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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities => Politics & Religion => Topic started by: Crafty_Dog on May 30, 2009, 11:16:20 AM

Title: US Foreign Policy & Geopolitics
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 30, 2009, 11:16:20 AM
Where possible, please use this thread instead of the Cognitive Dissonance thread. 
Title: Loose cannon gives BO a lesson
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 30, 2009, 04:28:24 PM
GM's post moved to here,25197,25557458-5013460,00.html

Loose cannon gives Obama a lesson

Greg Sheridan, Foreign editor | May 30, 2009

Article from:  The Australian
THERE has been a battle of wills between North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il and US President Barack Obama. So far, Kim has won.

However history finally judges Kim - genocidal narcissist, self-declared god king, supreme Stalinist end point of communism - it also will have to acknowledge his extraordinary success in imposing his own reality, his personal paradigm, on the international system and on the US.

This week, former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans argued that Kim's ambitions were essentially reasonable. Kim wanted recognition from the US, a reliable security guarantee and, according to Evans, didn't really want nuclear weapons.

That a sane man can make this judgment after decades of relentless nuclear development by Pyongyang, and after it has rejected or broken this same deal time and time again, demonstrates the feebleness of the foreign policy process mind.

It shows a complete failure of political imagination as to what the North Korean political culture really is.

It is the same kind of mind that dominates the Obama White House.

On May 12, Obama's special envoy on the Korean peninsula, Steve Bosworth, declared: "I think everyone is feeling relatively relaxed about where we are at this point in the process. There is not a sense of crisis." This could go down as one of the great ambassadorial dumb remarks of all time, indicating a disturbing detachment from reality. It certainly would do if it had been uttered by one of George W. Bush's officials.

Consider the implications of Bosworth's remark. Either the US knew a new nuclear test was imminent and Bosworth was telling a blatant lie in an effort to keep everyone calm or, likelier, it was the truth and indicates that the US had not the faintest idea what the North Koreans were up to, despite numerous analysts across the world, operating with far less information than the US Government had available, predicting Kim's nuclear explosion.

Certainly Obama's subsequent remarks, and those of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as US efforts at the UN Security Council, indicate that once the test was undertaken Washington was anything but relaxed.

To put it another way, Kim can predict Obama, but Obama cannot predict Kim.

Obama is plainly a leader of the highest intelligence, with a calm temperament and a very good bedside manner. But sometimes he seems to think he can change the world with PR.

Kim is teaching him that the world is a very intractable place. It is useful for the US to have good PR, but there are no serious problems that good PR alone will solve.

Obama is deeply involved in the detail of his foreign policy. Yet he came to the presidency with no foreign policy experience and few settled or even articulated views on national security. His multi-volume autobiography is noteworthy for its lack of anything resembling foreign policy substance.

Instead, as President he seems to have simply absorbed the world view of the US's great institutions of state, in particular the State Department and the Pentagon. In general this is not bad, as these institutions are generally reservoirs of expertise.

It also has led to Obama adopting almost exactly the foreign and national security policies of Bush's second administration. In the second Bush administration, with Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, the State Department's world view shaped the administration's actions.

The same is true for Obama, even if, through his vast panoply of special envoys and the beefing up of the National Security Council, he has continued the process of concentrating ever more direct power in the White House.

But on policy substance, Obama is an almost eerie replica of Bush's second term. In response to the Korean nuclear crisis, Obama is begging China to allow some sanctions through the UN Security Council, reassuring Japan and South Korea of the US military commitment, and trying to appear calm, all as Bush and Rice would have.

On Iraq, Obama is withdrawing on a slower timetable than he promised and one approved by his Republican rival, John McCain, with plenty of caveats allowing course correction.

On Afghanistan, Obama is surging with more than 20,00 additional US troops. Meanwhile the US predator drones are still flying and still firing missiles at al-Qa'ida and Taliban targets, including in Pakistan, wherever possible. On Pakistan, Obama is pleading with Congress to authorise billions of dollars in new aid for a corrupt and hopeless government because the alternative is Islamist extremists, exactly as Bush did.

On Guantanamo Bay, Obama has not yet closed the prison camp. He says he will try to within a year. He also says some inmates will be detained indefinitely without trial because of the risks they pose, while others will be tried in military commissions, not civilian courts. He has not flung open Guantanamo's doors, and rendition continues.

On Israel, Obama's support for Israel's security and its special relationship with the US is every bit as strong as Bush's. His promotion of the peace process, and his criticism of some aspects of Israeli West Bank settlement policy, are the same as Rice's and follow precisely from the Bush-initiated Annapolis process.

On Iran, Obama has indeed changed the tone, but not the substance, of the policy. He is pursuing dialogue to see if he can talk Iran out of its nuclear ambitions. This, in fact, is just what Bush and Rice were doing. Obama is even using exactly the same senior State Department official as Bush did to pursue this dialogue.

Iran is nonetheless one area where Obama's PR efforts may do some good. The dialogue with Iran will not work, but when crunch time comes the US will be in a better position for having made the effort.

Obama is even following Bush in taking a ridiculous amount of time to appoint an ambassador to Canberra.

In saying all this I am not criticising Obama (except for not appointing an envoy to Australia). Even the Left is slowly waking up to what a conventional and sensible President Obama mostly is on national security.

Even Maureen Dowd in The New York Times last week mocked Obama's national security policy as representing Dick Cheney's third term. Any president who earns that kind of abuse from Dowd is certainly doing a lot right.

At least for the past four years US foreign policy has been completely pragmatic, which is why Obama term I so far closely resembles Bush term II (which ought in honesty to lead to a re-evaluation of Bush II).

The sad reflection thereby arising, however, is that Bush had absolutely no success in stopping North Korea's progress along the nuclear path. The only real success in halting Pyongyang's nuclear proliferation came in 2007 when Israel bombed a North Korean-built nuclear reactor in Syria.

Obama has all the charm. Kim, demented, twisted, weird and evil, certainly has the will.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 30, 2009, 04:29:58 PM
CCP's post moved to here:
I don't get the previous post.  Is he critical of BO, Bush, BO because he is too much like Bush, Bo is too naive, or what?
He is all over the place.  I have no idea what his point is or what his conclusion is.

Here is another one who sounds mixed up but states BO is while on the surface similar to Bush's it is at its heart diametrically opposed.

It appears to me that he is saying that it is tranformational in a positive way.  Yet one gets the feeling that these people really are holding back because they are not sure that the cuddly adorable we are all the world we are one rhetoric, which is right out of a 1960s pepsi commercial, is going to work.

IN any case my opinion is that BO is selling the US down the river.  Sure, he may be popular around the world - he is giving our soveriegnty to them.  So what's for them not to like:
***Obama's Foreign Policy Isn't Bush Part 2
by Peter Scoblic
Peter Scoblic is the executive editor of The New Republic and the author of U.S. vs. Them: Conservatism in the Age of Nuclear Terror., March 25, 2009 · With his bold budget and ambitious plans for health care, no one seems to think that Barack Obama's domestic agenda is anything like George W. Bush's. But many commentators seem to think that when it comes to foreign policy, the new president is just like the old.

Foreign Policy magazine, for example, ran a piece titled "The Making Of George W. Obama." And in the Washington Post, a former John McCain adviser wrote that the "pretense" of change has required "some sleight of hand."

Sure, there are some similarities: Obama hasn't immediately withdrawn troops from Iraq, and he's continuing Predator strikes against Pakistani militants. But his worldview is diametrically opposed to Bush's. And if the last eight years are any guide, that difference will be incredibly important.

At the most basic level, President Bush and the conservatives around him believed that the world was divided into good and evil. They certainly weren't the first to do so. The early colonists proclaimed America a holy refuge from the evils of Europe. And when Thomas Jefferson famously spoke against "entangling alliances," he too was dividing the world into two categories: "us" and "them."

That attitude worked in the 1800s, but in the 20th century, as our security became intertwined with that of other countries, those kinds of binary distinctions lost power. That's why isolationism fell out of fashion. That's why Woodrow Wilson and FDR spoke of a community of nations. And with the invention of nuclear weapons, our very existence became dependent not simply on our ability to wage war against our enemies, but on our ability to cooperate with them.

Yet conservatives resisted history's push toward globalism. They saw the Cold War as a quasi-religious struggle. So they rejected coexistence with communism, negotiation with Moscow and containment of the Soviet Union, because each of these represented accommodation with "evil."

Even after the Cold War ended and transnational threats — like terrorism, disease and proliferation — became paramount, conservatives clung to that vision. In 2000, Bush said, "When I was coming up, it was a dangerous world. And we knew exactly who the 'they' were. It was us vs. them, and it was clear who 'them' was. Today we're not so sure who the 'they' are, but we know they're there."

In office, he put that attitude into practice. He derided diplomacy while emphasizing military action, which didn't require cooperation with other countries. Rejecting negotiation, containment and coexistence with the "axis of evil," Bush invaded Iraq while refusing to engage North Korea and Iran despite their accelerating nuclear programs. The results were disastrous.

Obama's approach is strikingly different. Last month, he said: "In words and deeds, we are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun. For we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America."

True, this approach is still developing. But, in and of itself, Obama's dismissal of us vs. them ideology is a crucial transformation in U.S. foreign policy. The only way you can argue it won't matter in the future is to completely ignore the past.

Peter Scoblic is the executive editor of The New Republic and the author of U.S. vs. Them: Conservatism in the Age of Nuclear Terror.****
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on May 30, 2009, 07:27:12 PM

Administration: Now North Korea is a threat again

Sometimes, we need a scorecard to keep up with the Obama administration’s positions on foreign policy and national security.  The latest case of whiplash comes from the ping-pong position shifts on North Korea.  When Pyongyang tested a long-range missile in April, Barack Obama called the DPRK a “regional threat” to security.  Last weekend, he upgraded North Korea to a threat to global peace.  Wednesday, though, Obama’s national security adviser James Jones dismissed Kim Jong-Il almost entirely, claiming that he poses no imminent threat to the US.

Today, Defense Secretary William Robert Gates goes back to Square One (via Flopping Aces):

The United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday at an international conference. …

His comments came amid growing concern across the globe over North Korea’s latest nuclear test and test-firings of short-range missiles.

On Friday, two Defense Department officials said the latest U.S. satellite imagery has spotted “vehicle activity” at a North Korean ballistic missile facility.

“North Korea’s nuclear program and actions constitute a threat to regional peace and security. We unequivocally reaffirm our commitment to the defense of our allies in the region,” Gates said in Singapore.

Gates sounded a lot less concerned on Thursday:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, en route to an annual security summit in Singapore Friday, signaled as much, saying North Korea’s actions so far do not warrant sending more US troops to the region.

“I don’t think that anybody in the [Obama] administration thinks there is a crisis,” Mr. Gates told reporters aboard his military jet early Friday morning, still Thursday night in Washington.

Anyone playing Pyongyang Bingo should note that the Obama administration has covered almost all of the positions on the card.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 02, 2009, 06:58:32 AM
Not 24 hours after North Korea's nuclear test last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a statement insisting "we don't have any cooperation [with North Korea] in this field." The lady doth protest too much.

When it comes to nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, history offers two hard lessons. First, nearly every nuclear power has been a secret sharer of nuclear technology. Second, every action creates an equal and opposite reaction -- a Newtonian law of proliferation that is only broken with the intercession of an overwhelming outside force.

On the first point, it's worth recalling that every nuclear-weapons state got that way with the help of foreign friends. The American bomb was conceived by European scientists and built in a consortium with Britain and Canada. The Soviets got their bomb thanks largely to atomic spies, particularly Germany's Klaus Fuchs. The Chinese nuclear program got its start with Soviet help.

David Klein
 Britain gave France the secret of the hydrogen bomb, hoping French President Charles de Gaulle would return the favor by admitting the U.K. into the European Economic Community. (He Gallicly refused.) France shared key nuclear technology with Israel and then with Iraq. South Africa got its bombs (since dismantled) with Israeli help. India made illegal use of plutonium from a U.S.-Canadian reactor to build its first bomb. The Chinese lent the design of one of their early atomic bombs to Pakistan, which then gave it to Libya, North Korea and probably Iran.

Now it's Pyongyang's turn to be the link in the nuclear daisy chain. Its ties to Syria were exposed by an Israeli airstrike in 2007. As for Iran, its military and R&D links to the North go back more than 20 years, when Iran purchased 100 Scud-B missiles for use in the Iran-Iraq war.

Since then, Iranians have reportedly been present at a succession of North Korean missile tests. North Korea also seems to have off-shored its missile testing to Iran after it declared a "moratorium" on its own tests in the late 1990s.

In a 2008 paper published by the Korea Economic Institute, Dr. Christina Lin of Jane's Information Group noted that "Increased visits to Iran by DPRK [North Korea] nuclear specialists in 2003 reportedly led to a DPRK-Iran agreement for the DPRK to either initiate or accelerate work with Iranians to develop nuclear warheads that could be fitted on the DPRK No-dong missiles that the DPRK and Iran were jointly developing. Thus, despite the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate stating that Iran in 2003 had halted weaponization of its nuclear program, this was the time that Iran outsourced to the DPRK for proxy development of nuclear warheads."

Another noteworthy detail: According to a 2003 report in the L.A. Times, "So many North Koreans are working on nuclear and missile projects in Iran that a resort on the Caspian coast is set aside for their exclusive use."

Now the North seems to be gearing up for yet another test of its long-range Taepodong missile, and it's a safe bet Iranians will again be on the receiving end of the flight data. Nothing prevents them from sharing nuclear-weapons material or data, either, and the thought occurs that the North's second bomb test last week might also have been Iran's first. If so, the only thing between Iran and a bomb is a long-range cargo plane.

Which brings us to our second nuclear lesson. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has lately been in Asia taking a tough rhetorical line on the North's nuclear activities. But it's hard to deliver the message credibly after Mr. Gates rejected suggestions that the U.S. shoot down the Taepodong just prior to its April test, or when the U.S. flubbed the diplomacy at the U.N. So other countries will have to draw their own conclusions.

One such country is Japan. In 2002, Ichiro Ozawa, then the leader of the country's Liberal Party, told Chinese leaders that "If Japan desires, it can possess thousands of nuclear warheads. Japan has enough plutonium in use at its nuclear plants for three to four thousand. . . . If that should happen, we wouldn't lose to China in terms of military strength."

This wasn't idle chatter. As Christopher Hughes notes in his new book, "Japan's Remilitarization," "The nuclear option is gaining greater credence in Japan because of growing concerns over the basic strategic conditions that have allowed for nuclear restraint in the past. . . . Japanese analysts have questioned whether the U.S. would really risk Los Angeles for Tokyo in a nuclear confrontation with North Korea."

There are still good reasons why Japan would not want to go nuclear: Above all, it doesn't want to simultaneously antagonize China and the U.S. But the U.S. has even better reasons not to want to tempt Japan in that direction. Transparently feckless and time-consuming U.S. diplomacy with North Korea is one such temptation. Refusing to modernize our degraded stockpile of nuclear weapons while seeking radical cuts in the overall arsenal through a deal with Russia is another.

This, however, is the course the Obama administration has set for itself. Allies and enemies alike will draw their own conclusions.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: ccp on June 02, 2009, 12:12:41 PM
In his speech about Iran's rigth to nuclear technology he has to add this at the end.   He simply cannot resist beratin the US:

Obama added that there is a danger "when the United States, or any country, thinks that we can simply impose these values on another country with a different history and a different culture."

Do other people notice the incredible hypocrisy of this guy downing the US for imposing values while at the same time he has imposed more values, more of his agenda than any President in history on his electorate?

You know what the problem with him similar to Clinton - is the *deceit*, the deception, the down right lies.

The Democrats have made this into a an art form in US politics over the last two decades.

I can only imigane the speech he will give in Egypt this week.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: DougMacG on June 02, 2009, 09:20:04 PM
CCP correctly notes the berating of the US in glibness speeches.  I would add the hypocricy of acknowledging Iran's need for nuclear power generation while denying ours.
Title: The other Friedman on BO
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 03, 2009, 03:48:37 AM
Published: June 3, 2009
During a telephone interview Tuesday with President Obama about his speech to Arabs and Muslims in Cairo on Thursday, I got to tell the president my favorite Middle East joke. It gave him a good laugh. It goes like this:

Skip to next paragraph
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman

There is this very pious Jew named Goldberg who always dreamed of winning the lottery. Every Sabbath, he’d go to synagogue and pray: “God, I have been such a pious Jew all my life. What would be so bad if I won the lottery?” But the lottery would come and Goldberg wouldn’t win. Week after week, Goldberg would pray to win the lottery, but the lottery would come and Goldberg wouldn’t win. Finally, one Sabbath, Goldberg wails to the heavens and says: “God, I have been so pious for so long, what do I have to do to win the lottery?”

And the heavens parted and the voice of God came down: “Goldberg, give me a chance! Buy a ticket!”

I told the president that joke because in reading the Arab and Israeli press this week, everyone seemed to be telling him what he needed to do and say in Cairo, but nobody was indicating how they were going to step up and do something different. Everyone wants peace, but nobody wants to buy a ticket.

“We have a joke around the White House,” the president said. “We’re just going to keep on telling the truth until it stops working — and nowhere is truth-telling more important than the Middle East.”

A key part of his message, he said, will be: “Stop saying one thing behind closed doors and saying something else publicly.” He then explained: “There are a lot of Arab countries more concerned about Iran developing a nuclear weapon than the ‘threat’ from Israel, but won’t admit it.” There are a lot of Israelis, “who recognize that their current path is unsustainable, and they need to make some tough choices on settlements to achieve a two-state solution — that is in their long-term interest — but not enough folks are willing to recognize that publicly.”

There are a lot of Palestinians who “recognize that the constant incitement and negative rhetoric with respect to Israel” has not delivered a single “benefit to their people and had they taken a more constructive approach and sought the moral high ground” they would be much better off today — but they won’t say it aloud.

“There are a lot of Arab states that have not been particularly helpful to the Palestinian cause beyond a bunch of demagoguery,” and when it comes to “ponying up” money to actually help the Palestinian people, they are “not forthcoming.”

When it comes to dealing with the Middle East, the president noted, “there is a Kabuki dance going on constantly. That is what I would like to see broken down. I am going to be holding up a mirror and saying: ‘Here is the situation, and the U.S. is prepared to work with all of you to deal with these problems. But we can’t impose a solution. You are all going to have to make some tough decisions.’ Leaders have to lead, and, hopefully, they will get supported by their people.”

It was clear from the 20-minute conversation that the president has no illusions that one speech will make lambs lie down with lions. Rather, he sees it as part of his broader diplomatic approach that says: If you go right into peoples’ living rooms, don’t be afraid to hold up a mirror to everything they are doing, but also engage them in a way that says ‘I know and respect who you are.’ You end up — if nothing else — creating a little more space for U.S. diplomacy. And you never know when that can help.

“As somebody who ordered an additional 17,000 troops into Afghanistan,” said Mr. Obama, “you would be hard pressed to suggest that what we are doing is not backed up by hard power. I discount a lot of that criticism. What I do believe is that if we are engaged in speaking directly to the Arab street, and they are persuaded that we are operating in a straightforward manner, then, at the margins, both they and their leadership are more inclined and able to work with us.”

Similarly, the president said that if he is asking German or French leaders to help more in Afghanistan or Pakistan, “it doesn’t hurt if I have credibility with the German and French people. They will still be constrained with budgets and internal politics, but it makes it easier.”

Part of America’s “battle against terrorist extremists involves changing the hearts and minds of the people they recruit from,” he added. “And if there are a bunch of 22- and 25-year-old men and women in Cairo or in Lahore who listen to a speech by me or other Americans and say: ‘I don’t agree with everything they are saying, but they seem to know who I am or they seem to want to promote economic development or tolerance or inclusiveness,’ then they are maybe a little less likely to be tempted by a terrorist recruiter.”

I think that’s right. An Egyptian friend remarked to me: Do not underestimate what seeds can get planted when American leaders don’t just propagate their values, but visibly live them. Mr. Obama will be speaking at Cairo University. When young Arabs and Muslims see an American president who looks like them, has a name like theirs, has Muslims in his family and comes into their world and speaks the truth, it will be empowering and disturbing at the same time. People will be asking: “Why is this guy who looks like everyone on the street here the head of the free world and we can’t even touch freedom?” You never know where that goes.

Title: Wolfowitz (!)
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 03, 2009, 03:57:18 AM
Second post of the AM

President Barack Obama faces great challenges when he speaks to the Muslim world tomorrow from Cairo. He must counter some of the myths and outright falsehoods about the United States that are commonly believed in many parts of the Muslim world, and he needs to present his audience with some inconvenient truths. But he also has an opportunity, based in no small part on his own remarkable career, to make the case that the political principles and values that are sometimes mistakenly labeled as "Western" are appropriate for the Muslim world.

The challenge of addressing the entire Muslim world in a single speech can be appreciated if one imagines what the reaction would be if some other world leader attempted to speak to the "Christian world," with all of its diversity. For example, although Islam is the state religion in most countries with Muslim majorities, there are a number -- including Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world -- where it is not. Moreover, some countries have large non-Muslim minorities. And the second largest Muslim population in the world lives as a minority in India. There is an enormous variety of views among Muslims around the world on everything from religion to politics to family values.

Although there are many expectations for this speech, one that Mr. Obama hopefully will disappoint is the expectation that he will walk away from what President George W. Bush called "the freedom agenda." That would be a great mistake for the U.S. and for the Muslim world.

Some observers have viewed the choice of Egypt as the venue for this important speech as a deliberate distancing from that idea. Egypt is an important country and the largest in the Arab world. But it is not the largest country in the Muslim world, or the most tolerant, or the freest, or the most democratic, or the most developed, or the most prosperous. The president should make clear that his decision to speak in Cairo does not mean he is indifferent to how the Egyptian government treats its own people, despite the importance of Egypt in the Arab-Israeli peace process and as an ally in confronting Iran.

The president said correctly in an NPR interview on Monday that "part of being a good friend is being honest," and that we need to be honest with Israel about "the fact that the current direction, the current trajectory, in the region is profoundly negative, not only for Israeli interests but also U.S. interests." The president also needs to be honest with the Muslim world. That means addressing the causes of the poverty and tyranny which are so pervasive that they create a widespread belief the U.S. is at best indifferent -- and at worst actively complicit -- in maintaining those conditions in order to deny Muslims their rightful place in the world.

Mr. Obama's own remarkable career is living testimony to the strengths of America's open society and free institutions. Most Muslims recognize his achievement in becoming the leader of a country that, despite our problems, is still admired and envied for its prosperity and freedom. At the same time, they recognize that no one of comparable background could become the leader of any of their own countries. That empowers Mr. Obama to argue persuasively that the institutions and practices that have enabled the U.S. to change so much over the course of two centuries can provide the key for their progress as well.

Genuine democracy is a matter of making government accountable and transparent, not only through elections but through many other means as well, including a free press. It means protecting the rights of all citizens to develop their full potential, both for their own prosperity and for the society as a whole, by protecting equal rights under the law. That includes the right of private property, which is recognized clearly in Islam. In speaking to the Muslim world, it is particularly important for the president to emphasize the importance of protecting the rights of women and those of minorities -- subjects on which he can be particularly eloquent and persuasive.

The denial of equal rights to women is unjust. It hurts society as a whole when half the population is prevented from achieving its full potential. The countries in the Muslim world that have developed most successfully are those -- such as Indonesia, Turkey and Malaysia -- where women have been able to play a substantial role. Those same countries have also benefited enormously from giving scope to Christian and Jewish minorities to prosper, although the record is imperfect. Turkey's Jewish minority found refuge there 500 years ago from the Spanish Inquisition. In those days, when Islamic civilization was the most advanced in the world, it was also one of the most tolerant.

Unfortunately, today's trend is in the wrong direction in much of the Muslim world. Church burnings and other intolerant acts are increasing. As a member of a minority himself, Mr. Obama is strongly positioned to speak out against that trend.

More generally, the president could counter the belief that the U.S. is indifferent to the fate of the world's Muslims or, worse, that we demonize Islam. He could remind his listeners of the many occasions in the past 20 years when the U.S. put its men and women in harm's way -- in Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo, not to mention Afghanistan and Iraq -- to assist people suffering from tyranny or famine who happened to be Muslims.

He could tell them of the deep respect that Americans have for religious belief in general and for Islam as one of the world's great religions. He could reiterate our understanding that the actions of extremists do not represent the majority of Muslims, as his predecessors emphasized repeatedly.

Hopefully, however, the president will not repeat what he said to Al-Arabiyah television in January about going back to "the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago." Throughout the Muslim world that was interpreted as a return to a time when, as President Bush said, the U.S. preferred stability to freedom in the Middle East and ended up with neither.

The president should make clear that the U.S. does not believe that democracy can be imposed by force. Nor should he suggest that stability is unimportant. Free institutions cannot be expected to develop overnight, and certainly not in Egypt. But particularly in Egypt it is appropriate to emphasize that true stability requires giving that country's persecuted liberal democrats the space to begin growing free institutions, rather than leaving the field entirely to extremists who organize effectively in secret.

One of those persecuted Egyptian liberals, Ayman Nour, recently asked whether Mr. Obama will "confirm his commitment to democracy, or will he appease dictators and aggressors?" One single speech cannot definitively answer that question but hopefully, tomorrow in Cairo, Ayman Nour will be pleased with Barack Obama's words.

Mr. Wolfowitz, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has served as deputy U.S. secretary of defense and U.S. ambassador to Indonesia.

Title: Stratfor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 03, 2009, 10:10:54 PM
Geopolitical Diary: Obama's Outreach to the Muslim World
June 3, 2009
U.S. President Barack Obama embarked late Tuesday on a key trip that includes visits to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The stopover in Riyadh was a late addition to his original itinerary, but Cairo — where Obama will deliver a much-anticipated speech to the Muslim world on June 4 — remains the main event.

The speech is part of a diplomacy initiative by Obama, with the stated objective of improving relations between the United States and the Islamic world. The campaign began with his inaugural address, in which Obama called for a new beginning with the Muslim world and relations based on mutual respect. That was followed by an interview with Saudi-owned satellite channel al-Arabiya (his first with a foreign news organization after becoming president), a message to Iran on the occasion of the Iranian New Year, and his speech to the Turkish parliament.

Reaching out to a global religious community in such a manner is a very unorthodox form of diplomacy. International relations usually concerns bilateral and multilateral dealings between governments of nation-states. But in the case of the U.S. relationship with the Islamic world, Obama is going beyond the standard approach to diplomacy and creating a new channel by reaching out directly to the Muslim masses, which harbor serious grievances over U.S. foreign policy, especially in light of the post-9/11 U.S. military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While many in Muslim countries take issue with Washington, they are often equally (if not more) opposed to their own governments. In fact, these two views are linked together in the criticism that Washington continues to support authoritarian regimes that have long suppressed citizens. The Obama administration, while it seeks to engage Muslim populations, obviously is not about to withdraw from its relationships with the governments that rule over them.

In this diplomacy initiative, Obama will have to find a balance between the states and their citizens in order to avoid further entanglement in what, to a great degree, is an internal struggle within the Muslim world. This is going to be extremely difficult: The masses seek change to the political status quo, which, from Washington’s point of view, translates into instability that might threaten U.S. interests. In fact, the likely purpose behind the president’s unconventional initiative is to offer what little assistance he can, in the form of an improved U.S. image, to governments in the Muslim world that find themselves increasingly estranged from the societies they govern.

Many within the target audience already are skeptical about the potential for change in U.S. policy — and rightfully so. The foreign policy of any country is a function of its objective geopolitical realities, which do not shift much with a change in leadership. Indeed, his rhetoric notwithstanding, Obama’s actual policies are very much a continuation of those of his predecessor.

While the administration says it is reaching out to the Muslim world, the choice of Cairo as the venue clearly indicates that the focus is on the largely Arab Middle East and, by extension, South Asia. There are many who argue that, while a major change in policy naturally cannot be expected, this should not discount the possibility of modest adjustments. But within the Middle East, the administration is caught within a complex constellation of relationships that include rival Arab states, Iran, Israel and Turkey. Any meaningful shift likely would upset the balance in the region. The latest example of this is the concern among Arab states and the Israelis over U.S. efforts to engage Iran diplomatically. In other words, there isn’t much room to maneuver with policy adjustments.

