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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #500 on: April 29, 2014, 06:18:36 AM »

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141211/walter-russell-mead/the-return-of-geopolitics
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #501 on: May 01, 2014, 10:25:19 AM »



Americans Want to Pull Back From World Stage, Poll Finds
Nearly Half Surveyed in WSJ/NBC Poll Back Anti—Interventionist Stance That Sweeps Across Party Lines
By Janet Hook
WSJ
April 30, 2014 12:05 a.m. ET

Americans in large numbers want the U.S. to reduce its role in world affairs even as a showdown with Russia over Ukraine preoccupies Washington, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds. Janet Hook reports. Photo: Getty.

Americans in large numbers want the U.S. to reduce its role in world affairs even as a showdown with Russia over Ukraine preoccupies Washington, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.

In a marked change from past decades, nearly half of those surveyed want the U.S. to be less active on the global stage, with fewer than one-fifth calling for more active engagement—an anti-interventionist current that sweeps across party lines.

The findings come as the Obama administration said Tuesday that Russia continues to meddle in Ukraine in defiance of U.S. and European sanctions. Pro-Russian militants took over more government buildings in eastern Ukraine, while officials at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said satellite imagery showed no sign that Russia had withdrawn tens of thousands of troops massed near the border. (Read five takeaways from the poll.)

The poll showed that approval of President Barack Obama's handling of foreign policy sank to the lowest level of his presidency, with 38% approving, at a time when his overall job performance drew better marks than in recent months.

A WSJ/NBC News poll shows that approval of President Barack Obama's handling of foreign policy sank to the lowest level of his presidency. Pictured, Mr. Obama at a news conference in Tokyo on April 24. via Bloomberg

Mr. Obama defended his diplomacy-first approach at a news conference Monday in the Philippines, the last stop on a four-nation tour through Asia. He said those who called for a more muscular policy hadn't learned the lessons of the U.S. decision to invade Iraq.

"Why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we've just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget?" he said. "And what is it exactly that these critics think would have been accomplished?"

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said, "After a week of rhetoric from the administration, I had hoped we would have responded to Russia's blatant violations…with more than just a slap on the wrist."

The poll findings, combined with the results of prior Journal/NBC surveys this year, portray a public weary of foreign entanglements and disenchanted with a U.S. economic system that many believe is stacked against them. The 47% of respondents who called for a less-active role in world affairs marked a larger share than in similar polling in 2001, 1997 and 1995. (See poll results over time about America's role in the world.)

Similarly, the Pew Research Center last year found a record 53% saying that the U.S. "should mind its own business internationally" and let other countries get along as best they can, compared with 41% who said so in 1995 and 20% in 1964.

"The juxtaposition of an America that wants to turn inward and away from world affairs, and a strong feeling of powerlessness domestically, is a powerful current that so far has eluded the grasp of Democrats and Republicans," said Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who conducts the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. "The message from the American public to their leaders in this poll seems to be: You need to take care of business here at home."

At a press conference in Manila, the president fired back at critics of his foreign-policy decisions, outlining a doctrine based on diplomacy and a cautious approach to the use of force. Via The Foreign Bureau, WSJ's global news update.

The poll results have broad implications for U.S. politics, helping to explain, among other developments, Mr. Obama's hesitance to have the U.S. take the lead in using military force in Libya, the reluctance of Congress to authorize force against Syria and the ascent as a national figure of Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), a potential 2016 presidential candidate who has called for a restrained foreign policy.

Support for Mr. Obama's handling of Russian intervention in Ukraine slipped to 37% in the new poll from 43% in March. But at the same time, a plurality agreed with the statement that Mr. Obama takes "a balanced approach" to foreign policy "depending on the situation," with smaller shares rating him as too cautious or too bold.

Melissa Western, a graphic designer from Chandler, Ariz., who participated in the poll, called Mr. Obama's foreign policy "lackadaisical."

"I'm not saying go to war, but I feel like he has a lot of empty threats," said Ms. Western, an independent who voted for Republican Mitt Romney in 2012. "He's hard to take seriously."

Dora Lovett, a Democratic poll respondent in Ozark, Ark., said Mr. Obama should focus more on domestic issues and less on events abroad. "I just feel like he does more for them than he does for us," she said, citing foreign aid as an example.

As Hillary Clinton weighs a presidential campaign, she currently enjoys generally favorable views from the American public. However, one of her biggest obstacles lies with the image of a political family dynasty that will haunt her and potential competitor, Jeb Bush.

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While Mr. Obama's standing as a foreign policy leader has slipped, the poll found his overall job approval rose to 44% from March's record low of 41%.

But the president's standing remains perilously low just six months before the midterm congressional elections, and the poll was riddled with warning signs for his party. Support for his signature health-care law is improving slightly, a result that comes after the announcement that eight million people had picked insurance plans under the law. Still, support for the law remains weak, with 46% saying it is a bad idea and 36% saying it is a good one. "Clearly, the president has better news from his health-care law. But in general, that better news has still left people, by double-digit margins, saying it is a bad idea," said Mr. McInturff, the GOP pollster.

The public is deeply divided over the benefits of international trade and globalization, a challenge for Mr. Obama as he tries to shepherd major trade deals through a reluctant Congress.

The poll found that 48% viewed globalization as bad for the U.S. economy, with 43% calling it a good development. Asked whether they preferred a congressional candidate who argued that free trade was a positive force or one who called it a negative force, 46% favored the pro-trade candidate and 48% the anti-trade candidate.

Opinions on trade and globalization correlated more with income and education than with party affiliation. People with lower incomes and education tended to be the most skeptical of those forces, with support rising in tandem with income and education. "There are huge chunks of Republicans who would be looking at and supporting anti-free trade candidates, and huge chunks of Democrats who are pro-free trade," Mr. McInturff said, adding that both parties face a difficult task in finding their footing on the issue.

For all the poll's warnings to Democrats about the 2014 midterm elections, it offered some good news for the party in its early glances toward the 2016 presidential election. The poll found that potential Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is viewed significantly more positively than two potential Republican contenders.
2014 Poll Tracker

Explore the Wall Street Journal's guide to top Senate and governor races and compare sentiment in national polls. Data provided by Real Clear Politics.

Mrs. Clinton was viewed positively by 48% of those surveyed and negatively by 32%. Both Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Paul were viewed more negatively: Mr. Bush was viewed favorably by 21% and unfavorably by 31%. For Mr. Paul, opinion split 23% to 25%.

—Colleen McCain Nelson and Rebecca Ballhaus contributed to this article.

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll was based on nationwide telephone interviews of 1,000 adults, including 341 respondents reached by cellphone. It was conducted from April 23-27, 2014, by the polling organizations of Bill McInturff at Public Opinion Strategies and Fred Yang at Hart Research Associates. The sample was drawn in the following manner: Individuals were selected proportionate to the nation's population in accordance with a probability sample design that gives all landline telephone numbers, listed and unlisted, an equal chance to be included. Adults age 18 or over were selected by a systematic procedure to provide a balance of respondents by sex. The cellphone sample was drawn from a list of cellphone users nationally. Of the 1,000 interviews, 300 respondents were reached on a cellphone and screened to ensure their cellphone was the only phone they had. In addition, 41 respondents were reached on a cellphone but reported also having a landline. The data's margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Sample tolerances for subgroups are larger.

Write to Janet Hook at janet.hook@wsj.com
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objectivist1
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« Reply #502 on: May 01, 2014, 10:57:30 AM »

I take this poll with a grain of salt.  Number one - WSJ/NBC is not in my opinion a trustworthy polling organization.  Particularly not NBC.  I'd like to see the actual questions asked.  YES - I think most Americans with a brain can see this President is completely incompetent when it comes to foreign policy.  After all - name one - just ONE - country with whom we have better relations now than we did when Obama took office.

That does not necessarily translate into Americans believing generally in a "non-interventionist" stance.  This president's policies have been an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions both on a domestic and foreign policy stage.  Americans understandably are more concerned with their immediate financial security, but we'd be wise NOT to draw sweeping conclusions from this about the overall foreign policy stance of most Americans.  The current sentiment, such as it is - doesn't occur in a vacuum.  People see what a failure this President is, and don't have any desire to compound the damage.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #503 on: May 04, 2014, 11:36:08 AM »

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/376725/foreign-policy-bad-none-victor-davis-hanson

I call this an important read because of its penetrating description of the domestic politics of Obama's foreign (non)policy and why it stymies us so well.  Well worth considerable reflection.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 09:15:38 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
DougMacG
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« Reply #504 on: May 07, 2014, 01:50:01 PM »

"Where for example is a bill passed by the House calling for a stronger military budget?"  (Discuss if you wish in the American Foreign Policy thread.)

American foreign policy including the defense budget will be heavily discussed in the 2016 Republican primaries.  Until then, Republicans in the House voting more money for defense than the Senate and Pres will accept would only cause more money to be spent on things other than defense, IMHO.  The pitiful election of 2012 had enormous consequences.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #505 on: May 07, 2014, 04:06:38 PM »

I will attempt to state what I see as the essence here:

Quite correctly, the American people have lost confidence in the competence and the integrity of our government, both Rep, Dem, and institutional to act successfully in foreign affairs.  Couple that with the change from a uni-polar world to a multi-polar world and the lack of articulation of a vision that addresses that and the net result politically is what we have.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #506 on: May 08, 2014, 09:40:50 AM »

I will attempt to state what I see as the essence here:

Quite correctly, the American people have lost confidence in the competence and the integrity of our government, both Rep, Dem, and institutional to act successfully in foreign affairs.  Couple that with the change from a uni-polar world to a multi-polar world and the lack of articulation of a vision that addresses that and the net result politically is what we have.

That's right.  We were most credible when we built up a formidable arsenal for deterrence than when we went in on the ground, constrained by rules and circumstances, and tried to change societies.

I disagreed with Colin Powell on Iraq that if you break it you must fix it.  It was already broken.  Our job was shock and awe, to take down the regime for the 23 reasons stated on the military authorization.  Let tyrants around the world they may face consequences.  But after that it was at our discretion how much, how long or whether to help shape what followed.  Staying on was noble but hurt our credibility abroad and our confidence at home, and a few thousand American casualties.  Same for the discussions here of what should or should not have been the mission in Afghanistan.  Before that, Vietnam. 

People are right to be skeptical of our ability to affect change around the world.  That does not mean the right answer is to disarm and do nothing in the face of a world plagued with genocide, tyranny, terror and grave and gathering threats.  The lessons of WWII in particular I think was for people and nations to recognize threats earlier and rise up to the military challenge sooner. 

When this eight year apology tour is over, maybe we can have a leader who is proud and can articulate that during the time that the we were the powerful nation on earth, the United States used its enormous power for good in the world.  We freed and protected a lot of people and conquered no new lands.  This work isn't done.
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objectivist1
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« Reply #507 on: May 08, 2014, 10:53:42 AM »

Good points, Doug - I would add a couple:

1)  G.W.'s screw-up was thinking that we had any business (let alone any chance of success) in trying to institute a democratic, human-rights-based government in Iraq.  This is a society which has been governed by Islam, which is inherently anti-individual, and until and unless this changes, instituting a democracy there, or in any other Middle Eastern society is a fool's errand.  It simply will not happen.  As our Founders correctly observed - a civilized society and government depends upon a moral people.  Islam's explicit teachings fly in the face of this.  Precious few in our government understand this.

2) There is not necessarily a need to commit troops to an arena to have a powerful influence on the despotic leaders there who would make trouble for their own citizens, neighbors and for us.  What IS necessary is that those leaders have a healthy respect for the US, knowing that we back up our words with action, and will take a leadership role in punishing bad behavior with economic sanctions and whatever diplomatic tools at our disposal, with our allies.  BUT - we do reserve and are not afraid to use our military if necessary.  Putin and every other world leader knows that this is NOT presently the case, and they can ignore our wishes with impunity.  This is a recipe for disaster.  It is in fact a green light to despots the world over which may in fact lead to WWIII.  Thank you Barack Obama and the Democrat Party.
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"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
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« Reply #508 on: May 08, 2014, 11:09:58 AM »

" G.W.'s screw-up was thinking that we had any business (let alone any chance of success) in trying to institute a democratic, human-rights-based government in Iraq.  This is a society which has been governed by Islam, which is inherently anti-individual, and until and unless this changes, instituting a democracy there, or in any other Middle Eastern society is a fool's errand."

I agree with this.  I was wrong too because I was for getting rid of that monster Saddam.  But so was the hILL  wink  Ten years of "girl power" driven down our throats day in and day out.  Perhaps we can form an alliance with White, Black, Asian, Latino men  cheesy 
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objectivist1
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« Reply #509 on: May 08, 2014, 12:35:10 PM »

I think getting rid of Hussein was a good thing, and needed to be done.  We should have stopped short, however - of trying to implement a democracy there.  THAT was G.W.'s mistake.
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"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #510 on: May 08, 2014, 08:27:54 PM »

I confess to being rather stunned in this moment at the preceding comments.

Let's review, as Winston Churchill said "You can count on Americans doing the right thing , , , after they have tried all the wrong ones."

Reality check gents:  WE DID ESTABLISH A DEMOCRACY.

a) Elections to elect representatives to write a Constitution;
b) Reps wrote a constitution which was then approved by elections;
c) elections were held under the Constitution;
d) This elected established a government.

Unfortunately His Speciousness through it all away by not establishing a Status of Forces Agreement.
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objectivist1
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« Reply #511 on: May 08, 2014, 08:36:46 PM »

A status-of-forces agreement may have helped for a short time, but the inescapable reality is that Sharia Law, which was enshrined in that constitution, is INCOMPATIBLE with individual freedom.  No democracy can be maintained by a people who hold fast to Sharia (Islamic) law.  The two are mutually exclusive.

