaos is only metastasizing. Hundreds of thousands of Sunni Arabs are now caught between ISIS and Iran. And tens of thousands have already lost their lives.
 Without American leadership, things will likely get worse. Indeed, catalyzed by looming nuclear proliferation, this political chaos threatens the future of the entire world.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Battle Of Tikrit

A week of fighting between Iraqi army soldiers and Shiite militias against ISIS militants. Over 30,000 soldiers and militiamen backed by jets and helicopters launched a much-anticipated offensive against the ISIS forces currently in control of the city.
One major threat to ISIS is a Shiite-dominated Iraqi military backed by almost exclusively Shiite militias. Recently, these militias have swelled with thousands of new recruits after Iraq’s most influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called for Iraqis to take arms to defend their homeland. This force is being led, at least in part, by Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the powerful Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force. The Iranians have also backed the force with weapons, training, ammunition, and dozens of military advisors. ISIS, by contrast, is a mix of foreign fighters and disaffected Sunnis from across the region, fighting to maintain its gains in Iraq and its grasp on Sunni-dominated territory.
Tikrit holds serious strategic value to both sides. To successfully capture Mosul, the purported capital of ISIS, Iraqi forces must first reclaim the city of Tikrit. Doing so will put Iraqi forces within striking distance of Baiji, a strategic staging point from which to launch offensive operations on Mosul; it will also help secure lines of communication south to Baghdad and enable Iraqi forces to better cut off the movement of ISIS forces between the provinces of Anbar and Saladin. Success in Tikrit would provide a significant boost to the confidence of the Iraqi military, which will be critical given the tough fights that await them in Mosul and Fallujah. Correspondingly, losing Tikrit would also be a serious blow to the morale of ISIS forces and leadership; instead of growing across the Islamic world, the envisioned caliphate would be losing ground.

As the assault on Tikrit gets underway, the care and consideration for the safety of Sunni civilians will be key to the battle’s legacy. Major reprisal attacks and indiscriminate bombings of civilian areas will likely cause hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Sunnis to flee to Mosul, further complicating any future assault on the ISIS capital, and likely boosting the ranks of extremist group.

Without the safeguarding of Sunni civilians, the attack on Tikrit may have the unintended consequence of literally driving the Sunnis into the hands of ISIS; yet if done properly, it could be a huge step in defeating not only ISIS’ military prowess, but its guiding vision and the vision of its founder as well.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

American Primacy

Many cats get bent all out of shape about Great Satan's - let us speak plainly here - hyperpuissance. Alas such inapprpriate handwringing is as boring as it is totally incorrect.

No country in modern history has possessed as much global military power as the United States. Yet some analysts now argue that the US is following in the footsteps of the United Kingdom, the last global hegemon to decline. This historical analogy, though increasingly popular, is misleading.

Britain was never as dominant as the US is today. To be sure, it maintained a navy equal in size to the next two fleets combined, and its empire, on which the sun never set, ruled over a quarter of humankind. But there were major differences in the relative power resources of imperial Britain and contemporary America.

By World War II, protecting the empire had become more of a burden than an asset. The fact that the UK was situated so close to powers like Germany and Russia made matters even more challenging.

For all the loose talk of an “American empire,” the fact is that the US does not have colonies that it must administer, and thus has more freedom to maneuver than the UK did. And, surrounded by unthreatening countries and two oceans, it finds it far easier to protect itself.

That brings us to another problem with the global hegemon analogy: the confusion over what “hegemony” actually means. Some observers conflate the concept with imperialism; but the US is clear evidence that a hegemon does not have to have a formal empire. Others define hegemony as the ability to set the rules of the international system; but precisely how much influence over this process a hegemon must have, relative to other powers, remains unclear.

Still others consider hegemony to be synonymous with control of the most power resources. But, by this definition, nineteenth-century Britain – which at the height of its power in 1870 ranked third (behind the US and Russia) in GDP and third (behind Russia and France) in military expenditures – could not be considered hegemonic, despite its naval dominance.