Ultimately, what this means is that the Muslim masses are in for a disappointment when it becomes clear that the Obama administration is not going to overhaul U.S. foreign policy. But this will not pose much of a problem for Obama. The fond feelings of the Muslim world might be nice to claim, but ultimately, he does not need their support. In the end, it will be the American people, not the rest of the world, who will issue the final referendum on his performance as president.
Title: The WSJ on BO's speech in Egypt
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 05, 2009, 03:19:00 AM
One benefit of the Obama Presidency is that it is validating much of George W. Bush's security agenda and foreign policy merely by dint of autobiographical rebranding. That was clear enough yesterday in Cairo, where President Obama advertised "a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world." But what he mostly offered were artfully repackaged versions of themes President Bush sounded with his freedom agenda. We mean that as a compliment, albeit with a couple of large caveats.

So there was Mr. Obama, noting that rights such as "freedom to live as you choose" and "the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed" were "not just American ideas, they are human rights." There he was insisting that "freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together," and citing Malaysia and Dubai as economic models for other Muslim countries while promising to host a summit on entrepreneurship.

There he was too, in Laura Bush-mode, talking about the need to expand opportunities for Muslim women, particularly in education. "I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles," he said. "But it should be their choice."

Mr. Obama also offered a robust defense of the war in Afghanistan, calling it "a war of necessity" and promising that "America's commitment will not weaken." That's an important note to sound when Mr. Obama's left flank and some Congressional Democrats are urging an exit strategy from that supposed quagmire. On Iraq, he acknowledged that "the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein" and pledged the U.S. to the "dual responsibility" of leaving Iraq while helping the country "forge a better future." The timeline he reiterated for U.S. withdrawal is the one Mr. Bush negotiated last year.

The President even went one better than his predecessor, with a series of implicit rebukes to much of the Muslim world. There would have been no need for him to specify that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis if Holocaust denial weren't rampant in the Middle East, including Egypt, just as there would have been no need to name al Qaeda as the perpetrator of 9/11 if that fact were not also commonly denied throughout the Muslim world. There also would have been no need to insist that "the Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems," if that were not the modus operandi of most Arab governments.

Mr. Obama also noted that "among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of another's," a recognition of the supremacist strain in Islamist thinking. He also included a pointed defense of democracy, including "the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed" and "confidence in the rule of law." We doubt the point was lost on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, now in his 29th year in office. All of this will do some good if it leads to broader acceptance among Muslims of the principles of Mr. Bush's freedom agenda without the taint of its author's name.

As for the caveats, Mr. Obama missed a chance to remind his audience that no country has done more than the U.S. to liberate Muslims from oppression -- in Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo and above all in Afghanistan and Iraq, where more than 50 million people were freed by American arms from two of the most extreme tyrannies in modern history. His insistence on calling Iraq a "war of choice" is a needless insult to Mr. Bush that diminishes the cause for which more than 4,000 Americans have died.

He also couldn't resist his by now familiar moral self-indulgence by asserting that he has "unequivocally prohibited the use of torture" and ordered Guantanamo closed. Aside from the fact that the U.S. wasn't torturing anyone before Mr. Obama came into office, his Arab hosts can see through his claims. They know the Obama Administration is "rendering" al Qaeda detainees to other countries, some of them Arab, where their rights and well-being are far less secure than at Gitmo.

The President also stooped to easy, but false, moral equivalence, most egregiously in comparing the U.S. role in an Iranian coup during the Cold War with revolutionary Iran's 30-year hostility toward the U.S. He also compared Israel's right to exist with Palestinian statehood. But while denouncing Israeli settlements was an easy applause line, removal of those settlements will do nothing to ease Israeli-Palestinian tensions if the result is similar to what happened when Israel withdrew its settlements from Gaza. We too favor a two-state solution -- as did President Bush -- but that solution depends on Palestinians showing the capacity to build domestic institutions that reject and punish terror against other Palestinians and their neighbors.

Hanging over all of this is the question of Iran. In his formal remarks, Mr. Obama promised only diplomacy without preconditions and warned about a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Yet surely Iran was at the top of his agenda in private with Mr. Mubarak and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, both of whom would quietly exult if the U.S. removed that regional threat. They were no doubt trying to assess if Mr. Obama is serious about stopping Tehran, or if he is the second coming of Jimmy Carter.

It is in those conversations, and in the hard calls the President will soon have to make, that his Middle East policy will stand or fall
Title: Kyrgyzstan says no to BO
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 14, 2009, 01:31:36 PM

The Kyrgyz say 'nyet' to Obama

Not to deny President Obama's diplomatic charms, but they seem lost on the world's harder cases. The latest is Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian nation of five million that has been home to a U.S. air base at Manas, a critical transit center to supply troops in Afghanistan.

In February, hours after securing $2 billion in aid from Russia, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced -- in Moscow no less -- that the U.S. will have to leave by August 18. Mr. Obama this week sent a confidential letter to the Kyrgyz leader implicitly asking him to reconsider by "expressing his gratitude to the nation and government of Kyrgyzstan for its efforts to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan and in the fight against international terrorism and narcotics trafficking," according to a summary released by the Kyrgyz government yesterday.

The Kyrgyz quickly shot those hopes down. "The decision to abolish the agreement on the military air base, Manas, has been made, and there is no turning back from this," Foreign Minister Kadyrbek Sarbayev told a Kyrgyz news agency.

Russian fingerprints are all over this U.S. setback. Like many other authoritarians, Vladimir Putin's regime in Moscow derives its legitimacy in part from anti-Americanism. No "restart" in relations promised by Mr. Obama can easily change that. And for Russia, in its neighborhood, the policy consequence is to push America out and prop up local dictators.

That's true whether the U.S. President is named Obama or Bush. Perhaps this young Administration can learn with experience that goodwill alone gets one only so far in the real world.
There is another more in-depth article discussing Putin's craft here:
Title: Spengler
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 29, 2009, 08:30:24 PM
Middle East
Jun 30, 2009
Obama creates a deadly power vacuum
By Spengler

There's a joke about a man who tells a psychiatrist, "Everybody hates me," to which the psychiatrist responds, "That's ridiculous - everyone doesn't know you, yet." Which brings me to Barack Obama: one of the best-informed people in the American security establishment told me the other day that the president is a "Manchurian Candidate".

That can't be true - Manchuria isn't in the business of brainwashing prospective presidential candidates any more. There's no one left to betray America to. Obama is creating a

strategic void in which no major power will dominate, and every minor power must fend for itself. The outcome is incalculably hard to analyze and terrifying to consider.

Obama doesn't want to betray the United States; he only wants to empower America's enemies. Forcing Israel to abandon its strategic buffer (the so-called settlements) was supposed to placate Iran, so that Iran would help America stabilize Iraq, where its influence looms large over the Shi'ite majority.

America also sought Iran's help in suppressing the Taliban in Afghanistan. In Obama's imagination, a Sunni Arab coalition - empowered by Washington's turn against Israel - would encircle Iran and dissuade it from acquiring nuclear weapons, while an entirely separate Shi'ite coalition with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would suppress the radical Sunni Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This was the worst-designed scheme concocted by a Western strategist since Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery attacked the bridges at Arnhem in 1944, and it has blown up in Obama's face.

Iran already has made clear that casting America's enemies in the leading role of an American operation has a defect, namely that America's enemies rather would lose on their own terms than win on America's terms. Iran's verbal war with the American president over the violent suppression of election-fraud protests leaves Washington with no policy at all. The premise of Obama's policy was that progress on the Palestinian issue would empower a Sunni coalition. As the president said May 18:
If there is a linkage between Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, I personally believe it actually runs the other way. To the extent that we can make peace with the Palestinians - between the Palestinians and the Israelis, then I actually think it strengthens our hand in the international community in dealing with the potential Iranian threat.
Israel's supporters remonstrated in vain. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a prominent Obama supporter, wrote, "If there is to be any linkage - and I do not believe there should be - it goes the other way: it will be much easier for Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank if Iran does not have a nuclear umbrella under which it can continue to encourage Hamas and Hezbollah to fire rockets at Israeli civilians."

No matter: America made clear that it had annulled the George W Bush administration's promise that a final settlement would allow most of Israel's 500,000 "settlers" to keep their homes, in order to launch the fantasy ship of Iranian cooperation with America.

That policy now is in ruins, and Washington has no plan B. David Axelrod, Obama's top political advisor, told television interviewers on January 28 that Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who spent the last week denouncing the United States, "Did not have final say" over Iran's foreign policy and that America still wanted to negotiate with Iran. This sounds idiotic, but the White House really has painted itself into a corner. The trouble is that Obama has promised to withdraw American forces from Iraq, and Iran has sufficient influence in Shi'ite-majority Iraq to cause continuous upheaval, perhaps even to eventually win control of the country.

By a fateful coincidence, American troops are scheduled to leave Iraq's urban centers on June 30. Overthrowing Saddam Hussein left Iraq open to Iranian destabilization; that is why the elder George Bush left the Iraqi dictator in power in 1990.

Offering Iran a seat at the table in exchange for setting a limit to its foreign ambitions - in Lebanon and Gaza as well as Iraq - seemed to make sense on paper. But the entity that calls itself revolutionary Islam is not made of paper, but of flesh and blood. It is in danger of internal collapse and can only assert its authority by expanding its influence as aggressively as it can.

After the election disaster, Iran's revolutionary leadership urgently needs to demonstrate its credibility. Israel now can say, "A country that murders its own citizens will have no compunction about massacring its enemies," and attack Iran's nuclear capacity with fewer consequences than would have been imaginable in May. And if an Israeli strike were to succeed, or appear successful to the world, the resulting humiliation might be fatal to the regime.

Israel may not be Tehran's worst nightmare. Iraq's Sunnis are testing the resolve of the weakened mullahs. The suicide bombing that killed 73 people at a Shi'ite mosque in Kirkuk on June 20 and a second bombing that killed another 72 Shi'ites in Baghdad's Sadr City slum most likely reflect Sunni perceptions that a weakened Tehran will provide less support for Iraqi Shi'ites. Although Shi'ites comprise more than three-fifths of Iraq's population, Sunnis provided the entire military leadership and are better organized on the ground. America's hopes of enlisting Iran to provide cover for its withdrawal from the cities of Iraq seem delusional.

What move on the chessboard might Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei venture to pre-empt an Israeli air raid against the nuclear facilities? Iran has the rocket launchers of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, and terrorist sleeper cells throughout the world. Iran might seek to pre-empt what it anticipates to be the next move from Israel by demonstrating its capacity to inflict injury on Israel or on Jewish targets elsewhere. That would require careful judgment, for a heavy handed action could provide a pretext for even more serious action by the Israelis and others. The same sort of consideration applies to Iranian support for Pakistan Shi'ites, for Hezbollah, and other vehicles of Iran's program of imperial expansion.

The Obama administration has put itself in a peculiar bind. It has demanded that the Pakistani army suppress the Taliban, after Islamabad attempted a power-sharing agreement that left the Taliban in control of the Swat Valley. To root out the largely Pashtun Taliban, Pakistan's largely Punjabi army has driven a million people into refugee camps and leveled entire towns in the Swat Valley. Tens of thousands of refugees are now fleeing the Pakistani army in the South Waziristan tribal area. Punjabis killing Pashtuns is nothing new in the region, but the ferocity of the present effort does not augur well for an early end to the conflict.

While the Pakistan army holds nothing back in attacking the Taliban, American troops in Afghanistan have been told that they no longer can call in air strikes if civilians are likely to suffer. That will put American forces in the unfortunate position of the Pirates of Penzance, who exempted orphans. Once this became generally known, everyone they attempted to rob turned out to be an orphan.

The Taliban need only take a page from Hamas' book, and ensure that civilians are present wherever they operate. The US has made clear that it will not deal in civilian blood, the currency of warfare in that region since before the dawn of history. It will not be taken seriously in consequence.

What will the administration do now? As all its initiatives splatter against the hard realities of the region, it will probably do less and less, turning the less appetizing aspects of the fighting over to local allies and auxiliaries who do not share its squeamishness about shedding civilian blood. That is the most dangerous outcome of all, for America is the main stabilizing force in the region.

The prospect of civil wars raging simultaneously in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq is no longer improbable. The Israel-Palestine issue is linked to all of these through Iran, whose credibility depends on its ability to sustain such puppies of war as Hezbollah and Hamas. Whether or not the Israelis take the opportunity to strike Iran, the prospect of an Israeli strike will weigh on Iran's proxies in the region, and keep Israel's borders in condition of potential violence for the interim.

America's great good fortune is that no hostile superpower stands ready to benefit from its paralysis and confusion. When Soviet troops landed in Afghanistan in December 1979, America was in the grip of an economic crisis comparable to the present depression. American diplomats at the Tehran Embassy were still hostages to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The price of gold doubled from around $400 to $800 after the Russian invasion because most of the world thought that Russia would win the Cold War. If America lost its dominant superpower status in the West, the dollar no longer could serve as a global reserve currency. To the superpower goes the seigniorage, the state's premium for providing a currency.

By contrast, the gold price barely fluttered all through the present crisis. America remains the undisputed global superpower for the time being. America's creditors express consternation about its $1.8 trillion budget deficit and many trillions more of guarantees for the banking system, but there is nothing they can do about it for the time being but talk. That is how one should interpret a June 25 Reuters report that a "senior researcher with the ruling Communist Party" had urged China to shift some of its $2 trillion in reserves out of dollars and into gold.
Li Lianzhong, who heads the economic department of the Party's policy research office, said China should use more of its $1.95 trillion in foreign exchange reserves to buy energy and natural resource assets. Speaking at a foreign exchange and gold forum, Li also said that buying land in the United States was a better option for China than buying US Treasury securities.

"Should we buy gold or US Treasuries?" Li asked. "The US is printing dollars on a massive scale, and in view of that trend, according to the laws of economics, there is no doubt that the dollar will fall. So gold should be a better choice."
There is no suggestion that Li, even though he is a senior researcher, was enunciating an agreed party line.

The last thing China wants at the moment is to undercut the US dollar, for three reasons. First, as America's largest creditor, China has the most to lose from a dollar collapse. Second, Americans would buy fewer Chinese imports. And third, the collapse of the dollar would further erode America's will to fulfill its superpower function, and that is what China wants least of all.

America remains the indispensable outsider in Asia. No one likes the United States, but everyone dislikes the United States less than they dislike their neighbors. India need not worry about China's role in Pakistan, for example, because America mediates Indian-Pakistani relations, and America has no interest in a radical change to the status quo. Neither does China, for that matter, but India is less sure of that. China does not trust Japan for historical reasons that will not quickly fade, but need not worry about it because America is the guarantor of Japan's security. The Seventh Fleet is the most disliked - and nonetheless the most welcome - entity in Asia.

All of this may change drastically, quickly, and for the worse. Obama's policy reduces to empowering America's enemies in the hope that they will conform to American interests out of gratitude. Just the opposite result is likely to ensure: Iran, Pakistan and other regional powers are likely to take radical measures. Iran is threatened with a collapse of its Shi'ite program from Lebanon to Afghanistan, and Pakistan is threatened with a breakup into three or more states.

Obama has not betrayed the interests of the United States to any foreign power, but he has done the next worst thing, namely to create a void in the region by withdrawing American power. The result is likely to be a species of pandemonium that will prompt the leading players in the region to learn to live without the United States.

In his heart of hearts, Obama sees America as a force for evil in the world, apologizing for past American actions that did more good than harm. An example is America's sponsorship of the 1953 coup in Iran that overthrew the left-leaning government of Mohammed Mossadegh.

"In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government," the president offered in his Cairo address to Muslims on June 5. Although Iran's theocracy despises Mossadegh - official Iranian textbooks call him the "son of a feudal family of exploiters who worked for the cursed Shah, and betrayed Islam" - Iran's government continues to reproach America for its role in the coup. "With a coup they toppled the national government of Iran and replaced it with a harsh, unpopular and despotic regime," Ahmadinejad complained in a January 28 speech.

It is s a bit late to offer advice to Obama, but the worst thing America can do is to apologize. Instead, it should ask for the gratitude of the developing world. Weak countries become punching-bags in the proxy wars of empires. This was from the dawn of history until the fall of the last empire - the "evil" empire of Soviet communism.

The Soviets exploited anti-colonial movements from the 1917 Bolshevik coup until the collapse of the Afghanistan adventure in the late 1980s. Nationalists who tried to ride the Russian tiger ended up in its belly more often than on its back. Iran, Chile, Nicaragua, Angola and numerous other weak countries became the hapless battleground for the contest of covert operations between the Soviet Union and America - not to mention Vietnam and Korea.

The use of developing countries as proxy battlefields and their people as cannon fodder came to an end with the Cold War. As a result, the past 20 years have seen the fastest improvement in living standards ever in the global south, and a vast shift in wealth towards so-called developing countries.

By defeating Russia in the Cold War, America made it possible for governments in the global south to pursue their own interests free from the specter of Soviet subversion. And by countering Soviet subversion, America often averted much worse consequences.

Many deficiencies can be ascribed to the Shah of Iran, but a communist regime in the wake of a Mossadegh administration would have been indescribably worse. The septuagenarian Mossadegh had his own agenda, but he relied on the support of the communist Tudeh party. The US feared a Soviet invasion of Iran, and "the [Harry S] Truman administration was willing to consider a Soviet invasion of Iran as a casus belli, or the start of a global war", according to Francis J Gavin's 1999 article in The Journal of Cold War Studies.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with help from British intelligence helped the shah overthrow the left-leaning regime. But this was no minor colonial adventure, but a flashpoint with the potential to start a world war.

It is painful and humiliating for Iranians to recall the overthrow of a democratically elected government with American help. It would have been infinitely more humiliating to live under Soviet rule, like the soon-to-be-extinct victims of Soviet barbarism in Eastern Europe.

The same is true of Chile, where the brutal regime of General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in 1973, with help from the CIA. Allende was surrounded by Cuban intelligence operations. As Wikipedia reports:
Shortly after the election of Salvador Allende in November 1970, the [Cuban Directorate of Intelligence - DI] worked extremely closely to strengthen Allende's increasingly precarious position. The Cuban DI station chief Luis Fernandez Ona even married Salvador Allende's daughter Beatrice, who later committed suicide in Cuba. The DI organized an international brigade that would organize and coordinate the actions of the thousands of the foreign leftists that had moved into Chile shortly after Allende's election. These individuals ranged from Cuban DI agents, Soviet, Czech and North Korean military instructors and arms suppliers, to hardline Spanish and Portuguese Communist Party members.
My Latin American friends who still mourn the victims of Pinochet's "night and fog" state terror will not like to hear this, but the several thousand people killed or tortured by the military government were collateral damage in the Cold War. Like Iran, Chile became the battleground of a Soviet-American proxy war. The same is true in Nicaragua. (Full disclosure: I advised Nicaragua's president Violeta Chamorro after she defeated the Cuban-backed Sandinistas in the 1990 elections; I did so with no tie to any government agency.)

Obama's continuing obsession with America's supposed misdeeds - deplorable but necessary actions in time of war - is consistent with his determination to erode America's influence in the most troubled parts of the world. By removing America as a referee, he will provoke more violence than the United States ever did. We are entering a very, very dangerous period as a result.
Title: Obama's worst fcukup thus far
Post by: G M on July 02, 2009, 07:12:33 AM

Missing Our Moment in Iran
Obama’s policy is a lose/lose proposition that will please neither side.

By Victor Davis Hanson

Last month, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest a rigged presidential election. Our president was extremely cautious in his initial criticism of the Iranian government’s fierce crackdown against the protestors. At first, President Obama said that the United States — given our history in Iran — should not be “meddling” in the country’s internal affairs.

Obama suggested that the leading opposition candidate, the reformer Mir-Hossein Mousavi, might not be that different from the entrenched theocracy’s choice, the incumbent (and declared winner of the June election) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Finally, as both the crowds in the Iranian streets and the violence against them increased over the next several days, Obama conceded that he was “appalled” at the clerics’ repression.

In defense of the president’s hesitation, some of his supporters argued that our initial neutrality was aimed at not spoiling the administration’s earlier efforts at outreach to Iran’s Islamist regime. We were taking the realistic long view, they added, in which negotiations with the clerics might still curb Iran’s nuclear-weapon aspirations and their support for terrorism. As Obama’s U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, put it, the  “legitimacy” of the regime was “not the critical issue in terms of our dealings with Iran.”

Perhaps Obama also wishes to avoid former President Bush’s muscular approach in the Middle East, which ended up in costly efforts to foster legitimate constitutional governments in Afghanistan and Iraq, after removing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.

Unfortunately, Obama’s policy is a lose/lose proposition that will please neither side in Iran. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, isn’t suddenly going to embrace the U.S. because of Obama’s more charismatic approach, much less stop subsidizing terrorists and developing a nuclear arsenal.

For over three decades, the Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II administrations all reached out — both overtly and covertly — to the Iranian theocracy, with offers of normalizing relations, secret arms deals, back-channel meetings, and occasional apologies. But the clerics today are as anti-American as they were in 1979. And they’re still rounding up, killing, and torturing dissidents in the same manner that they used to consolidate power after the fall of the Shah.

In addition, our belated, tepid criticism of the repressive Iranian government may not translate into goodwill from Iranian advocates for freedom — given our painful silence in the early days of the demonstrations, when achieving global support was critical.

And what about other pro-democracy dissidents abroad — whether in Cuba, the Arab world, or Venezuela? Will they still trust that the U.S. supports their efforts to obtain a free society?

Meanwhile, authoritarians in China, North Korea, Russia, the Middle East, and South America may draw two unfair and unfortunate conclusions. One, the United States does not care much what other regimes do to their own people. Two, a new America will overlook almost anything in order just to get along with these authoritarians.

But is the U.S. at least consistent in its promises not to meddle?

Not all the time.

When Benjamin Netanyahu came to power in Israel, the Obama administration made its distaste clear. It also has tried to find ways to isolate Hamid Karzai’s elected government in Afghanistan — and was initially not happy about the prospects of its reelection.

Most recently, the U.S. condemned the Honduran military’s arrest of Pres. Manuel Zelaya. The nation’s supreme court had found his efforts to extend his presidential tenure in violation of its constitution, once Zelaya tried to finesse an illegal third term.

In other words, the U.S. pressures other nations as it pleases — though strangely now more to lean on friends than to criticize rivals and enemies.

In contrast, had President Obama voiced early, consistent, and sharp criticism of the Iranian crackdown, the theocracy would have worried that the president’s stature could have galvanized global boycotts and embargos to isolate the theocracy and aid the dissidents. And the reformers in the streets could have become even more confident with a trademark Obama “hope and change” endorsement.

Internal democratic change in Iran is the only peaceful solution to stopping an Iranian bomb, three decades of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, and a Middle East arms race. When thousands risked their lives for a better Iran, a better Middle East, and a better world, we, the land of the free, simply were not with them.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. © 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

National Review Online -
Title: Stratfor: America's Indivisible Imperatives
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 02, 2009, 11:22:28 PM
Geopolitical Diary: America's Indivisible Imperatives
July 2, 2009
Americans will celebrate the Fourth of July holiday on Saturday. For STRATFOR, this is a time to reflect on just how the world came to look the way it does today.

In the late 18th century, Britain was the most powerful country in the world for two reasons: first, it was an island, and second, the height of human technology at the time was deepwater navigation. Combining advancements in naval operations with the protection of the English Channel, Britain could focus all of its efforts on maritime-based imperial expansion, while its European peers were forced to fight for dominance on land. The result was a far-flung and remarkably lucrative empire with which no one could compete.

Eventually, Britain’s American colonies grew too large in land area, wealth and population to control from afar, and a revolution wrested them from the Crown’s control. Since that development, five core rules – what we call “geopolitical imperatives” — have determined the behavior of the colonies that became the United States.

The first imperative was to secure strategic depth for the new nation. One of the most successful tactics employed by the British during the American Revolutionary War was the coastal raid. Britain’s superior navy proved able not only to blockade the fledgling country’s coast, but also to move men and materiel up and down the coast much faster than the Americans could over land. That combination of economic and military disadvantages almost cost the nascent United States the revolution — and gravely threatened it again in the War of 1812, when the new country lost its capital for a short time. Thus, in its early years, the United States aggressively pushed inland to establish economic centers that were less exposed to naval power. By moving across the Appalachians, the United States opened up vast tracts of territory to absorb all the immigrants that Europe could supply.

The second U.S. imperative was to secure North America. Depth — particularly that acquired in the Louisiana Purchase — gave the United States insulation from the sea, but it also put the country into direct contact with land-based powers. This was partially resolved immediately after the War of 1812, when the United States and Canada forged agreements that would gradually loosen Canada’s ties to mother Britain.

But the much larger event was settled in Texas. During Texas’s battle for independence, the forces of Mexican general Santa Ana crossed north of the Chihuahuan Desert and sacked the Alamo. From there, they marched east to pursue retreating Texican forces in a series of battles that, at the time, the Mexicans seemed fated to win. Had Santa Ana succeeded in subduing the Texas rebellion, he would have been within reach of the very lightly defended New Orleans. (And after the agony of crossing the deserts and mountains of Chihuahua, this would have been a cakewalk.)

Santa Ana’s intent is lost to history, but if he had chosen to seize New Orleans, history would have turned out very differently. The Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Red and Tennessee River basins — all the territory of the Louisiana Purchase, in addition to that ceded by Britain to the United States at the end of the Revolutionary War — would have been held hostage by Mexican forces, which would have controlled the only point of sea access. As fate had it, Santa Ana did not make it that far; Texican forces defeated his army at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836, achieving independence for Texas and pushing Mexican forces back through the desert. The United States quickly annexed Texas in the aftermath (1845), largely to secure New Orleans, and a mere year later prosecuted a war with Mexico to underscore the point. North America — or at least the really useful bits — belonged to the United States.

With North America largely secure from land invasion and coastal raiding, the third step for the United States was to gain control of the ocean approaches. This was accomplished in two phases.

First, the United States took over the Sandwich Islands (aka Hawaii), the only territory in the Pacific that lay within an easy sail of the West Coast, in 1898. That pretty much sealed up the Pacific.

The Atlantic — which contained European assets in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Canada and South America — was more complicated. The United States seized Puerto Rico and Cuba from Spain in 1898. But the breaking point here did not occur until the early days of World War II, when the United States allowed the United Kingdom to borrow some mothballed destroyers in exchange for almost every naval base the British owned in the Western Hemisphere. What had been the world’s largest navy for three centuries was suddenly a nonpower in half the globe.

Once a nation controls its approaches, the next logical step — the fourth imperative — is to reach farther and control the oceans themselves. In this endeavor, the battles of World War II proved pivotal. The United States seized direct control of places like Micronesia in the Pacific, and the Azores and Iceland in the Atlantic. At the war’s conclusion, the United States’ containment strategy first and foremost included courting island and naval powers. Some, like Australia and Norway, proved to be new friends. The United Kingdom and Japan, onetime rivals, became regional lynchpins. But there was a deep commonality among these powers: They all controlled maritime chokepoints and were situated at or near the world’s major shipping lanes. Leveraged by U.S. naval power, their strategic locations ensured American dominance of the waves. In the years since, alliances with states like Singapore, Denmark and Taiwan have sealed the United States’ maritime dominance.

The only way to challenge a country that controls a continent-sized mass is to control an even bigger one. To prevent that from happening, the United States works to keep Eurasia divided. World Wars I and II both were fought in large part to prevent a single power from rising to dominance. After these wars, the United States developed a much more nuanced approach to its fifth imperative; rather than fighting battles directly, the Americans assisted states that were in a position to — and wanted to — resist local hegemons. The strategy most famous in this regard was containment of the Soviet Union — ringing a hostile power with a necklace of willing allies that feared the Soviets every bit as much as the Americans did. That strategy has been repeated with other powers ever since — backing Taiwan against China, Yugoslavia against the Soviet Union, Pakistan against India, Iraq against Iran, and more recently, Kuwait against Iraq.