The best we could have hoped for would have been that Iraq would be kept somewhat in check from assisting in training terrorists and cooperating with Iran.  This would have been an improvement over what we have, granted - but G.W. still wasted lives and treasure after removing Saddam by engaging in this fantasy of statecraft.  Unless the U.S. were to OCCUPY Iraq indefinitely this "democracy" would never have lasted in any event.

And no - the Shah did NOT oversee a state run by Sharia.
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"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
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« Reply #512 on: May 14, 2014, 10:45:03 AM »

Washington, DC – Yesterday evening, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) Chairman Mike Rogers gave the first in his summer speaking series addressing current and future threats facing the United States and the policies needed to confront those threats.  Upon receiving the Eisenhower Award from the Business Executives for National Security in Washington, DC, Chairman Rogers delivered a speech titled “Isolationism’s Threat to American Security and Prosperity.” Chairman Rogers highlighted President Dwight Eisenhower’s robust commitment to international engagement and the lessons we can draw for today. 

The text of the speech is available at http://intelligence.house.gov/sites/intelligence.house.gov/files/documents/BENS.pdf
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #513 on: May 14, 2014, 04:13:50 PM »

Obj:

Here we disagree.

Even though it was a fascist ideology under Baathism, Iraq was a rather secular society.  Women could drive, be educated, be doctors, etc. and more.  It was one of the more literate countries in the Arab world.

Though it has now gone down the memory hole for most, IMO it is well worth remembering the passion and the risks of those who dared to vote and hold up their ink stained finger in defiance of the AQ threats against those voted.

IMHO there was much to work with here.

And what would be wrong with having 35-50,000 US troops sitting in the heart of the mid-east, on Iran's western border, sandwiching Syria w Israel, and leaving Azerbaijan feeling we can be a worthy ally/protector?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #514 on: May 16, 2014, 10:47:37 AM »

although IMHO the particulars here can be seen in different ways, the notion of humility of which Peggy writes here seems relevant to me , , ,

Bring Back the Girls—Quietly
America has forgotten how to exercise power without swagger.
ByPeggy Noonan

May 15, 2014 7:13 p.m. ET

At the end of the first Gulf War I saw something that startled me and gave me pause. More than 20 years later I can still see the image in my mind, so vivid was the impression it made.

It was June 8, 1991. America had just won a dazzling victory. We'd won a war in a hundred hours. Saddam Hussein had folded like a cheap suit and slunk out of Kuwait. The troops were coming home and the airwaves were full of joyous reunions. It was good.

Then the startling thing: There was a huge, full-scale military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington—two miles of troops, tanks, helicopters, even missiles. They marched from the Capitol past the White House, where there was a reviewing stand full of dignitaries. An F-117 stealth fighter streamed overhead.

I watched it on the news, from New York. When I saw the tanks, those big heavy bruisers, rolling down the avenue, it looked to me for all the world like a May Day parade in the Brezhnev era—militarist, nationalist, creepy. The journalist Michael Kelly captured some of the feel of it in the afterword of his book, "Martyr's Day." The parade was "a splendid evocation of military might and military discipline," yet he found it "oddly disquieting."
Enlarge Image

MK 41 (VLS Vertical Launching System) Navy Tomahawk Cruise missile rolling along on flatbed truck during Desert Storm gulf war victory parade on June 8, 1991. Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

Disquieting was exactly the word. It was all such a rolling brag for a brief engagement we'd won with brains, guts and superior technology. More important, the size and nature of the parade seemed to suggest we were forgetting something: that war is a tragedy. People die in wars, the brave are sacrificed. War is sometimes necessary but always a mark of failure, the last bloody stop after breakdowns of diplomacy and judgment on all sides. War isn't something you throw a fizzy party for while showing off your shining hardware.

We had discovered how to brag. We had discovered how to beat our breasts with triumphalism and rub the world's nose in our superior strength. We'd gotten through World Wars I and II barely saying a word. The parade struck me not as a thanksgiving (it's over, there were limited casualties, we triumphed, thank God) but an assertion: "We're No. 1." But—more disquiet—if you're really No. 1, and know it, you don't have to say it like this, do you?

The world in the 20th century liked the America that could do the job and the Americans who modestly did it. It wouldn't feel so warmly about an America that made such a show of its prowess and power.

Since 9/11 and the wars that followed, we have grown confused about power and its proper uses. America is not eager for huge new military-strategic adventures; America knows it itself has a lot of repair to do, especially of its economy. America has not grown isolationist and in fact has never been more global in its daily life—in its commerce and culture, in its very neighborhoods. But it has grown more modest and sober-minded about what it can and should do.

At the same time, America has to stand, always, for what is right and decent in the world, or it will no longer be America. It needs to be able to do things only it can do at the moment, and do them bravely, successfully—and modestly.

Which gets me to my dream for the schoolgirls.

John McCain has it exactly right. (I don't think I've ever written that sentence.) He told CNN that as soon as the U.S. learned that hundreds of children had been kidnapped and stolen away by a rabid band of terrorists in Nigeria, we should have used "every asset that we have—satellite, drones, any capabilities that we had to go after them." He told the Daily Beast: "I certainly would send in U.S. troops to rescue them, in a New York minute I would, without permission of the host country." He added, as only Sen. McCain would: "I wouldn't be waiting for some kind of permission from some guy named Goodluck Jonathan. " That's Nigeria's hapless president.

Mr. McCain said that if he were president he would have moved already, and that is not to be doubted.

There is nothing wrong with taking action—when possible—that is contained, discrete, swift, targeted, humanitarian and, not least, can be carried through successfully. And then shutting up about it. That might remind the world—and ourselves—who we are. And it might have very helpful effects down the road. "If we do that, the Americans may come." Leave the monsters guessing.

So, my dream: We go in, rescue the kids, get out, go home, and say nothing. Our troops would be happy with that: They like their jobs and like doing good, but the showbiz aspects that sometimes follow their actions only lead to distraction and discord. The White House would have to dummy up too, which would be hard for them. Staffers always want to make a president look good, and Obama staffers seem to think their primary purpose is to aggrandize the president. But there would be no network special with a breathless Brian Williams giving us the tick-tock on how it all went down and how the president kept his cool when all about him others were losing theirs.

What happened would, of course, get around. The world would know in time. But we would say nothing, like dignified people who use their might not for praise or power, but to achieve a measure of decency in the world.

You can't do this kind of thing every time there is a need. But—if it's not too late, if it hasn't been made impossible by the passage of time—you could do it this time.

In the past few weeks, as the story of the kidnapped girls unfolded, the Obama White House reacted as what it is: reflexively political but not really good at reading anything but the feelings of its base. Which, in a narrow way, has proved enough to get them through so far. They probably assume that the American people in general, on hearing of any rescue mission, would say, "Oh no, American involvement in another war—stop, don't do it!"

But that's not what the American people would think. They'd just think of the little girls. "Is it possible to go in there with a few hundred troops and save the girls and get out? Then do it!" And when word reached them that America had done it, they'd feel proud—we saved some children from the beasts who'd taken them.

Americans would feel happy about what we'd done, and good about not bragging about it. Actually we would really be proud but not sickly proud, just morally satisfied. Like we used to when our heads were screwed on right.

I really like the part about doing it as swiftly and silently as possible. I like thinking of the world saying: "Who did this? Who saved the little girls?"

And the answer: "It was the Americans. They had no right! But at least they quickly left. And the children were saved. At the end of the day they are a great people."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #515 on: May 16, 2014, 09:31:24 PM »

This could go in the US-Russia or the Ukraine thread, but I'm putting it here because of its larger implications

http://www.vox.com/2014/5/16/5717674/obamas-plan-to-let-putin-hang-himself-is-working
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G M
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« Reply #516 on: May 17, 2014, 02:24:10 AM »

This could go in the US-Russia or the Ukraine thread, but I'm putting it here because of its larger implications

http://www.vox.com/2014/5/16/5717674/obamas-plan-to-let-putin-hang-himself-is-working

Ahhh! The  stupidity! It burns!
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #517 on: May 17, 2014, 01:45:04 PM »

The Gift of American Power
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - 03:01 Print Text Size
Global Affairs with Robert D. Kaplan
Stratfor

By Robert D. Kaplan

Despite the East-West territorial clash over the buffer state of Ukraine, despite the sanguinary battles for patches of ground across the swath of the Middle East -- in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq -- and despite the zero-sum territorial conflicts throughout maritime East Asia, the myth persists of a world benignly ruled by multilateral institutions and agreements, by international financial markets that have all escaped geopolitics, and by the geography on which it is based.

Such thinking obviously contains a large measure of truth, but taken too far it creates the dangerous illusion of inexorable progress that is willfully blind to dangers ahead. While geography tells many stories, often contradictory, and can be overcome by human agency -- especially in the form of brave and moral leadership -- a belief in the inevitability of progress is dangerously deterministic. It was such deterministic optimism that made the civilized world less prepared for the two world wars in the 20th century.

As long as the world is ruled by imperfect men and women -- some of whom will be evil, some of whom will be naive and some of whom will be competent yet unable to avoid disputes with other competent leaders whose self-interests and national interests are simply different -- conflict will dominate international relations. And as long as human beings live on this earth they will have disputes over territory that, no matter how bleak or water-starved or lacking in other resources, constitutes holy ground fundamental to their group identity.

This situation will be aggravated by the world population increasing from 7 billion to more than 9 billion by 2050, according to the latest U.N. projections. Most of this increase will occur in the poorest and least stable countries -- those already prone to war. Geography is about to become more precious than ever. Meanwhile, communications technology will make geopolitics increasingly claustrophobic, as events in one part of the world can affect those in another as never before.

Interlocking, catalytic conflict rooted in geography is about to define the 21st century. To wit, Europe lacks the will to enforce meaningful sanctions against Russia because it is too dependent on Russia's webwork of natural gas pipelines -- a fact of geography if ever there was one. This leads to a perception of weakness on the part of the West that can only encourage the Chinese to be even more provocative in pressing territorial claims in the South and East China seas. The Japanese, who contest territory in the East China Sea with China, have specifically warned of the danger that the Western response to Crimea poses to them.

Meanwhile, the collapse of distance wrought by advances in military technology has brought China and India into a strategic competition that has no precedent in their collective histories: Indian space satellites spy on Chinese airfields; Chinese fighter jets have the capability to incorporate India into their arc of operations; Indian missiles can target Chinese cities and Chinese warships are present in the Indian Ocean. The world has shrunk, in other words, even as vast and poverty-wracked cities expand, and group identity  -- whether tribal in Africa, sectarian in the Middle East or ethnic and nationalistic in East Asia -- has been dangerously reconstructed by the Internet and other technologies into the most exclusivist, inflexible forms.

But what about all those new global and regional institutions and organizations, to say nothing about the growth and opportunity that has come from financial markets? Aren't they the other, more positive half of reality? They are. But then the question arises: Why have they been able to come into being in the first place? What ultimately undergirds them? The answer is one that many members of the global political and financial aristocracy do not want to hear: raw American power.

Because the American economy is the world's largest, and because the American people have over the course of the decades agreed to employ that prosperity in service to an immense military armature across the globe, stability, such as it exists, and a new and unprecedented global civilization have been able to emerge. Take away that raw American power -- which is first and foremost a geopolitical phenomenon -- and the escape from geopolitics that many proclaim suddenly evaporates.

It is the various U.S. Navy fleets and numbered air forces that are the ultimate guarantor of stability in the key theaters of the globe. The U.S. Seventh Fleet, because it can easily defeat any rival, keeps the peace of East Asia. The spectacular Asian economic boom that commenced in the late Cold War decades is simply impossible to even imagine without the security provided by the U.S. military. Take away the Seventh Fleet and the chances of China and Japan going to war increase dramatically, roiling financial markets in the process. It is the Seventh Fleet that still stands in the way of China being able to Finlandize South Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Wide stretches of the Middle East may be in chaos or semi-chaos, but it is U.S. air and sea power that helps prevent a Persian Gulf war between Iran and Saudi Arabia and provides ultimately for the security of Israel and Jordan. As for Europe, without U.S. military power Russia is more dominant than the European Union on the Continent, and the independence of the Baltic states, Poland and Romania is crushed or dramatically diluted. Geography certainly matters, and Europe's freedom survives best because of the geographical breadth of the U.S. military.

The United States is not a traditional empire because it has no colonies, but its military -- and the diplomatic power that accompanies it -- is deployed in an imperial-like fashion worldwide. The U.S. Navy calls itself a global force for good. That claim would pass the most stringent editorial fact-checking process. Without that very naked American ambition, which allows the Navy and the Air Force to patrol the global commons, the world is reduced to the sum of its parts: a Japan and China, and a China and India, dangerously at odds and on the brink of war; a Middle East in far wider war and chaos; a Europe neutralized and emasculated by Russian Revanchism; and an Africa in even greater disarray. It is not that regional powers cannot act rationally on their own; it is only that without a global hegemon of sorts, local balance-of-power interactions become more fraught with risk and are, therefore, more dangerous.

The 1914 scenario that many proclaim for both Europe and East Asia would become much more than journalistic hype absent American military preponderance. The spread of democracy that many celebrate would be impossible to imagine without the American military's global footprint since, if you project your power, your values will often follow behind you.

It is true that the early 21st century is different from the 20th and 19th centuries. It is different not so much because of a change in human nature, or because of postmodern technology, or because of the disappearance of geopolitics. To the contrary, it is different because the United States, with all of its limitations and all of its mistakes, remains geopolitically dominant.

Great powers are rarely appreciated in their own time, for the benevolent order they spread goes unacknowledged by those who benefit most from what they provide. Global civilization -- and the system of legal norms that arises from it -- survives to a significant extent because the American military remains robust and widely deployed. And that, in turn, is not a situation that is necessarily permanent, or one that can ever be taken for granted.