Similarly, those who speak of American hegemony after 1945 fail to note that the Soviet Union balanced US military power for more than four decades. Though the US had disproportionate economic clout, its room for political and military maneuver was constrained by Soviet power.

Some analysts describe the post-1945 period as a US-led hierarchical order with liberal characteristics, in which the US provided public goods while operating within a loose system of multilateral rules and institutions that gave weaker states a say. They point out that it may be rational for many countries to preserve this institutional framework, even if American power resources decline. In this sense, the US-led international order could outlive America’s primacy in power resources, though many others argue that the emergence of new powers portends this order’s demise.

But, when it comes to the era of supposed US hegemony, there has always been a lot of fiction mixed in with the facts. It was less a global order than a group of like-minded countries, largely in the Americas and Western Europe, which comprised less than half of the world. And its effects on non-members – including significant powers like China, India, Indonesia, and the Soviet bloc – were not always benign. Given this, the US position in the world could more accurately be called a “half-hegemony.”

Of course, America did maintain economic dominance after 1945: the devastation of WWII in so many countries meant that the US produced nearly half of global GDP. That position lasted until 1970, when the US share of global GDP fell to its pre-war level of one-quarter. But, from a political or military standpoint, the world was bipolar, with the Soviet Union balancing America’s power. Indeed, during this period, the US often could not defend its interests: the Soviet Union acquired nuclear weapons; communist takeovers occurred in China, Cuba, and half of Vietnam; the Korean War ended in a stalemate; and revolts in Hungary and Czechoslovakia were repressed.

Against this background, “primacy” seems like a more accurate description of a country’s disproportionate (and measurable) share of all three kinds of power resources: military, economic, and soft. The question now is whether the era of US primacy is coming to an end.

Given the unpredictability of global developments, it is, of course, impossible to answer this question definitively. The rise of transnational forces and non-state actors, not to mention emerging powers like China, suggests that there are big changes on the horizon. But there is still reason to believe that, at least in the first half of this century, the US will retain its primacy in power resources and continue to play the central role in the global balance of power.

In short, while the era of US primacy is not over, it is set to change in important ways. Whether or not these changes will bolster global security and prosperity remains to be seen.
Pic - "The Pentagon must more accurately size the military to not only fight and win two major wars at once but also conduct the multitude of routine missions, deployments, and forward presence that advance and protect American interests overseas."

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Would South Korea Attack North Korea?

Since way back in the before time - the world has been magically blessed with two Koreas.
As North Korea continues to develop both nuclear weapons and the missile technology to carry them, pressure on South Korea to take preemptive military action will gradually rise. At some point, North Korea may have so many missiles and warheads that South Korea considers that capability to be an existential threat to its security.
This is the greatest long-term risk to security and stability in Korea, arguably more destabilizing than a North Korean collapse. If North Korea does not arrest its nuclear and missile programs at a reasonably small, defensively-minded deterrent, then Southern elites will increasingly see those weapons as threats to Southern survival, not just tools of defense or gangsterish blackmail.
A missile shield would lessen the military-offensive value of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, so reducing both first-strike temptations in Pyongyang and preemptive air-strike pressure in Seoul. Unfortunately South Korea is not hardened meaningfully to ride-out Northern nuclear strikes. Missile defense in South Korea has become politicized as a U.S. plot to dominate South Korean foreign policy (yes, really) and provoke China. (Although opinion may, at last, be changing on this.) Air drills are routinely ignored. 
 A North Korea with dozens of nuclear missiles, possibly one hundred, some of them on submarines, would constitute a state- and society-breaking, constitutional threat to South Korea and Japan in the event of conflict. That in turn will incentivize pre-emptive airstrikes. Of course, China and the United States might be able to restrain such South Korean action. Unlike the Soviets and Americans in the Cold War, Seoul is uniquely tied to U.S. “permission” to act.
 In 2010, after two North Korean actions against the South, the then-South Korean president did want to retaliate, but the Americans talked him out of it. Similarly, offensive action against the North that potentially provokes a war – as airstrikes certainly might – would unnerve China, and China’s opposition to South Korean missile defense has already altered that discussion in Seoul.
But a nuclear capability of one-hundred missiles is a whole new level of existential threat to the South (and Japan). In lieu of very robust missile defense, highly doubtful  that South Korean planners would tolerate this in the long-term. Airstrikes against North Korea have been considered before (1994 and 2010 especially), and this pressure will grow again.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Open Letter To Iranian Leadership