These five strategic imperatives are not found anywhere in the Constitution or laws of the United States. But every one of the country’s 44 presidents, regardless of intention, has conformed to them, compelled by the inexorable logic of geography. In yesterday’s wars, under George W. Bush, U.S. forces stormed into Afghanistan and Iraq to preclude the formation of a unified, jihadist-inspired Muslim empire. In preparation for tomorrow’s conflict with a resurgent Russia, Barack Obama is attempting to recruit Poland and Turkey as active checks on Russian power. And the same geopolitical imperatives that drove these actions will shape American efforts into the future — just as they have since 1776.
Title: US preparing to kitty out?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 29, 2009, 04:03:24 AM

U.S. Mulls Alternatives for Missile Shield Sign in to Recommend
Published: August 28, 2009

BERLIN — The Obama administration has developed possible alternative plans for a missile defense shield that could drop hotly disputed sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, a move that would please Russia and Germany but sour relations with American allies in Eastern Europe.

Administration officials said they hoped to complete their months-long review of the planned antimissile system as early as next month, possibly in time for President Obama to present ideas to President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia at a meeting in New York during the annual opening at the General Assembly of the United Nations.

But they cautioned that no decisions had been made and that all options were still under discussion, including retaining the Polish and Czech sites first selected by President George W. Bush. The Obama review team plans to present a menu of options rather than a single recommendation to a committee of senior national security officials in the coming weeks. Only after that would the matter go to cabinet-rank officials and the president.

Among the alternatives are dropping either the Polish or Czech site, or both sites, and instead building launching pads or radar installations in Turkey or the Balkans, while developing land-based versions of the Aegis SM-3, a ship-based anti-missile system, officials said. The changes, they said, would be intended not to mollify Russia, but to adjust to what they see as an accelerating threat from shorter-range Iranian missiles.

People following the review, including anxious officials in Eastern Europe, said they thought that the administration was preparing to abandon the Polish and Czech sites. “It is clear that Eastern Europe is out of the epicenter of this American administration,” said Piotr Paszkowski, a spokesman for Poland’s foreign minister. “The missile defense system is now under review. The chances that it will be in Poland are 50-50.”

Dmitry O. Rogozin, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, said Moscow anticipated news from Mr. Obama in September. “I hope that Medvedev will take some good result from this bilateral discussion in New York, and maybe in October we will live in a new world in Russian-American relations,” he said.

Administration spokesmen said it was premature to discuss what the review would conclude or when it would be finished. “Our review of our missile defense strategy is ongoing and has not reached completion yet,” said Philip J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman.

The proposed system inherited by Mr. Obama envisioned stationing 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a sophisticated radar facility in the Czech Republic to defend against potential ballistic missile threats from Iran or other hostile nations. But Russia has long objected to what it sees as a threat in its own backyard and has insisted that the Obama administration abandon the plan as a sign that it is serious about improving relations.

Shifting an anti-missile system out of territory once dominated by Moscow might mollify Russian concerns without jettisoning the missile shield altogether. At the same time, it could set off criticism both at home and in Eastern Europe that Mr. Obama was caving in to Russian pressure.

Polish fears that the United States was having second thoughts were heightened after diplomats learned of a meeting last week in Huntsville, Ala., that included generals who oversee missile defense, including Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, head of the United States Strategic Command.

“What was revealing about such a high-level gathering was that the speakers did not discuss how and when the missile shield would be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic,” said Riki Ellison, chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a Washington-based lobbying group, who attended the meeting.

But administration officials rejected the assertion that a reformulated missile defense system would forsake Eastern European security. “We definitely are not abandoning our commitment to defend our European allies from a missile threat from Iran,” said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the review was not complete. “We are exploring options that will enhance the defense of our European allies.”

The cost of building the complexes in Poland and the Czech Republic could increase to more than $1 billion from $837 million, according to the Government Accountability Office, which published a report this month on preparations to deploy the system.

The cost estimates do not include support at the sites or the development, testing and procurement costs. The overall cost of establishing a modest ballistic missile system in Europe would exceed $4 billion through 2015, according to the G.A.O. report. Even at that, it said, “Congress does not have accurate information on the full investment required for ballistic missile defenses in Europe.”

The Bush administration strongly advocated a missile shield. Mr. Obama has been more skeptical, saying he will proceed only if it is financially and technically feasible. He has also told the Russians that the system would not be needed if they used their leverage to persuade Iran to drop its suspected nuclear weapons programs.

The discussions in Huntsville caused a stir among diplomats in Poland. Eastern European leaders worry that the Obama administration is playing down their security needs even though, they contend, Russia’s war with Georgia last year and increasing tension between Russia and Ukraine show the need for a strong American presence in the region.

“You can see that compared to the former Bush administration, the Obama administration is more interested in Russia, China and of course Afghanistan than Eastern Europe,” said Slawomir Debski, director of the Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw.

In Huntsville, General Cartwright made clear that the administration was focusing on the relevance, adaptability and affordability of any new programs, including missile defense, according to people who were at the meeting.

He also said that the United States had to take into account Russian sensitivities toward the missile shield for Eastern Europe.

Judy Dempsey reported from Berlin, and Peter Baker from Washington. Ellen Barry contributed reporting from Moscow.
Title: Stratfor on BO
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 29, 2009, 07:23:14 AM
Second post of the morning:

Obama's Foreign Policy: The End of the Beginning
August 24, 2009

By George Friedman

As August draws to a close, so does the first phase of the Obama presidency. The first months of any U.S. presidency are spent filling key positions and learning the levers of foreign and national security policy. There are also the first rounds of visits with foreign leaders and the first tentative forays into foreign policy. The first summer sees the leaders of the Northern Hemisphere take their annual vacations, and barring a crisis or war, little happens in the foreign policy arena. Then September comes and the world gets back in motion, and the first phase of the president’s foreign policy ends. The president is no longer thinking about what sort of foreign policy he will have; he now has a foreign policy that he is carrying out.

We therefore are at a good point to stop and consider not what U.S. President Barack Obama will do in the realm of foreign policy, but what he has done and is doing. As we have mentioned before, the single most remarkable thing about Obama’s foreign policy is how consistent it is with the policies of former President George W. Bush. This is not surprising. Presidents operate in the world of constraints; their options are limited. Still, it is worth pausing to note how little Obama has deviated from the Bush foreign policy.

During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, particularly in its early stages, Obama ran against the Iraq war. The centerpiece of his early position was that the war was a mistake, and that he would end it. Obama argued that Bush’s policies — and more important, his style — alienated U.S. allies. He charged Bush with pursuing a unilateral foreign policy, alienating allies by failing to act in concert with them. In doing so, he maintained that the war in Iraq destroyed the international coalition the United States needs to execute any war successfully. Obama further argued that Iraq was a distraction and that the major effort should be in Afghanistan. He added that the United States would need its NATO allies’ support in Afghanistan. He said an Obama administration would reach out to the Europeans, rebuild U.S. ties there and win greater support from them.

Though around 40 countries cooperated with the United States in Iraq, albeit many with only symbolic contributions, the major continental European powers — particularly France and Germany — refused to participate. When Obama spoke of alienating allies, he clearly meant these two countries, as well as smaller European powers that had belonged to the U.S. Cold War coalition but were unwilling to participate in Iraq and were now actively hostile to U.S. policy.

A European Rebuff
Early in his administration, Obama made two strategic decisions. First, instead of ordering an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, he adopted the Bush administration’s policy of a staged withdrawal keyed to political stabilization and the development of Iraqi security forces. While he tweaked the timeline on the withdrawal, the basic strategy remained intact. Indeed, he retained Bush’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, to oversee the withdrawal.

Second, he increased the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Bush administration had committed itself to Afghanistan from 9/11 onward. But it had remained in a defensive posture in the belief that given the forces available, enemy capabilities and the historic record, that was the best that could be done, especially as the Pentagon was almost immediately reoriented and refocused on the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. Toward the end, the Bush administration began exploring — under the influence of Gen. David Petraeus, who designed the strategy in Iraq — the possibility of some sort of political accommodation in Afghanistan.

Obama has shifted his strategy in Afghanistan to this extent: He has moved from a purely defensive posture to a mixed posture of selective offense and defense, and has placed more forces into Afghanistan (although the United States still has nowhere near the number of troops the Soviets had when they lost their Afghan war). Therefore, the core structure of Obama’s policy remains the same as Bush’s except for the introduction of limited offensives. In a major shift since Obama took office, the Pakistanis have taken a more aggressive stance (or at least want to appear more aggressive) toward the Taliban and al Qaeda, at least within their own borders. But even so, Obama’s basic strategy remains the same as Bush’s: hold in Afghanistan until the political situation evolves to the point that a political settlement is possible.

Most interesting is how little success Obama has had with the French and the Germans. Bush had given up asking for assistance in Afghanistan, but Obama tried again. He received the same answer Bush did: no. Except for some minor, short-term assistance, the French and Germans were unwilling to commit forces to Obama’s major foreign policy effort, something that stands out.

Given the degree to which the Europeans disliked Bush and were eager to have a president who would revert the U.S.-European relationship to what it once was (at least in their view), one would have thought the French and Germans would be eager to make some substantial gesture rewarding the United States for selecting a pro-European president. Certainly, it was in their interest to strengthen Obama. That they proved unwilling to make that gesture suggests that the French and German relationship with the United States is much less important to Paris and Berlin than it would appear. Obama, a pro-European president, was emphasizing a war France and Germany approved of over a war they disapproved of and asked for their help, but virtually none was forthcoming.

The Russian Non-Reset
Obama’s desire to reset European relations was matched by his desire to reset U.S.-Russian relations. Ever since the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine in late 2004 and early 2005, U.S.-Russian relations had deteriorated dramatically, with Moscow charging Washington with interfering in the internal affairs of former Soviet republics with the aim of weakening Russia. This culminated in the Russo-Georgian war last August. The Obama administration has since suggested a “reset” in relations, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually carrying a box labeled “reset button” to her spring meeting with the Russians.

The problem, of course, was that the last thing the Russians wanted was to reset relations with the United States. They did not want to go back to the period after the Orange Revolution, nor did they want to go back to the period between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Orange Revolution. The Obama administration’s call for a reset showed the distance between the Russians and the Americans: The Russians regard the latter period as an economic and geopolitical disaster, while the Americans regard it as quite satisfactory. Both views are completely understandable.

The Obama administration was signaling that it intends to continue the Bush administration’s Russia policy. That policy was that Russia had no legitimate right to claim priority in the former Soviet Union, and that the United States had the right to develop bilateral relations with any country and expand NATO as it wished. But the Bush administration saw the Russian leadership as unwilling to follow the basic architecture of relations that had developed after 1991, and as unreasonably redefining what the Americans thought of as a stable and desirable relationship. The Russian response was that an entirely new relationship was needed between the two countries, or the Russians would pursue an independent foreign policy matching U.S. hostility with Russian hostility. Highlighting the continuity in U.S.-Russian relations, plans for the prospective ballistic missile defense installation in Poland, a symbol of antagonistic U.S.-Russian relations, remain unchanged.

The underlying problem is that the Cold War generation of U.S. Russian experts has been supplanted by the post-Cold War generation, now grown to maturity and authority. If the Cold warriors were forged in the 1960s, the post-Cold warriors are forever caught in the 1990s. They believed that the 1990s represented a stable platform from which to reform Russia, and that the grumbling of Russians plunged into poverty and international irrelevancy at that time is simply part of the post-Cold War order. They believe that without economic power, Russia cannot hope to be an important player on the international stage. That Russia has never been an economic power even at the height of its influence but has frequently been a military power doesn’t register. Therefore, they are constantly expecting Russia to revert to its 1990s patterns, and believe that if Moscow doesn’t, it will collapse — which explains U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s interview in The Wall Street Journal where he discussed Russia’s decline in terms of its economic and demographic challenges. Obama’s key advisers come from the Clinton administration, and their view of Russia — like that of the Bush administration — was forged in the 1990s.

Foreign Policy Continuity Elsewhere
When we look at U.S.-China policy, we see very similar patterns with the Bush administration. The United States under Obama has the same interest in maintaining economic ties and avoiding political complications as the Bush administration did. Indeed, Hillary Clinton explicitly refused to involve herself in human rights issues during her visit to China. Campaign talk of engaging China on human rights issues is gone. Given the interests of both countries, this makes sense, but it is also noteworthy given the ample opportunity to speak to China on this front (and fulfill campaign promises) that has arisen since Obama took office (such as the Uighur riots).

Of great interest, of course, were the three great openings of the early Obama administration, to Cuba, to Iran, and to the Islamic world in general through his Cairo speech. The Cubans and Iranians rebuffed his opening, whereas the net result of the speech to the Islamic world remains unclear. With Iran we see the most important continuity. Obama continues to demand an end to Tehran’s nuclear program, and has promised further sanctions unless Iran agrees to enter into serious talks by late September.

On Israel, the United States has merely shifted the atmospherics. Both the Bush and Obama administrations demanded that the Israelis halt settlements, as have many other administrations. The Israelis have usually responded by agreeing to something small while ignoring the larger issue. The Obama administration seemed ready to make a major issue of this, but instead continued to maintain security collaboration with the Israelis on Iran and Lebanon (and we assume intelligence collaboration). Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has not allowed the settlements to get in the way of fundamental strategic interests.

This is not a criticism of Obama. Presidents — all presidents — run on a platform that will win. If they are good presidents, they will leave behind these promises to govern as they must. This is what Obama has done. He ran for president as the antithesis of Bush. He has conducted his foreign policy as if he were Bush. This is because Bush’s foreign policy was shaped by necessity, and Obama’s foreign policy is shaped by the same necessity. Presidents who believe they can govern independent of reality are failures. Obama doesn’t intend to fail.
Title: IBD: President Kitty at it again
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 02, 2009, 09:37:57 AM
"The U.S. has abandoned plans to install a missile defense system in Europe, according to a report. If true, this is a major strategic error that will have serious consequences for our allies in Europe and for us. Quoting a U.S. source, the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza says the Obama administration has decided against building a missile shield to protect Poland and the Czech Republic. The reason? Russian opposition. Now, if we want to build a defense system for friends in Europe, we'll have to place it in the Balkans, Israel or somewhere else. That is, if Russia approves. This is a stark reversal of past policy and reneges on promises made by the current administration. Worse, it shows weakness. We got into a staredown with the Russian bear and we blinked. ... We've just weakened America's standing in a critical region of the world -- Eastern Europe -- and let our allies down. We've made them vulnerable, in ways that only we could, to Russia's growing military menace. Polish and Czech friends who had relied on us to stand firm and keep our word no doubt feel betrayed. This diminishes our global influence. What smallish country will now take our word at face value when we promise to protect them? ... Given the threat to millions of American lives -- not to mention millions of our allies -- reducing missile defense is both dangerous and irresponsible." --Investor's Business Daily
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on September 17, 2009, 02:16:20 PM

Foreign policy is raAAAAaaaaaaaacist!
Title: Why do the dems love to betray our allies?
Post by: G M on September 18, 2009, 06:59:03 AM
Poles, Czechs: US missile defense shift a betrayal
By VANESSA GERA, Associated Press Writer Vanessa Gera, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 45 mins ago
WARSAW, Poland – Poles and Czechs voiced deep concern Friday at President Barack Obama's decision to scrap a Bush-era missile defense shield planned for their countries.

"Betrayal! The U.S. sold us to Russia and stabbed us in the back," the Polish tabloid Fakt declared on its front page.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he was concerned that Obama's new strategy leaves Poland in a dangerous "gray zone" between Western Europe and the old Soviet sphere.

Recent events in the region have rattled nerves throughout central and eastern Europe, a region controlled by Moscow during the Cold War, including the war last summer between Russia and Georgia and ongoing efforts by Russia to regain influence in Ukraine. A Russian cutoff of gas to Ukraine last winter left many Europeans without heat.

The Bush administration's plan would have been "a major step in preventing various disturbing trends in our region of the world," Kaczynski said in a guest editorial in the daily Fakt and also carried on his presidential Web site.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said he still sees a chance for Poles and Czechs to participate in the redesigned missile defense system. But that did not appear to calm nerves in Warsaw or Prague.

Kaczynski expressed hopes that the U.S. will now offer Poland other forms of "strategic partnership."

In Prague, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said he made two concrete proposal to U.S. officials on Thursday in hopes of keeping the U.S.-Czech alliance strong: for the U.S. to establish a branch of West Point for NATO members in Central Europe and to "send a Czech scientist on the U.S. space shuttle to the international space station."

An editorial in Hospodarske Novine, a respected pro-business Czech newspaper, said: "an ally we rely on has betrayed us, and exchanged us for its own, better relations with Russia, of which we are rightly afraid."

The move has raised fears in the two nations they are being marginalized by Washington even as a resurgent Russia leaves them longing for added American protection.

The Bush administration always said that the planned system — with a radar near Prague and interceptors in northern Poland — was meant as defense against Iran. But Poles and Czechs saw it as protection against Russia, and Moscow too considered a military installation in its backyard to be a threat.

"No Radar. Russia won," the largest Czech daily, Mlada Fronta Dnes, declared in a front-page headline.

Obama said the old plan was scrapped in part because the U.S. has concluded that Iran is less focused on developing the kind of long-range missiles for which the system was originally developed, making the building of an expensive new shield unnecessary.

The replacement system is to link smaller radar systems with a network of sensors and missiles that could be deployed at sea or on land. Some of the weaponry and sensors are ready now, and the rest would be developed over the next 10 years.

The Pentagon contemplates a system of perhaps 40 missiles by 2015, at two or three sites across Europe.


Associated Press writer Karel Janicek contributed reporting from Prague.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 18, 2009, 10:48:54 AM
Despite the scrapping of current U.S. plans for placing ground-based interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic, American ballistic missile defense efforts will continue in Europe, according to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Just what those efforts will look like is still uncertain.

Ballistic Missile Defense

In a press conference Sept. 17 announcing the scrapping of current U.S. plans for placing ballistic missile defense (BMD) installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright spent most of the press conference talking about the future of BMD in Europe — and insisting that U.S. BMD efforts were not dead.

The announcement marked the confluence of changes already under way in the architecture of the U.S. BMD system, some potential alternative deployments down the road and political equivocation. As part of this shift, Gates and Cartwright insisted that the nature and timetable of the threat of Iranian long-range ballistic missiles had changed, allowing for some adjustment of the technologies and timetables necessary to address the threat. (With Iran’s successful satellite launch earlier in the year, it is difficult to see how the threat has been pushed very far into the future.)

The original system slated for Poland and the Czech Republic was the ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) system, which is already deployed in Alaska and California. An early BMD system, it was fielded aggressively by the George W. Bush administration out of concern over the long-range ballistic missile threat posed by North Korea. The rationale was expediency: It was considered the only reasonably mature system capable of the necessary range and altitude that could be fielded immediately — and even then its deployment was accelerated. Despite being plagued by test failures, it was a version of GMD that the Bush White House also believed would be the most expedient choice for fielding a limited defense against an emerging long-range missile threat from Iran.

(click here to enlarge image)
But even before the Sept. 17 announcement, the situation had begun to shift. There were delays in Washington, Warsaw and Prague alike in nailing down the details. As time slipped by and ground was not broken on the installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, the potential benefits of GMD in terms of expediency began to erode. Competing technologies like the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) matured faster and proved more robust and reliable, and improvements and follow-on systems inched closer to fruition. Indeed, Gates has taken a different approach to BMD than his predecessor (former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was a key proponent of the aggressive fielding of GMD), and the new Obama administration has allowed him to push forward with a new approach.

Photo by Chris Bishop/U.S. Navy via Getty Images
A Standard Missile Three (SM-3) is launched from the guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh in June, 2006Indeed, the Gates Pentagon may well have wished to scrap the GMD system slated for Poland even if it had not become so controversial. And many of the changes in the architecture of U.S. BMD efforts announced Sept. 17 had already been put in motion.

For example, BMD-capable, Aegis-equipped cruisers and destroyers armed with the SM-3 have long been postulated as an alternative to the Poland-based interceptors and Czech-based X-band radar. Indeed, though almost all U.S. BMD-capable warships are currently stationed in the Pacific, funds have already been allocated to upgrade more Atlantic-based ships to carry the SM-3. Gates has suggested that these warships could begin to patrol north and south of Europe as soon as 2011, though whether there would be a continuous at-sea presence is just one of a number of decisions yet to be made.

Another consideration was the potential deployment to Poland of an American Patriot air defense battery. Warsaw had originally hoped to see a Patriot battery deployed alongside the GMD interceptors (unlike GMD, Patriot missiles would actually be capable of defending Polish territory). Now the Poles are concerned that instead of a permanently stationed Patriot battery, they may see only U.S. troops conducting transitory training exercises with the Patriot, perhaps even with inert rather than actual interceptors. Gen. Cartwright said during the press conference that training deployments with the Patriot would precede any operational deployments, although there are no formal agreements on even the proposed training exercises, much less a sense of whether Washington will follow through on the deployment of Patriots in a more permanent way anytime soon.

The press conference was characterized by this sort of equivocation. A series of ideas divided into phases were announced in a very concrete way, as Gates and Cartwright tried to make it clear that U.S. BMD efforts in Europe would continue — that this was a shift in the hardware and scheme of maneuver, not the overall mission. But much like the limbo that the GMD system has been in for two years now, nothing has been decided (at least from all indications). When it comes to ground-based BMD systems in Europe, whatever might come next is still subject to change.

Gates raised the prospect of a still-to-be-developed ground-based version of the SM-3 that might be stationed in several unnamed locations in Europe, along with mobile X-band BMD radars system currently stationed in Israel. He insisted that Poland and the Czech Republic would be among the first countries the United States would talk to when the Pentagon considered the deployment of these land-based SM-3s in the 2015 timeframe.

While the conversion of the SM-3 to a ground-based system and its integration with other BMD radar systems should not pose any major technical hurdles, a lot can happen in six years’ time. One of the possibilities is the development of a deployable land-based SM-3, along with the fielding of Block 2 versions of the missile now under development that are larger and more capable. This would mean not only that the SM-3s the United States might deploy on land in Europe would be able to cover more ground from fewer locations but also that sea-based SM-3s would be able to cover more territory from the sea.

As the Pentagon insisted during the press conference, the United States is certainly not giving up on BMD in Europe. Some 18 U.S. warships equipped with the SM-3 already boast the most capable and deployable BMD interceptor that the world has ever seen (one that also has proven utility in a satellite role). The SM-3 and other mobile systems like the terminal high altitude area defense (or THAAD) in the pipeline will mean that the U.S. BMD network will be increasingly mobile. But while providing coverage to Europe remains a stated goal, the picture Gates and Cartwright painted of future plans for BMD basing in Europe was not well defined at all. And 2015 is a long way off — especially with the relationship between Washington and Moscow so susceptible to rapid change.
Title: Sec Def Gates
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 20, 2009, 04:59:02 AM
Op-Ed Contributor
A Better Missile Defense for a Safer Europe
Published: September 19, 2009

THE future of missile defense in Europe is secure. This reality is contrary to what some critics have alleged about President Obama’s proposed shift in America’s missile-defense plans on the continent — and it is important to understand how and why.

First, to be clear, there is now no strategic missile defense in Europe. In December 2006, just days after becoming secretary of defense, I recommended to President George W. Bush that the United States place 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland and an advanced radar in the Czech Republic. This system was designed to identify and destroy up to about five long-range missiles potentially armed with nuclear warheads fired from the Middle East — the greatest and most likely danger being from Iran. At the time, it was the best plan based on the technology and threat assessment available.

That plan would have put the radar and interceptors in Central Europe by 2015 at the earliest. Delays in the Polish and Czech ratification process extended that schedule by at least two years. Which is to say, under the previous program, there would have been no missile-defense system able to protect against Iranian missiles until at least 2017 — and likely much later.

Last week, President Obama — on my recommendation and with the advice of his national-security team and the unanimous support of our senior military leadership — decided to discard that plan in favor of a vastly more suitable approach. In the first phase, to be completed by 2011, we will deploy proven, sea-based SM-3 interceptor missiles — weapons that are growing in capability — in the areas where we see the greatest threat to Europe.

The second phase, which will become operational around 2015, will involve putting upgraded SM-3s on the ground in Southern and Central Europe. All told, every phase of this plan will include scores of SM-3 missiles, as opposed to the old plan of just 10 ground-based interceptors. This will be a far more effective defense should an enemy fire many missiles simultaneously — the kind of attack most likely to occur as Iran continues to build and deploy numerous short- and medium-range weapons. At the same time, plans to defend virtually all of Europe and enhance the missile defense of the United States will continue on about the same schedule as the earlier plan as we build this system over time, creating an increasingly greater zone of protection.

Steady technological advances in our missile defense program — from kill vehicles to the abilities to network radars and sensors — give us confidence in this plan. The SM-3 has had eight successful tests since 2007, and we will continue to develop it to give it the capacity to intercept long-range missiles like ICBMs. It is now more than able to deal with the threat from multiple short- and medium-range missiles — a very real threat to our allies and some 80,000 American troops based in Europe that was not addressed by the previous plan. Even so, our military will continue research and development on a two-stage ground-based interceptor, the kind that was planned to be put in Poland, as a back-up.

Moreover, a fixed radar site like the one previously envisioned for the Czech Republic would be far less adaptable than the airborne, space- and ground-based sensors we now plan to use. These systems provide much more accurate data, offer more early warning and tracking options, and have stronger networking capacity — a key factor in any system that relies on partner countries. This system can also better use radars that are already operating across the globe, like updated cold war-era installations, our newer arrays based on high-powered X-band radar, allied systems and possibly even Russian radars.

One criticism of this plan is that we are relying too much on new intelligence holding that Iran is focusing more on short- and medium-range weapons and not progressing on intercontinental missiles. Having spent most of my career at the C.I.A., I am all too familiar with the pitfalls of over-reliance on intelligence assessments that can become outdated. As Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a few days ago, we would be surprised if the assessments did not change because “the enemy gets a vote.”


Page 2 of 2)

The new approach to European missile defense actually provides us with greater flexibility to adapt as new threats develop and old ones recede. For example, the new proposal provides some antimissile capacity very soon — a hedge against Iran’s managing to field missiles much earlier than had been previously predicted. The old plan offered nothing for almost a decade.

Those who say we are scrapping missile defense in Europe are either misinformed or misrepresenting what we are doing. This shift has even been distorted as some sort of concession to Russia, which has fiercely opposed the old plan. Russia’s attitude and possible reaction played no part in my recommendation to the president on this issue. Of course, considering Russia’s past hostility toward American missile defense in Europe, if Russia’s leaders embrace this plan, then that will be an unexpected — and welcome — change of policy on their part. But in any case the facts are clear: American missile defense on the continent will continue, and not just in Central Europe, the most likely location for future SM-3 sites, but, we hope, in other NATO countries as well.

This proposal is, simply put, a better way forward — as was recognized by Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland when he called it “a chance for strengthening Europe’s security.” It is a very real manifestation of our continued commitment to our NATO allies in Europe — iron-clad proof that the United States believes that the alliance must remain firm.

I am often characterized as “pragmatic.” I believe this is a very pragmatic proposal. I have found since taking this post that when it comes to missile defense, some hold a view bordering on theology that regards any change of plans or any cancellation of a program as abandonment or even breaking faith. I encountered this in the debate over the Defense Department’s budget for the fiscal year 2010 when I ended three programs: the airborne laser, the multiple-kill vehicle and the kinetic energy interceptor. All were plainly unworkable, prohibitively expensive and could never be practically deployed — but had nonetheless acquired a devoted following.

I have been a strong supporter of missile defense ever since President Ronald Reagan first proposed it in 1983. But I want to have real capacity as soon as possible, and to take maximum advantage of new technologies to combat future threats.