Read more: The Gift of American Power | Stratfor

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« Reply #518 on: May 17, 2014, 01:57:25 PM »

Third post of the day

WSJ Online
16 May 2014

Essay

Can China Best the West at Statecraft?
A great contest is under way to reinvent the state, and our rivals are looking everywhere but the U.S. for successful models
John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge

Buried in a Shanghai suburb, close to the city's smoggy Inner Ring Road, the China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong, or Celap, seems to have a military purpose. Razor wire curls along the fences around the huge compound, and guards stand at its gate. But drive into the campus from the curiously named Future Schedule Street, and you enter what looks like Harvard as redesigned by Dr. No.

In the middle of the academy stands a huge, bright-red building in the shape of a desk, with an equally monumental, scarlet inkwell beside it. Surrounding it are lakes and trees, libraries, a sports center and a series of low, brown dormitory buildings, all designed to look like unfolded books. Celap calls this a "campus," but the organization is too disciplined, hierarchical and businesslike to be a university. The locals are closer to the mark: They call it a "Cadre Training School." This is an organization bent on world domination.

Celap's students are China's future leaders. The egalitarian-looking sleeping quarters mask a strict pecking order, with suites for senior visitors from Beijing. The syllabus eschews ideology in favor of technocratic solutions. The two most common questions, says one teacher, are: What works best? And can it be applied here?

Today, Chinese students and officials hurtle around the world, studying successful models from Chile to Sweden. Some 1,300 years ago, Celap's staff remind you, imperial China sought out the brightest young people to become civil servants. For centuries, these mandarins ran the world's most advanced government—until the Europeans and then the Americans forged ahead. Better government has long been one of the West's great advantages. Now the Chinese want that title back.

Western policy makers should look at this effort the same way that Western businessmen looked at Chinese factories in the 1990s: with a mixture of awe and fear. Just as China deliberately set out to remaster the art of capitalism, it is now trying to remaster the art of government. The only difference is a chilling one: Many Chinese think there is far less to be gained from studying Western government than they did from studying Western capitalism. They visit Silicon Valley and Wall Street, not Washington, D.C.

The West pulled ahead of "the rest" because it created a permanent contest to improve its government machinery. In particular, it pioneered four great revolutions. The first was the security revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, when Europe's princes created modern nation states. As Spain, England and France competed around the globe, they improved statecraft in a way that introverted China never did.

The second great revolution, of the late 18th and 19th centuries, championed liberty and efficiency. Aristocratic patronage systems were replaced with leaner, more meritocratic governments, focused on providing services like schools and police. Under Britain's thrifty Victorians, the world's most powerful country reduced its tax take from £80 million in 1816 to less than £60 million in 1860—even as its population increased by 50%.

This vision of a limited but vigorous state was swept away in the third revolution. In the 20th century, Western government provided people with ever more help: first health care and unemployment pay but eventually college education and what President Lyndon B. Johnson called the Great Society. Despite counterattacks, notably the 1980s half-revolution of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the sprawling welfare state remains the dominant Western model.

In the U.S., government spending increased from 7.5% of GDP in 1913 to 19.7% in 1937, to 27% in 1960, to 34% in 2000 and to 42% in 2011. Voters continue to demand more services, and politicians of all persuasions have indulged them—with the left delivering hospitals and schools, the right building prisons, armies and police forces, and everybody creating regulations like confetti.

In all three of these revolutions, the West led the way. But now, as China's ambitions illustrate, the emerging world is eager to compete again.

And why not? Over the past two years, while the U.S. political system has torn itself apart over Obamacare, China has extended pension coverage to an additional 240 million rural people. Lee Kwan Yew's authoritarian Singapore offers dramatically better education and health care than Uncle Sam, with a state that is a fraction of the U.S.'s size. If you are looking for the future of health care, India's attempt to apply mass-production techniques to hospitals is part of the answer. So too, Brazil's conditional cash transfers are part of the future of welfare. At the very least, the West no longer has a monopoly on ideas.

But it hasn't run out of them—yet. As the economist Herb Stein once wryly observed: "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop." The same can be said of bloated government in the West. The West's next decade will be dominated by arguments about what sort of state we want—for three key reasons.

The first is that, while Western voters have overloaded the state with demands, they abhor the result. The U.S. Congress regularly scores an approval rating of 10%. In Britain, membership of the Tory Party slid from 3 million in 1950 to 123,000 today, a performance that would have put a private company into receivership. Voters are frustrated.

Second, government is going broke. The U.S. government has run a surplus only five times since 1960; France hasn't had one since 1974-75. And now the demographic challenge of caring for aging populations will push even left-wing parties toward hard choices about what—and whom—they want to save.

The third reason is more positive. Government can be reformed, but only if Western politicians and electorates decide what they want it to do.

Our own answer is, simply, much less. The overloaded modern state is a threat to democracy: The more responsibilities Leviathan assumes, the worse it performs them, and the angrier citizens get. Such a state is also a threat to liberty: When the state takes half of everything that you produce and regulates the smallest details of daily life, it has become a master rather than a servant. Better to do fewer things—and to do them better.

You may disagree. But this is part of a bigger argument that the West must start having now. A great contest is under way to reinvent the state, and the Chinese have the advantage of knowing what the consequences are if they lose.

—Messrs. Micklethwait and Wooldridge are co-authors of The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State, just published by Penguin Press. Mr. Micklethwait is editor in chief of the Economist, and Mr. Wooldridge is its management editor and the author of its Schumpeter column.
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« Reply #519 on: May 17, 2014, 04:21:09 PM »

China hasn't been and won't have anymore success with technocrats than the US or europe.
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« Reply #520 on: May 21, 2014, 10:07:23 PM »

he Old Order Collapses, Finally
Global Affairs
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 -
Global Affairs with Robert D. Kaplan
Stratfor

By Robert D. Kaplan

There has been something both conclusive and convulsive -- and yet sustaining -- about the crisis in Ukraine that has caused people to believe we have now entered a new chapter in international relations. As other commentators have noted, the old order has collapsed. By that they mean the period erstwhile labeled the Post Cold War.

This is a stunning formulation because it means at face value that all the blood and tragedy in Afghanistan and Iraq were not enough to signal a new phase in history, while the past few months in Ukraine were. But how can that be? The answer is that historical periods evolve very gradually -- over the years, during a decade of fighting in the Middle East, say -- whereas our recognition of these changes may happen only later, in an instant, as when Russia annexed Crimea.

Let me define what others have referred to as the "old order," as well as where I think we stand now.

In Asia, the old order, or the Post Cold War, meant American naval dominance, in essence a unipolar military world where the Chinese were developing a great economy but not yet a great military and the Japanese were safely entrenched inside a semi-pacifistic mindset. That Post Cold War order actually started decaying only a half-decade after the Berlin Wall fell, in the mid-1990s, when Chinese naval development first began to be demonstrably noticed. Over the past two decades Chinese naval power has grown steadily to the point where that American unipolar military order is giving way to a multipolar one, even as Japan, as a response to the Chinese threat, has slipped out of semi-pacifism and has rediscovered nationalism as a default option. The old order, in a word, is collapsing -- though we have only recently noticed it. The recent Chinese-Vietnamese naval standoff in the South China Sea has only punctuated the matter.

In the Middle East, the Post Cold War initially meant that the Americans kept Saddam Hussein's Iraq in check by ejecting him from Kuwait and then suffocating him with a no-fly zone. Saddam's Iraq, in turn, helped keep the mullahs' Iran in check. The American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11, and America's subsequent acceptance of stalemate in those wars, certainly undermined Washington's credibility and allowed Iran to expand its geopolitical influence. But with the American Navy and Air Force in the eastern Mediterranean, the Arabian Sea and elsewhere -- not to mention the deployment of drones and Special Operations Forces to a place like Yemen -- American power is still not wholly to be trifled with. Indeed, the Persian Gulf -- whose security is underwritten by U.S. sea power -- has always been safe for hydrocarbon transport, relatively unaffected by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Of course, state collapses and partial-state collapses in Syria, Libya and Yemen have weakened American influence in those countries, but they have also weakened great power influence there in general. Nevertheless, we can say that as anarchy has increased over the years in the region, the ability of America to influence things has diminished. Thus, we have the slow-motion demise of the old order.

In Europe, the old order began unraveling toward the end of the last decade with the onset of the European Union's fiscal crisis. But because the crisis was for years defined by the media as merely economic, it was naturally seen as, well, an economic event and not also as a geopolitical event -- which it was. In fact, the crisis weakened the European Union's influence in the former satellite states of Central and Eastern Europe, allowing Vladimir Putin's Russia to regain a foothold there: Russia built and enlarged energy pipelines and invested in various infrastructure projects throughout the region. But the old order soldiered on. After all, the expansion of NATO and the European Union into the former satellite states and the three Baltic republics, the nominal independence of Belarus, and the emergence of Ukraine and Moldova as buffer states effectively moved Russia bodily eastward and contained it.

This situation lasted at first because of Boris Yeltsin's weak and chaotic rule in Russia itself. But that began to change toward the turn of the millennium when the more capable Putin took charge and as Europe -- especially Central and Eastern Europe -- became more dependent on Russian natural gas pipelines. The annexation of Crimea, triggered by the fall of the pro-Russian regime in Kiev, signaled to the world that Russia was no longer contained. And thus everyone has come to realize that the old order in Europe is gone, too.

The Ukraine crisis was especially symbolic because, while the Chinese threat in Asia has been noticeable for a while now and instability in the Middle East is considered a given, European security had been taken for granted by too many for too long.

So what has, or will, replace the old order?

Some have suggested a system of regional hegemons: the United States in North America, Brazil in South America, Germany in Europe, Russia in Eurasia, China in Asia and so on. The problem with this scenario is that it implies equality among hegemons where none exists. It also assumes that these hegemons are themselves stable, which they often are not. Brazil has profound institutional problems and social unrest. Russia will not dominate energy markets as much in the future, even as its own population declines. Germany is too entrapped in the Russian economy and energy sector to maintain a forceful foreign policy. China sits atop a vast credit bubble, which is only one of its structural and economic challenges. The United States has its problems, to be sure: partisan gridlock, a broken health care sector, increasing disparity between the poor and wealthy and so forth. But the problems that burden the other hegemons are in a number of cases worse and far more fundamental.

In other words, some of the hegemons themselves may severely stumble in the coming years, for Russia and China both may undergo significant social unrest. It is more likely that post-Putin Russia will be more anarchic than democratic; the same goes for China, if the Communist Party there fundamentally weakens.

And while the United States may be, in a relative sense, the strongest of the hegemons for many years to come, its ability to intervene in world crises may, nevertheless, diminish. American power depends on capable central authority elsewhere -- for where else can an American president apply pressure except upon other rulers? But if central authority itself gives way to weak democracies and anarchy where nobody is really in charge, there will be no address where America can go to demand action. Moreover, there is considerable evidence that the American people are simply more hesitant to underwrite security in distant theaters than they were during the Cold War, when they saw themselves in an existential battle against a rival ideology.

Policy elites have no trouble imagining a world of rival hegemons to replace an American imperial-like system -- because even a world of rival hegemons implies some degree of recognizable order and organization. What they have a more difficult time imagining is a world in which nobody is sufficiently in charge anywhere, where formlessness rules, where hierarchy itself has decayed. This anarchic formlessness combined with postmodern technology may help define the world that ultimately awaits us.

Read more: The Old Order Collapses, Finally | Stratfor
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« Reply #521 on: June 02, 2014, 10:43:53 AM »



Putin Did Americans a Favor
Ukraine is a wake-up call for what a post-American world would look like.

By
Walter Russell Mead
June 1, 2014 6:38 p.m. ET

President Obama last week outlined his foreign-policy vision for the graduating students at the U.S. Military Academy, but a more instructive lesson in foreign affairs has been offered in recent months by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The U.S. may ultimately owe Mr. Putin a debt of gratitude for the reality check. His attack on Ukraine and his continuing efforts to destabilize its government are invaluable reminders of both the intractable nature of America's foreign-policy challenges and the potentially terrible consequences for the world if the U.S. fails the test.

As in their daily lives, Americans like both convenience and comfort in foreign policy. We want a foreign policy that is easy to operate and makes us feel good about ourselves and the state of the world. Analysts who say we can have the kind of world we want without doing any heavy lifting are guaranteed a warm reception; woe betide those who say we can't have it all.

American elites are as susceptible to this national—and bipartisan—predilection as anyone else. Liberal and conservative policy makers have consistently underestimated the complexities involved in building the liberal world order sought by every president in the post-Cold War era.


For the liberal wing of the foreign-policy establishment, the most consequential piece of wishful thinking may be the idea that the core elements of the American world order (a liberal economic system, great-power peace and the global primacy of liberal and humanitarian values) can flourish even as U.S. power declines. Our liberal political and economic values are so luminously true and so universally popular, the thinking goes, that emerging powers like the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—the Brics—and established powers like the European Union will take up the slack.

For liberal internationalists and conservative neo-isolationists, this is an attractive idea. Many analysts deem it self-evident that America's relative power in the international system is fated to decline in the 21st century. As countries like India and China continue to develop, we're told, the U.S. cannot hang on forever at the top of the global pecking order. As other countries build their military power and global presence, the U.S. would have to work much harder and spend much more to keep up. Not many Democratic policy wonks want to take that message to their political base.

But if we assume, as these liberals do, that America can rely on the kindness of strangers, the future doesn't look so grim. We can cut defense spending, trim commitments abroad and still feel good about ourselves. We can gradually decline without feeling that we are shirking our duties or endangering our security. The Pax Americana will survive American might; the rule of law will flourish as our power wanes.