An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

"It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand out constitutuional system. Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of Constitution--the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices--which you should seriously consider as negotiations progress

"First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote. A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate). Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.

"Second, the offices of our Constitution have difference characteristics. For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms. As applied today, for instance, 44 will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then--perhaps decades.

"What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between 44 and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time."

"We hope this letter enriches your knowledge of our constitutional system and promotes mutual understanding and clarity as nuclear negotiations progress."

Pic - "Nearly 50 Senators signed"

Sunday, March 8, 2015


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.

Thusly sans further adieu (or a don"t) 

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Front Line State

Persia's Preacher Command has finally got a border with Little Satan... 

When the Assad regime seemed incapable of holding on to power alone or even with Hezbollah’s help, Iran has sent its own forces to fight in Syria—and to command. On the military side, Israeli analysts report that the Iranians are running things in Syria, and coordinating the activities of Iranian, Hezbollah, and Syrian forces—and of the Shi’a “volunteers” also fighting there, men from Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Bashar al-Assad is no longer the ruler of Syria, but instead Iran’s front man. And those forces that Iran directs are in control of southern Syria, in areas bordering on Jordan and Israel.

For decades after the 1967 war Israel’s border with Syria was quiet, because Hafez al-Assad kept it so.

But those days are gone, because Iran is directly present east of the Israeli-Syrian border. And any notion that the United States would somehow deter, object to, or prevent such an expansion of Iran’s regional role is also gone. In fact, 44 appears to take a benign view of Iran’s actions in Iraq and Syria: if the United States and Iran are not collaborating, we are at least acting along parallel lines.
To the extent that Iranian troops fight the Islamic State in Iraq, some of the pressure on 44 to do more there (more U.S. bombing, more American advisers on the ground) is alleviated. To the extent that Iranian troops are fighting the Islamic State and other Sunni jihadi groups in Syria, 44 apparently believes, he need not come up with a workable Syria policy that aims at getting Assad out and defeating jihadis there. A front page story in the New York Times on March 5 summed it up: “44 is becoming increasingly dependent on Iranian fighters as he tries to contain the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria without committing American ground troops.”

Stand back—as far back from the Middle East as 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—and it all makes sense. We do less, someone else does more. Meanwhile we conclude a nuclear agreement with Iran, easing regional tensions and pointing the way to a future rapprochement. If the Middle East won’t exactly be a zone of peace, the need for immediate American intervention will seem to disappear.

There is a certain logic to all of this, but only if you ignore totally the underlying regional power shift—away from the United States and our allies and to Iran. This policy will leave Iran dominant in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, and now it seems Yemen as well: the “Shia Crescent” of which King Abdullah of Jordan warned a decade ago. This policy abandons the role the United States has played in the Middle East since the Second World War, and hands it to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Pic - "Iran has the power to start a terrible chain of events. "

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Arab Joint Force

The Curse of Unseriousness may actually have a semi cool result...

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has launched an initiative to form a "Joint Arab Force" to counter the rising threat of radical Islam, especially in wake of the recent atrocity perpetrated by the Islamic State terrorist group against Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya.

However, for such an initiative to succeed, it also needs the backing of the US, EU and other international parties.