The bottom line is that there will be American missile defense in Europe to protect our troops there and our NATO allies. The new proposal provides needed capacity years earlier than the original plan, and will provide even more robust protection against longer-range threats on about the same timeline as the previous program. We are strengthening — not scrapping — missile defense in Europe.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on September 20, 2009, 06:38:23 AM

Shattered Confidence In Europe

By Ronald D. Asmus
Saturday, September 19, 2009

President Obama's decision to shelve the Bush administration's missile defense plans has created a crisis of confidence in Washington's relations with Central and Eastern Europe. The defense architecture the administration proposes may make more strategic sense in addressing the immediate Iranian threat. Nevertheless, it runs the risk of shattering the morale and standing of transatlantic leaders in the region who now feel politically undermined and exposed. The roots of this crisis lie less in missile defense than in policy failures over the past decade. Understanding and rectifying those errors is key to getting back on track with our allies.

Our first mistake was being overly optimistic about what would happen when these countries joined NATO and the European Union. We basically checked the box "mission accomplished." We assumed that Russia would finally accept that Central and Eastern Europe were gone from its sphere of influence and stop trying to interfere in their regional politics. But geopolitical competition didn't stop. Moscow simply tried to pressure and interfere in new ways, using energy and other weapons. It seeks to marginalize these countries in NATO and the European Union by going above their heads. It still wants to create a zone of special Russian interest, influence and lesser security.

The second mistake was poor handling of our commitment to defend Central and Eastern Europe counties under Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. Given the low-threat environment, we decided NATO did not need to station troops in those countries' territory and pledged instead to create a reinforcement capability that could be used in times of crisis. I sat at the table in the mid-1990s as Washington promised Polish leaders that NATO would have a corps-size reinforcement capability to provide for their security.

But that NATO corps-size reinforcement capability never materialized. There are not even official defense plans for these countries. The power of Article 5 was always the fact that these commitments were backed up by planning, exercises and boots on the ground. Yet a lack of leadership and divisions within NATO prevented the alliance from fulfilling such pledges.

The alliance has also decayed in its role as the key crisis manager in Europe. Central and Eastern Europeans have watched as one ally after another has prevented NATO from acting over the past decade. NATO was AWOL during the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia. When Georgian leaders quietly approached the alliance several months before hostilities, NATO demurred. When war broke out, the secretary general interrupted his vacation for one day to hold a meeting and issue a statement. NATO's supreme allied commander did not even do that much. The NATO Military Committee met only after the war was over. Hardly an inspiring performance.

Given this record, we should not be surprised that Central and Eastern Europeans doubt what NATO would do to help them in a pinch. While they are loath to say it publicly, their leaders have told me that they are no longer certain NATO is capable of coming to their rescue if there were a crisis involving Russia. They no longer believe that the political solidarity exists or that NATO's creaky machinery would take the needed steps.

Had we handled these issues differently, our debate about missile defense would be quite different. The Poles and Czechs bought into the Bush administration's plans for missile defense not because of Iranian missiles but because they were losing confidence in NATO. Atlanticist leaders were seeking additional security through an American military presence on their soil. That is why missile defense assumed a political significance in the region that transcended the merits of the actual program. And that is why abandoning the program has created a crisis of confidence.

We must take real steps toward solving this problem by providing strategic reassurance to Central and Eastern Europe through the front door of NATO and not the back door of missile defense. President Obama has already decided to push for defense plans for these countries. But a top-secret NATO defense plan in some safe in Brussels will not mollify Central and Eastern European anxieties. Their primary worry is not the prospect of an imminent Russian military attack but political intimidation or blackmail or a regional crisis that spins out of control. It is above all their lack of belief in our solidarity in the alliance.

That is why we need a broader package of political, economic and military measures that will reinforce that solidarity and provide reassurance. We also need to fix NATO so that it can again function as a crisis manager, as it did in the Balkans in the 1990s. Nothing prevents us from taking these steps. They do not contradict any of our commitments to Russia. They require only political imagination, will and a modest investment of resources. If we get that right, then the Obama administration's decision on missile defense can be a catalyst that helps us get this relationship back on track. If we don't, the crisis of confidence in the region will only deepen.

The writer, a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration, is executive director of the Brussels-based Transatlantic Center at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The views expressed here are his own.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 20, 2009, 06:44:59 AM
Nice one GM.  That seems to me a very sound piece.

This from the WSJ:

It's been a good few weeks in what used to be called the war on terror. The main credit here goes to the folks in the intelligence community that our friends on the left love to hate.

Credit goes as well to Barack Obama, who as President has abandoned much of his previous opposition to proven antiterror measures like warrantless wiretaps, and who has only stepped up the campaign of targeted hits on terrorist ringleaders. He's fortunate the Bush Administration left him with a potent intelligence team and the precedent of taking the fight, pre-emptively, to the terrorists on their home turf.

View Full Image

Associated Press
Pakistani army troops fix their long-range gun in Taliban's stronghold of Piochar in the Swat Valley.
.On Monday, U.S. special forces operating in Somalia killed top al Qaeda operative Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, believed to have been a planner in the November 2002 bombing of a hotel in Kenya in which 15 were killed. Also killed in recent days was senior al Qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri—via a U.S. drone attack in western Pakistan—and Indonesian terrorist mastermind Noordin Muhammad Top, suspected in the July bombing of two Jakarta hotels.

Last week, too, a British court convicted three men for an August 2006 plot to blow up several airliners over the Atlantic. The convictions were obtained largely on the strength of communications intercepts—possibly warrantless—gathered by the U.S. National Security Agency, according to a report by Britain's Channel 4.

All this follows important gains for the Pakistani army in the area of the Swat valley, which fell briefly to the Taliban in the spring. Key among those gains was the August killing—again by a U.S. drone—of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud, suspected in the assassination of former Prime Minster Benazir Bhutto. Two of Mehsud's senior deputies were also killed in drone attacks in recent months, while at least eight key al Qaeda commanders have been killed in the last 12 months alone.

For those who were the victims or near-victims of the attacks perpetrated by these men, this is justice. For the rest of us, it is an additional measure of safety. Despite conventional wisdom that killing terrorists only breeds more terrorists and fuels the proverbial "cycle of violence," there is a reason that the U.S. has not been attacked in the eight years since September 11, and that major terrorist plots in Europe have been foiled.

Last week, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported that it had seen interrogation documents showing that European Muslim volunteers "faced a chaotic reception, a low level of training, poor conditions and eventual disillusionment after arriving in Waziristan [Pakistan] last year." It added that there is "evidence that al Qaeda's alliance with the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan is fraying, boosting the prospect of acquiring intelligence that will lead to Bin Laden's capture or death." This from a paper not exactly known as a cheerleader for the use of military force.

The logic of these attacks is simple, even if too many people are reluctant to accept it. Terrorist groups tend to coalesce around charismatic leaders, such as Abimael Guzmán of Peru's Shining Path, Abdullah Ocalan of the Kurdish PKK, or Abu Musab al Zarqawi of al Qaeda in Iraq. Not only are these men difficult to replace, but their death or capture often leads to infighting, disarray and disillusion within the group. As terrorist leaders are forced to spend more time trying to save their own lives, they also have less time to devote to plans for killing others.

None of this means that the war on terror (or whatever you'd like to call it) is anywhere near over. It may never be. But in a struggle in which a day when nothing happens is a victory, it's worth recalling that nothing doesn't happen by accident.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: DougMacG on September 21, 2009, 07:33:52 AM
The Gates piece is important: "Last week, President Obama — on my recommendation and with the advice of his national-security team and the unanimous support of our senior military leadership — decided to discard that plan in favor of a vastly more suitable approach. In the first phase, to be completed by 2011, we will deploy proven, sea-based SM-3 interceptor missiles — weapons that are growing in capability — in the areas where we see the greatest threat to Europe."

It doesn't seem that he bothered to inform the Czechs or the Poles of his new enlightenment before springing it on the world.  Either that or they knew the plan and were not particularly impressed or reassured.

One problem with scrapping the old plan is that is was a PROMISE MADE BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA to key allies that rely on our word for their survival and sovereignty.

Another problem is that the new improved plan is also a promise made by the united states of america, a lower case nation that sometimes keeps its word and sometimes doesn't, like our support for the u.s.dollar.

A bigger problem is that the current President along with his closest allies in the congress oppose missile defense systems on the grounds that the rogue states targeting missiles find them threatening and destabilizing.  Worst is that the current Secretary of Defense despite all of his intelligence gathering capabilities and budgets doesn't seem to be aware of that.
Title: NY Pravda Times on Sec Def Gates
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 22, 2009, 04:46:34 AM
A Pragmatist, Gates Reshapes Policy He Backed Recommend

Published: September 21, 2009

WASHINGTON — On his tenth day on the job, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates signed off on an ambitious if politically charged plan to build a new missile shield in Europe. Just two weeks later, he supported an even more wrenching decision to send additional American troops to Iraq, into a war that was not going well.

That was nearly three years, one president and a political lifetime ago. Now serving Barack Obama instead of George W. Bush, Mr. Gates just recommended jettisoning his own missile defense program in favor of a reformulated version and once again is wrestling with whether to send more troops abroad, in this case to Afghanistan.

Quiet and unassuming, Mr. Gates has emerged as the man in the middle between policies of the past he once championed and the revisions and reversals he is now carrying out. His stature and credibility have allowed him to extract concessions on the inside, including on missile defense, according to senior officials, while serving as a formidable shield against Republican spears on the outside.

Along the way, Mr. Gates has become a White House favorite, for both his pragmatic style and his political value. With little national security experience of his own, Mr. Obama has leaned heavily on the holdover Pentagon chief for advice, aides said. And as a result, Mr. Gates has played a central role in reshaping national security policy, including fixing a broken Pentagon procurement system and recalibrating the size of the country’s nuclear arsenal.

“The president values what Secretary Gates says — and not just values, he knows what he brings to the table is 30 years of experience in Democratic and Republican administrations,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff. “He understands that none of these decisions are between good and bad but between bad and worse.”

The looming decision on Afghanistan could put Mr. Gates’s experience to the test as never before. With both Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American commander, and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, now on record as saying more combat troops would be required for victory, Mr. Gates must balance his commanders’ desires and his president’s stated skepticism.

Mr. Gates has made the transition from the Bush years to the Obama administration with insider skills honed over decades of working for presidents of both parties. He reached out from the start to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to encourage more civilian roles in Afghanistan and Iraq, and teamed up with Mr. Emanuel to kill the F-22 fighter program.

Just as he was in the Bush cabinet, he has at times been caught between high-powered hawk and dove figures. When Mr. Obama sent more troops to Afghanistan this year, Mr. Gates maneuvered between Mrs. Clinton, who strongly favored the reinforcement, and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who resisted it. And he has been a voice of caution on issues like Mr. Obama’s desire to eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons.

For Republicans, Mr. Gates poses a quandary in assessing Mr. Obama’s national security decisions: do they look at him as a turncoat for dismantling some of Mr. Bush’s policies or as the best hope for moderating changes brought by a Democratic administration?

“He’s got a president who’s pushing in a different direction than the previous president and he’s got to deal with that,” said Peter H. Wehner, a White House strategic adviser to Mr. Bush. “For us in the Bush administration, he’s got a lot of money in the bank because of Iraq and the surge.”

Mr. Wehner recalled a conversation over the weekend with fellow conservatives about the missile defense decision. “Nobody said anything nasty or vicious about him,” he said. “There was genuine puzzlement.”

Mr. Gates’s shifting role can be summed up in terms familiar to the defense secretary, an avid film buff who routinely brings piles of DVDs on long trips and cites favorite movies in conversation to make a point.

In his new memoir, Matt Latimer, a Pentagon speechwriter under Mr. Gates’s predecessor, Donald H. Rumsfeld, compares Mr. Gates to the Harvey Keitel character in “Pulp Fiction” — the one who shows up after the grisly killing to wipe away all traces of blood.

Now that Mr. Gates has evolved from the clean-up guy to one of the most powerful members of the Obama cabinet, senior officials at the Pentagon have come up with their own nickname for him: “The Godfather.”

The missile defense decision demonstrated both the awkwardness and potency of Mr. Gates’s position. The Obama team arrived in office skeptical of the plan Mr. Gates had signed off on in December 2006 to build a system in Eastern Europe to counter potential Iranian intercontinental ballistic missiles.

A new intelligence estimate on global ballistic missile threats in May concluded that Iran was making less progress than expected on such long-range missiles, but rapidly building short- and medium-range missiles that would not be stopped by the Bush program. Mr. Gates accepted that the threat had probably shifted, officials said, and that changing technology meant that the United States could counter shorter-range missiles more effectively with an expanded ship-based SM-3 system.

But officials debated whether to also continue the Bush program. Mr. Gates wanted to keep going in case Iran made a breakthrough in longer-range missiles; other officials wanted a clean break from the old system. In the end, at Mr. Gates’s insistence, the government will continue to finance research and development on interceptors that were at the heart of the Bush plan while deploying the new system.

“Secretary Gates played a pivotal role,” said James L. Jones, the national security adviser. “It was a rich and robust discussion. If there was a dramatic moment, it was when Secretary Gates affirmatively and without hesitation said this is a better solution.”

On Afghanistan, Mr. Gates has repeatedly declared his concern that more troops would make Americans look increasingly like occupiers. But he has recently softened that opposition, citing General McChrystal’s argument that an occupation is defined less by numbers than by how troops carry out their mission.

Whatever the president decides in the coming weeks, it will fall again to Mr. Gates to sell it — to the armed forces, to Congress and to the public. “We need to understand that the decisions that the president faces on Afghanistan are some of the most important he may face in his presidency,” he said at the Pentagon last week. “Frankly from my standpoint, everybody ought to take a deep breath.”
Title: Beggar, bankrupt, and appease
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 22, 2009, 06:41:14 AM
Hope I'm not overloading here this morning:

Beggar thy neighbor, bankrupt thy country, appease thy foe. As slogans (or counter-slogans) go, it isn't quite in a class with Amnesty, Acid and Abortion. But it pretty much sums up President Obama's global agenda—and that's just for the month of September.

In 1943, Walter Lippmann observed that the disarmament movement had been "tragically successful in disarming the nations that believed in disarmament." That ought to have been the final word on the subject.

So what should Mr. Obama, who this week becomes the first American president to chair a session of the U.N. Security Council, choose to make the centerpiece of the Council's agenda? What else but nonproliferation and disarmament. And lest anyone suspect that this has something to do with North Korea and Iran, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice insists otherwise: The meeting, she says, "will focus on nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament broadly, and not on any particular countries."

 .But the problem with this euphemistic approach to disarmament, as Lippmann noticed, is that it shifts the onus from the countries that can't be trusted with nuclear weapons to those that can. Is Nicolas Sarkozy, with his force de frappe, about to start World War III? Probably not, though he has the means to do so. Should Mr. Obama join hands with Iran and the Arab world in pushing for Israel's nuclear disarmament, on the view that if only the Jewish state would set the right example its enemies would no longer want to wipe it off the map? If that's what the president believes, he should say so publicly, especially since he's offering the same general prescription for America's nuclear deterrent.

Of course what the administration wants is to set the right mood music for its upcoming talks with Iran. Mr. Obama would be better served having a chat with Moammar Gadhafi, who will be seated just a few chairs away at the Security Council: The mood music for his disarmament was set by the 4th Infantry Division when it yanked Saddam Hussein from his spider hole in December 2003. Col. Gadhafi gave up his WMD a week later.

Then again, it's not as if the administration doesn't know how to play hardball when it has a real villain in its sights. Like Chinese tire makers, for instance, who last week were slapped with a 35% tariff because Mr. Obama owed political favors to his friends in Big Labor. Quite something for a president who last year sounded off on the dangers of "trade policy [being] dictated by special interests."

In an op-ed in this newspaper, Brookings Institution economist Chad Bown noted that "the count of newly imposed protectionist policies like antidumping duties and other 'safeguard' measures increased by 31% in the first half of 2009 relative to the same period one year ago."

That's a global trend, and the sort of thing a group like the G-20, which meets Thursday and Friday in Pittsburgh, is supposed to set its teeth against. Instead, the agenda will be given over to such brainstorms as capping bankers' bonuses—"a critical part of our broader reform agenda," according to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Now there's a way to attract the best and the brightest to the world's dullest profession.

The G-20 also has no plans to put the brakes on further infusions of stimulus spending, the removal of which British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says would be an "error of historical proportions." But what's really historical is the explosion in the debt-to-GDP ratios of the G-20 countries, which the IMF predicts will rise to 81.6% next year from 65.9% in 2008. For the U.S. the jump is especially pronounced—to 97.5% next year from 70.5% last. Only Japan and Italy will be deeper in the red; even Argentina looks good by comparison. This is before the first baby boomer hits retirement age next summer, to say nothing of the liabilities coming from ObamaCare.

What happens to countries with these kinds of fiscal burdens? They decline. In 1983, Japan's gross government debt stood at 67% of GDP. It has since tripled. West Germany's was a little under 40%. It is twice that today. These used to be the economies of the future. They are, or ought to be, the cautionary tales of the present.

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama is earning kudos from the Russian government for his decision to pull missile defense from central Europe, even as Poland marked the 70th anniversary of its invasion by the Soviet Union. Moscow is still offering no concessions on sanctioning Iran in the event negotiations fail, but might graciously agree to an arms-control deal that cements its four-to-one advantages in tactical nuclear weapons.

Also on the presidential agenda this week is a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Too bad for all concerned that the two-state solution has been superseded by the three-state fact on the ground.

And all of this in a single month. Just imagine what October will bring.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: ccp on September 22, 2009, 08:31:26 AM
Did you see Larwence Eagleberger on one of the  cable talk shows (CNN?) recently calling OBama's foreing policies "amateur hour"?

I could not believe I was hearing a Dem saying that.  He was pointing out how Obama ahs marginalized Hillary and more or less simply blows her off.

So he may have a bit of an ax to grind (being an ex Clintonite) who is not making his/her fame and fortune with the present leftist regime ala the rest of the liberal polictical mercenaries.

Yet it may also be a *true* reflection of reality and not the spin coming from the other Dems, MSM.  It may also be a kind of a leak as to what many Dems are thinking and saying privately but just not publically.

Title: Eagleberger and the ONE
Post by: ccp on September 22, 2009, 09:04:26 AM
I guess it was Greta's show.  I see Obama has been critical of the One for quite some time going back to the campaign as  a search pulls up past criticisms on the World's Savior:
Title: Taking the liberty of moving CCP's Israel thread post to here
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 22, 2009, 11:45:47 AM
Eagleburger said that?  Wow.


Taking the liberty of moving CCP's post here:

This could go under different threads but it seems reasonable here because it does illustrate the disconnect between Israeli
Jews view of OBama and (most though not all - Jakcie Mason, Horowitz, Levin, Bernie Goldberg, me, Crafty) American Jews (best evidenced by Hollywood and NYT):

***Everybody is saying no to the American president these days. And it's not just that they're saying no, it's also the way they're saying no.

US President Barack Obama
Photo: AP

SLIDESHOW: Israel & Region  |  World The Saudis twice said no to his request for normalization gestures towards Israel (at Barack Obama's meeting with King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, and in Washington at meetings with Hillary Clinton). Who says no to the American president twice? What must they think of Obama in the desert kingdom?

The North Koreans said no to repeated attempts at talks, by test-launching long-range missiles in April; Russia and China keep on saying no to tougher sanctions on Iran; the Iranians keep saying no to offers of talks by saying they're willing to talk about everything except a halt to uranium enrichment; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is saying no by refusing to meet with Binyamin Netanyahu until Israel freezes all settlement construction; the Israelis said no by refusing to agree to a settlement freeze, or even a settlement moratorium until and unless the Arabs ante up their normalization gestures. Which brings us back to the original Saudi no.

The only thing Obama did manage to get Bibi and Abbas to say yes to is a photo-op at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in NY. Mazel tov.

Editorial: Wobbling Washington
So why is everyone saying no to Obama?

It's the economy, stupid.

Everyone has worked it out by now: The great secret is out. America's economy has made Obama a weak president, and he will likely remain weak throughout his first term. He has about two years to pull the American economy out of its free-fall before he begins his reelection campaign. If he can do it, and that's a big if, chances are good that he'll get reelected, and in his second term he can try to pull some geopolitical strings. But for the next three years, expect to see a world that says no to Obama. No meaningful and dramatic diplomatic initiative can come out of the White House in the next three years, as long as Obama remains weak.

And that's a real pity, because there are some serious and imminent issues that need to be addressed.

Pyongyang is getting more bellicose and not being punished. The North Koreans have violated every single international agreement and norm, and nothing tangible has happened to them.

In Iran, this registers. "Look at how bad they're being," the mullahs say, "and they're getting away with it." Even so, the Iranian government is weak internally and internationally following its election fiasco.

The US and EU could tighten sanctions against Iran without the support of Russia and China, but they would need political will for that. Sanctions, such as a ban on refined oil imports, barring Iranian flights to America and Europe etc., could have a serious impact on Iran and weaken the regime further. The US and EU can act now against Iran like the US and UK did against Libya several years ago when they persuaded Gaddafi to abandon his nuclear ambitions. Back then, though, the US was much stronger. Now, the American economy, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Korea have all weakened the US.

In retaliation for increased, unilateral sanctions, Iran could turn up the heat on US and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, which will stymie Obama's plan to win and withdraw. In Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran has the US president by the kishkes, in a manner of speaking. And so do the Taliban.

So, when a president with so many problems comes asking for a favor, everyone finds it easier to just say no.****

For more of Amir's articles and posts, visit his personal blog Forecast Highs
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: DougMacG on September 22, 2009, 01:36:23 PM
Point of clarification and I hope this doesn't take away from the importance or credibility of his criticism, but Lawrence Eagleburger served under Republican Presidents RR and GHWB.  - Doug
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 22, 2009, 03:25:54 PM
Whoops!  I misremembered him as a Clintonite  :oops:
Title: Spengler back in June
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 26, 2009, 09:13:16 AM
Obama creates a deadly power vacuum
By Spengler

There's a joke about a man who tells a psychiatrist, "Everybody hates me," to which the psychiatrist responds, "That's ridiculous - everyone doesn't know you, yet." Which brings me to Barack Obama: one of the best-informed people in the American security establishment told me the other day that the president is a "Manchurian Candidate".

That can't be true - Manchuria isn't in the business of brainwashing prospective presidential candidates any more. There's no one left to betray America to. Obama is creating a strategic void in which no major power will dominate, and every minor power must fend for itself. The outcome is incalculably hard to analyze and terrifying to consider.

Obama doesn't want to betray the United States; he only wants to empower America's enemies. Forcing Israel to abandon its strategic buffer (the so-called settlements) was supposed to placate Iran, so that Iran would help America stabilize Iraq, where its influence looms large over the Shi'ite majority.

America also sought Iran's help in suppressing the Taliban in Afghanistan. In Obama's imagination, a Sunni Arab coalition - empowered by Washington's turn against Israel - would encircle Iran and dissuade it from acquiring nuclear weapons, while an entirely separate Shi'ite coalition with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would suppress the radical Sunni Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This was the worst-designed scheme concocted by a Western strategist since Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery attacked the bridges at Arnhem in 1944, and it has blown up in Obama's face.

Iran already has made clear that casting America's enemies in the leading role of an American operation has a defect, namely that America's enemies rather would lose on their own terms than win on America's terms. Iran's verbal war with the American president over the violent suppression of election-fraud protests leaves Washington with no policy at all. The premise of Obama's policy was that progress on the Palestinian issue would empower a Sunni coalition. As the president said May 18:
If there is a linkage between Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, I personally believe it actually runs the other way. To the extent that we can make peace with the Palestinians - between the Palestinians and the Israelis, then I actually think it strengthens our hand in the international community in dealing with the potential Iranian threat.
Israel's supporters remonstrated in vain. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a prominent Obama supporter, wrote, "If there is to be any linkage - and I do not believe there should be - it goes the other way: it will be much easier for Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank if Iran does not have a nuclear umbrella under which it can continue to encourage Hamas and Hezbollah to fire rockets at Israeli civilians."

No matter: America made clear that it had annulled the George W Bush administration's promise that a final settlement would allow most of Israel's 500,000 "settlers" to keep their homes, in order to launch the fantasy ship of Iranian cooperation with America.

That policy now is in ruins, and Washington has no plan B. David Axelrod, Obama's top political advisor, told television interviewers on January 28 that Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who spent the last week denouncing the United States, "Did not have final say" over Iran's foreign policy and that America still wanted to negotiate with Iran. This sounds idiotic, but the White House really has painted itself into a corner. The trouble is that Obama has promised to withdraw American forces from Iraq, and Iran has sufficient influence in Shi'ite-majority Iraq to cause continuous upheaval, perhaps even to eventually win control of the country.

By a fateful coincidence, American troops are scheduled to leave Iraq's urban centers on June 30. Overthrowing Saddam Hussein left Iraq open to Iranian destabilization; that is why the elder George Bush left the Iraqi dictator in power in 1990.

Offering Iran a seat at the table in exchange for setting a limit to its foreign ambitions - in Lebanon and Gaza as well as Iraq - seemed to make sense on paper. But the entity that calls itself revolutionary Islam is not made of paper, but of flesh and blood. It is in danger of internal collapse and can only assert its authority by expanding its influence as aggressively as it can.

After the election disaster, Iran's revolutionary leadership urgently needs to demonstrate its credibility. Israel now can say, "A country that murders its own citizens will have no compunction about massacring its enemies," and attack Iran's nuclear capacity with fewer consequences than would have been imaginable in May. And if an Israeli strike were to succeed, or appear successful to the world, the resulting humiliation might be fatal to the regime.

Israel may not be Tehran's worst nightmare. Iraq's Sunnis are testing the resolve of the weakened mullahs. The suicide bombing that killed 73 people at a Shi'ite mosque in Kirkuk on June 20 and a second bombing that killed another 72 Shi'ites in Baghdad's Sadr City slum most likely reflect Sunni perceptions that a weakened Tehran will provide less support for Iraqi Shi'ites. Although Shi'ites comprise more than three-fifths of Iraq's population, Sunnis provided the entire military leadership and are better organized on the ground. America's hopes of enlisting Iran to provide cover for its withdrawal from the cities of Iraq seem delusional.

What move on the chessboard might Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei venture to pre-empt an Israeli air raid against the nuclear facilities? Iran has the rocket launchers of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, and terrorist sleeper cells throughout the world. Iran might seek to pre-empt what it anticipates to be the next move from Israel by demonstrating its capacity to inflict injury on Israel or on Jewish targets elsewhere. That would require careful judgment, for a heavy handed action could provide a pretext for even more serious action by the Israelis and others. The same sort of consideration applies to Iranian support for Pakistan Shi'ites, for Hezbollah, and other vehicles of Iran's program of imperial expansion.

The Obama administration has put itself in a peculiar bind. It has demanded that the Pakistani army suppress the Taliban, after Islamabad attempted a power-sharing agreement that left the Taliban in control of the Swat Valley. To root out the largely Pashtun Taliban, Pakistan's largely Punjabi army has driven a million people into refugee camps and leveled entire towns in the Swat Valley. Tens of thousands of refugees are now fleeing the Pakistani army in the South Waziristan tribal area. Punjabis killing Pashtuns is nothing new in the region, but the ferocity of the present effort does not augur well for an early end to the conflict.

While the Pakistan army holds nothing back in attacking the Taliban, American troops in Afghanistan have been told that they no longer can call in air strikes if civilians are likely to suffer. That will put American forces in the unfortunate position of the Pirates of Penzance, who exempted orphans. Once this became generally known, everyone they attempted to rob turned out to be an orphan.

The Taliban need only take a page from Hamas' book, and ensure that civilians are present wherever they operate. The US has made clear that it will not deal in civilian blood, the currency of warfare in that region since before the dawn of history. It will not be taken seriously in consequence.

What will the administration do now? As all its initiatives splatter against the hard realities of the region, it will probably do less and less, turning the less appetizing aspects of the fighting over to local allies and auxiliaries who do not share its squeamishness about shedding civilian blood. That is the most dangerous outcome of all, for America is the main stabilizing force in the region.