Yet Mr. Putin has now thrown a big stink bomb into the middle of the "peaceful and safe decline" celebration. His move on Ukraine sends a strong message: American values and interests are unlikely to thrive if American power is in eclipse. The Pax Americana and the hope of a liberal and humane global system still rest on the weary shoulders of Uncle Sam.

For those willing to see, the signs of what a post-American world would look like are easy to discern. We can look at Bashar Assad's murderous campaign in Syria to see how Iran thinks power should be used. To see what Saudi Arabia thinks about human rights and liberal values, follow events in Egypt and Pakistan. China would become more aggressive in a post-American world, and the chances of Sino-Japanese conflict would increase. South Africa's coldly pragmatic approach to the Mugabe dictatorship in neighboring Zimbabwe speaks eloquently about the prospects of democracy if America diminishes as a presence in Africa. In Europe, only power keeps or can keep Russia from rebuilding its old empire and pushing forward into the former Warsaw Pact states.

Those who think American decline is inevitable must face a tragic truth: The eclipse of American power will be a disaster for our economic interests, for the values we cherish, and in the end for our security at home. What stability, peace and legality now exist in the international system are there because the U.S., with important help from allies and partners, made great sacrifices to build and secure them. The imposing edifice of the liberal world system would soon fall into ruin without that foundation.

The current bout of American weakness, a wobble that has destabilized Europe, the Middle East and Asia, is less about long-term historical decline than about a specific political moment. After two disappointing presidencies, the public is weary of foreign entanglements and deeply skeptical about the ability of either liberal or conservative experts to manage complicated overseas interventions. A foreign-policy establishment that has not exactly covered itself in glory over three presidential terms has lost much of the credibility needed to lead the American people into a new and constructive era. (CD:  This is a major point I think-- does WRM address it?)

But thanks to Vladimir Putin and others, Americans are beginning to discover how ugly the world can get when the U.S. takes a breather. In the run-up to elections this fall and in 2016, voters may want to pay close attention to what aspiring candidates have to say about America's role in the world. Freedom and peace world-wide still depend on American energy and engagement.

Mr. Mead is a professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and editor at large of the American Interest.
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« Reply #522 on: June 05, 2014, 11:48:59 PM »

http://www.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2014/06/04/groping-for-a-reset/
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« Reply #523 on: June 18, 2014, 11:48:40 AM »

http://online.wsj.com/articles/dick-cheney-and-liz-cheney-the-collapsing-obama-doctrine-1403046522?mod=hp_opinion

The Collapsing Obama Doctrine
Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.
DICK CHENEY And LIZ CHENEY
WSJ
Updated June 17, 2014 7:34 p.m. ET

As the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threaten Baghdad, thousands of slaughtered Iraqis in their wake, it is worth recalling a few of President Obama's past statements about ISIS and al Qaeda. "If a J.V. team puts on Lakers' uniforms that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant" (January 2014). "[C]ore al Qaeda is on its heels, has been decimated" (August 2013). "So, let there be no doubt: The tide of war is receding" (September 2011).

Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many. Too many times to count, Mr. Obama has told us he is "ending" the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—as though wishing made it so. His rhetoric has now come crashing into reality. Watching the black-clad ISIS jihadists take territory once secured by American blood is final proof, if any were needed, that America's enemies are not "decimated." They are emboldened and on the march.

The fall of the Iraqi cities of Fallujah, Tikrit, Mosul and Tel Afar, and the establishment of terrorist safe havens across a large swath of the Arab world, present a strategic threat to the security of the United States. Mr. Obama's actions—before and after ISIS's recent advances in Iraq—have the effect of increasing that threat.

 
On 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?"

Our president doesn't seem to. Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change. Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing. He seems blithely unaware, or indifferent to the fact, that a resurgent al Qaeda presents a clear and present danger to the United States of America.

When Mr. Obama and his team came into office in 2009, al Qaeda in Iraq had been largely defeated, thanks primarily to the heroic efforts of U.S. armed forces during the surge. Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace. Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

The tragedy unfolding in Iraq today is only part of the story. Al Qaeda and its affiliates are resurgent across the globe. According to a recent Rand study, between 2010 and 2013, there was a 58% increase in the number of Salafi-jihadist terror groups around the world. During that same period, the number of terrorists doubled.

In the face of this threat, Mr. Obama is busy ushering America's adversaries into positions of power in the Middle East. First it was the Russians in Syria. Now, in a move that defies credulity, he toys with the idea of ushering Iran into Iraq. Only a fool would believe American policy in Iraq should be ceded to Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terror.

This president is willfully blind to the impact of his policies. Despite the threat to America unfolding across the Middle East, aided by his abandonment of Iraq, he has announced he intends to follow the same policy in Afghanistan.

Despite clear evidence of the dire need for American leadership around the world, the desperation of our allies and the glee of our enemies, President Obama seems determined to leave office ensuring he has taken America down a notch. Indeed, the speed of the terrorists' takeover of territory in Iraq has been matched only by the speed of American decline on his watch.

The president explained his view in his Sept. 23, 2009, speech before the United Nations General Assembly. "Any world order," he said, "that elevates one nation above others cannot long survive." Tragically, he is quickly proving the opposite—through one dangerous policy after another—that without American pre-eminence, there can be no world order.

It is time the president and his allies faced some hard truths: America remains at war, and withdrawing troops from the field of battle while our enemies stay in the fight does not "end" wars. Weakness and retreat are provocative. U.S. withdrawal from the world is disastrous and puts our own security at risk.

Al Qaeda and its affiliates are resurgent and they present a security threat not seen since the Cold War. Defeating them will require a strategy—not a fantasy. It will require sustained difficult military, intelligence and diplomatic efforts—not empty misleading rhetoric. It will require rebuilding America's military capacity—reversing the Obama policies that have weakened our armed forces and reduced our ability to influence events around the world.

American freedom will not be secured by empty threats, meaningless red lines, leading from behind, appeasing our enemies, abandoning our allies, or apologizing for our great nation—all hallmarks to date of the Obama doctrine. Our security, and the security of our friends around the world, can only be guaranteed with a fundamental reversal of the policies of the past six years.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan said, "If history teaches anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom." President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom.

Mr. Cheney was U.S. vice president from 2001-09. Ms. Cheney was the deputy assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs from 2002-04 and 2005-06
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« Reply #524 on: June 20, 2014, 09:49:55 AM »

The Threat Is Blowback

Posted By Caroline Glick On June 20, 2014 - frontpagemag.com

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post.


Watching the undoing, in a week, of victories that US forces won in Iraq at great cost over many years, Americans are asking themselves what, if anything, should be done.

What can prevent the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – the al-Qaida offshoot that President Barack Obama derided just months ago as a bunch of amateurs – from taking over Iraq? And what is at stake for America – other than national pride – if it does? Muddying the waters is the fact that the main actor that seems interested in fighting ISIS on the ground in Iraq is Iran. Following ISIS’s takeover of Mosul and Tikrit last week, the Iranian regime deployed elite troops in Iraq from the Quds Force, its foreign operations division.

The Obama administration, along with Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham, views Iran’s deployment of forces in Iraq as an opportunity for the US. The US, they argue should work with Iran to defeat ISIS.

The idea is that since the US and Iran both oppose al-Qaida, Iranian gains against it will redound to the US’s benefit.

There are two basic, fundamental problems with this idea.

First, there is a mountain of evidence that Iran has no beef with al-Qaida and is happy to work with it.

According to the 9/11 Commission’s report, between eight and 10 of the September 11 hijackers traveled through Iran before going to the US. And this was apparently no coincidence.

According to the report, Iran had been providing military training and logistical support for al-Qaida since at least the early 1990s.

After the battle of Tora Bora in December 2001, al-Qaida’s leadership scattered. Many senior commanders – including bin Laden’s son Said, al-Qaida’s chief strategist Saif al-Adel and Suleiman Abu Ghaith – decamped to Iran, where they set up a command center.

From Iran, these men directed the operations of al-Qaida forces in Iraq led by Abu Musab Zarqawi. Zarqawi entered Iraq from Iran and returned to Iran several times during the years he led al-Qaida operations in Iraq.

Iran’s cooperation with al-Qaida continues today in Syria.

According to The Wall Street Journal, in directing the defense of Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, Iran has opted to leave ISIS and its al-Qaida brethren in the Nusra Front alone. That is why they have been able to expand their power in northern Syria.

Iran and its allies have concentrated their attacks against the more moderate Free Syrian Army, which they view as a threat.

Given Iran’s 20-year record of cooperation with al-Qaida, it is reasonable to assume that it is deploying forces into Iraq to tighten its control over Shi’ite areas, not to fight al-Qaida. The record shows that Iran doesn’t believe that its victories and al-Qaida’s victories are mutually exclusive.

The second problem with the idea of subcontracting America’s fight against al-Qaida to Iran is that it assumes that Iranian success in such a war would benefit America. But again, experience tells a different tale.

The US killed Zarqawi in an air strike in 2006.

Reports in the Arab media at the time alleged that Iran had disclosed Zarqawi’s location to the US. While the reports were speculative, shortly after Zarqawi was killed, then-secretary of state Condoleezza Rice floated the idea of opening nuclear talks with Iran for the first time.

The Iranians contemptuously rejected her offer. But Rice’s willingness to discuss Iran’s nuclear weapons program with the regime, even as it was actively engaged in killing US forces in Iraq, ended any serious prospect that the Bush administration would develop a coherent plan for dealing with Iran in a strategic and comprehensive way.

Moreover, Zarqawi was immediately replaced by one of his deputies. And the fight went on.

So if Iran did help the US find Zarqawi, the price the US paid for Iran’s assistance was far higher than the benefit it derived from killing Zarqawi.

This brings us to the real threat that the rise of ISIS – and Iran – in Iraq poses to the US. That threat is blowback.

Both Iran and al-Qaida are sworn enemies of the United States, and both have been empowered by events of the past week.

Because they view the US as their mortal foe, their empowerment poses a danger to the US.

But it is hard for people to recognize how events in distant lands can directly impact their lives.

In March 2001, when the Taliban blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas statues in Afghanistan, the world condemned the act. But no one realized that the same destruction would be brought to the US six months later when al-Qaida destroyed the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon.

The September 11 attacks were the blowback from the US doing nothing to contain the Taliban and al-Qaida.

North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic-missile tests, as well as North Korean proliferation of both nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to rogue regimes, like Iran, that threaten the US, are the beginnings of the blowback from the US decision to reach a nuclear deal with Pyongyang in the 1990s that allowed the regime to keep its nuclear installations.

The blowback from Iran’s emergence as a nuclear power is certain to dwarf what the world has seen from North Korea so far.

Yet rather than act in a manner that would reduce the threat of blowback from Iraq’s disintegration and takeover by America’s worst enemies, the Obama administration gives every indication that it is doubling down on the disastrous policies that led the US to this precarious juncture.

The only strategy that the US can safely adopt today is one of double containment. The aim of double containment is to minimize the capacity of Iran and al-Qaida to harm the US and its interests.

But to contain your enemies, you need to understand them. You need to understand their nature, their aims, their support networks and their capabilities.

Unfortunately, in keeping with what has been the general practice of the US government since the September 11 attacks, the US today continues to ignore or misunderstand all of these critical considerations.

Regarding al-Qaida specifically, the US has failed to understand that al-Qaida is a natural progression from the political/religious milieu of Salafist/Wahabist or Islamist Islam, from whence it sprang. As a consequence, anyone who identifies with Islamist religious and political organizations is a potential supporter and recruit for al-Qaida and its sister organizations.

There were two reasons that George W. Bush refused to base US strategy for combating al-Qaida on any cultural context broader than the Taliban.

Bush didn’t want to sacrifice the US’s close ties with Saudi Arabia, which finances the propagation and spread of Islamism. And he feared being attacked as a bigot by Islamist organizations in the US like the Council on American Islamic Relations and its supporters on the Left.

As for Obama, his speech in Cairo to the Muslim world in June 2009 and his subsequent apology tour through Islamic capitals indicated that, unlike Bush, Obama understands that al-Qaida is not a deviation from otherwise peaceful Islamist culture.

But unlike Bush, Obama blames America for its hostility. Obama’s radical sensibilities tell him that America pushed the Islamists to oppose it. As he sees it, he can appease the Islamists into ending their war against America.

To this end, Obama has prohibited federal employees from conducting any discussion or investigation of Islamist doctrine, terrorism, strategy and methods and the threat all pose to the US.

These prohibitions were directly responsible for the FBI’s failure to question or arrest the Tsarnaev brothers in 2012 despite the fact that Russian intelligence tipped it off to the fact that the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers were jihadists.

They were also responsible for the army’s refusal to notice any of the black flags that Maj. Nidal Hassan raised in the months before his massacre of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, or to take any remedial action after the massacre to prevent such atrocities from recurring.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the progenitor of Islamism. It is the organizational, social, political and religious swamp from whence the likes of al-Qaida, Hamas and other terror groups emerged. Whereas Bush pretended the Brotherhood away, Obama embraced it as a strategic partner.

Then there is Iran.

Bush opted to ignore the 9/11 Commission’s revelations regarding Iranian collaboration with al-Qaida. Instead, particularly in the later years of his administration, Bush sought to appease Iran both in Iraq and in relation to its illicit nuclear weapons program.

In large part, Bush did not acknowledge, or act on the sure knowledge, that Iran was the man behind the curtain in Iraq, because he believed that the American people would oppose the expansion of the US operations in the war against terror.

Obama’s actions toward Iran indicate that he knows that Iran stands behind al-Qaida and that the greatest threat the US faces is Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But here as well, Obama opted to follow a policy of appeasement. Rather than prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, or stem its advance in Syria and Iraq, Obama treats Iran as though it poses no threat and is indeed a natural ally. He blames Iran’s belligerence on the supposedly unjust policies of his predecessors and the US’s regional allies.