But the general feeling in Cairo and other Arab capitals these days is that the US and the Western world are not serious when it comes to confronting the threat of Iran, the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in the Middle East.

There is especially a growing concern in the Arab world, particularly the Gulf, about the indifference in Washington and EU capitals toward the Iranian threat to stability in the Middle East.

As the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram noted this week,

"Not only has Iran occupied three islands of the United Arab Emirates, but it is now besieging the Gulf countries and trying to create a new reality on the ground by pushing its Houthi supporters in Yemen to seize control of the country and backing its supporters in Bahrain to destabilize the country, in addition to what it is already doing in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Add to this the terrorism of radical groups that are igniting fires in several areas in the region."

Earlier this week, Sisi flew to Riyadh for urgent talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on the latest regional and international developments.

The main purpose of Sisi's visit to Saudi Arabia was to gain support for his plan to establish a "Joint Arab Force" to confront the threats of radical Islam and Iran. The Egyptian president's initiative reflects increased Arab disillusionment with the US Administration and its Western allies.

What Sisi is actually signaling is that Egypt and other Arab countries can no longer rely on the Western powers to deal with the threats and challenges posed by Iran and radical Islam. In a sense, this is an Arab motion of no confidence in the US Administration and Western powers.

On the eve of his visit to Saudi Arabia, Sisi said that the idea of creating an Arab force was designed to preserve the security and stability of Arab countries. "When we say a Joint Arab Force, we do not mean for attacking, but for defending the security of our countries," he explained. "It is important in the light of the dangers and threats."

Sisi said that he believes that his initiative will win the backing of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Jordan. "No one can say a negative word about our idea or its implementation because it is not directed against anyone and its goal is not expansion or invasion."

Sisi's initiative to form a "Joint Arab Force" came after reports about differences between Cairo and Washington over the need for a strategy to combat terrorism.

According to political analyst Ahmed Eleiba, the recent Conference on Countering Violent Extremism, which took place in Washington and brought together 60 nations,

"did not go as Egypt's representatives had expected. ... The conference did not give birth to a global strategy on terror, and served instead to underline differences between various points of view, especially those of Cairo and Washington."

Eleiba quoted Gamal Abdel Gawad, a political science professor at the American University in Cairo, who said he saw a clear divergence in views between Egypt and the US:

"The US still sees political Islam as a present and legitimate player, not a synonym for extremism. The US Administration also differentiates between extremist Islamists and moderate Islamists and believes that the moderates can be effectively integrated in politics as part of an acceptable political system. US officials believe that the integration of political Islam currents, including those suspected of extremism, in political life would be beneficial."

Eleiba concluded that, "With or without help from the West, Cairo has a strategy on terror and a multi-faceted plan of action."

President Sisi's initiative shows that moderate Arabs and Muslims have finally decided to take matters into their own hands and stop relying on the US and Western powers when it comes to combating radical Islam and the Iranian threat.

Still, Sisi and his Arab and Muslim allies are well aware that without the full support of the international community, the "Joint Arab Force" would not be able to be successful in its mission.

It is not that they are expecting support for the idea from the US Administration, which views Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate and moderate player. Rather, Sisi and his allies are hoping that the UN Security Council and some EU countries would approve the idea.

This is the first time in decades that Arabs have talked about forming their own military force to combat terrorism. Until now, most Arab countries believed that radical Islam and Iran posed a greater threat to the West.

Thanks to Sisi's new and bold approach, there is a real chance that Arabs will now lead the fight against extremists and terrorists, who are continuing to commit atrocities in a number of Arab countries. For the first time, the Arab countries are not asking the West to come to defend them against the atrocities of their Arab and Muslim brethren. This is a development that should be welcomed and backed by the US and the rest of the international community.

Pic - "Sisi has not been able to bring order to his own country, especially in Sinai, so how can he expect anyone to take him seriously when he suggests that we can improve our troubled Arab condition by taking the proven incompetence of ruling militaries at the national level to a wider regional level?"