The prospect of civil wars raging simultaneously in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq is no longer improbable. The Israel-Palestine issue is linked to all of these through Iran, whose credibility depends on its ability to sustain such puppies of war as Hezbollah and Hamas. Whether or not the Israelis take the opportunity to strike Iran, the prospect of an Israeli strike will weigh on Iran's proxies in the region, and keep Israel's borders in condition of potential violence for the interim.

America's great good fortune is that no hostile superpower stands ready to benefit from its paralysis and confusion. When Soviet troops landed in Afghanistan in December 1979, America was in the grip of an economic crisis comparable to the present depression. American diplomats at the Tehran Embassy were still hostages to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The price of gold doubled from around $400 to $800 after the Russian invasion because most of the world thought that Russia would win the Cold War. If America lost its dominant superpower status in the West, the dollar no longer could serve as a global reserve currency. To the superpower goes the seigniorage, the state's premium for providing a currency.

By contrast, the gold price barely fluttered all through the present crisis. America remains the undisputed global superpower for the time being. America's creditors express consternation about its $1.8 trillion budget deficit and many trillions more of guarantees for the banking system, but there is nothing they can do about it for the time being but talk. That is how one should interpret a June 25 Reuters report that a "senior researcher with the ruling Communist Party" had urged China to shift some of its $2 trillion in reserves out of dollars and into gold.
Li Lianzhong, who heads the economic department of the Party's policy research office, said China should use more of its $1.95 trillion in foreign exchange reserves to buy energy and natural resource assets. Speaking at a foreign exchange and gold forum, Li also said that buying land in the United States was a better option for China than buying US Treasury securities.

"Should we buy gold or US Treasuries?" Li asked. "The US is printing dollars on a massive scale, and in view of that trend, according to the laws of economics, there is no doubt that the dollar will fall. So gold should be a better choice."
There is no suggestion that Li, even though he is a senior researcher, was enunciating an agreed party line.

The last thing China wants at the moment is to undercut the US dollar, for three reasons. First, as America's largest creditor, China has the most to lose from a dollar collapse. Second, Americans would buy fewer Chinese imports. And third, the collapse of the dollar would further erode America's will to fulfill its superpower function, and that is what China wants least of all.

America remains the indispensable outsider in Asia. No one likes the United States, but everyone dislikes the United States less than they dislike their neighbors. India need not worry about China's role in Pakistan, for example, because America mediates Indian-Pakistani relations, and America has no interest in a radical change to the status quo. Neither does China, for that matter, but India is less sure of that. China does not trust Japan for historical reasons that will not quickly fade, but need not worry about it because America is the guarantor of Japan's security. The Seventh Fleet is the most disliked - and nonetheless the most welcome - entity in Asia.

All of this may change drastically, quickly, and for the worse. Obama's policy reduces to empowering America's enemies in the hope that they will conform to American interests out of gratitude. Just the opposite result is likely to ensure: Iran, Pakistan and other regional powers are likely to take radical measures. Iran is threatened with a collapse of its Shi'ite program from Lebanon to Afghanistan, and Pakistan is threatened with a breakup into three or more states.

Obama has not betrayed the interests of the United States to any foreign power, but he has done the next worst thing, namely to create a void in the region by withdrawing American power. The result is likely to be a species of pandemonium that will prompt the leading players in the region to learn to live without the United States.

In his heart of hearts, Obama sees America as a force for evil in the world, apologizing for past American actions that did more good than harm. An example is America's sponsorship of the 1953 coup in Iran that overthrew the left-leaning government of Mohammed Mossadegh.

"In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government," the president offered in his Cairo address to Muslims on June 5. Although Iran's theocracy despises Mossadegh - official Iranian textbooks call him the "son of a feudal family of exploiters who worked for the cursed Shah, and betrayed Islam" - Iran's government continues to reproach America for its role in the coup. "With a coup they toppled the national government of Iran and replaced it with a harsh, unpopular and despotic regime," Ahmadinejad complained in a January 28 speech.

It is s a bit late to offer advice to Obama, but the worst thing America can do is to apologize. Instead, it should ask for the gratitude of the developing world. Weak countries become punching-bags in the proxy wars of empires. This was from the dawn of history until the fall of the last empire - the "evil" empire of Soviet communism.

The Soviets exploited anti-colonial movements from the 1917 Bolshevik coup until the collapse of the Afghanistan adventure in the late 1980s. Nationalists who tried to ride the Russian tiger ended up in its belly more often than on its back. Iran, Chile, Nicaragua, Angola and numerous other weak countries became the hapless battleground for the contest of covert operations between the Soviet Union and America - not to mention Vietnam and Korea.

The use of developing countries as proxy battlefields and their people as cannon fodder came to an end with the Cold War. As a result, the past 20 years have seen the fastest improvement in living standards ever in the global south, and a vast shift in wealth towards so-called developing countries.

By defeating Russia in the Cold War, America made it possible for governments in the global south to pursue their own interests free from the specter of Soviet subversion. And by countering Soviet subversion, America often averted much worse consequences.

Many deficiencies can be ascribed to the Shah of Iran, but a communist regime in the wake of a Mossadegh administration would have been indescribably worse. The septuagenarian Mossadegh had his own agenda, but he relied on the support of the communist Tudeh party. The US feared a Soviet invasion of Iran, and "the [Harry S] Truman administration was willing to consider a Soviet invasion of Iran as a casus belli, or the start of a global war", according to Francis J Gavin's 1999 article in The Journal of Cold War Studies.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with help from British intelligence helped the shah overthrow the left-leaning regime. But this was no minor colonial adventure, but a flashpoint with the potential to start a world war.

It is painful and humiliating for Iranians to recall the overthrow of a democratically elected government with American help. It would have been infinitely more humiliating to live under Soviet rule, like the soon-to-be-extinct victims of Soviet barbarism in Eastern Europe.

The same is true of Chile, where the brutal regime of General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in 1973, with help from the CIA. Allende was surrounded by Cuban intelligence operations. As Wikipedia reports:
Shortly after the election of Salvador Allende in November 1970, the [Cuban Directorate of Intelligence - DI] worked extremely closely to strengthen Allende's increasingly precarious position. The Cuban DI station chief Luis Fernandez Ona even married Salvador Allende's daughter Beatrice, who later committed suicide in Cuba. The DI organized an international brigade that would organize and coordinate the actions of the thousands of the foreign leftists that had moved into Chile shortly after Allende's election. These individuals ranged from Cuban DI agents, Soviet, Czech and North Korean military instructors and arms suppliers, to hardline Spanish and Portuguese Communist Party members.
My Latin American friends who still mourn the victims of Pinochet's "night and fog" state terror will not like to hear this, but the several thousand people killed or tortured by the military government were collateral damage in the Cold War. Like Iran, Chile became the battleground of a Soviet-American proxy war. The same is true in Nicaragua. (Full disclosure: I advised Nicaragua's president Violeta Chamorro after she defeated the Cuban-backed Sandinistas in the 1990 elections; I did so with no tie to any government agency.)

Obama's continuing obsession with America's supposed misdeeds - deplorable but necessary actions in time of war - is consistent with his determination to erode America's influence in the most troubled parts of the world. By removing America as a referee, he will provoke more violence than the United States ever did. We are entering a very, very dangerous period as a result.

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman, Associate Editor of First Things (
Title: Serious Strat: BO's move
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 28, 2009, 04:04:16 PM
Obama's Move: Iran and Afghanistan

September 28, 2009
by George Friedman

During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, now-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said that like all U.S. presidents, Barack Obama would face a foreign policy test early in his presidency if elected. That test is now here.

His test comprises two apparently distinct challenges, one in Afghanistan and one in Iran. While different problems, they have three elements in common. First, they involve the question of his administration’s overarching strategy in the Islamic world. Second, the problems are approaching decision points (and making no decision represents a decision here). And third, they are playing out very differently than Obama expected during the 2008 campaign.

During the campaign, Obama portrayed the Iraq war as a massive mistake diverting the United States from Afghanistan, the true center of the “war on terror.” He accordingly promised to shift the focus away from Iraq and back to Afghanistan. Obama’s views on Iran were more amorphous. He supported the doctrine that Iran should not be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons, while at the same time asserted that engaging Iran was both possible and desirable. Embedded in the famous argument over whether offering talks without preconditions was appropriate (something now-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attacked him for during the Democratic primary) was the idea that the problem with Iran stemmed from Washington’s refusal to engage in talks with Tehran.

We are never impressed with campaign positions, or with the failure of the victorious candidate to live up to them. That’s the way American politics work. But in this case, these promises have created a dual crisis that Obama must make decisions about now.


Back in April, in the midst of the financial crisis, Obama reached an agreement at the G-8 meeting that the Iranians would have until Sept. 24 and the G-20 meeting to engage in meaningful talks with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany (P-5+1) or face intensely increased sanctions. His administration was quite new at the time, so the amount of thought behind this remains unclear. On one level, the financial crisis was so intense and September so far away that Obama and his team probably saw this as a means to delay a secondary matter while more important fires were flaring up.

But there was more operating than that. Obama intended to try to bridge the gap between the Islamic world and the United States between April and September. In his speech to the Islamic world from Cairo, he planned to show a desire not only to find common ground, but also to acknowledge shortcomings in U.S. policy in the region. With the appointment of special envoys George Mitchell (for Israel and the Palestinian territories) and Richard Holbrooke (for Pakistan and Afghanistan), Obama sought to build on his opening to the Islamic world with intense diplomatic activity designed to reshape regional relationships.

It can be argued that the Islamic masses responded positively to Obama’s opening — it has been asserted to be so and we will accept this — but the diplomatic mission did not solve the core problem. Mitchell could not get the Israelis to move on the settlement issue, and while Holbrooke appears to have made some headway on increasing Pakistan’s aggressiveness toward the Taliban, no fundamental shift has occurred in the Afghan war.

Most important, no major shift has occurred in Iran’s attitude toward the United States and the P-5+1 negotiating group. In spite of Obama’s Persian New Year address to Iran, the Iranians did not change their attitude toward the United States. The unrest following Iran’s contested June presidential election actually hardened the Iranian position. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remained president with the support of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, while the so-called moderates seemed powerless to influence their position. Perceptions that the West supported the demonstrations have strengthened Ahmadinejad’s hand further, allowing him to paint his critics as pro-Western and himself as an Iranian nationalist.

But with September drawing to a close, talks have still not begun. Instead, they will begin Oct. 1. And last week, the Iranians chose to announce that not only will they continue work on their nuclear program (which they claim is not for military purposes), they have a second, hardened uranium enrichment facility near Qom. After that announcement, Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy held a press conference saying they have known about the tunnel for several months, and warned of stern consequences.

This, of course, raises the question of what consequences. Obama has three choices in this regard.

First, he can impose crippling sanctions against Iran. But that is possible only if the Russians cooperate. Moscow has the rolling stock and reserves to supply all of Iran’s fuel needs if it so chooses, and Beijing can also remedy any Iranian fuel shortages. Both Russia and China have said they don’t want sanctions; without them on board, sanctions are meaningless.

Second, Obama can take military action against Iran, something easier politically and diplomatically for the United States to do itself rather than rely on Israel. By itself, Israel cannot achieve air superiority, suppress air defenses, attack the necessary number of sites and attempt to neutralize Iranian mine-laying and anti-ship capability all along the Persian Gulf. Moreover, if Israel struck on its own and Iran responded by mining the Strait of Hormuz, the United States would be drawn into at least a naval war with Iran — and probably would have to complete the Israeli airstrikes, too.

And third, Obama could choose to do nothing (or engage in sanctions that would be the equivalent of doing nothing). Washington could see future Iranian nuclear weapons as an acceptable risk. But the Israelis don’t, meaning they would likely trigger the second scenario. It is possible that the United States could try to compel Israel not to strike — though it’s not clear whether Israel would comply — something that would leave Obama publicly accepting Iran’s nuclear program.

And this, of course, would jeopardize Obama’s credibility. It is possible for the French or Germans to waffle on this issue; no one is looking to them for leadership. But for Obama simply to acquiesce to Iranian nuclear weapons, especially at this point, would have significant diplomatic and domestic political ramifications. Simply put, Obama would look weak — and that, of course, is why the Iranians announced the second nuclear site. They read Obama as weak, and they want to demonstrate their own resolve. That way, if the Russians were thinking of cooperating with the United States on sanctions, Moscow would be seen as backing the weak player against the strong one. The third option, doing nothing, therefore actually represents a significant action.


In a way, the same issue is at stake in Afghanistan. Having labeled Afghanistan as critical — indeed, having campaigned on the platform that the Bush administration was fighting the wrong war — it would be difficult for Obama to back down in Afghanistan. At the same time, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has reported that without a new strategy and a substantial increase in troop numbers, failure in Afghanistan is likely.

The number of troops being discussed, 30,000-40,000, would bring total U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan to just above the number of troops the Soviet Union deployed there in its war (just under 120,000) — a war that ended in failure. The new strategy being advocated would be one in which the focus would not be on the defeat of the Taliban by force of arms, but the creation of havens for the Afghan people and protecting those havens from the Taliban.

A move to the defensive when time is on your side is not an unreasonable strategy. But it is not clear that time is on Western forces’ side. Increased offensives are not weakening the Taliban. But halting attacks and assuming that the Taliban will oblige the West by moving to the offensive, thereby opening itself to air and artillery strikes, probably is not going to happen. And while assuming that the country will effectively rise against the Taliban out of the protected zones the United States has created is interesting, it does not strike us as likely. The Taliban is fighting the long war because it has nowhere else to go. Its ability to maintain military and political cohesion following the 2001 invasion has been remarkable. And betting that the Pakistanis will be effective enough to break the Taliban’s supply lines is hardly the most prudent bet.

In short, Obama’s commander on the ground has told him the current Afghan strategy is failing. He has said that unless that strategy changes, more troops won’t help, and that a change of strategy will require substantially more troops. But when we look at the proposed strategy and the force levels, it is far from obvious that even that level of commitment will stand a chance of achieving meaningful results quickly enough before the forces of Washington’s NATO allies begin to withdraw and U.S. domestic resolve erodes further.

Obama has three choices in Afghanistan. He can continue to current strategy and force level, hoping to prolong failure long enough for some undefined force to intervene. He can follow McChrystal’s advice and bet on the new strategy. Or he can withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Once again, doing nothing — the first option — is doing something quite significant.

The Two Challenges Come Together

The two crises intermingle in this way: Every president is tested in foreign policy, sometimes by design and sometimes by circumstance. Frequently, this happens at the beginning of his term as a result of some problem left by his predecessor, a strategy adopted in the campaign or a deliberate action by an antagonist. How this happens isn’t important. What is important is that Obama’s test is here. Obama at least publicly approached the presidency as if many of the problems the United States faced were due to misunderstandings about or the thoughtlessness of the United States. Whether this was correct is less important than that it left Obama appearing eager to accommodate his adversaries rather than confront them.

No one has a clear idea of Obama’s threshold for action.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban takes the view that the British and Russians left, and that the Americans will leave, too. We strongly doubt that the force level proposed by McChrystal will be enough to change their minds. Moreover, U.S. forces are limited, with many still engaged in Iraq. In any case, it isn’t clear what force level would suffice to force the Taliban to negotiate or capitulate — and we strongly doubt that there is a level practical to contemplate.

In Iran, Ahmadinejad clearly perceives that challenging Obama is low-risk and high reward. If he can finally demonstrate that the United States is unwilling to take military action regardless of provocations, his own domestic situation improves dramatically, his relationship with the Russians deepens, and most important, his regional influence — and menace — surges. If Obama accepts Iranian nukes without serious sanctions or military actions, the American position in the Islamic world will decline dramatically. The Arab states in the region rely on the United States to protect them from Iran, so U.S. acquiescence in the face of Iranian nuclear weapons would reshape U.S. relations in the region far more than a hundred Cairo speeches.

There are four permutations Obama might choose in response to the dual crisis. He could attack Iran and increase forces in Afghanistan, but he might well wind up stuck in a long-term war in Afghanistan. He could avoid that long-term war by withdrawing from Afghanistan and also ignore Iran’s program, but that would leave many regimes reliant on the United States for defense against Iran in the lurch. He could increase forces in Afghanistan and ignore Iran — probably yielding the worst of all possible outcomes, namely, a long-term Afghan war and an Iran with a nuclear program if not nuclear weapons.

On pure logic, history or politics aside, the best course is to strike Iran and withdraw from Afghanistan. That would demonstrate will in the face of a significant challenge while perhaps reshaping Iran and certainly avoiding a drawn-out war in Afghanistan. Of course, it is easy for those who lack power and responsibility — and the need to govern — to provide logical choices. But the forces closing in on Obama are substantial, and there are many competing considerations in play.

Presidents eventually arrive at the point where something must be done, and where doing nothing is very much doing something. At this point, decisions can no longer be postponed, and each choice involves significant risk. Obama has reached that point, and significantly, in his case, he faces a double choice. And any decision he makes will reverberate.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on September 28, 2009, 04:43:17 PM
Israel will burn, Afghanistan will fail as Obama fiddles.

He's busy trying to get the Olympics for Chicago.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on September 29, 2009, 07:25:00 PM

Saturday, September 26, 2009
Today's Reading Assignment

...courtesy of Ralph Peters, in the New York Post. In his latest column, Colonel Peters (essentially) asks the same questions we posed yesterday: how long did President Obama know about that Iranian nuclear nuclear facility before he publicly acknowledged its existence? And why keep it a secret, particularly if you're trying to persuade Tehran to give up its nuclear program?

The answer, according to Peters, can be found in the President's lack of military experience; his unswerving faith in diplomacy and humiliation over a situation that is spinning out of control:

Obama didn't want you to know how much progress Iran had made. It's an embarrassment.

And it raises the pressure on the White House to act -- something this president's squirming to avoid. But the Iranians have now realized we know, so they tipped it themselves.

Obama had no choice but to come clean.

Yesterday, he interrupted the G-20 summit to go public -- before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did. Flanked by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain's dead man walking, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, our president offered more uselessly vague rhetoric in response to proof of a major "covert Iranian enrichment facility" and its implications.

So what happens next? Peters predicts a coming apocalypse, caused (in part) by Mr. Obama's refusal to act. We've said the same thing, predicting that the commander-in-chief will face a foreign policy reckoning in the coming months, a catastrophic event that will make last year's market crash seem tame by comparison. Here's how Ralph Peters sees events playing out:

Obama will try more talks. We may see half-hearted sanctions -- which will be violated right and left. Russia, which profits hugely from dirty trade with Iran, can slip goods across the Caspian Sea or through Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

And maritime sanctions are meaningless, unless our president is willing to order our Navy to fire on Chinese-flagged or Venezuelan-flagged merchant vessels.

Think that's going to happen?

How will it end? With desperate Israeli attacks that do only part of the job, followed by Iranian counterstrikes on Persian Gulf oil facilities, the closure of the Straits of Hormuz and oil above $400 a barrel.

Only the United States can stop Iran's nuclear program before it's too late. And this president won't.
Title: The Twilight of Pax Americana
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 30, 2009, 06:42:34 AM
Twilight of Pax Americana
Since the end of WWII, the world has depended on the United States for stability. But with American military and economic dominance waning, capitalism and global security are threatened.

The international order that emerged after World War II has rightly been termed the Pax Americana; it's a Washington-led arrangement that has maintained political stability and promoted an open global economic system. Today, however, the Pax Americana is withering, thanks to what the National Intelligence Council in a recent report described as a "global shift in relative wealth and economic power without precedent in modern history" -- a shift that has accelerated enormously as a result of the economic crisis of 2007-2009.

At the heart of this geopolitical sea change is China's robust economic growth. Not because Beijing will necessarily threaten American interests but because a newly powerful China by necessity means a relative decline in American power, the very foundation of the postwar international order. These developments remind us that changes in the global balance of power can be sudden and discontinuous rather than gradual and evolutionary.

The Great Recession isn't the cause of Washington's ebbing relative power. But it has quickened trends that already had been eating away at the edifice of U.S. economic supremacy. Looking ahead, the health of the U.S. economy is threatened by a gathering fiscal storm: exploding federal deficits that could ignite runaway inflation and undermine the dollar. To avoid these perils, the U.S. will face wrenching choices.

The Obama administration and the Federal Reserve have adopted policies that have dramatically increased both the supply of dollars circulating in the U.S. economy and the federal budget deficit, which both the Brookings Institution and the Congressional Budget Office estimate will exceed $1 trillion every year for at least the next decade. In the short run, these policies were no doubt necessary; nevertheless, in the long term, they will almost certainly boomerang. Add that to the persistent U.S. current account deficit, the enormous unfunded liabilities for entitlement programs and the cost of two ongoing wars, and you can see that America's long-term fiscal stability is in jeopardy. As the CBO says: "Even if the recovery occurs as projected and stimulus bill is allowed to expire, the country will face the highest debt/GDP ratio in 50 years and an increasingly unsustainable and urgent fiscal problem." This spells trouble ahead for the dollar.

The financial privileges conferred on the U.S. by the dollar's unchallenged reserve currency status -- its role as the primary form of payment for international trade and financial transactions -- have underpinned the preeminent geopolitical role of the United States in international politics since the end of World War II. But already the shadow of the coming fiscal crisis has prompted its main creditors, China and Japan, to worry that in coming years the dollar will depreciate in value. China has been increasingly vocal in calling for the dollar's replacement by a new reserve currency. And Yukio Hatoyama, Japan's new prime minister, favors Asian economic integration and a single Asian currency as substitutes for eroding U.S. financial and economic power.

Going forward, to defend the dollar, Washington will need to control inflation through some combination of budget cuts, tax increases and interest rate hikes. Given that the last two options would choke off renewed growth, the least unpalatable choice is to reduce federal spending. This will mean radically scaling back defense expenditures, because discretionary nondefense spending accounts for only about 20% of annual federal outlays. This in turn will mean a radical diminution of America's overseas military commitments, transforming both geopolitics and the international economy.

Since 1945, the Pax Americana has made international economic interdependence and globalization possible. Whereas all states benefit absolutely in an open international economy, some states benefit more than others. In the normal course of world politics, the relative distribution of power, not the pursuit of absolute economic gains, is a country's principal concern, and this discourages economic interdependence. In their efforts to ensure a distribution of power in their favor and at the expense of their actual or potential rivals, states pursue autarkic policies -- those designed to maximize national self-sufficiency -- practicing capitalism only within their borders or among countries in a trading bloc.

Thus a truly global economy is extraordinarily difficult to achieve. Historically, the only way to secure international integration and interdependence has been for a dominant power to guarantee the security of other states so that they need not pursue autarkic policies or form trading blocs to improve their relative positions. This suspension of international politics through hegemony has been the fundamental aim of U.S. foreign policy since the 1940s. The U.S. has assumed the responsibility for maintaining geopolitical stability in Europe, East Asia and the Persian Gulf, and for keeping open the lines of communication through which world trade moves. Since the Cold War's end, the U.S. has sought to preserve its hegemony by possessing a margin of military superiority so vast that it can keep any would-be great power pliant and protected.

Financially, the U.S. has been responsible for managing the global economy by acting as the market and lender of last resort. But as President Obama acknowledged at the London G-20 meeting in April, the U.S. is no longer able to play this role, and the world increasingly is looking to China (and India and other emerging market states) to be the locomotives of global recovery.

Going forward, the fiscal crisis will mean that Washington cannot discharge its military functions as a hegemon either, because it can no longer maintain the power edge that has allowed it to keep the ambitions of the emerging great powers in check. The entire fabric of world order that the United States established after 1945 -- the Pax Americana -- rested on the foundation of U.S. military and economic preponderance. Remove the foundation and the structure crumbles. The decline of American power means the end of U.S. dominance in world politics and the beginning of the transition to a new constellation of world powers.

The result will be profound changes in world politics. Emerging powers will seek to establish spheres of influence, control lines of communication, engage in arms races and compete for control over key natural resources. As America's decline results in the retraction of the U.S. military role in key regions, rivalries among emerging powers are bound to heat up. Already, China and India are competing for influence in Central and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the Indian Ocean. Even today, when the United States is still acting as East Asia's regional pacifier, the smoldering security competition between China and Japan is pushing Japan cautiously to engage in the very kind of "re-nationalization" of its security policy that the U.S. regional presence is supposed to prevent. While still wedded to its alliance with the U.S., in recent years Tokyo has become increasingly anxious that, as a Rand Corp. study put it, eventually it "might face a threat against which the United States would not prove a reliable ally." Consequently, Japan is moving toward dropping Article 9 of its American-imposed Constitution (which imposes severe constraints on Japan's military), building up its forces and quietly pondering the possibility of becoming a nuclear power.

Although the weakening of the Pax Americana will not cause international trade and capital flows to come to a grinding halt, in coming years we can expect states to adopt openly competitive economic policies as they are forced to jockey for power and advantage in an increasingly competitive security and economic environment. The world economy will thereby more closely resemble that of the 1930s than the free-trade system of the post-1945 Pax Americana. The coming end of the Pax Americana heralds a crisis for capitalism.

The coming era of de-globalization will be defined by rising nationalism and mercantilism, geopolitical instability and great power competition. In other words, having enjoyed a long holiday from history under the Pax Americana, international politics will be headed back to the future.

Christopher Layne is a professor of government at Texas A&M and a consultant to the National Intelligence Council. Benjamin Schwarz is literary and national editor of the Atlantic.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 02, 2009, 06:11:56 AM
Obama's Moment of Reckoning

EVERY AMERICAN PRESIDENT, early in his term, discovers that vision and reality rarely meet. Some — Ronald Reagan comes to mind — are able to recover. Others — Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush, for example — do not. But the world is the way it is for a reason. States do not have as much room to maneuver in their policymaking as election campaign rhetoric would suggest. U.S. President Barack Obama’s mistake to date has been very similar to that made by every president before him: namely, basing his foreign policy on the assumption that he, unlike his predecessors, will be able to talk to “those people” in a way that solves problems — that if things are just handled in a different way, a different president can achieve a different end.

That particular bundle of optimism pretty much shorted out this week. American diplomats will be in Geneva on Thursday for talks with their counterparts from France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, China and Iran. The topic: how to force the Iranians to come clean about their nuclear program. From what we’ve been able to gather from intelligence efforts, Iran is challenging the very agenda of the meeting. Russia is indicating that it doesn’t care a whit about Iran, but is willing to exert pressure if the Americans will grant concessions in the former Soviet Union, specifically Ukraine and Georgia. The Chinese are livid at Obama for his decision to implement tire tariffs and are not appearing particularly helpful either. Germany isn’t even sending an Iran expert to the talks, and is distracted by internal politics anyway.

“It is too early to pass judgment on Obama’s first year in office, but things are getting dicey.”
Nor is Iran the only issue that has forced its way onto Obama’s agenda. Afghanistan is a war that is going nowhere, and even with a massive increase of forces, it is unlikely that anything more than a stalemate will be feasible. Many empires have disappeared into the maw that is Afghanistan. The Greeks left. The Huns left. The Mongols left. The British left. The Soviets left. The Taliban is pretty sure the Americans will leave too. Obama’s campaign promise to fight the “right war” of course makes for some interesting public relations acrobatics, whatever direction policy — or the war — should take. But the problem remains that this war has gone from bad to worse — and to worse still — since Obama took office.

Things could be better at home, too. On Tuesday, the White House lost two major votes on health care, the issue that has crowded out nearly everything else on the domestic agenda — and this despite the tire tariffs, which were pushed through explicitly to guarantee the loyalty of some domestic groups. Making a sacrifice of China — and thereby complicating the Iran issue — has not generated a victory, but instead a loss.

It is too early to pass judgment on Obama’s first year in office, but things are getting dicey. Obama is now facing two crises in the Islamic world — Afghanistan and Iran — and by all indications he doesn’t have a clear strategy on either. His advisers are good enough, and he is smart enough, to realize that simply continuing in the same direction on either issue will not be a recipe for success. Iran, Russia and the Taliban already view him as weak. Doubling down in Afghanistan in order to confront the Taliban would rob the United States of its ability to act elsewhere. Going to war with Iran would (at a minimum) remove 3 million barrels per day of crude from the market and reverse the nascent economic recovery — not to mention reigniting conflict in Iraq. Shifting the country’s military orientation to re-contain Russia would leave Iraq and Afghanistan in the hands of potentially (if not already outright) hostile forces. Not a nice menu from which to select.