For a dual-containment strategy to have any chance of working, the US needs to reverse course. No, it needn’t deploy troops to Iraq. But it does need to seal its border to minimize the chance that jihadists will cross over from Mexico.

It doesn’t need to clamp down on Muslims in America. But it needs to investigate and take action where necessary against al-Qaida’s ideological fellow travelers in Islamist mosques, organizations and the US government. To this end, it needs to end the prohibition on discussion of the Islamist threat by federal government employees.

As for Iran, according to The New York Times, Iran is signaling that the price of cooperation with the Americans in Iraq is American acquiescence to Iran’s conditions for signing a nuclear deal. In other words, the Iranians will fight al-Qaida in Iraq in exchange for American facilitation of its nuclear weapons program.

The first step the US must take to minimize the Iranian threat is to walk away from the table and renounce the talks. The next step is to take active measures to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration appears prepared to do none of these things. To the contrary, its pursuit of an alliance with Iran in Iraq indicates that it is doubling down on the most dangerous aspects of its policy of empowering America’s worst enemies.

It only took the Taliban six months to move from the Bamiyan Buddhas to the World Trade Center. Al-Qaida is stronger now than ever before. And Iran is on the threshold of a nuclear arsenal.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #525 on: June 23, 2014, 03:40:40 PM »

As always, Glick is informed, intelligent, and thoughtful.

However with regard to Iran, she does not spell out what I recently saw spelled out elsewhere. 

a) Stopping Iran from going nuclear will require war and it will be a major war-- the task is quite difficult, and the blowback would be HUGE ;
b) The American people are in no mood for no action, particularly under this Commander in Chief;
c) The US military is in little mood for action, particularly under this Commander in Chief;
d) The US military's budget is contracting, and the military is in no shape for this and the other theaters requiring our attention at this time (Russia-Europe, South China Sea, various parts of Africa, etc)

Thus, though her diagnosis is excellent, ultimately isn't it irrelevant?

Thus, does not Rand Paul's most recent offering (see his thread here) have appeal of its own?

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objectivist1
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« Reply #526 on: June 23, 2014, 03:56:10 PM »

I think Rand Paul's initiative is excellent, however it won't prevent Iran from going nuclear either.  What Glick is lamenting is the fact that it now appears inevitable that the Middle East is going to erupt into what promises to become WWIII.  It's extremely naive to think that America will not be attacked on her own soil once again - especially after Iran goes nuclear.  How these dominoes fall ultimately only God knows.  What is certain, however is that the election of an actively anti-American President - has dire consequences.  As Ayn Rand famously stated: "One can avoid reality if one chooses to do so - but one cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."
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« Reply #527 on: June 23, 2014, 06:21:30 PM »

Rand Paul has endorsed Barack Obama's foreign policy - more so than Hillary has. I don't follow him there.
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« Reply #528 on: June 23, 2014, 08:28:18 PM »

***However with regard to Iran, she does not spell out what I recently saw spelled out elsewhere. 

a) Stopping Iran from going nuclear will require war and it will be a major war-- the task is quite difficult, and the blowback would be HUGE ;
b) The American people are in no mood for no action, particularly under this Commander in Chief;
c) The US military is in little mood for action, particularly under this Commander in Chief;
d) The US military's budget is contracting, and the military is in no shape for this and the other theaters requiring our attention at this time (Russia-Europe, South China Sea, various parts of Africa, etc)***

The way I see it we are already at war with the Muslims in the Middle East whether anyone cares to notice.

As Bolton said, "if you think Iran is a problem now just wait till they get nuclear weapons.

There will be dirty bombs in NYC.



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G M
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« Reply #529 on: June 23, 2014, 10:57:51 PM »

http://news.yahoo.com/report-polish-minister-says-us-ties-worthless-102515845.html
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DougMacG
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« Reply #530 on: June 24, 2014, 07:15:01 AM »


"the country's strong alliance with the U.S. isn't worth anything and is even harmful because it creates a false sense of security."

A gaffe is when a politician is caught on tape telling the truth.

How are those missile defense sites coming?

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/world/europe/with-eye-on-north-korea-us-cancels-missile-defense-russia-opposed.html?_r=0
U.S. Cancels Part of Missile Defense That Russia Opposed
Published: March 16, 2013
MOSCOW — The United States has effectively canceled the final phase of a Europe-based missile defense system that was fiercely opposed by Russia and cited repeatedly by the Kremlin as a major obstacle to cooperation on nuclear arms reductions and other issues.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970204518504574418563346840666
Sept. 18, 2009  ...President Obama's decision yesterday to scrap a missile-defense agreement the Bush Administration negotiated with Poland and the Czech Republic. Both governments took huge political risks—including the ire of their former Russian overlords—in order to accommodate the U.S., which wanted the system to defend against a possible Iranian missile attack. Don't expect either government to follow America's lead anytime soon.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #531 on: June 24, 2014, 07:49:52 AM »

As always, Glick is informed, intelligent, and thoughtful.
However with regard to Iran, she does not spell out what I recently saw spelled out elsewhere. 
a) Stopping Iran from going nuclear will require war and it will be a major war-- the task is quite difficult, and the blowback would be HUGE ;
b) The American people are in no mood for no action, particularly under this Commander in Chief;
c) The US military is in little mood for action, particularly under this Commander in Chief;
d) The US military's budget is contracting, and the military is in no shape for this and the other theaters requiring our attention at this time (Russia-Europe, South China Sea, various parts of Africa, etc)
Thus, though her diagnosis is excellent, ultimately isn't it irrelevant?
Thus, does not Rand Paul's most recent offering (see his thread here) have appeal of its own?

I re-read both Iran and Rand Paul threads and am still missing what you refer to.

I have not seen a Rand Paul foreign policy argument that was not filled with straw: we must do absolutely nothing to affect each crisis because all out war is a bad idea.

From Crafty above:  "a) Stopping Iran from going nuclear will require war and it will be a major war-- the task is quite difficult, and the blowback would be HUGE ;"

Are there not military steps short of all out war that would significantly set back the Iran nuclear program?  I find it hard believe the military of the United States of America could not inflict damage on Iran's ambitions in a relatively short series of strikes, if ordered.

As ccp suggest, isn't our policy of doing nothing about Iran's nuclear ambitions is how we get the greatest "blowback" to the US and Israel, Middle East, Europe, etc.

Like the results from canceling missile defense that offended Putin, maybe by letting Iran and the caliphate go nuclear they will like us!
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G M
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« Reply #532 on: June 24, 2014, 09:51:26 AM »

Understand that nuclear 9/11s are coming and plan accordingly. Nothing will be done until it's too late.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #533 on: June 24, 2014, 10:10:40 AM »

"From Crafty above:  "a) Stopping Iran from going nuclear will require war and it will be a major war-- the task is quite difficult, and the blowback would be HUGE ;"

"Are there not military steps short of all out war that would significantly set back the Iran nuclear program?  I find it hard believe the military of the United States of America could not inflict damage on Iran's ambitions in a relatively short series of strikes, if ordered."

"Significantly set back" subtly shifts the standard I set in important ways-- my intention is to speak of "winning", not endless war.  Based on serious Stratfor reads I have posted here over the years addressing this exact point it is my opinion that Iran presented a very substantial challenge to US military capabilities when these pieces were written and we were in Iraq in strength, and far more so now that we are nearly out of the mid-east altogether with a substantially diminished and tired military.  Most likely we do not know where all of their operations are; they have been diversifying and been digging in quite deep for years-- these are not stupid people.

Unless we go serious nuclear in the first round, there will be a second round-- "Setting the Iranians back" opens up world wide terrorist war-- the Iranians have considerable capabilities in this regard and will use them as they redouble their efforts.  Our support in the world would be nearly zero and our opposition its reciprocal.  What do you think would happen to the conversation in China between the civilian government and their military?

What political effect would this have on support for Islamic Fascism in the Muslim world?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #534 on: June 24, 2014, 10:19:12 AM »

A thoughtful friend writes:

Tribal and ethnic divisions have always been an issue in every Arab nation.  In fact, they are also issues throughout Africa and in Af-Pak-India-Sri Lanka.

Coupled with these divisions is the principle of revenge/retribution as opposed to the Western idea of compensation for injury – real and perceived.  You see that principle take effect in everything from family honor killings to prescribed punishments for violations of a law to the massacres of opponents in these uprisings.

Moving forward, the issue for the US is whether or not it is in this nation’s own interest to pre-emptively strike ISIS on behalf of the current Iraqi government.  After the 9/11 attacks, we went back to Iraq in 2003 as a pre-emptive action to reduce the probability that the Saddam Hussein regime would work covertly with the al Qaida organization to attack us again and to geopolitically restrain Iran by placing military assets on both sides of its borders in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

The Obama administration has rejected this policy and changed course.  It no longer supports the policy of pre-emptive military action against nations that are likely to aid terrorist organizations.  Instead, it has resumed a policy of limited attacks against very specific terrorist targets in the context of a law enforcement operation that uses CIA (ostensibly civilian) assets.  Also, it has rejected the policy of geopolitical containment of Iran by refusing to negotiate a status of forces agreement (SOFA) with Iraq and by setting firm withdrawal timetables for US military forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The tribal and religious sectarian fracturing of the entire region (especially in Iraq and eventually in Afghanistan) is and will be a consequence of the Bush Administration’s decisions in the aftermath of 9/11 plus the policy changes made by the Obama Administration.  Once Obama decided against a SOFA with Iraq, the probability of this violence in Iraq increased significantly.  The Obama decisions vis-a-vis Syria, Libya, Egypt and Iran only confirmed to the disruptors that the US would no longer actively seek to keep them down.  Likewise, the Obama friction with allies in Israel, Saudi and others was further confirmation of their freedom to act.

As a supporter of our 2003 intervention in Iraq in order to achieve the two goals stated above, I knew and accepted this chaos as a potential outcome even if our military stayed in Iraq under a SOFA.  However, the change in US policy under Obama has hastened this process.  I would argue, given Biden’s prior statements about a three-state solution for what is now Iraq, this is the ultimate outcome desired by the Obama administration.  In other words, Obama just wants to redraw the Sykes-Picot lines; but just like his modus operandi in every other major policy initiative, he does not want the personal responsibility for doing anything specific, so he will let events redraw the lines just like he let Congress and the Supreme Court write and enact the ACA aka Obamacare – and just like the red line in Syria about the use of WMD’s disappeared into the sands upon which it was allegedly drawn.

As to the domestic US political squabbling about the situation, the Bush defenders have to accept that his decision to overthrow Saddam put forces in motion that could have resulted in the current destabilized situation even if his other policy remained in effect.  However, the Obama defenders must also accept that his change in policy together with his reactions in Egypt, Libya and Syria have lit the match that has caused the current explosion and has hastened the emergence of current events.  The US reaction should be based solely upon what is in this nation’s interest.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #535 on: June 24, 2014, 11:08:24 AM »

Second post

 The United States Has Unfinished Business in Ukraine and Iraq
Geopolitical Weekly
Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - 03:03 Print Text Size
Stratfor

By George Friedman

In recent weeks, some of the international system's unfinished business has revealed itself. We have seen that Ukraine's fate is not yet settled, and with that, neither is Russia's relationship with the European Peninsula. In Iraq we learned that the withdrawal of U.S. forces and the creation of a new Iraqi political system did not answer the question of how the three parts of Iraq can live together. Geopolitical situations rarely resolve themselves neatly or permanently.

These events, in the end, pose a difficult question for the United States. For the past 13 years, the United States has been engaged in extensive, multidivisional warfare in two major theaters -- and several minor ones -- in the Islamic world. The United States is large and powerful enough to endure such extended conflicts, but given that neither conflict ended satisfactorily, the desire to raise the threshold for military involvement makes logical sense.

U.S. President Barack Obama's speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point sought to raise the bar for military action. However, it was not clear in the speech what Obama meant in practical terms when he said:

    "Here's my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don't, no one else will. The military that you have joined is and always will be the backbone of that leadership. But U.S. military action cannot be the only -- or even primary -- component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail."

Given events in Ukraine and Iraq, the president's definition of a "nail" in relation to the U.S. military "hammer" becomes important. Military operations that cannot succeed, or can succeed only with such exorbitant effort that they exhaust the combatant, are irrational. Therefore, the first measure of any current strategy in either Ukraine or Iraq is its sheer plausibility.
The Ongoing Ukraine Crisis

In Ukraine, a pro-Russian president was replaced by a pro-Western one. The Russians took formal control of Crimea, where they had always had overwhelming military power by treaty with Ukraine. Pro-Russian groups, apparently supported by Russians, still fight for control in Ukraine's two easternmost provinces. On the surface, the Russians have suffered a reversal in Ukraine. Whether this is truly a reversal will depend on whether the authorities in Kiev are able to rule Ukraine, which means not only forming a coherent government but also enforcing its will. The Russian strategy is to use energy, finance and overt and covert relationships to undermine the Ukrainian government and usurp its power.

It is in the interest of the United States that a pro-Western Ukraine emerges, but that interest is not overwhelming enough to warrant a U.S. military intervention. There is no alliance structure in place to support such an intervention, no military bases where forces have accumulated to carry this out, and no matter how weakened Russia is, the United States would be advancing into a vast country whose occupation and administration -- even if possible -- would be an overwhelming task. The Americans would be fighting far from home, but the Russians would be fighting in their backyard.