Obama’s moment is shaping up to arrive very soon. It well might be Thursday.

But it is not all bad news. Iran’s foreign minister on Wednesday flew from U.N. meetings in New York City to Washington, to visit the Iranian interests section at the Pakistani Embassy. Because Iran and the United States do not have direct ties, they operate via the Swiss Embassy in Tehran and the Pakistani Embassy in Washington. And given that lack of direct ties, any such visit requires a special visa with a high-level clearance. Someone like Manouchehr Mottaki does not simply visit Washington without approval. It’s pretty obvious that he didn’t come — and that the White House didn’t allow him to come — to go sightseeing. And if Mottaki simply wanted to mock Obama, he could have done that from the United Nations building in New York. He came to talk directly to the Americans before the public talks in Geneva on Thursday.

We see really only one clean way out of Obama’s dilemma: a deal with Iran. Should the Iranians and the Americans find a way to live with each other, then a great many other issues would fall into place. The Russians would lose their lever in the Middle East. The Americans could smoothly (for the Middle East) withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. American and Iranian intelligence and training in cooperation could limit any Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan.

Such a “happy” ending naturally faces some touchy obstacles. Israel would retain the ability to scrap any rapprochement, and would have strong incentives to do so if Iran’s nuclear program was not clearly and publicly defanged. Russia might have a thing or two to say (and do) to scuttle any warming in U.S.-Iran relations. And then there is that issue of a lack of trust between Tehran and Washington on just about everything.

But Mottaki visited Washington. And he did so with the full knowledge and permission of the White House. That’s a fact that cannot be ignored, and one that just might shine a light for an increasingly beleaguered president.

Title: Gen. Petraeus
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 05, 2009, 05:20:09 AM
Nice article title by Pravda on the Hudson  :roll:

Voice of Bush’s Pentagon Becomes Harder to Hear Recommend
Published: October 4, 2009

WASHINGTON — Gen. David H. Petraeus, the face of the Iraq troop surge and a favorite of former President George W. Bush, spoke up or was called upon by President Obama “several times” during the big Afghanistan strategy session in the Situation Room last week, one participant says, and will be back for two more meetings this week.

David H. PetraeusBut the general’s closest associates say that underneath the surface of good relations, the celebrity commander faces a new reality in Mr. Obama’s White House: He is still at the table, but in a very different seat.

No longer does the man who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have one of the biggest voices at National Security Council meetings, as he did when Mr. Bush gave him 20 minutes during hourlong weekly sessions to present his views in live video feeds from Baghdad. No longer is the general, with the Capitol Hill contacts and web of e-mail relationships throughout Washington’s journalism establishment, testifying in media explosions before Congress, as he did in September 2007, when he gave 34 interviews in three days.

The change has fueled speculation in Washington about whether General Petraeus might seek the presidency in 2012. His advisers say that it is absurd — but in immediate policy terms, it means there is one less visible advocate for the military in the administration’s debate over whether to send up to 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

General Petraeus’s aides now privately call him “Dave the Dull,” and say he has largely muzzled himself from the fierce public debate about the war to avoid antagonizing the White House, which does not want pressure from military superstars and is wary of the general’s ambitions in particular.

The general’s aides requested anonymity to talk more candidly about his relationship with the White House.

“General Petraeus has not hinted to anyone that he is interested in political life, and in fact has said on many occasions that he’s not,” said Peter Mansoor, a retired Army colonel and professor of military history at Ohio State University who was the executive officer to General Petraeus when he was the top American commander in Iraq.

“It is other people who are looking at his popularity and saying that he would be a good presidential candidate, and I think rightly that makes the administration a little suspicious of him.”

General Petraeus’s advisers say he has stepped back in part because Mr. Obama has handpicked his own public face for the war in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who last week gave an interview to CBS’s “60 Minutes,” met with Mr. Obama on Air Force One and used a speech in London to reject calls for scaling back the war effort.

If anything, General McChrystal’s public comments may prove that General Petraeus might be prudent to take a back seat during the debate. On Sunday, when CNN’s John King asked Gen. James L. Jones, the national security adviser, if it was appropriate for a man in uniform to appear to campaign so openly for more troops, General Jones replied, “Ideally, it’s better for military advice to come up through the chain of command.”

How much General Petraeus’s muted voice will affect Mr. Obama’s decision on the war is unclear, but people close to him say that stifling himself in public could give him greater credibility to influence the debate from within. Others say that his biggest influence may simply be as part of a team of military advisers, including General McChrystal and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The men are united in what they see as the need to build up the American effort in Afghanistan, although General Petraeus, who works closely with General McChrystal, said last week that he had not yet endorsed General McChrystal’s request for more troops.

Together the three are likely to be aligned against Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., as well as other administration officials who want to scale back the effort. In that situation, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has worried about a big American presence in Afghanistan but left the door open to more troops, could be the most influential vote.

What is clear is that General Petraeus’s relationship with Mr. Obama is nothing like his bond with Mr. Bush, who went mountain biking with the general in Washington last fall, or with Mr. Obama’s opponent in the 2008 presidential campaign, Senator John McCain of Arizona, whose aides briefly floated the general’s name last year as a possible running mate.

By then the general had been talked about as a potential presidential candidate himself, which still worries some political aides at the White House.

But not Mr. Obama, at least according to one of his top advisers. “The president’s not thinking that way, and the vice president’s not thinking that way,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff. “The president values his insights in helping to turn around an eight-year-old war that has been neglected.”

General Petraeus’s advisers say that to preserve a sense of military impartiality, he has not voted since at least 2003, and that he is not sure if he is still registered in New Hampshire, where he and his wife own property. The general has been described as a Republican, including in a lengthy profile in The New Yorker magazine last year. But a senior military official close to him said last week that he could not confirm the general’s political party.

In the meantime, General Petraeus travels frequently from his home in Tampa to Washington, where he met last week with the Afghan foreign minister. He also had dinner with Richard C. Holbrooke, the administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The general also makes calls on Capitol Hill.

“He understands the Congress better than any military commander I’ve ever met,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, who said that General Petraeus had the nationwide influence to serve as a spokesman for the administration’s policy on the Afghan war.

But until the president makes a decision, and determines if he wants to deploy General Petraeus to help sell it, the commander is keeping his head down. “He knows how to make his way through minefields like this,” said Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the Army.

Peter Baker contributed reporting
Title: Game Theory
Post by: Freki on October 05, 2009, 07:10:27 AM

I thought this PJTV Video: "  Game Theory and a Losing Strategy: Obama's Bad Judgment With The Prisoner's Dilemma" was interesting and hope you do too.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on October 05, 2009, 10:14:02 PM
Dictionary: kow·tow   (kou-tou', kou'tou')

1.To kneel and touch the forehead to the ground in expression of deep respect, worship, or submission, as formerly done in China.
2.To show servile deference. See synonims at fawn1.
1.The act of kneeling and touching the forehead to the ground.
2.An obsequious act.
[From Chinese (Mandarin) kòu tóu, a kowtow : kòu, to knock + tóu, head.]

Barack Obama cancels meeting with Dalai Lama 'to keep China happy'
President Barack Obama has refused to meet the Dalai Lama in Washington this week in a move to curry favour with the Chinese.
By Alex Spillius in Washington
Published: 6:20PM BST 05 Oct 2009

President Barack Obama has delayed a meeting with the Dalai Lama Photo: REUTERS The decision came after China stepped up a campaign urging nations to shun the Tibetan spiritual leader.

It means Mr Obama will become the first president not to welcome the Nobel peace prize winner to the White House since the Dalai Lama began visiting Washington in 1991.

The fog of war The Buddhist monk arrived in Washington on Monday for a week of meetings with Congressional leaders, celebrity supporters and interest groups, but the president will not see him until after he has made his first visit to China next month.

Samdhong Rinpoche, the Tibetan prime minister-in-exile, has accused the United States and other Western nations of "appeasement" toward China as its economic weight grows.

"Today, economic interests are much greater than other interests," he said.

Mr Obama's decision dismayed human rights and Tibetan support groups, who said he had made an unnecessary concession to the Chinese, who regard the Dalai Lama as a "splittist", despite his calls for autonomy rather than independence for Tibet. The Chinese invaded in 1950, forcing the young leader to flee.

Sophie Richardson, Asia advocate for Human Rights Watch, said: "Presidents always meets the Dalai Lama and what happens? Absolutely nothing.

"This idea that if you are nice to the Chinese Communist Party up front you can cash in later is just wrong. If you lower the bar on human rights they will just move it lower and lower."

Over several months of discussions the Tibetans resisted entreaties to delay the meeting, arguing that a refusal would make smaller countries more vulnerable to pressure from China not to meet the Dalai Lama.

But they were told by US officials they wanted to work with China on critical issues, including nuclear weapons proliferation in North Korea and Iran, according to The Washington Post. Mr Obama then sent a delegation to the Dalai Lama's home in exile in India last month that confirmed the meeting would be deferred.

Mr Obama has changed his position on Tibet since his election campaign.

In April 2008, he was joined by Hillary Clinton, then his rival for the Democratic nomination and now his Secretary of State, in calling on George W Bush to boycott the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony in protest at the bloody repression of a popular uprising in Tibet.

"If the Chinese do not take steps to help stop the genocide in Darfur and to respect the dignity, security, and human rights of the Tibetan people, then the President should boycott the opening ceremonies," they said.

Mrs Clinton has been at the forefront of a new approach, called "strategic reassurance", which seeks a more amicable partnership with the emerging power.

On her first trip to China in February she said public pressure on China over human rights was ill-advised as she "knew what the Chinese were going to say".

Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, the Washington-based special envoy to the Dalai Lama, issued a brief statement, saying: "We came to this arrangement because we believe that it is in our long-term interests."

A White House official said the administration and the Tibetans had "agreed the timing would be best after the visit".

"Both sides attach importance to a strong US-China relationship," the official said. "There are benefits in that to our goals for Tibet, as we have been working to resume discussions between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama’s representatives.”

The Tibetan leader's ten meetings with US presidents have played an important role in maintaining his international profile, even though they have never been filmed or followed by a press conference.

The exception was 2007, when George W Bush conferred the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress's highest civilian award, on the Dalai Lama in front of the cameras.

Frank Wolf, a Republican congressman and outspoken critic of China's human rights record, said: "What would a Buddhist monk or Buddhist nun in Drapchi prison think when he heard that President Obama, the president of the United States, is not going to meet with the Dalai Lama?

"It's against the law to even have a picture of the Dalai Lama. I can almost hear the words of the Chinese guards saying to them that nobody cares about you in the United States."

Ms Richardson said treating human rights as separate from other issues guaranteed failure "across the board".

"If there is no explicit agreement to stop locking up environmental activists and whistle blowers then any environmental agreement will be weakened.

"If the press in China is muzzled it won't investigate industrial safety and you will have more toxic toys coming to the United States," she said.
Title: US Foreign Policy: Dick Cheney, October 21 2009
Post by: DougMacG on October 22, 2009, 08:32:07 AM
I found this speaker/author to be well-informed.  - Doug

Most anyone who is given responsibility in matters of national security quickly comes to appreciate the commitments and structures put in place by others who came before. You deploy a military force that was planned and funded by your predecessors. You inherit relationships with partners and obligations to allies that were first undertaken years and even generations earlier. With the authority you hold for a little while, you have great freedom of action. And whatever course you follow, the essential thing is always to keep commitments, and to leave no doubts about the credibility of your country's word.

So among my other concerns about the drift of events under the present administration, I consider the abandonment of missile defense in Eastern Europe to be a strategic blunder and a breach of good faith.

It is certainly not a model of diplomacy when the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic are informed of such a decision at the last minute in midnight phone calls. It took a long time and lot of political courage in those countries to arrange for our interceptor system in Poland and the radar system in the Czech Republic. Our Polish and Czech friends are entitled to wonder how strategic plans and promises years in the making could be dissolved, just like that - with apparently little, if any, consultation. Seventy years to the day after the Soviets invaded Poland, it was an odd way to mark the occasion.

You hardly have to go back to 1939 to understand why these countries desire - and thought they had - a close and trusting relationship with the United States. Only last year, the Russian Army moved into Georgia, under the orders of a man who regards the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. Anybody who has spent much time in that part of the world knows what Vladimir Putin is up to. And those who try placating him, by conceding ground and accommodating his wishes, will get nothing in return but more trouble.

What did the Obama Administration get from Russia for its abandonment of Poland and the Czech Republic, and for its famous "Reset" button? Another deeply flawed election and continued Russian opposition to sanctioning Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In the short of it, President Obama's cancellation of America's agreements with the Polish and Czech governments was a serious blow to the hopes and aspirations of millions of Europeans. For twenty years, these peoples have done nothing but strive to move closer to us, and to gain the opportunities and security that America offered. These are faithful friends and NATO allies, and they deserve better. The impact of making two NATO allies walk the plank won't be felt only in Europe. Our friends throughout the world are watching and wondering whether America will abandon them as well.

Big events turn on the credibility of the United States - doing what we said we would do, and always defending our fundamental security interests. In that category belong the ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the need to counter the nuclear ambitions of the current regime in Iran.

Candidate Obama declared last year that he would be willing to sit down with Iran's leader without preconditions. As President, he has committed America to an Iran strategy that seems to treat engagement as an objective rather than a tactic. Time and time again, he has outstretched his hand to the Islamic Republic's authoritarian leaders, and all the while Iran has continued to provide lethal support to extremists and terrorists who are killing American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Islamic Republic continues to provide support to extremists in Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories. Meanwhile, the regime continues to spin centrifuges and test missiles. And these are just the activities we know about.

I have long been skeptical of engagement with the current regime in Tehran, but even Iran experts who previously advocated for engagement have changed their tune since the rigged elections this past June and the brutal suppression of Iran's democratic protestors. The administration clearly missed an opportunity to stand with Iran's democrats, whose popular protests represent the greatest challenge to the Islamic Republic since its founding in 1979. Instead, the President has been largely silent about the violent crackdown on Iran's protestors, and has moved blindly forward to engage Iran's authoritarian regime. Unless the Islamic Republic fears real consequences from the United States and the international community, it is hard to see how diplomacy will work.

Next door in Iraq, it is vitally important that President Obama, in his rush to withdraw troops, not undermine the progress we've made in recent years. Prime Minister Maliki met yesterday with President Obama, who began his press availability with an extended comment about Afghanistan. When he finally got around to talking about Iraq, he told the media that he reiterated to Maliki his intention to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq. Former President Bush's bold decision to change strategy in Iraq and surge U.S. forces there set the stage for success in that country. Iraq has the potential to be a strong, democratic ally in the war on terrorism, and an example of economic and democratic reform in the heart of the Middle East. The Obama Administration has an obligation to protect this young democracy and build on the strategic success we have achieved in Iraq.

We should all be concerned as well with the direction of policy on Afghanistan. For quite a while, the cause of our military in that country went pretty much unquestioned, even on the left. The effort was routinely praised by way of contrast to Iraq, which many wrote off as a failure until the surge proved them wrong. Now suddenly - and despite our success in Iraq - we're hearing a drumbeat of defeatism over Afghanistan. These criticisms carry the same air of hopelessness, they offer the same short-sighted arguments for walking away, and they should be summarily rejected for the same reasons of national security.

Having announced his Afghanistan strategy last March, President Obama now seems afraid to make a decision, and unable to provide his commander on the ground with the troops he needs to complete his mission.

President Obama has said he understands the stakes for America. When he announced his new strategy he couched the need to succeed in the starkest possible terms, saying, quote, "If the Afghan government falls to the Taliban - or allows al-Qaeda to go unchallenged - that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can." End quote.

Five months later, in August of this year, speaking at the VFW, the President made a promise to America's armed forces. "I will give you a clear mission," he said, "defined goals, and the equipment and support you need to get the job done. That's my commitment to you."

It's time for President Obama to make good on his promise. The White House must stop dithering while America's armed forces are in danger.

Make no mistake, signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries. Waffling, while our troops on the ground face an emboldened enemy, endangers them and hurts our cause.

Recently, President Obama's advisors have decided that it's easier to blame the Bush Administration than support our troops. This weekend they leveled a charge that cannot go unanswered. The President's chief of staff claimed that the Bush Administration hadn't asked any tough questions about Afghanistan, and he complained that the Obama Administration had to start from scratch to put together a strategy.

In the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy, assembling a team that traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan, reviewing options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obama's team. They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt. The new strategy they embraced in March, with a focus on counterinsurgency and an increase in the numbers of troops, bears a striking resemblance to the strategy we passed to them. They made a decision - a good one, I think - and sent a commander into the field to implement it.

Now they seem to be pulling back and blaming others for their failure to implement the strategy they embraced. It's time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity.

It's worth recalling that we were engaged in Afghanistan in the 1980's, supporting the Mujahadeen against the Soviets. That was a successful policy, but then we pretty much put Afghanistan out of our minds. While no one was watching, what followed was a civil war, the takeover by the Taliban, and the rise of bin Laden and al-Qaeda. All of that set in motion the events of 9/11. When we deployed forces eight years ago this month, it was to make sure Afghanistan would never again be a training ground for the killing of Americans. Saving untold thousands of lives is still the business at hand in this fight. And the success of our mission in Afghanistan is not only essential, it is entirely achievable with enough troops and enough political courage.

Then there's the matter of how to handle the terrorists we capture in this ongoing war. Some of them know things that, if shared, can save a good many innocent lives. When we faced that problem in the days and years after 9/11, we made some basic decisions. We understood that organized terrorism is not just a law-enforcement issue, but a strategic threat to the United States.

At every turn, we understood as well that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. We had a lot of blind spots - and that's an awful thing, especially in wartime. With many thousands of lives potentially in the balance, we didn't think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all.

The intelligence professionals who got the answers we needed from terrorists had limited time, limited options, and careful legal guidance. They got the baddest actors we picked up to reveal things they really didn't want to share. In the case of Khalid Sheik Muhammed, by the time it was over he was not was not only talking, he was practically conducting a seminar, complete with chalkboards and charts. It turned out he had a professorial side, and our guys didn't mind at all if classes ran long. At some point, the mastermind of 9/11 became an expansive briefer on the operations and plans of al-Qaeda. It happened in the course of enhanced interrogations. All the evidence, and common sense as well, tells us why he started to talk.

The debate over intelligence gathering in the seven years after 9/11 involves much more than historical accuracy. What we're really debating are the means and resolve to protect this country over the next few years, and long after that. Terrorists and their state sponsors must be held accountable, and America must remain on the offensive against them. We got it right after 9/11. And our government needs to keep getting it right, year after year, president after president, until the danger is finally overcome.

Our administration always faced its share of criticism, and from some quarters it was always intense. That was especially so in the later years of our term, when the dangers were as serious as ever, but the sense of general alarm after 9/11 was a fading memory. Part of our responsibility, as we saw it, was not to forget the terrible harm that had been done to America ... and not to let 9/11 become the prelude to something much bigger and far worse.

Eight years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive - and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed. So you would think that our successors would be going to the intelligence community saying, "How did you did you do it? What were the keys to preventing another attack over that period of time?"

Instead, they've chosen a different path entirely - giving in to the angry left, slandering people who did a hard job well, and demagoguing an issue more serious than any other they'll face in these four years. No one knows just where that path will lead, but I can promise you this: There will always be plenty of us willing to stand up for the policies and the people that have kept this country safe.

On the political left, it will still be asserted that tough interrogations did no good, because this is an article of faith for them, and actual evidence is unwelcome and disregarded. President Obama himself has ruled these methods out, and when he last addressed the subject he filled the air with vague and useless platitudes. His preferred device is to suggest that we could have gotten the same information by other means. We're invited to think so. But this ignores the hard, inconvenient truth that we did try other means and techniques to elicit information from Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and other al-Qaeda operatives, only turning to enhanced techniques when we failed to produce the actionable intelligence we knew they were withholding. In fact, our intelligence professionals, in urgent circumstances with the highest of stakes, obtained specific information, prevented specific attacks, and saved American lives.

In short, to call enhanced interrogation a program of torture is not only to disregard the program's legal underpinnings and safeguards. Such accusations are a libel against dedicated professionals who acted honorably and well, in our country's name and in our country's cause. What's more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation in the future, in favor of half-measures, is unwise in the extreme. In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed.

For all that we've lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings - and least of all can that be said of our armed forces and intelligence personnel. They have done right, they have made our country safer, and a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.

Last January 20th, our successors in office were given the highest honors that the voters of this country can give any two citizens. Along with that, George W. Bush and I handed the new president and vice president both a record of success in the war on terror, and the policies to continue that record and ultimately prevail. We had been the decision makers, but those seven years, four months, and nine days without another 9/11 or worse, were a combined achievement: a credit to all who serve in the defense of America, including some of the finest people I've ever met.

What the present administration does with those policies is their call to make, and will become a measure of their own record. But I will tell you straight that I am not encouraged when intelligence officers who acted in the service of this country find themselves hounded with a zeal that should be reserved for America's enemies. And it certainly is not a good sign when the Justice Department is set on a political mission to discredit, disbar, or otherwise persecute the very people who helped protect our nation in the years after 9/11.

There are policy differences, and then there are affronts that have to be answered every time without equivocation, and this is one of them. We cannot protect this country by putting politics over security, and turning the guns on our own guys.

We cannot hope to win a war by talking down our country and those who do its hardest work - the men and women of our military and intelligence services. They are, after all, the true keepers of the flame.
Title: Biden
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 24, 2009, 03:50:57 AM

Pravda on the Hudson

Biden Dismisses Cheney’s Criticisms Over Afghanistan Sign in to Recommend
Published: October 23, 2009
PRAGUE — Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had a blunt response on Friday to the latest broadsides from former Vice President Dick Cheney: “Who cares?”

In the latest exchange between old and new administrations, Mr. Biden rebuffed his predecessor’s criticism about President Obama’s handling of Afghanistan as “absolutely wrong.” And Mr. Biden rejected the last review of the war conducted by the White House under former President George W. Bush and Mr. Cheney as “irrelevant.”

The dismissive reply, which came at the end of Mr. Biden’s three-day swing through Eastern Europe during an interview with reporters traveling with him, underscored the weariness in the current White House with Mr. Cheney’s periodic assaults. At the same time, advisers to Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden consider the former vice president a useful public foil and have not shied away from escalating the debate by taking him on directly.

At the heart of the dispute is a fundamental disagreement on national security, from how to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan to how to protect Americans at home from possible terrorist attacks. In a speech in Washington this week, Mr. Cheney complained that Mr. Obama was “dithering” in deciding whether to send more troops to Afghanistan and had committed a “strategic blunder” in scrapping the last administration’s missile defense plan in Eastern Europe.

Mr. Biden spent much of this week in Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic assuring leaders in the region that the cancellation of Mr. Bush’s antimissile shield in favor of a more mobile replacement was not a concession to Russia, as Mr. Cheney and others contended. Mr. Biden secured an agreement with the Czech Republic on Friday to participate in the new missile defense system, as he earlier did with Poland.

Asked about Mr. Cheney’s criticism during a half-hour interview at the American ambassador’s residence here, Mr. Biden responded indirectly at first, saying leaders in the region now agree that the Obama plan will be more effective. “They believe that the new architecture is better,” the vice president said.

But as he warmed to the discussion, he became sharper in his rebuttals of Mr. Cheney. “I think that is absolutely wrong,” he said of the “dithering” charge. “I think what the administration is doing is exactly what we said it would do. And what I think it warrants doing. And that is making an informed judgment based upon circumstances that have changed.”

Mr. Biden shrugged off Mr. Cheney’s point that the old administration had left behind a review of Afghanistan.

“Who cares what — ” he said, and then stopped himself to find another way to put it. (“I can see the headline now,” said the famously free-wheeling vice president. “I’m getting better, guys.”)

But he went on to dismiss the Bush-Cheney review as inadequate. “That’s why the president asked me to get in the plane in January and go to Afghanistan,” Mr. Biden said. “I came back with a different review.”

Moreover, he said, the Bush-Cheney review is now dated. “A whole lot has changed in the last year,” Mr. Biden said. “Let’s assume they left us a review that was absolutely correct. Is that review relevant and totally applicable to today in light of the changes that have taken place in the region, in Afghanistan itself? So I think that is sort of irrelevant. Not sort of — I think it’s irrelevant.”

The interview was the first time Mr. Biden had publicly talked about Afghanistan in the weeks since the president began intensively rethinking his strategy and considering Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s request for about 40,000 more troops. Mr. Biden has been a forceful skeptic of General McChrystal’s request and an advocate for keeping troop levels roughly the same while focusing attention on hunting down Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

Mr. Biden said that Mr. Obama had lived up to a pre-election pledge to take his vice president’s views seriously and added that he would not be upset if the president rejected them at the end of the Afghanistan policy review. “He has sought my opinion not generically but in detail,” Mr. Biden said. “And if he reaches a different conclusion than I do, that’s O.K. He’s the president.”

The vice president acknowledged that at every stop on his trip through Eastern Europe he ran into uncertainty from allies about whether America was going to stay the course in Afghanistan. “What they wanted to know was, ‘Are you leaving?’ ” he said, adding that they were satisfied with his reassurances that America was not withdrawing.

Mr. Biden wrapped up his trip on Friday with meetings with Czech leaders. Jan Fischer, the prime minister, said his country would participate in the new antimissile shield. “I used the opportunity to express our readiness as a NATO member to participate because the new architecture is going to be NATO based and the Czech Republic is ready to participate,” Mr. Fischer said.

Mr. Biden said a high-level defense team would visit Prague next month to discuss how to structure that participation. While Poland agreed to host SM-3 interceptors, the Czech Republic might help with research and development or by hosting a command and control center. Yet the Czech commitment remains uncertain since Mr. Fischer is a caretaker prime minister until elections next spring.

Still, securing Polish and Czech involvement in the new system may go a long way toward reassuring the region of America’s commitment to its security. Both Poland and the Czech Republic were supposed to host parts of the Bush system and the Obama administration did not inform them of his decision until just before the announcement. As news of his decision was leaking last month, Mr. Obama scrambled to reach Mr. Fischer by telephone after midnight to tell him first.

Mr. Biden acknowledged that the announcement was not handled well. “Could it have been done better?” he asked. “Yeah. Obviously it could have been done better.” He added, “That’s the reason for the trip.”

He said Eastern European leaders were reassured. “There is an understandable reason for the anxiety here. You’ve got a new administration.” But he added, “Missile architecture was more sort of a metaphor for ‘Are we committed?’ ”
Title: Biden, Iran, Russia, FSU
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 28, 2009, 06:52:19 AM
George Friedman and Peter Zeihan | Tuesday, 27 October 2009
tags : Biden, Iran, Obama, Russia, StratforRussia, Iran and the Biden speech
The Obama Administration's aggressive diplomacy in Eastern Europe could sink its hopes for a peaceful resolution of its conflict with Iran.
This article was first published on the Stratfor website. George Friedman, is chairman and CEO of Stratfor. Peter Zeihan is a Stratfor analyst.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden toured several countries in Central Europe last week, including the Czech Republic and Poland. The trip comes just a few weeks after the United States reversed course and decided not to construct a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system in those two countries. While the system would have had little effect on the national security of either Poland or the Czech Republic, it was taken as a symbol of U.S. commitment to these two countries and to former Soviet satellites generally. The BMD cancellation accordingly caused intense concern in both countries and the rest of the region.

While the Obama administration strongly denied that the decision to halt the BMD deployment and opt for a different BMD system had anything to do with the Russians, the timing raised some questions. Formal talks with Iran on nuclear weapons were a few weeks away, and the only leverage the United States had in those talks aside from war was sanctions. The core of any effective sanctions against Iran would be placing limits on Iran's gasoline imports. By dint of proximity to Iran and massive spare refining capability, the Russians were essential to this effort -- and they were indicating that they wouldn't participate. Coincidence or not, the decision to pull BMD from Poland and the Czech Republic did give the Russians something they had been demanding at a time when they clearly needed to be brought on board.

The Biden Challenge

That's what made Biden's trip interesting. First, just a few weeks after the reversal, he revisited these countries. He reasserted American commitment to their security and promised the delivery of other weapons such as Patriot missile batteries, an impressive piece of hardware that really does enhance regional security (unlike BMD, which would grant only an indirect boost). Then, Biden went even further in Romania, not only extending his guarantees to the rest of Central Europe, but also challenging the Russians directly. He said that the United States regarded spheres of influence as 19th century thinking, thereby driving home that Washington is not prepared to accept Russian hegemony in the former Soviet Union (FSU). Most important, he called on the former satellites of the Soviet Union to assist republics in the FSU that are not part of the Russian Federation to overthrow authoritarian systems and preserve their independence.

This was a carefully written and vetted speech: It was not Biden going off on a tangent, but rather an expression of Obama administration policy. And it taps into the prime Russian fear, namely, that the West will eat away at Russia's western periphery -- and at Russia itself -- with color revolutions that result in the installation of pro-Western governments, just as happened in Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004-2005. The United States essentially now has pledged itself to do just that, and has asked the rest of Central Europe to join it in creating and strengthening pro-Western governments in the FSU. After doing something Russia wanted the United States to do, Washington now has turned around and announced a policy that directly challenges Russia, and which in some ways represents Russia's worst-case scenario.
What happened between the decision to pull BMD and Biden's Romania speech remains unclear, but there are three possibilities. The first possibility is that the Obama administration decided to shift policy on Russia in disappointment over Moscow's lack of response to the BMD overture. The second possibility is that the Obama administration didn't consider the effects of the BMD reversal. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the one had nothing to do with the other, and it is possible that the Obama administration simply failed to anticipate the firestorm the course reversal would kick off in Central Europe and to anticipate that it would be seen as a conciliatory gesture to the Russians, and then had to scramble to calm the waters and reassert the basic American position on Russia, perhaps more harshly than before. The third possibility, a variation on the second scenario, is that the administration might not yet have a coordinated policy on Russia. Instead, it responds to whatever the most recent pressure happens to be, giving the appearance of lurching policy shifts.

The why of Washington decision-making is always interesting, but the fact of what has now happened is more pertinent. And that is that Washington now has challenged Moscow on the latter's core issues. However things got to that point, they are now there -- and the Russian issue now fully intersects with the Iranian issue. On a deeper level, Russia once again is shaping up to be a major challenge to U.S. national interests. Russia fears (accurately) that a leading goal of American foreign policy is to prevent the return of Russia as a major power. At present, however, the Americans lack the free hand needed to halt Russia's return to prominence as a result of commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Kremlin inner circle understands this divergence between goal and capacity all too well, and has been working to keep the Americans as busy as possible elsewhere.

Distracting Washington While Shoring Up Security

The core of this effort is Russian support for Iran. Moscow has long collaborated with Tehran on Iran's nuclear power generation efforts. Conventional Russian weapon systems are quite popular with the Iranian military. And Iran often makes use of Russian international diplomatic cover, especially at the U.N. Security Council, where Russia wields the all-important veto.

Russian support confounds Washington's ability to counter more direct Iranian action, whether that Iranian action be in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq or the Persian Gulf. The Obama administration would prefer to avoid war with Iran, and instead build an international coalition against Iran to force it to back down on any number of issues of which a potential nuclear weapons program is only the most public and obvious. But building that coalition is impossible with a Russia-sized hole right in the center of the system.

The end result is that the Americans have been occupied with the Islamic world for some time now, something that secretly delights the Russians. The Iranian distraction policy has worked fiendishly well: It has allowed the Russians to reshape their own neighborhood in ways that simply would not be possible if the Americans had more diplomatic and military freedom of action. At the beginning of 2009, the Russians saw three potential challenges to their long-term security that they sought to mitigate. As of this writing, they have not only succeeded, they have managed partially to co-opt all three threats.

First, there is Ukraine, which is tightly integrated into the Russian industrial and agricultural heartland. A strong Ukrainian-Russian partnership (if not outright control of Ukraine by Russia) is required to maintain even a sliver of Russian security. Five years ago, Western forces managed to short-circuit a Kremlin effort to firm up Russian control of the Ukrainian political system, resulting in the Orange Revolution that saw pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko take office. After five years of serious Russian diplomatic and intelligence work, Moscow has since managed not just to discredit Yushchenko -- he is now less popular in most opinion polls than the margin of error -- but to command the informal loyalty of every other candidate for president in the upcoming January 2010 election. Very soon, Ukraine's Western moment will formally be over.

Russia is also sewing up the Caucasus. The only country that could challenge Russia's southern flank is Turkey, and until now, the best Russian hedge against Turkish power has been an independent (although certainly still a Russian client) Armenia. (Turkish-Armenian relations have been frozen in the post-Cold War era over the contentious issue of the Armenian genocide.) A few months ago, Russia offered the Turks the opportunity to improve relations with Armenia. The Turks are emerging from 90 years of near-comatose international relations, and they jumped at the chance to strengthen their position in the Caucasus. But in the process, Turkey's relationship with its heretofore regional ally, Azerbaijan (Armenia's archfoe), has soured. Terrified that they are about to lose their regional sponsor, the Azerbaijanis have turned to the Russians to counterbalance Armenia, while the Russians still pull all Armenia's strings. The end result is that Turkey's position in the Caucasus is now far weaker than it was a few months ago, and Russia still retains the ability to easily sabotage any Turkish-Armenian rapprochement.

Even on the North European Plain, Russia has made great strides. The main power on that plain is the recently reunified Germany. Historically, Germany and Russia have been at each other's throats, but only when they have shared a direct border. When an independent Poland separates them, they have a number of opportunities for partnership, and 2009 has seen such opportunities seized. The Russians initially faced a challenge regarding German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel is from the former East Germany, giving her personal reasons to see the Russians as occupiers. Cracking this nut was never going to be easy for Moscow, yet it succeeded. During the 2009 financial crisis, when Russian firms were snapping like twigs, the Russian government still provided bailout money and merger financing to troubled German companies, with a rescue plan for Opel even helping Merkel clinch re-election. With the Kremlin now offering to midwife -- and in many cases directly subsidize -- investment efforts in Russia by German firms such as E.On, Wintershall, Siemens, Volkswagen and ThyssenKrupp, the Kremlin has quite literally purchased German goodwill.

Washington Seeks a Game Changer

With Russia making great strides in Eurasia while simultaneously sabotaging U.S. efforts in the Middle East, the Americans desperately need to change the game. Despite its fiery tone, this desperation was on full display in Biden's speech. Flat-out challenging the Central Europeans to help other FSU countries recreate the revolutions they launched when they broke with the Soviet empire in 1989, specifically calling for such efforts in Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Armenia, is as bald-faced a challenge as the Americans are currently capable of delivering. And to ensure there was no confusion on the point, Biden also promised -- publicly -- whatever support the Central Europeans might ask for. The Americans have a serious need for the Russians to be on the defensive. Washington wants to force the Russians to focus on their own neighborhood, ideally forgetting about the Iranians in the process. Better yet, Washington would like to force the Russians into a long slog of defensive actions to protect their clients hard up on their own border. The Russians did not repair the damage of the Orange Revolution overnight, so imagine how much time Washington would have if all of the former Soviet satellites started stirring up trouble across Russia's western and southern periphery.

The Central Europeans do not require a great deal of motivation. If the Americans are concerned about a resurgent Russia, then the Central Europeans are absolutely terrified -- and that was before the Russians started courting Germany, the only regional state that could stand up to Russia by itself. Things are even worse for the Central Europeans than they seem, as much of their history has consisted of vainly attempting to outmaneuver Germany and Russia's alternating periods of war and partnership.

The question of why the United States is pushing this hard at the present time remains. Talks with the Iranians are under way; it is difficult to gauge how they are going. The conventional wisdom holds that the Iranians are simply playing for time before allowing the talks to sink. This would mean the Iranians don't feel terribly pressured by the threat of sanctions and don't take threats of attack very seriously. At least with regard to the sanctions, the Russians have everything to do with Iran's blase attitude. The American decision to threaten Russia might simply have been a last-ditch attempt to force Tehran's hand now that conciliation seems to have failed. It isn't likely to work, because for the time being Russia has the upper hand in the former Soviet Union, and the Americans and their allies -- motivated as they may be -- do not have the best cards to play.

The other explanation might be that the White House wanted to let Iran know that the Americans don't need Russia to deal with Iran. The threats to Russia might infuriate it, but the Kremlin is unlikely to feel much in the form of clear and present dangers. On the other hand, blasting the Russians the way Biden did might force the Iranians to reconsider their hand. After all, if the Americans are no longer thinking of the Russians as part of the solution, this indicates that the Americans are about to give up on diplomacy and sanctions. And that means the United States must choose between accepting an Iranian bomb or employing the military option.

And this leaves the international system with two outcomes. First, by publicly ending attempts to secure Russian help, Biden might be trying to get the Iranians to take American threats seriously. And second, by directly challenging the Russians on their home turf, the United States will be making the borderlands between Western Europe and Russia a very exciting place.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on November 15, 2009, 02:17:44 PM

Smart power!
Title: China and the brewing Iranian Crisis
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 16, 2009, 09:52:03 PM
This could have gone on the Nuclear War thread too , , ,

China and the Brewing Iranian Crisis
PRESSURE CONTINUED TO BUILD in the showdown over Iran’s nuclear program, with the end-of-the-year deadline approaching for international negotiations to yield concrete results or have Iran face U.S.-led sanctions (or possibly military strikes). Attempting to underscore the urgency of the matter for Israel, head of Israeli military intelligence Amos Yadlin claimed Tuesday that Tehran has gathered enough materials in the past year to build a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, conflicting reports have emerged in the past two days about a planned face-to-face meeting of the P-5+1 group of major negotiators — the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China and Germany. The meeting was allegedly to be held on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen on Dec. 18 or in Brussels on Dec. 22, but has been replaced with a conference call scheduled for the latter date. Interestingly, all reports agree that the change of plans came at the behest of Chinese diplomats, who have thus far played a neutral role in the negotiations. It is unclear whether the Chinese adjusted the meeting for genuine scheduling reasons or to avoid U.S. demands to adopt sanctions against Iran. With the deadline weeks away and Iranian defiance already fully demonstrated, perhaps Beijing felt it would be doing everyone a favor by deemphasizing a meeting doomed to produce no results.

“China’s interests require that it not incur the wrath of superior outside forces.”
Regardless, the uncertainty raises the subject of China’s involvement in the brewing Iranian crisis. China’s core interests lie in maintaining regime stability and internal security, primarily through a steadily growing economy that keeps its massive population fed and employed. In foreign policy, this interest means promoting international trade that benefits the export-driven Chinese economy, while taking trade-conducive, non-confrontational stances on controversies and developing a wide range of diplomatic partners.

More importantly, China’s interests require that it not incur the wrath of superior outside forces — for instance, the United States — that could deal crushing blows to the economy, whether through trade barriers against Chinese exports or naval power that could threaten critical supply lines of energy and raw materials.

Given these core interests, Beijing’s stance on U.S. involvement in the Middle East and South Asia makes sense. Beijing is content with the current configuration of U.S. forces in the region, as the wars and subsequent surges in Iraq and Afghanistan keep the United States tied down and constrained. Though ultimately the U.S. Navy, not land forces, poses the chief threat against China, the two wars nevertheless ensure that Washington continues the status quo with China rather than create unnecessary distractions for itself. This enables China to focus on managing its growing economy and allaying internal socio-political tensions without the United States breathing down its neck.

The Iranian crisis, however, poses a far less predictable threat than the Afghan surge. Beijing has repeatedly stated that it prefers diplomatic solutions and rejects sanctions and war. The Chinese have maintained this standard line throughout the latter part of 2009 when it became clear that a crisis — including a higher potential for U.S. and Israeli military strikes against Iran — was just around the corner. At the same time, Beijing participated in the latest round of negotiations (initiated by the Obama administration). Beijing has urged Iran to cooperate, and has endorsed the International Atomic Energy Agency’s resolution against Iran’s defiance of nuclear transparency.

In other words, the Chinese are playing it both ways. On one hand, they do not want war — or sanctions stringent enough to trigger war — that would further destabilize the inherently unstable Middle East. This is especially true of the Persian Gulf, the source of most of China’s crude oil. The commerce-threatening nature of any Iranian war would put pressure on China’s energy-hungry economy during an exceedingly inauspicious economic period.

On the other hand, the Chinese are not particularly fond of nuclear proliferation that would also destabilize the region, so they nudge Iran to negotiate. If the United States were to strike a deal with Russia bringing Moscow into a gasoline sanctions regime against Iran, then China would not make itself conspicuous (or anger the United States) by resisting. At present, however, the United States has not met Russia’s demands, and Russia has refused to join in sanctions. Therefore, China cannot be blamed for dashing Washington’s efforts. Beijing can claim there is no international consensus and continue to call for further dialogue.

The Chinese position is to gauge which way the wind is blowing and only then set off in that direction. It will not go out on a limb for Iran, nor will it do so for Israel or the United States. China is watching and waiting — a tactic it shares with Iran, the United States and Russia. The Israelis alone find the situation increasingly unbearable — and yet the Israelis have a guarantee from the United States to do something about Iran. There can be no doubt that a crisis is building.
Title: America is losing the free world
Post by: captainccs on January 05, 2010, 08:56:25 AM
America is losing the free world
By Gideon Rachman
Published: January 5 2010 02:00 | Last updated: January 5 2010 02:00

Ever since 1945, the US has regarded itself as the leader of the "free world". But the Obama administration is facing an unexpected and unwelcome development in global politics. Four of the biggest and most strategically important democracies in the developing world - Brazil, India, South Africa and Turkey - are increasingly at odds with American foreign policy. Rather than siding with the US on the big international issues, they are just as likely to line up with authoritarian powers such as China and Iran.

The US has been slow to pick up on this development, perhaps because it seems so surprising and unnatural. Most Americans assume that fellow democracies will share their values and opinions on international affairs. During the last presidential election campaign, John McCain, the Republican candidate, called for the formation of a global alliance of democracies to push back against authoritarian powers. Some of President Barack Obama's senior advisers have also written enthusiastically about an international league of democracies.

But the assumption that the world's democracies will naturally stick together is proving unfounded. The latest example came during the Copenhagen climate summit. On the last day of the talks, the Americans tried to fix up one-to-one meetings between Mr Obama and the leaders of South Africa, Brazil and India - but failed each time. The Indians even said that their prime minister, Manmohan Singh, had already left for the airport.

So Mr Obama must have felt something of a chump when he arrived for a last-minute meeting with Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, only to find him already deep in negotiations with the leaders of none other than Brazil, South Africa and India. Symbolically, the leaders had to squeeze up to make space for the American president around the table.

There was more than symbolism at work. In Copenhagen, Brazil, South Africa and India decided that their status as developing nations was more important than their status as democracies. Like the Chinese, they argued that it is fundamentally unjust to cap the greenhouse gas emissions of poor countries at a lower level than the emissions of the US or the European Union; all the more so since the industrialised west is responsible for the great bulk of the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.

Revealingly, both Brazilian and Chinese leaders have made the same pointed joke - likening the US to a rich man who, after gorging himself at a banquet, then invites the neighbours in for coffee and asks them to split the bill.

If climate change were an isolated example, it might be dismissed as an important but anomalous issue that is almost designed to split countries along rich-poor lines. But, in fact, if you look at Brazil, South Africa, India and Turkey - the four most important democracies in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the greater Middle East - it is clear that none of them can be counted as a reliable ally of the US, or of a broader "community of democracies".

In the past year, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil has cut a lucrative oil deal with China, spoken warmly of Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, and congratulated Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad on his "victory" in the Iranian presidential election, while welcoming him on a state visit to Brazil.

During a two-year stint on the United Nations Security Council from 2006, the South Africans routinely joined China and Russia in blocking resolutions on human rights and protecting authoritarian regimes such as Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan and Iran.

Turkey, once regarded as a crucial American ally in the cold war and then trumpeted as the only example of a secular, pro-western, Muslim democracy, is also no longer a reliable partner for the west. Ever since the US-led invasion of Iraq, opinion polls there have shown very high levels of anti-Americanism. The mildly Islamist AKP government has engaged with America's regional enemies - including Hamas, Hizbollah and Iran - and alarmed the Americans by taking an increasingly hostile attitude to Israel.

India's leaders do seem to cherish the idea that they have a "special relationship" with the US. But even the Indians regularly line up against the Americans on a range of international issues, from climate change to the Doha round of trade negotiations and the pursuit of sanctions against Iran or Burma.

So what is going on? The answer is that Brazil, South Africa, Turkey and India are all countries whose identities as democracies are now being balanced - or even trumped - by their identities as developing nations that are not part of the white, rich, western world. All four countries have ruling parties that see themselves as champions of social justice at home and a more equitable global order overseas. Brazil's Workers' party, India's Congress party, Turkey's AKP and South Africa's African National Congress have all adapted to globalisation - but they all retain traces of the old suspicions of global capitalism and of the US.

Mr Obama is seen as a huge improvement on George W. Bush - but he is still an American president. As emerging global powers and developing nations, Brazil, India, South Africa and Turkey may often feel they have more in common with a rising China than with the democratic US.,dwp_uuid=ebe33f66-57aa-11dc-8c65-0000779fd2ac,print=yes.html

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on January 05, 2010, 09:03:03 AM
Why pander to the empty suit president leading the US into decline? China understands power politics and continues to put pieces into play on the global chessboard.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 05, 2010, 09:17:51 AM
George Friedman of Statfor argues powerfully that geo politics will determine more about a nations alliances than political structures.  I think he overstates his case, but he makes it well.

I just tried laying my hands on his statement of the US's five imperatives but did not succeed.   :oops:
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on January 05, 2010, 09:23:31 AM
Friedman is a smart guy, but some of his analysis is a not much more than a geopolitical just so story.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: captainccs on January 05, 2010, 10:44:07 AM
Don't underestimate the value and worth of leaders and the ability of keen politicians to sense strength and weakness. The Iranians played Carter for a sucker but did not dare do the same with Reagan. When the North Vietnamese tried to play cute at the negotiation tables, Nixon brought then back with carpet bombing. Would Obama dare that?

The attitude of the American Left is to pander to the "weak" as a way to buy their votes. In international politics this translates in preferring Hamas (the weak) over Israel (the strong), for example. They might be weak but not dumb so they milk the American Left to the last drop.

Did you guys by any chance see this idiotic piece of news?

Iran accepts Clinton non-deadline on nuclear talks

By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Writer – Tue Jan 5, 7:41 am ET

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran said Tuesday it welcomes Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's comments that there is no hard-and-fast deadline for starting nuclear dialogue.

On Monday, Clinton said the Obama administration remained open to negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program, though it will move toward tougher sanctions if Iran does not respond positively. She stressed there was no hard-and-fast deadline for Iran.

What kind of BS is that? We'll start talking right after we nuke Israel! With amateurs like Clinton running America, America's enemies are having a field day.

If you guys don't regain your country, there won't be much left to save after eight years of Obama.

Not that it's entirely related but let me tell you some Venezuelan news. We are having a shortage of rainfall and the Lake Guri, which feeds our main hydroelectric power plants is rather low. Guess what the solution is. They are shutting down the steel and aluminum plants in Guayana, they are cutting electricity to shopping malls at 9 PM to save water. Who the hell cares about unemployment? Who the hell cares about all the disruption? It's a bunch of rank amateurs running the country. I recall perfectly some of the campaign issues back in 1997. Some right of center candidates were stressing the importance of improving the public administrations. The left wing candidates -- the ones that won -- said that elections were about politics, not about administration. Now we have the results, no water, no electricity, no movies after 9 PM, no steel, no aluminum. My country is going to hell in a hand-basket of left wing politics. Yours will too if you let the Left keep on ruining it.

Denny Schlesinger

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on January 05, 2010, 10:51:46 AM
Obama is a one term president. Still, the US and the world will pay dearly for his 4 years of destruction. Israel may well not exist by the end of his term, as an example.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on January 05, 2010, 11:08:03 AM
From 7/10/2009

Obama gives Iran deadline on nuclear program

L'AQUILA, Italy -- President Obama said Friday that Iran faces a September deadline to show good-faith efforts to halt its nuclear weapons program, and said the statement issued by the world's leading industrial nations meeting here this week means the international community is ready to act.


January 02, 2010
Iran deadline passes without notice
Ethel C. Fenig

It is now January 2, 2010 in Teheran, Washington DC and Hawaii. In other words it is past the absolutely, positively final deadline that President Barack Obama (D) offered to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to come clean by halting Iran's nuclear weapons program before Obama gets really, really angry and does something drastic like not be so engaging.

Ok, Ahmadinejad may be busy, what with countering the riots against him with deadly, bloody suppression, but not too busy to negotiate the purchase of still yet more uranium from Kazakhstan for Iran's uranium enrichment facilities.

Oh sure, the UN Security Council demanded a halt to this work but this is the UN Security Council and Iran so this edict can--and will--be ignored without any consequences.

But what about Obama's deadline? Will this too be ignored without consequences?
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: captainccs on January 05, 2010, 12:26:22 PM
Obama is a one term president.

So we all hope. But remember, if the Right vote is divided between Republicans and the Tea Party, the Left wins.

Beware another Bull Moose Party.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on January 05, 2010, 12:29:28 PM
Hopefully no one is stupid enough to try to make the tea party movement into a formal political party.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 05, 2010, 02:28:02 PM
Wrong thread for this discussion.  Please use "The Way Forward for the American Creed"-- where I will be glad to entertain the notion of a Tea Party.
Title: WSJ: Drone Wars
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 09, 2010, 08:14:33 AM
The Obama Administration has with good reason taken flak for its approach to terrorism since the Christmas Day near-bombing over Detroit. So permit us to laud an antiterror success in the Commander in Chief's first year in office.

Though you won't hear him brag about it, President Obama has embraced and ramped up the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. As tactic and as a technology, drones are one of the main U.S. advantages that have emerged from this long war. (IEDs are one of the enemy's.) Yet their use isn't without controversy, and it took nerve for the White House to approve some 50 strikes last year, exceeding the total in the last three years of the Bush Administration.

From Pakistan to Yemen, Islamic terrorists now fear the Predator and its cousin, the better-armed Reaper. So do critics on the left in the academy, media and United Nations; they're calling drones an unaccountable tool of "targeted assassination" that inflames anti-American passions and kills civilians. At some point, the President may have to defend the drone campaign on military and legal grounds.

The case is easy. Not even the critics deny its success against terrorists. Able to go where American soldiers can't, the Predator and Reaper have since 9/11 killed more than half of the 20 most wanted al Qaeda suspects, the Uzbek, Yemeni and Pakistani heads of allied groups and hundreds of militants. Most of those hits were in the last four years.

"Very frankly, it's the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al Qaeda leadership," CIA Director Leon Panetta noted last May. The agency's own troubles with gathering human intelligence were exposed by last week's deadly bombing attack on the CIA station near Khost, Afghanistan.

Critics such as counterinsurgency writers David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum allege that drones have killed hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians. The U.N. Human Rights Council's investigator on extrajudicial executions, Philip Alston, has warned the Administration that the attacks could fall afoul of "international humanitarian law principles."

Civilian casualties are hard to verify, since independent observers often can't access the bombing sites, and estimates vary widely. But Pakistani government as well as independent studies have shown the Taliban claims are wild exaggerations. The civilian toll is relatively low, especially if compared with previous conflicts.

Never before in the history of air warfare have we been able to distinguish as well between combatants and civilians as we can with drones. Even if al Qaeda doesn't issue uniforms, the remote pilots can carefully identify targets, and then use Hellfire missiles that cause far less damage than older bombs or missiles. Smarter weapons like the Predator make for a more moral campaign.

As for Mr. Alston's concerns, the legal case for drones is instructive. President Bush approved their use under his Constitutional authority as Commander in Chief, buttressed by Congress's Authorization for the Use of Military Force against al Qaeda and its affiliates after 9/11. Gerald Ford's executive order that forbids American intelligence from assassinating anyone doesn't apply to enemies in wartime.

International law also allows states to kill their enemies in a conflict, and to operate in "neutral" countries if the hosts allow bombing on their territory. Pakistan and Yemen have both given their permission to the U.S., albeit quietly. Even if they hadn't, the U.S. would be justified in attacking enemy sanctuaries there as a matter of self-defense.

Who gets on the drone approved "kill lists" is decided by a complex interagency process involving the CIA, Pentagon and White House. We hear the U.S. could have taken out the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki after his contacts with Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hassan came to light in November, missing the chance by not authorizing the strike. Perhaps al-Awlaki's U.S. citizenship gave U.S. officials pause, but after he joined the jihad he became an enemy and his passport irrelevant.

Tellingly, after the attempted bombing over Detroit, the Administration rushed to leak that Yemenis, with unspecified American help, might have killed al-Awlaki in mid-December in a strike on al Qaeda forces. Al-Awlaki, who also was also in contact with the Nigerian bomber on Northwest Flight 253, may have survived.

While this aggressive aerial bombing is commendable against a dangerous enemy, it also reveals the paradox of President Obama's antiterror strategy. On the one hand, he's willing to kill terrorists in the field, but he's unwilling to hold these same terrorists under the rules of war at Guantanamo if we capture them in the field. We can kill them as war fighters, but if they're captured they become common criminals.

Our own view is that either "we are at war," as Mr. Obama said on Thursday, or we're not.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: captainccs on January 09, 2010, 08:43:04 AM
Decimating the enemy sounds like a good idea! Making him feel unsafe even at home is just perfect. Al Qaeda: there is no sanctuary!

Denny Schlesinger

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on January 09, 2010, 09:33:52 AM
Kill the enemy and disrupt their networks and you make it much harder for them to carry out large scale attacks against you.
Title: Eliot Cohen
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 10, 2010, 09:27:35 PM
If the first year of President Barack Obama's foreign policy were a law firm in Charles Dickens's London, it would have a name like Bumble, Stumble and Skid.

It began with apologies to the Muslim world that went nowhere, a doomed attempt to beat Israel into line, utopian pleas to abolish nuclear weapons, unreciprocated concessions to Russia, and a curt note to the British to take back the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office. It continued with principled offers of serious negotiation to an Iranian regime too busy torturing, raping and killing demonstrators, and building new underground nuclear facilities, to take them up. Subsequently Beijing smothered domestic coverage of a presidential visit but did give the world the spectacle of the American commander in chief getting a talking-to about fiscal responsibility from a Communist chieftain.

The lovely town of Copenhagen staged not one, but two humiliations: the first when the Olympic Committee delivered the bad news that the president's effort to play hometown booster had failed utterly, before he even landed back in the U.S.; the second when the Chinese once again poked the U.S. in the eye by sending minor officials to meet with Mr. Obama, as they, the Indians and Brazilians tried to shoulder him out of cozy meetings aimed at sabotaging his environmental policy. Even smitten foreign admirers—in the case of the Nobel Prize, some addled Norwegian notables—managed to make him look bad.

It was nonetheless a year of international displays of presidential ego, sometimes disguised as cosmic modesty ("I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war"), but mainly of one slip after another. The decision to reinforce our military in Afghanistan came after an excruciating dither that undermined the confidence of our allies. Mr. Obama's loose talk of withdrawal beginning in 18 months then undid much of the good in his decision to send troops.

Some of these follies stemmed from the inevitable glitches of a new administration settling in—the foreign-policy equivalent of the White House social secretary failing to keep party crashers out. Some of them resulted from sheer naivete, much from the puerile vendetta Mr. Obama waged against the previous administration's record, a bad rhetorical habit that fogged the brains of people who should know better. One hopes that his advisers, and the president himself, recognize the weight of the query reportedly posed last April by the most formidable contemporary leader of a free country, Nicolas Sarkozy: "Est-il faible?" (Is he weak?). If a year from now world leaders think the answer is "yes," the U.S. will be in deep trouble.

In at least one way, Mr. Obama resembles his predecessor: He has enormous self-confidence. But where George W. Bush's certainty stemmed from moral conviction, Mr. Obama's arises from a sense of intellectual superiority. Given the centrality of his intelligence to his own self-perception, how might he use it to redeem a record of, at the moment, fairly unrelieved failure?