Ukraine is not a nail to be hammered. First, its fate is not of fundamental American interest. Second, it cannot be driven into the board. The United States must adopt an indirect strategy. What happens in Ukraine will happen. The place where the United States can act to influence events is in the countries bordering Ukraine -- most notably Poland and Romania. They care far more about Ukraine's fate than the United States does and, having lost their sovereignty to Russia once in the last century, will be forced to resist Russia again. Providing them support with minimal exposure makes sense for the United States.
The Complexities of Iraq

Iraq consists of three major groups: Shia, Sunnis and Kurds. The United States left Iraq in the hands of the Shiite-dominated government, which failed to integrate the Kurds or the Sunnis. The Kurdish strategy was to create and maintain an autonomous region. The Sunnis' was to build strength in their region and wait for an opportune moment. That moment came when, after the recent election, Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki failed to quickly form a new government and seemed intent on recreating the failed government of the past.

The Sunnis did not so much invade as arise, taking control of Sunni areas and to some extent coordinating activities throughout the region. They did not attack the Kurdish region or predominantly Shiite areas. Indeed, the Shia began to mobilize to resist the Sunnis. What has happened is the failure of the central government and the assertion of regional power. There is no native power that can unite Iraq. No one has the strength. The assumption is that the United States could hold Iraq together -- thus the demand by some in Iraq and the United States that the United States massively intervene would make sense.

As in Ukraine, it is not clear that the United States has an overriding interest in Iraq. The 2003 invasion was more than a decade ago, and whatever decisions were made then belong to historians. The Sunni uprising brings with it the risk of increased terrorism and obviously gives terrorists a base from which to conduct attacks against the United States. By that logic, the United States ought to intervene on behalf of the Kurds and Shia.

The problem is that the Shia are linked to the Iranians, and while the United States and Iran are currently wrapped up in increasingly complex but promising negotiations, the focus is on interests and not friendship. The 2003 invasion was predicated on the assumption that the Shia, liberated from Saddam Hussein, would welcome the United States and allow it to reshape Iraq as it desired. It was quickly discovered, however, that the Iraqi Shia, along with their Iranian allies, had very different plans. The U.S. invasion ultimately failed to create a coherent government in Iraq and helped create the current circumstance. As much as various factions would want the United States to intervene on their behalf, the end result would be a multi-sided civil war with the United States in the center, unable to suppress the war with military means because the primary issue is a political one.

That, of course, leaves the possibility of an increased threat of terrorism. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, and some of them are prepared to engage in terrorist activity. It is extremely difficult, however, to figure out which are inclined to do so. It is also impossible to conquer 1.6 billion people so as to eliminate the threat of terrorism. Given the vast territory of the Islamic world, Iraq may be a convenience, but occupying it would not prevent Sunni or Shiite terrorism from arising elsewhere. Defeating an enemy army is much easier than occupying a country whose only mode of resistance is the terrorism that you intend to stop. Terrorism can be defended against to some extent -- mitigated, observed perhaps -- but in the end, whether the Sunni regions of Iraq are autonomous or under extremist rule does little to reduce the threat.

The Kurds, Sunnis and Shia are hostile to each other. Saddam controlled the country through the secular institutional apparatus of the Baath Party. Absent that, the three communities continue to be hostile to each other, just as the Sunni community in Syria is hostile to the Alawites. The United States is left with a single viable strategy: to accept what exists -- a tripartite Iraq -- and allow internal hostilities to focus the factions on each other rather than on the United States. In other words, allow an internal balance of power to emerge.
The Limited Use of the U.S. "Hammer"

When we consider Ukraine and Iraq, they are of course radically different, but they have a single thing in common: To the extent that the United States has any interest in the regions, it cannot act with direct force. Instead, it must act with indirect force by using the interests and hostilities of the parties on the ground to serve as the first line of containment. If the United States intervenes at all, it will do so by supporting factions that are of interest to Washington. In Ukraine, this would mean supporting the former Soviet satellite states in Central Europe. In Iraq, it would mean applying sufficient force to prevent the annihilation of any of the country's three major groups, but not enough force to attempt to resolve the conflict.

Americans like to have a moral foundation for their policy; in the cases of Ukraine and Iraq, the foundation is simply a necessity. It is not possible for the United States to use direct force to impose a solution on Ukraine or Iraq. This is not because war cannot be a solution to evil, as World War II was. It is because the cost, the time of preparation and the bloodshed of effective war can be staggering. At times it must be undertaken, but those times are rare. Constant warfare with insufficient forces to impose political solutions in countries where the United States has secondary interests is a prescription for the worst of both worlds: a war that ends in defeat.

Limiting wars to those that are in the national interest and can be won eliminates many wars. It substitutes a much more complex, but no less realist and active, approach to the world. Underwriting nations that find themselves in a position of having to act in a way that supports American interests is one step. Another is creating economic bonds with nations that will shape their behavior. There are other tools besides war.

The simultaneous fighting in Ukraine and Iraq proves two things. First, the United States cannot avoid global involvement because in the end, the globe will involve itself with the United States. Becoming involved earlier is cheaper. Second, global involvement and large-scale warfare are not the same thing. The situation in Ukraine will play itself out, as will the one in Iraq. It will give the United States enough time to determine whether and how much it cares about the outcome. It can then slowly begin asserting itself, minimizing risks and maximizing rewards.

This is not a new strategy for the United States, which has vacillated from pretending it is immune from the world to believing it can reshape it. Dwight Eisenhower was an example of a U.S. president who avoided both of those views and managed to avoid involvement in any major war, which many would have thought unlikely. He was far from a pacifist and far from passive. He acted when he needed to, using all means necessary. But as a general, he understood that while the threat of war was essential to credibility, there were many other tools that allowed Washington to avoid war and preserve the republic.

Eisenhower was a subtle and experienced man. It is one thing to want to avoid war; it is another to know how to do it. Eisenhower did not refuse to act, but instead acted decisively and with minimal risk. Obama's speech at West Point indicated hesitancy toward war. It will be interesting to see whether he has mastered the other tools he will need in dealing with Ukraine and Iraq. It helps to have been a warrior to know how to avoid war.

I once wrote that the United States, stunned in 1991 to discover it was the world's only superpower, emerged into a natural period of adolescence, swinging from a belief in its omnipotence to a sense of worthlessness. I argued that this was a necessary passing phase that ultimately forced the United States toward a coherent path. Today, it is not yet on that path, but it is beginning to find its way. Eisenhower should be borne in mind.

Read more: The United States Has Unfinished Business in Ukraine and Iraq | Stratfor
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G M
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« Reply #536 on: June 24, 2014, 01:58:18 PM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2014/06/24/report-kurds-offered-to-help-stop-isis-months-ago-but-didnt-hear-back-from-the-white-house/
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DougMacG
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« Reply #537 on: June 24, 2014, 03:49:57 PM »

"From Crafty above:  "a) Stopping Iran from going nuclear will require war and it will be a major war-- the task is quite difficult, and the blowback would be HUGE ;"

"Are there not military steps short of all out war that would significantly set back the Iran nuclear program?  I find it hard believe the military of the United States of America could not inflict damage on Iran's ambitions in a relatively short series of strikes, if ordered."

"Significantly set back" subtly shifts the standard I set in important ways-- my intention is to speak of "winning", not endless war.  Based on serious Stratfor reads I have posted here over the years addressing this exact point it is my opinion that Iran presented a very substantial challenge to US military capabilities when these pieces were written and we were in Iraq in strength, and far more so now that we are nearly out of the mid-east altogether with a substantially diminished and tired military.  Most likely we do not know where all of their operations are; they have been diversifying and been digging in quite deep for years-- these are not stupid people.

Unless we go serious nuclear in the first round, there will be a second round-- "Setting the Iranians back" opens up world wide terrorist war-- the Iranians have considerable capabilities in this regard and will use them as they redouble their efforts.  Our support in the world would be nearly zero and our opposition its reciprocal.  What do you think would happen to the conversation in China between the civilian government and their military?

What political effect would this have on support for Islamic Fascism in the Muslim world?

1) The argument here is theoretical.  Pres. Obama is not going to do any of this.  But it is important for us to say what we would do.

2) The step-down from totally stopping them to significantly setting them back was intentional.  Assuming you are right, that we can't find all the facilities and can't hit all the targets... well then what?  Assuming nothing imaginable can stop them totally, what hits would set them back significantly and buy us more time.

3) The first round can't be nuclear - and it can't take out enormous Iranian civilian casualties!

4) Hoping you (or obj) can follow up what was referred to as a Rand Paul plan.  (I think I mis-understood something.)  Rand Paul sees terror safe havens as no threat and thinks Iran going nuclear is none of our business (unless I am mis-understanding him):  http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/04/rand-paul-says-something-non-crazy-about-iran.html  Has Rand Paul or his father have ever said our interventions in WWII were warranted"  Instead he blamed the US(?): http://www.realclearpolitics.com/2014/04/01/rand_paul_blames_the_us_for_world_war_ii_328970.html
...which is unacceptable if your ancerstors were Jewish and mine were in the first medical team to enter one of the largest, liberated  concentration camps: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buchenwald_concentration_camp
I have no time for the no-threat-to-us argument for homicidal maniacs acquiring nuclear power.  We have the only capability in the world to do or to stop certain things, and with that perhaps comes the responsibility to at least consider a pre-emptive blockage of major evil.  JMHO

5) Of course there will be consequences (blowback).  But it is blowback for attacking compared with blowback for not attacking, not compared with none.  See GM and ccp's comment.  Paraphrasing, they are going to hit us anyway.  They are going to hit us soon.  They are going to hit us hard.   "Nuclear 9/11s are coming, plan accordingly."   "There will be dirty bombs in NYC."

6) Stepping down from total stoppage even further, perhaps this is a 12 or 17 step process.  Let's assume the process is partly political and partly a need to negotiate from a position of strength (cf. Khadafy).  After negotiations without action have failed, we take strike one.  Not our biggest but our most effective first strike.  They don't know exactly what the rest of our intelligence is or what our next strike will be.  So we head back to the negotiating table.  And so on.  Let them disrupt, scramble and move facilities, while dealing with the US (and allies?) acting from a position of strength.

7) "Our support in the world would be nearly zero and our opposition its reciprocal."  What is a worthwhile use or purpose of any multi-national organization if not nuclear non-proliferation.  Are we alone in that?  With Israel, are there really only two nations seriously opposed to Iran going nuclear?  I thought that was what Saudi wanted.  And Kuwait, Qatar, Emirates, Jordan wanted.  And former Iraq - Sunni Iraq, and Kurds.  Europe sees no threat? India, Japan?  What about Russia and China, doesn't another big power just devalue and compete with their power?   No one wants to see a war break out but don't they all (almost all) want to see Iran contained?

8.) "What do you think would happen to the conversation in China between the civilian government and their military?"   - This is a VERY interesting question, and I don't know where you are going with it.  I think you are insinuating things would get worse, and that may be.  But since China is already totalitarian and in opposition to our interests nearly everywhere, maybe the next chain of events or tipping of the balance could actually turn things for the better.  At some point they can forget about a million man army if a billion people stood up and said enough - is enough.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2014, 03:54:26 PM by DougMacG » Logged
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« Reply #538 on: June 24, 2014, 06:49:13 PM »

China is more worried.about internal threats than military ones from outside.
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« Reply #539 on: June 28, 2014, 03:33:42 PM »

By Robert D. Kaplan

Eurasia -- from Iberia to the Korean Peninsula -- faces the prospect of epochal change. These disruptions are not always in the headlines, and they obscure vast areas of stability where change is gradual rather than sudden. But at a time of rapid shifts in technology and urban demography, it is to be expected that political identities of the kind that lead to territorial adjustments will undergo transformation. And while in some cases a yearning for liberal democracy will be a driving force of upheaval, in too many cases the driving force will be exclusivist ethnic and sectarian passions anchored in specific geographies. The world's leading opinion pages are consumed by the battle of ideas, but in the early 21st century blood and territory could be more accurate indicators of postmodern geopolitics.

The combination of a transnational European Union and that union's economic decline has helped further ignite calls for Catalan and Scottish separatism from within Spain and the United Kingdom, respectively. Merely the upsurge in talk of such self-determination is serving to enfeeble the reputations of Spain and Great Britain on the world stage. While these divorces -- if they ever occur -- will likely be velvet ones, not so the territorial rearrangements taking place in the Middle East.

Whatever current maps may suggest, Libya no longer exists as a state, and neither do Syria and Iraq. Yemen is barely a state at all, and Kurdistan is long into the process of becoming one. Such dramatic cartographic changes that -- barring a world war -- usually play out over decades and centuries have occurred within the space of just a few years. Though American-led military interventions provided the catalyst for state failures in Libya and Iraq, something more essential was the cause of this epic disruption. That something was suffocating absolutisms, at once fiercely modernizing and fiercely secular, in both Syria and Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Libya. Beneath the carapaces of such centralizing tyrannies lay an utter void of civil society. Thus, as soon as these tyrannies began to buckle the most atavistic ethnic, sectarian and tribal energies came to the fore.

Indeed, as we look at all this it becomes apparent that postmodernism does not necessarily mean a more advanced stage of universal values than modernism. Postmodernism more likely represents a retreat into lethally narrow forms of identity, buttressed by deep religiosity, that are combined with the latest in communications and bomb-making technologies. In this kind of world, optimism is fine so long as it is based on ground-level analysis, not on philosophical abstractions.

East of the Levant we have the soon-to-be-realized specter of an Afghanistan and Pakistan without the stabilizing factor of the U.S. military for the first time in 13 years. Remember that democracy is less about holding elections than about strong institutions, which Afghanistan demonstrably lacks. If Afghanistan becomes a weaker state than it currently is in the coming years, this will further erode the meaning of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border so that the border itself will eventually disappear from future maps. A state only deserves to be fully represented in an atlas if it monopolizes the use of force unto its borders; otherwise the map lies.

Central Asia remains an assemblage of states -- ruled in large measure in a Soviet style -- that are now ripe for disruption as its leaders age, domestic tensions increase, and borders remain averse to ethnic and demographic boundaries. A comparable situation holds true for the calcifying military regime in Myanmar, a country of regionally based ethnic groups in some cases with their own armies. Wherever one looks, it seems, the permanence of frontiers both internal and external cannot be taken for granted.

Meanwhile, in an age of rapidly improving electronic communications, the regime in North Korea cannot have good long-term prospects. In the 20th century, states divided into two parts -- Germany, Vietnam and Yemen -- all reunified under fast-moving, tumultuous circumstances that foreign affairs mandarins had not forecast in advance. A reunified Korean Peninsula, governed from Seoul, that will rearrange the balance of power in northeast Asia and affect the balance of power throughout East Asia simply has to be anticipated at some point.

Finally, there are the two countries that together represent the dominant geography of Eurasia: Russia and China. Both have significant areas inhabited by ethnic minorities often with higher birth rates than the dominant ethnic Russians and Han Chinese. Russia has sizable Muslim regions, primarily in the north Caucasus. As for Ukraine, who knows how mapmakers will depict it in years hence! China has ethnic Mongolians in its north, Muslim Turkic Uighurs in the west and Tibetans in its southwest. In all these cases, resentments against Moscow and Beijing run high. While Western policy elites call for more liberalization to assuage these tensions, the truth may be that it is precisely authoritarianism that is holding these vast states together. Political reform in some vaguely imagined post-Putin era -- or in a post-Communist Party era in China -- may therefore bring not more democracy but more chaos, and new cartographic arrangements. Moreover, if Russia declines in political stability more than China, large areas of Siberia and the Russian Far East are ripe for informal colonization by the much more populous Chinese, again leading to a new map.

The key thing to realize when interpreting Eurasia is how little we know about the realities on the ground rather than how much we know. An era of electronic communication leads to an illusion of knowledge rather than to knowledge itself. How many policy elites know, for instance, to what degree Yemeni chaos is affecting stability in Saudi Arabia's neighboring Asir province? Yet, were Saudi Arabia in the future to become unstable -- affecting world oil and financial markets -- Asir province might have much to do with it. How much do we really know about the situation in the populous and unstable Fergana Valley where several Central Asian countries join? Yet, the Fergana is key to the future of Central Asia. How much do we really know about ethnic militias in Myanmar or about Russia's relationship with ethnic minorities in the fragile state of Moldova? If the breakups of Libya, Syria and Iraq have taught us anything, it is about our degree of ignorance regarding local and tribal realities, not our degree of knowledge or wisdom.

Forecasting begins with geography in the 19th century sense of the word -- that is, an appreciation of landscape, cultural anthropology, natural resources, trade routes and so forth. And geography is now more important than ever. For technology has not negated geography: rather, by shrinking it, it has only made geography more precious. The more we rely on abstract principles of foreign policy and the less we rely on cultural area experts on the ground, the more Eurasia will surprise us. In other words, the more humble we are about what we do know, the less likely we are to be proved wrong.

Read more: Eurasia's Ongoing Crackup | Stratfor
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« Reply #540 on: June 29, 2014, 10:14:42 AM »



http://www.nationalreview.com/article/380903/our-vacuous-foreign-policy-andrew-c-mccarthy
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« Reply #541 on: June 30, 2014, 12:45:33 PM »


http://pjmedia.com/spengler/2014/06/29/is-the-breakup-of-iraq-good-or-bad-for-america/?singlepage=true

“It neither helps us nor hurts us, but exactly the opposite,” Mexican President Luis Echeverria is supposed to have said (“Ni nos benefica ni nos perjudica, sino todo lo contrario”). In the case of Iraq, as so often, it depends: the winner is the side best able to bear the burden of uncertainty. America should be the winner when our prospective enemies fight each other (as I argued in the February 2012 essay reposted below). In the language of option trading (see here), we should be long volatility, but instead are short volatility. That is because neither the Obama administration nor the Republican mainstream can admit that Iraq and Syria are not to be stabilized, and are stuck with the onus of apparent policy failure.

Iraq’s woes surely are good for the Russians and the Iranians. Russia just delivered five Sukhoi 25′s, their nimbler but less powerful competitor to our Warthog close-air-defense fighter (that’s the one the Pentagon proposes to eliminate), the first installment on a $500 million contract for a dozen of them. Russia also is selling $2 billion of arms, including attack helicopters, to Egypt, and with Saudi funding. The Iranians meanwhile have sent in special forces and armaments.

All of this makes our leadership in both parties look like idiots, and that is bad for America. Even those of us who think that our leadership are idiots cringe when it becomes obvious to the rest of the world. The American public by a margin of 71:22 thinks that the Iraq War wasn’t worth it. They are against any sort of intervention because there is no-one they trust to conduct intervention sensibly.

Putin is not smarter than we are. He is simply unburdened by the illusion that most of the countries in the region should or will succeed, and he is willing to stay one jump ahead of the game, maneuvering for advantage as opportunities emerge. We are fettered by Obama’s affirmative-action approach to the Muslim world as articulated in his July 2009 Cairo address and numerous subsequent statements, and the Republicans’ ideological belief that the mere form of parliamentary democracy fixes all problems.

The intrusion of reality benefits the likes of Putin, because Putin is a realist. It hurts us, because we refuse to accept reality. Our leaders live in ideological bubbles; they are incapable of considering the consequence of their errors, because they believe in their respective causes (the innate goodness of Islam or the innate propensity of people towards democracy) with religious intensity.

The U.S. needs to draw a line around its allies — the Gulf states and the kingdom of Jordan — and ensure that the ISIS problem is contained at their borders. What happens inside Iraq is not our concern, although we might want to quietly tweak this or that aspect of the facts on the ground. But it is pointless for another American to die in that miserable place. The Balkans, said Bismarck, wasn’t worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier. All the less so Mesopotamia.

What should we do in Iraq? Be the bad guy in the “Three Musketeers.”

Read my essay on the next page.

Conjuring the ghost of Richelieu
By Spengler

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/NB28Dj06.html

“The Pont d’Alma,” I told the taxi driver, and climbed into the back of the Citroen, balancing the big copper spittoon on one knee and the magnum of Chateau Petrus on the other.

“You are to meet someone, monsieur?,” inquired the driver. He must have seen the waders under my trench coat. “Richelieu. Richelieu. Richelieu,” I muttered. “That’s the first time I hear someone ask for it in dactylic hexameter,” the driver said. We pulled up in front of the entrance to the sewers of Paris at the Pont d’Alma – “the bridge of the soul”.

Carefully I descended to the ninth level below the Seine. And 20th-century tiles gave way to 19th-century bricks and 18th-century stonework, through the malodorous filth of the ages, until I found myself in the secret ossarium of the Carthusian monks. So thick was the darkness that the beam from my small flashlight

seemed to lose itself in the gloom. It could not have been cold, but I shivered uncontrollably. Pyramided skulls stared out like a theater audience.

With the spittoon planted into the muck at my feet, I broke the neck off the magnum and poured the fragrant Bordeaux into the copper receptacle. At once the ghosts appeared: A soldier in bloody armor carrying his head under one arm, the Can-Can chorus from Offenbach’s Orpheus, a grisette whom death could not dissuade from flirting, clerks, cooks and clerics.

A sad-faced Jaures and a prim Clemenceau approached the spittoon, but Francois Mitterand bowed them aside. Brandishing the wine bottle’s jagged neck, I fended them off until, at length, a pale figure appeared, a human form with the texture of a jellyfish. The others shrank away reverently as it knelt before the spittoon and inserted a gelatinous head, imbibing the wine until its translucent covering shone scarlet. It extracted its head from the spittoon with an ectoplasmic pop.

“Make it brief,” said Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu. He looked rather like the portrait by Phillipe de Champaigne, but sounded like Maurice Chevalier.

“We are a bit confused about Syria,” I began. “Its leader, Bashar al-Assad, is slaughtering his own people to suppress an uprising. And he is allied to Iran, which wants to acquire nuclear weapons and dominate the region. If we overthrow Assad, Sunni radicals will replace him, and take revenge on the Syrian minorities. And a radical Sunni government in Syria would ally itself with the Sunni minority next door in Iraq and make civil war more likely.”

“I don’t understand the question,” Richelieu replied.

“Everyone is killing each other in Syria and some other places in the region, and the conflict might spread. What should we do about it?”

“How much does this cost you?”

“Nothing at all,” I answered.

“Then let them kill each other as long as possible, which is to say for 30 years or so. Do you know,” the ghastly Cardinal continued, “why really interesting wars last for 30 years? That has been true from the Peloponnesian War to my own century. First you kill the fathers, then you kill their sons. There aren’t usually enough men left for a third iteration.”

“We can’t go around saying that,” I remonstrated.

“I didn’t say it, either,” Richelieu replied. “But I managed to reduce the population of the German Empire by half in the space of a generation and make France the dominant land power in Europe for two centuries.

“Isn’t there some way to stabilize these countries?” I asked.

Richelieu looked at me with what might have been contempt. “It is a simple exercise in logique. You had two Ba’athist states, one in Iraq and one in Syria. Both were ruled by minorities. The Assad family came from the Alawite minority Syria and oppressed the Sunnis, while Saddam Hussein came from the Sunni minority in Iraq and oppressed the Shi’ites.

It is a matter of calculation – what today you would call game theory. If you compose a state from antagonistic elements to begin with, the rulers must come from one of the minorities. All the minorities will then feel safe, and the majority knows that there is a limit to how badly a minority can oppress a majority. That is why the Ba’ath Party regimes in Iraq and Syria – tyrannies founded on the same principle – were mirror images of each other.”

“What happens if the majority rules?,” I asked.

“The moment you introduce majority rule in the tribal world,” the cardinal replied, “you destroy the natural equilibrium of oppression.

“The minorities have no recourse but to fight, perhaps to the death. In the case of Iraq, the presence of oil mitigates the problem.

The Shi’ites have the oil, but the Sunnis want some of the revenue, and it is easier for the Shi’ites to share the revenue than to kill the Sunnis. On the other hand, the problem is exacerbated by the presence of an aggressive neighbor who also wants the oil.”

“So civil war is more likely because of Iran?”

“Yes,” said the shade, “and not only in Iraq. Without support from Iran, the Syrian Alawites – barely an eighth of the people – could not hope to crush the Sunnis. Iran will back Assad and the Alawites until the end, because if the Sunnis come to power in Syria, it will make it harder for Iran to suppress the Sunnis in Iraq. As I said, it is a matter of simple logic. Next time you visit, bring a second bottle of Petrus, and my friend Descartes will draw a diagram for you.”

“So the best thing we can do to stabilize the region is to neutralize Iran?”

“Bingeaux!” Richelieu replied.

“But there are people in the United States, like the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who say that attacking Iran would destabilize everything!”

“Such fools would not have lasted a week in my service,” the cardinal sniffed. “Again, it is a matter of simple logic. If Iran’s capacity to build nuclear weapons is removed by force, upon whom shall it avenge itself? No doubt its irregulars in Lebanon will shoot some missiles at Israel, but not so many as to provoke the Israelis to destroy Hezbollah. Iran might undertake acts of terrorism, but at the risk of fierce reprisals. Without nuclear weapons, Iran becomes a declining power with obsolete weapons and an indifferent conscript army.”

Richelieu’s shade already had lost some color. “What should the United States do in Syria?” I asked.

“As little as possible,” he replied. “Some anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles from Gaddafi’s stockpiles, enough to encourage the opposition and prevent Assad from crushing them, and without making it obvious who sent them.”

“And what will become of Syria?”

The cardinal said sourly, “The same thing will happen to the present occupants of Syria that happened to the previous occupants: the Assyrians, and the Seleucids, and the Byzantines before them. You seem to think the Syrians are at existential risk because they are fighting to the death. On the contrary: they are fighting to the death because they were at existential risk before the first shot was fired. They have no oil. They do not even have water. They manufacture nothing. They cling to ancient hatred as a drowning man grasps a stone.”

“Isn’t there anything we can do about it?” I shouted.

But Richelieu had turned back into a cardinal-shaped jellyfish, and if he gave an answer, I could not hear it. As the he faded, the other ghosts crept out of the stonework and encircled me. Among them I recognized a miracle-working rabbi of Chelm, who screamed, “Spengler! What are you doing here, conjuring spirits of the dead?” I tried to say, “Rabbi, I don’t eat here!” but my lips wouldn’t move and my tongue burned. I woke up with an unspeakable hangover, next to an empty Armagnac bottle and a copy of the Weekly Standard.
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« Reply #542 on: July 07, 2014, 06:24:10 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRFsATqLjws#t=93
90 minutes with Bret Stephens. He is quite knowledgeable, thoughtful and insightful.

The Book: http://www.amazon.com/America-Retreat-Isolationism-Coming-Disorder/dp/1591846625
America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder Hardcover – November 18, 2014
by Bret Stephens

A Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist argues that the resurgence of isolationism in the U.S. is an invitation to global disorder of a kind last seen in the 1930s

Americans are weary of acting as the world's policeman, especially in the face of our unending economic troubles at home. President Obama stands for cutting defense budgets, leaving Afghanistan, abandoning Iraq, appeasing Russia, and offering premature declarations of victory over al Qaeda. Meanwhile, some Republicans now also argue for a far smaller and less expensive American footprint abroad.

Pulitzer Prize–winning Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens rejects this view. As he sees it, retreating from our global responsibilities will ultimately exact a devastating price to our security and prosperity. In the 1930s, it was the weakness and vacillation of the democracies that led to war and genocide. Today the regimes in Tehran, Damascus, Beijing, and Moscow continue to test America’s will.

Americans have often been tempted to turn our backs on a world that fails to live up to our idealism and doesn’t easily bend. But succumbing to that temptation always leads to tragedy. The mantle of global leadership is a responsibility we must shoulder for the sake of our freedom, our prosperity, and our safety.

America in Retreat is a warning and manifesto by one of America’s foremost foreign-policy thinkers. It will be hotly debated as the latest crises force our leaders to make difficult choices.

« Last Edit: July 07, 2014, 06:39:55 PM by DougMacG » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #543 on: July 07, 2014, 09:14:05 PM »

EXACTLY the kind of material which this thread is about.  I look forward to giving that clip a proper listen.
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« Reply #544 on: July 11, 2014, 01:52:22 PM »

EXACTLY the kind of material which this thread is about.  I look forward to giving that clip a proper listen.

It is quite insightful and worth your time IMHO.  Look forward to your comments.  Bringing the link forward:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRFsATqLjws#t=93
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« Reply #545 on: July 15, 2014, 08:30:21 AM »

At 88 minutes it has taken me a while to get to this.  I'm finally starting on it now.

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« Reply #546 on: July 17, 2014, 09:13:58 PM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2014/07/17/smart-power-state-department-ends-tumultuous-day-with-stirring-relevant-tweet/
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« Reply #547 on: July 17, 2014, 11:27:10 PM »

Chinese ambassador's take on BRICS

Building BRICS
Wei Wei : Sat Mar 23 2013, 03:46 hrs   

The 5th BRICS summit is to be held in Durban, South Africa next week. The leaders of China and India will meet again on the sidelines of the summit. It is undoubtedly a good opportunity for the two BRICS members to enhance mutual trust and promote cooperation through high-level interactions.

As the two biggest developing countries and emerging economies, relations between China and India have exceeded the bilateral spectrum and assumed global and strategic dimensions. The BRICS mechanism not only serves as a platform for the China-India relationship to raise its global impact, but also helps advance bilateral ties. The leaders of China and India have maintained close contact within the BRICS mechanism. Last March, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met each other during the 4th BRICS summit. Meanwhile, senior representatives on security affairs, foreign ministers, finance ministers, governors of the central banks of the two countries also met and exchanged views on political, security, economic and trade cooperation under the BRICS framework. We have every reason to believe that closer personal connection will be forged through the meeting between the newly elected Chinese president and the Indian leader in Durban, which would significantly contribute to the mutual trust and bilateral relations between China and India.

Recent years have witnessed the ever-growing national strength of the BRICS countries. The BRICS countries increasingly speak with one voice on international affairs, enjoy higher international standing and make their presence felt in a larger way globally. Now, the five BRICS countries account for 42 per cent of the global population, make up more than 20 per cent of the world GDP and contribute more than half of the world's economic growth. It is also noteworthy that the larger share the BRICS have in the world economy, the more important cooperation among the BRICS members will become. Currently, the BRICS countries are the world's largest market. Each has its own competitive edge in different areas. Some are blessed with abundant natural resources, while others are taking leading roles in manufacturing, IT, biotechnology, telecommunications and aerospace. Among the five BRICS members, China and India are especially complementary in their economies. In this sense, the two should fully tap the huge potentials and deepen substantial cooperation in various fields so as to bring more tangible benefits to the two peoples.

The BRICS countries also play a positive role in addressing issues such as food and energy security, environmental protection and reforms in the global trade system and financial governance. The leaders of the BRICS countries exchange views on important topics relating to sustainable development and discuss possible cooperation areas. Working groups are established and action plans are made on future agricultural cooperation. They have also been working together to tackle climate change and other issues to safeguard the interests of the emerging economies and developing countries. Apart from seeking a larger say in the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other international financial institutions, the BRICS countries are actively pushing for the establishment of new financial institutions of their own. In this regard, China, with the world's largest foreign exchange reserves and India, with a long history of financial services development, have plenty of opportunities for close cooperation and great accomplishment. We believe that closer cooperation within the BRICS in international finance will help put in place a more equitable and fair international economic and financial order. We believe that a strong manufacturing sector and large foreign-trade volumes still fall short of what we need. A greater say in international financial governance better serves our interests. To this end, deeper mutual trust and closer cooperation within the BRICS are needed.

China and India are faced with similar historical tasks and challenges to develop the economy and improve people's livelihood. Since last year, China and India have been conscientiously implementing the Delhi Declaration, which was agreed upon by the 4th BRICS Summit in India. As a result, we have yielded fruitful results in cooperation in economy, finance, trade, culture and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. The meeting to be held between the newly elected Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian PM Manmohan Singh in the coming BRICS summit would surely further strengthen political mutual trust and deepen the China-India strategic cooperative partnership.

Last but not least, I sincerely wish the 5th BRICS summit great success. China will join hands with India to safeguard the fundamental interests of developing countries, promote solidarity and cooperation among the BRICS countries, and make unremitting efforts for world peace and prosperity.

The writer is Chinese ambassador to India

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« Reply #548 on: July 17, 2014, 11:30:13 PM »

Sadly, the world is waking up to the fact that America of2014 has been fundamentally transformed and acting accordingly.
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« Reply #549 on: July 17, 2014, 11:30:36 PM »

second post

Putin's take...

BRICS key element of emerging multipolar world – Putin
Published time: March 22, 2013 04:55
Edited time: March 22, 2013 08:05

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds hopes that the BRICS group of emerging economies will turn into “a full-scale strategic cooperation mechanism” and become more involved in global politics.

Putin gave an interview to the ITAR-TASS news agency ahead of the March 26-27 BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa. Apart from Russia, the bloc consists of Brazil, India, China and the host country.

ITAR-TASS: BRICS' relatively new phenomenon attracts increased global attention due to the optimistic predictions about its development, especially against the backdrop of global crisis developments in the world economy. What is BRICS' immediate and long-term significance for Russia? Is such a format practical for the development of relations among these countries?

Vladimir Putin: There are a number of long-term factors working on BRICS' success. For the last two decades the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have been in the lead of global economic growth. Thus, in 2012, the average GDP growth rate in the group amounted to 4 per cent, while for the G7 this index was estimated at 0.7 per cent. In addition, GDP of the BRICS countries derived from the national currency purchasing power parity is currently over 27 per cent of the global GDP and its share continues to increase.

BRICS is a key element of the emerging multipolar world. The Group of Five has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to the fundamental principles of the international law and contributed to strengthening the United Nations central role. Our countries do not accept power politics or violation of other countries' sovereignty. We share approaches to the pressing international issues, including the Syrian crisis, the situation around Iran, and Middle East settlement.
 
Brazilian President Dilma Roussef(L to R), Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chinese President Hu Jintao and South African President Jacob Zuma pose during a BRICS's Presidents meeting in Los Cabos, Baja California, Mexico on June 18, 2012.(AFP Photo / Roberto Stuckert Filho)
The BRICS’ credibility and influence in the world is translated into its growing contribution to the efforts to stimulate global development. This important matter will be specifically addressed at the BRICS Leaders – Africa Dialogue Forum to be held on the sidelines of the Durban summit.

BRICS members advocate the creation of a more balanced and just system of global economic relations. The emerging markets are interested in long-term sustainable economic growth worldwide and reforms of the financial and economic architecture to make it more efficient. This is reflected in last year's joint decision to contribute $75 billion to the IMF lending program, thus increasing the participation of the fastest growing economies in the Fund's authorized capital.

Russia, as the initiator of the BRICS format and chair at its first summit in Yekaterinburg in 2009, sees the work within this group among its foreign policy priorities. This year, I have approved the Concept of the Russian Federation's Participation in the BRICS group, which sets forth strategic goals we seek to achieve through interaction with our partners from Brazil, China, India and South Africa.

Such cooperation in international affairs, trade, capital exchange and humanitarian sphere facilitates the creation of the most favourable environment for further growth of Russian economy, improvement of its investment climate, quality of life and well-being of our citizens. Our membership in this association helps foster privileged bilateral relations with the BRICS nations based on the principles of good neighbourliness and mutually beneficial cooperation. We believe it crucial to increase Russia's linguistic, cultural and information presence in the BRICS member nations, as well as expand educational exchanges and personal contact.

ITAR-TASS: What are the group’s short-term objectives and how do you see strategic directions for BRICS' economic development?

VP: BRICS identifies what is to be done based on action plans adopted at the group's annual summits. Last year's Delhi Action Plan outlined 17 areas of cooperation, including meetings of Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, joint meetings of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors on the sidelines of the G20, World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings, as well as contacts between other agencies.

We are currently negotiating a new plan we will discuss at the meeting in Durban. I am confident that it will help us develop a closer partnership. We expect that we will be able to closer coordinate our approaches to key issues on the agenda of the forthcoming G20 summit in St Petersburg, increase our cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking and production, and our efforts to counter terrorist, criminal and military threats in cyberspace.

It is of great importance for Russia to increase its trade and investment cooperation with its BRICS partners and launch new multilateral business projects involving our nations’ business communities. In Durban we intend to announce the formal establishment of the BRICS Business Council designed to support that activity. The summit will be preceded by the BRICS Business Forum, which will bring together more than 900 business community representatives from our countries.

ITAR-TASS: The potential of the BRICS economies brings up not only the question of economic policy coordination but also that of close geopolitical interaction. What is BRICS' geopolitical role and mission in today's world? Does it go beyond the purely economic agenda and should the BRICS countries accept greater responsibility for geopolitical processes? What is their policy with regard to the rest of the world, including its major actors such as the United States, the European Union, Japan… What future do you see for this association in this regard?

VP: First and foremost, the BRICS countries seek to help the world economy achieve stable and self-sustaining growth and reform the international financial and economic architecture. Our major task is to find ways to accelerate global development, encourage flows of capital in real economy and increase employment. This is particularly important in the context of poor global economic growth rates and unacceptably high unemployment. Although this is mainly true of western countries, the BRICS states are also negatively affected; export markets are shrinking, global finance lacks stability, and our own economic growth is slowing down.

At the same time, we invite our partners to gradually transform BRICS from a dialogue forum that coordinates approaches to a limited number of issues into a full-scale strategic cooperation mechanism that will allow us to look for solutions to key issues of global politics together.

The BRICS countries traditionally voice similar approaches to the settlement of all international conflicts through political and diplomatic means. For the Durban summit, we are working on a joint declaration setting forth our fundamental approaches to pressing international issues, i.e. crisis in Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East.
We do not view BRICS as a geopolitical competitor to western countries or their organisations — on the contrary, we are open to discussion with any country or organisation that is willing to do so within the framework of the common multipolar world order.

ITAR-TASS: Russia and China are important strategic and historic partners. How do you see the significance of such partnership not only for the development of the two countries, but also for the entire system of international relations and the world economy?

VP: Russia and China are two influential members of the international community, they are permanent members of the UN Security Council, and they are among the world’s largest economies. That is why the strategic partnership between us is of great importance on both a bilateral and global scale.
 
Today the Russian-Chinese relations are on the rise, they are the best in their centuries-long history. They are characterised by a high degree of mutual trust, respect for each other's interests, support in vital issues, they are a true partnership and are genuinely comprehensive.

President of the People’s Republic of China is currently on a state visit to Russia. The fact that the new Chinese leader makes his first foreign trip to our country confirms the special nature of strategic partnership between Russia and China.

In the last five years only, the volume of bilateral trade has more than doubled. China has firmly taken the first place among our trading partners. In 2012 the Russian-Chinese trade turnover increased by 5.2 per cent to constitute $87.5 billion (in 2007 the figure was $40 billion).

The commonality of our approaches to fundamental issues of world order and key international problems has become an important stabilising factor in world politics. Within the framework of the UN, the Group of Twenty, BRICS, the SCO, APEC and other multilateral formats, we are working together, helping to shape a new, more just world order, ensure peace and security, defend basic principles of international law. That is our common contribution to strengthening sustainable global development.
Russia and China show an example of a balanced and pragmatic approach to solving the most critical issues, such as the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula, situation around Iran’s nuclear program.

ITAR-TASS: Before the BRICS summit your schedule features a working visit to South Africa. What do you expect from the upcoming negotiations with South African party? Will this visit give impetus to the development of bilateral relations?

VP: Russia and South Africa have old ties of friendship and mutual respect. Multifaceted cooperation is developing between our countries, with constructive political dialogue established at the highest level, between governments, ministries and agencies. Interparliamentary, interregional, business and humanitarian contacts are consistently expanding.
 
During the visit to South Africa we certainly hope to give new impetus to our bilateral relations. The adoption of the Declaration on Strategic Partnership between Russia and South Africa is being prepared; it will confirm the new quality of our relations, determine key areas of joint work in the future. We plan to sign a number of important intergovernmental and interagency documents in Durban: the declaration on strategic partnership, the agreements on cooperation in the energy sector, agriculture, etc.
Trade and economic cooperation will be in the focus of our attention during negotiations. Last year the volume of trade between Russia and South Africa grew by 66 per cent and reached $964 million (in 2011 the figure was $580 million). Big Russian businesses, including such companies as Renova, Norilsk Nickel, Evraz Group, Basic Element, Severstal, Renaissance Capital and Vnesheconombank are actively entering the South African market, they are interested in further expanding their presence in South Africa.

Russia and South Africa can significantly, by many times, increase the volume of bilateral trade and investments, the number of mutually beneficial projects in the mining sector, power industry (including nuclear power), space exploration, military and technical sphere.

We consider it important to develop cooperation in the field of education and culture by strengthening direct ties between universities, promoting Russian language teaching in South African educational institutions, organising film festivals and tours by leading artists, and exchanging museum exhibitions.

We will discuss practical steps to achieve these goals with President Jacob Zuma.

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