Much of foreign policy consists of a rough and ready game of adaptation to unforeseen, occasionally awful events. Indeed, Mr. Obama has been fortunate that his first year in office did not witness a real foreign-policy crisis. We have yet to see how he will meet that test. But there are large questions that require some high intellectual effort that he might consider tackling.

The first is explaining to the American people, and indeed to the world, what kind of war we are waging against Islamist movements. Neither Mr. Obama nor the predecessor he still complains of have been able to get beyond the trope of "extremists who have perverted a great religion." J. K. Rowling has given her readers a more thorough understanding of Lord Voldemort than the West's leaders have given their populations of whom we fight, what really animates them, and what the challenges that lie ahead will be. In particular, Mr. Obama has not articulated an effective policy of dealing with enemies who are neither criminals nor soldiers. Instead, he has tried to walk down both sides of a street at once, trying some in courts and keeping others in Guantanamo (or, in the future, a Gitmo North in Illinois) for handling by military tribunals.

The second problem is Iraq, the war that the president opposed, but the success of which is a matter of cardinal importance. The U.S. must have a broad policy for the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Such a policy should—must—work Iraq into a broader pattern of relationships. The emergence of a free Iraq offers great opportunities. A relatively stable, representative and secular Iraq would help counterbalance Iran, support moderate regimes such as Jordan, and fuel a world economy that, however climate conscious, will need oil. Simply to talk about "responsibly leaving Iraq to its people" is, in fact, irresponsible. Iraq will need care and attention to stay on its current fragile trajectory to success, but it is also an opportunity not to be neglected.

Part of un-Bushism as foreign policy has been a self-inflicted muteness by this most articulate of politicians on the topic of democracy, freedom and human rights. American foreign policy has always been a long and difficult dialogue between realpolitik and our values, our pursuit of our own interests, and our deliberate efforts to spread freedom abroad. Saying that the U.S. will "bear witness" to abuses and brutality around the world is, in effect, to say that we will send flowers to funerals. Mr. Obama needs to say something considerably more serious. In the case of Iran, for example, he could make it altogether unambiguous that we stand with those risking their lives to confront and, if fortune favors them, overthrow a dangerous, indeed evil regime.

Finally, all the globalist talk of this past year has obscured the importance of our alliances, which are evolving, but above all, need tending. New and rising allies—as different as the United Arab Emirates and Colombia—need to be identified and described as such. But more importantly, they, as well as old allies, need to hear from the U.S. president the importance we attribute to them and a conceptual description of how they fit into our policy.

It's a large agenda, but then, Mr. Obama likes to give speeches. And it still leaves plenty—articulating the need for and meaning of American primacy, for example—for 2011.

Mr. Cohen was counselor of the Department of State from 2007 to 2009. He teaches at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.
Title: BO's Jefferson vs Wilson
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 14, 2010, 05:07:26 AM
A nice scholarly interview on the major themes in American foreign policy
Title: Re: BO's Jefferson vs Wilson
Post by: captainccs on January 14, 2010, 06:05:13 AM
A nice scholarly interview on the major themes in American foreign policy

Hamiltonian, Jeffersonian, Wilsonian and Jacksonian are the four idealized foreign policy drivers but then reality gets in the way: "Backyardian."

Eisenhower let the Russian invade Hungary in 1956 but Kennedy did not let them set up missiles in Cuba. Eastern Europe is Russia's back yard while the Caribbean is America's back yard. Those are hard facts on the ground.

Russia let America invade Grenada but did not let America set up missiles in Poland. Just the mirror image of the above Eisenhower/Kennedy policies. Backyardianism at work.

Denny Schlesinger
Title: The Iranian Saga Continues
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 26, 2010, 09:27:05 PM
Friday, February 26, 2010   STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives 

The Iranian Saga Continues
THURSDAY WITNESSED A SERIES OF NEW WRINKLES in the ongoing Iran saga. For those readers who have been in a coma for the last three months, here is the abbreviated background.

Israel is a state so small that it could not likely survive a nuclear strike. It feels that Iran’s civilian nuclear power program is simply a mask for a more nefarious weapons project and wants it stopped by severe sanctions if possible, and military force if necessary. As Israel lacks the muscle to achieve this itself, it is attempting to pressure the Americans to handle the issue. Israel is reasonably confident it can so pressure Washington, simply because while Israel lacks the punch to certifiably end the Iranian program, it most certainly has the ability to start a war. Since Iran’s best means of retaliating would be to interrupt oil shipments in the Persian Gulf, the United States would have no choice but to get involved, regardless of its independent desires.

Ergo it was with significant interest that we watched the State Department’s daily press briefing, where State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters the following: “It is not our intent to have crippling sanctions that have a significant impact on the Iranian people. Our actual intent is actually to find ways to pressure the government while protecting the people.” The same day, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was in Washington reiterating Israeli policy in support of the very same so-called “crippling sanctions.” While it may seem little more than semantics, the terminology here matters, especially to Israel — reports from Israel indicate that the Israeli Prime Minister’s office intends to follow up on the issue to ensure that the rejection of crippling sanctions does not constitute a policy shift.

Our first thought was not far from the Israelis’ — that the Americans were taking a step back from sanctions. But when we re-evaluated, we noted that in recent weeks many of the other players that would be required to make sanctions work — Germany, Russia and China most notably — have been acting a bit peculiar. We are hardly to the point where we think that the various players are getting down to the brass tacks of sanctions details, but there is little doubt that the Americans have been making incremental progress in that direction. Still, they are far from achieving sanctions that would meet Israel’s definition of “crippling.”

“If there is a single state that must be on board for sanctions to work, it is Russia.”
Which made us even more interested to see sanctions-busting rhetoric out of none other than Brazil. Brazil and Iran are literally about as far as two states can be from each other on this planet, but Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is on a bit of an Iran kick. Iran is hoping that when Lula travels to Iran for a formal state visit in May he will go beyond the rhetoric and invite Iranian banks to operate in Brazil, an action that allows them to partially circumvent whatever financial sanctions are already in place.

STRATFOR is admittedly puzzled by this preoccupation with Iran, as it does not seem to grant Brazil (or Lula) any benefit. Lula is not a rabid leftist, but instead a relatively moderate statesman. Brazil and Iran hold minimal bilateral trade or investment interests. Brazilian energy powerhouse Petroleos Brasilieros (Petrobras) recently left projects in Iran, ostensibly because of lack of opportunity (though the threat of U.S. retaliation hovered in the air). And any possible political gains are questionable at least. While we acknowledge that twisting the American tail can earn major kudos in international fora, getting in the way of what is becoming a core American foreign policy initiative can be a dangerous place to be. Additionally, Lula is on his way out of the presidency and does not need to curry favor with an already enthusiastic Brazilian public. In fact, some groups in Brazil have openly challenged his Iranian policy. U.S. State Department senior personnel, including Under Secretary of State William J. Burns as well as his boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have already blocked out time to convince Lula to walk away from this fight.

Yet even if the United States can convince states such as Brazil — not to mention China — that tough words on Iran must give way to tough action, it is not as if Iran lacks its own means of reshaping the equation. Most notably, Iranian influence would be felt in Iraq.

On Thursday, Washington leaked that the man in charge of implementing military strategy in Iraq, Gen. Raymond Odierno, had asked for additional American forces to remain in Iraq beyond U.S. President Barack Obama’s August withdrawal deadline. Specifically, Odierno fears — with a substantial number of reasons — that the northern city of Kirkuk could explode into violence if U.S. forces leave too soon.

The Kurds have been the sectarian group in Iraq that has proven most helpful to the Americans, and they hope that in time Kirkuk will serve not only as Iraq’s northern oil capital, but as the Kurdish regional capital as well. If the U.S. commander in charge of the withdrawal has already petitioned the president for more troops in the part of the country that is most secure, one can only imagine what the situation is like in the south where Iran’s influence is palpable.

Finally, let us end with a point on those as yet unrealized sanctions. If there is a single state that must be on board for them to work, it is Russia. Russia has sufficient financial access to the Western world to sink any banking sanctions, plus sufficient spare refining capacity and access to transport infrastructure to make any gasoline sanctions a politically expensive exercise in futility.

But Russia does not work for free, and Thursday Moscow clarified just how important it thinks it has become. Thursday Russia explicitly extended its nuclear umbrella to Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, the five other states in its Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). While CSTO is a pale, pale shadow of its NATO counterpart, the Kremlin’s announcement was a not-so-subtle reminder that Russia not only has nuclear weapons — as opposed to any, at present, purely theoretical Iranian nuclear weapons — but that (at least on paper) it is willing to use such weapons to protect what the Kremlin sees as its turf.

Ultimately the Russians are willing to toss the Iranians aside, but only if the price is right. Thursday they gave a pretty clear idea of just what that price is: full American acquiescence to their desired sphere of influence. And with Russian influence continuing to rise in the former Soviet Union — earlier this week Ukrainian authorities certified the election of a pro-Moscow president, fully overturning the Orange Revolution of five years ago — it is a price that is likely to only increase in the months ahead.

Title: Spengler
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 28, 2010, 01:49:14 PM
The trouble is that Israel's strategic problem is usually presented in reductive terms: Iran (in the standard view) represents an existential threat to Israel in that it might get nuclear weapons; this would give it the capacity to destroy Israel, and therefore Israel must nip the existential threat in the bud. In this narrow framework, pushing back Iran's nuclear development by six to 18 months hardly seems worth the cost.

Iran's perceived attempt to acquire nuclear weapons, though, is not Israel's problem as such; the problem is that Israel is the ally of a superpower that does not want to be a superpower, headed by a president with a profound emotional attachment to a nostalgic image of the Third World. If America were in fact acting like a superpower, the problem would not have arisen in the first place, for the United States would use its considerably greater resources to destroy Iran's nuclear program.

Rather than focus on the second-order effect - the consequences of Iran's possible acquisition of nuclear weapons - Israeli analysts should consider the primary issue, namely the strategic zimzum [2] of the United States. The correct questions are: 1) can Israel act as a regional superpower independently of the United States, and 2) what would Israel do to establish its regional superpower status?

The answer to the first question obviously depends on the second. To act as a regional superpower, Israel would have to take actions that shift the configuration of forces in its favor. No outside analyst has sufficient information to judge the issue - with the best of information a great deal of uncertainty is inevitable - but there are several reasons to believe that an Israeli attack on Iran would establish the Jewish state as an independent superpower and compel the United States to adjust its policy to Israel's strategic requirements.

First, the Sunni Arab states have a stronger interest than Israel's to stop Iran from possibly going nuclear. Israel, after all, possesses perhaps two hundred deliverable nuclear devices, including some very big thermonuclear ones, and is in position to wipe Iran off the map. But none of Iran's Arab rivals is in such a position. The Saudis have done everything but take out a full-page ad in the Washington Post to encourage the Obama administration to attack Iran. Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, warned on February 15 that sanctions were a long-term measure while the world faces a short-term threat from Iran. Egypt reportedly has allowed Israeli missile ships to pass through the Suez Canal en route to the Persian Gulf.

Secondly, Russia well might prefer to deal with Israel as an independent regional power than as an ally of the United States. A stronger Israeli presence in the region also might contribute to Russia's market share in missiles and eventually fighter aircraft. Russian-Israeli cooperation in a number of military fields has improved markedly during the past year, including the first-ever sale of Israeli weapons to Russia (drones) and Israeli help for the Russian-Indian "fifth generation" fighter project.

Third, the United States would have to respond to a new strategic situation in the Middle East were Israel to inflict even moderate damage on Iran's nuclear program. The consequences would include, among other things:

Aggressive retaliation by Iran against American targets in Iraq. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have opposed bombing of Iran for years in part because they fear that Iran could inflict significant casualties on American forces.

Stronger Iranian support for the Taliban. Washington's plan for Afghanistan depends in part on the fanciful notion that Iran will be persuaded to support the Shi'ite Hazara minority against the Pashtun Taliban. Iran has always played both sides and in the event of an Israeli strike would shift resources towards whatever America liked the least.

Greater tensions between Pakistan and Iran. Iran's credibility in the region depends on its perception of being the protector of Pakistan's 35 million Shi'ites, the second-largest concentration outside of the 70 million people of Iran.

To the extent Washington has a Middle East policy, it seems to involve playing balance-of-power games on the scale of the Mad Hatter's tea party, as I wrote at year-end (The life and premature death of the Pax Obamicana Asia Times Online, December 24, 2009). Whatever Washington thought it was doing would come unstuck in the wake of an Israeli strike against Iran. Rather than attempt to lead events - in no particular direction - Washington would have no choice except to follow until it arrived at its own foreign policy at some unspecified future date. Although Washington would scream like a scalded pig, Israel's influence is more likely to rise than to fall in the aftermath.

There are numerous variables I cannot possibly estimate, of which the most important have to do with the technical feasibility of a long-distance strike. The political variables are too fuzzy to pin down. The strategic framework in which a unilateral Israel strike on Tehran makes sense is one in which all depends on Israel's capacity to improvise and dominate the situation through a combination of force and unpredictability.

Once again, the words of my favorite character in American literature - Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op - come to mind: "Plans are all right sometimes ... And sometimes just stirring things up is all right - if you're tough enough to survive, and keep your eyes open so you'll see what you want when it comes to the top."
Full text:
Title: Stratfor: Thinking the unthinkable
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 01, 2010, 01:16:06 PM
Thinking About the Unthinkable: A U.S.-Iranian Deal
March 1, 2010

By George Friedman

The United States apparently has reached the point where it must either accept that Iran will develop nuclear weapons at some point if it wishes, or take military action to prevent this. There is a third strategy, however: Washington can seek to redefine the Iranian question.

As we have no idea what leaders on either side are thinking, exploring this represents an exercise in geopolitical theory. Let’s begin with the two apparent stark choices.

Diplomacy vs. the Military Option
The diplomatic approach consists of creating a broad coalition prepared to impose what have been called crippling sanctions on Iran. Effective sanctions must be so painful that they compel the target to change its behavior. In Tehran’s case, this could only consist of blocking Iran’s imports of gasoline. Iran imports 35 percent of the gasoline it consumes. It is not clear that a gasoline embargo would be crippling, but it is the only embargo that might work. All other forms of sanctions against Iran would be mere gestures designed to give the impression that something is being done.

The Chinese will not participate in any gasoline embargo. Beijing gets 11 percent of its oil from Iran, and it has made it clear it will continue to deliver gasoline to Iran. Moscow’s position is that Russia might consider sanctions down the road, but it hasn’t specified when, and it hasn’t specified what. The Russians are more than content seeing the U.S. bogged down in the Middle East and so are not inclined to solve American problems in the region. With the Chinese and Russians unlikely to embargo gasoline, these sanctions won’t create significant pain for Iran. Since all other sanctions are gestures, the diplomatic approach is therefore unlikely to work.

The military option has its own risks. First, its success depends on the quality of intelligence on Iran’s nuclear facilities and on the degree of hardening of those targets. Second, it requires successful air attacks. Third, it requires battle damage assessments that tell the attacker whether the strike succeeded. Fourth, it requires follow-on raids to destroy facilities that remain functional. And fifth, attacks must do more than simply set back Iran’s program a few months or even years: If the risk of a nuclear Iran is great enough to justify the risks of war, the outcome must be decisive.

Each point in this process is a potential failure point. Given the multiplicity of these points — which includes others not mentioned — failure may not be an option, but it is certainly possible.

But even if the attacks succeed, the question of what would happen the day after the attacks remains. Iran has its own counters. It has a superbly effective terrorist organization, Hezbollah, at its disposal. It has sufficient influence in Iraq to destabilize that country and force the United States to keep forces in Iraq badly needed elsewhere. And it has the ability to use mines and missiles to attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf shipping lanes for some period — driving global oil prices through the roof while the global economy is struggling to stabilize itself. Iran’s position on its nuclear program is rooted in the awareness that while it might not have assured options in the event of a military strike, it has counters that create complex and unacceptable risks. Iran therefore does not believe the United States will strike or permit Israel to strike, as the consequences would be unacceptable.

To recap, the United States either can accept a nuclear Iran or risk an attack that might fail outright, impose only a minor delay on Iran’s nuclear program or trigger extremely painful responses even if it succeeds. When neither choice is acceptable, it is necessary to find a third choice.

Redefining the Iranian Problem
As long as the problem of Iran is defined in terms of its nuclear program, the United States is in an impossible place. Therefore, the Iranian problem must be redefined. One attempt at redefinition involves hope for an uprising against the current regime. We will not repeat our views on this in depth, but in short, we do not regard these demonstrations to be a serious threat to the regime. Tehran has handily crushed them, and even if they did succeed, we do not believe they would produce a regime any more accommodating toward the United States. The idea of waiting for a revolution is more useful as a justification for inaction — and accepting a nuclear Iran — than it is as a strategic alternative.

At this moment, Iran is the most powerful regional military force in the Persian Gulf. Unless the United States permanently stations substantial military forces in the region, there is no military force able to block Iran. Turkey is more powerful than Iran, but it is far from the Persian Gulf and focused on other matters at the moment, and it doesn’t want to take on Iran militarily — at least not for a very long time. At the very least, this means the United States cannot withdraw from Iraq. Baghdad is too weak to block Iran from the Arabian Peninsula, and the Iraqi government has elements friendly toward Iran.

Historically, regional stability depended on the Iraqi-Iranian balance of power. When it tottered in 1990, the result was the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The United States did not push into Iraq in 1991 because it did not want to upset the regional balance of power by creating a vacuum in Iraq. Rather, U.S. strategy was to re-establish the Iranian-Iraqi balance of power to the greatest extent possible, as the alternative was basing large numbers of U.S. troops in the region.

The decision to invade Iraq in 2003 assumed that once the Baathist regime was destroyed the United States would rapidly create a strong Iraqi government that would balance Iran. The core mistake in this thinking lay in failing to recognize that the new Iraqi government would be filled with Shiites, many of whom regarded Iran as a friendly power. Rather than balancing Iran, Iraq could well become an Iranian satellite. The Iranians strongly encouraged the American invasion precisely because they wanted to create a situation where Iraq moved toward Iran’s orbit. When this in fact began happening, the Americans had no choice but an extended occupation of Iraq, a trap both the Bush and Obama administrations have sought to escape.

It is difficult to define Iran’s influence in Iraq at this point. But at a minimum, while Iran may not be able to impose a pro-Iranian state on Iraq, it has sufficient influence to block the creation of any strong Iraqi government either through direct influence in the government or by creating destabilizing violence in Iraq. In other words, Iran can prevent Iraq from emerging as a counterweight to Iran, and Iran has every reason to do this. Indeed, it is doing just this.

The Fundamental U.S.-Iranian Issue
Iraq, not nuclear weapons, is the fundamental issue between Iran and the United States. Iran wants to see a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq so Iran can assume its place as the dominant military power in the Persian Gulf. The United States wants to withdraw from Iraq because it faces challenges in Afghanistan — where it will also need Iranian cooperation — and elsewhere. Committing forces to Iraq for an extended period of time while fighting in Afghanistan leaves the United States exposed globally. Events involving China or Russia — such as the 2008 war in Georgia — would see the United States without a counter. The alternative would be a withdrawal from Afghanistan or a massive increase in U.S. armed forces. The former is not going to happen any time soon, and the latter is an economic impossibility.

Therefore, the United States must find a way to counterbalance Iran without an open-ended deployment in Iraq and without expecting the re-emergence of Iraqi power, because Iran is not going to allow the latter to happen. The nuclear issue is simply an element of this broader geopolitical problem, as it adds another element to the Iranian tool kit. It is not a stand-alone issue.

The United States has an interesting strategy in redefining problems that involves creating extraordinarily alliances with mortal ideological and geopolitical enemies to achieve strategic U.S. goals. First consider Franklin Roosevelt’s alliance with Stalinist Russia to block Nazi Germany. He pursued this alliance despite massive political outrage not only from isolationists but also from institutions like the Roman Catholic Church that regarded the Soviets as the epitome of evil.

Now consider Richard Nixon’s decision to align with China at a time when the Chinese were supplying weapons to North Vietnam that were killing American troops. Moreover, Mao — who had said he did not fear nuclear war as China could absorb a few hundred million deaths — was considered, with reason, quite mad. Nevertheless, Nixon, as anti-Communist and anti-Chinese a figure as existed in American politics, understood that an alliance (and despite the lack of a formal treaty, alliance it was) with China was essential to counterbalance the Soviet Union at a time when American power was still being sapped in Vietnam.

Roosevelt and Nixon both faced impossible strategic situations unless they were prepared to redefine the strategic equation dramatically and accept the need for alliance with countries that had previously been regarded as strategic and moral threats. American history is filled with opportunistic alliances designed to solve impossible strategic dilemmas. The Stalin and Mao cases represent stunning alliances with prior enemies designed to block a third power seen as more dangerous.

It is said that Ahmadinejad is crazy. It was also said that Mao and Stalin were crazy, in both cases with much justification. Ahmadinejad has said many strange things and issued numerous threats. But when Roosevelt ignored what Stalin said and Nixon ignored what Mao said, they each discovered that Stalin’s and Mao’s actions were far more rational and predictable than their rhetoric. Similarly, what the Iranians say and what they do are quite different.

U.S. vs. Iranian Interests
Consider the American interest. First, it must maintain the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. The United States cannot tolerate interruptions, and that limits the risks it can take. Second, it must try to keep any one power from controlling all of the oil in the Persian Gulf, as that would give such a country too much long-term power within the global system. Third, while the United States is involved in a war with elements of the Sunni Muslim world, it must reduce the forces devoted to that war. Fourth, it must deal with the Iranian problem directly. Europe will go as far as sanctions but no further, while the Russians and Chinese won’t even go that far yet. Fifth, it must prevent an Israeli strike on Iran for the same reasons it must avoid a strike itself, as the day after any Israeli strike will be left to the United States to manage.

Now consider the Iranian interest. First, it must guarantee regime survival. It sees the United States as dangerous and unpredictable. In less than 10 years, it has found itself with American troops on both its eastern and western borders. Second, it must guarantee that Iraq will never again be a threat to Iran. Third, it must increase its authority within the Muslim world against Sunni Muslims, whom it regards as rivals and sometimes as threats.

Now consider the overlaps. The United States is in a war against some (not all) Sunnis. These are Iran’s enemies, too. Iran does not want U.S. troops along its eastern and western borders. In point of fact, the United States does not want this either. The United States does not want any interruption of oil flow through Hormuz. Iran much prefers profiting from those flows to interrupting them. Finally, the Iranians understand that it is the United States alone that is Iran’s existential threat. If Iran can solve the American problem its regime survival is assured. The United States understands, or should, that resurrecting the Iraqi counterweight to Iran is not an option: It is either U.S. forces in Iraq or accepting Iran’s unconstrained role.

Therefore, as an exercise in geopolitical theory, consider the following. Washington’s current options are unacceptable. By redefining the issue in terms of dealing with the consequences of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there are three areas of mutual interest. First, both powers have serious quarrels with Sunni Islam. Second, both powers want to see a reduction in U.S. forces in the region. Third, both countries have an interest in assuring the flow of oil, one to use the oil, the other to profit from it to increase its regional power.

The strategic problem is, of course, Iranian power in the Persian Gulf. The Chinese model is worth considering here. China issued bellicose rhetoric before and after Nixon’s and Kissinger’s visits. But whatever it did internally, it was not a major risk-taker in its foreign policy. China’s relationship with the United States was of critical importance to China. Beijing fully understood the value of this relationship, and while it might continue to rail about imperialism, it was exceedingly careful not to undermine this core interest.

The major risk of the third strategy is that Iran will overstep its bounds and seek to occupy the oil-producing countries of the Persian Gulf. Certainly, this would be tempting, but it would bring a rapid American intervention. The United States would not block indirect Iranian influence, however, from financial participation in regional projects to more significant roles for the Shia in Arabian states. Washington’s limits for Iranian power are readily defined and enforced when exceeded.

The great losers in the third strategy, of course, would be the Sunnis in the Arabian Peninsula. But Iraq aside, they are incapable of defending themselves, and the United States has no long-term interest in their economic and political relations. So long as the oil flows, and no single power directly controls the entire region, the United States does not have a stake in this issue.

Israel would also be enraged. It sees ongoing American-Iranian hostility as a given. And it wants the United States to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat. But eliminating this threat is not an option given the risks, so the choice is a nuclear Iran outside some structured relationship with the United States or within it. The choice that Israel might want, a U.S.-Iranian conflict, is unlikely. Israel can no more drive American strategy than can Saudi Arabia.

From the American standpoint, an understanding with Iran would have the advantage of solving an increasingly knotty problem. In the long run, it would also have the advantage of being a self-containing relationship. Turkey is much more powerful than Iran and is emerging from its century-long shell. Its relations with the United States are delicate. The United States would infuriate the Turks by doing this deal, forcing them to become more active faster. They would thus emerge in Iraq as a counterbalance to Iran. But Turkey’s anger at the United States would serve U.S. interests. The Iranian position in Iraq would be temporary, and the United States would not have to break its word as Turkey eventually would eliminate Iranian influence in Iraq.

Ultimately, the greatest shock of such a maneuver on both sides would be political. The U.S.-Soviet agreement shocked Americans deeply, the Soviets less so because Stalin’s pact with Hitler had already stunned them. The Nixon-Mao entente shocked all sides. It was utterly unthinkable at the time, but once people on both sides thought about it, it was manageable.

Such a maneuver would be particularly difficult for U.S. President Barack Obama, as it would be widely interpreted as another example of weakness rather than as a ruthless and cunning move. A military strike would enhance his political standing, while an apparently cynical deal would undermine it. Ahmadinejad could sell such a deal domestically much more easily. In any event, the choices now are a nuclear Iran, extended airstrikes with all their attendant consequences, or something else. This is what something else might look like and how it would fit in with American strategic tradition.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 01, 2010, 05:29:18 PM
Second post of the day-- the post is by BBG, but I think it better belongs in this thread:

The real Arab stuff-What are realistic, moderate Arabic-speaking rulers thinking? [about Obama]
Jerusalem Post ^ | 3-1-10 | BARRY RUBIN

Hussain Abdul Hussain gets it. He’s one of the most interesting Arab journalists who also write in English. In his latest article “Lonely Obama vs. popular Iran”, published in the Huffington Post, he points out what the most realistic people and more moderate rulers in the Arabic-speaking world are thinking.

Theme one: Popularity isn’t so important in the Middle East. “A common perception is that under President Barack Obama, America’s image has improved, and perhaps its friends have increased. But such claims are unfounded, as the opposite proves to be true. International relations, however, are about interests, not sweet talk. As [George W.] Bush went out recruiting allies, and making enemies, Obama lost America’s friends while failing to win over enemies.”

Theme two: What is important is that allies believe you will support and protect them. Obama isn’t doing that. Example A, Iraq. “After losing more than 4,300 troops in battle and spending [a huge amount of money] since 2003, America today cannot find a single politician or group that would express gratitude to Americans for ridding Iraq of its ruthless tyrant Saddam Hussein, and allowing these politicians to speak out freely. On the contrary, shy of making their excellent backdoor ties with Washington known since they fear Obama will depart Iraq and never look back, Iraqi politicians started expressing dissatisfaction with the United States in public.”

Example B, Lebanon. Before Obama took office, more than one-third of the entire population – most of them Sunni Muslims – demonstrated against Hizbullah and Syrian occupation. And the Druse leader Walid Jumblatt said on televisionthat he was proud to be part of America’s plan to spread democracy in the Middle East. But “by the time Obama had made it to the White House, support of America’s allies in Lebanon waned since Obama was determined to appease their foes in Syria and Iran. [Said] Hariri [leader of the moderate forces] and Jumblatt [his former close ally] were forced to abandon their fight for Lebanon’s democracy and freedom” and seek to make a deal with Syria and Hizbullah instead.

Example C, Iran. The people revolted against the autocratic regime and staged mass demonstrations, “but Obama’s Washington was busy sending one letter of appeasement after another to Iran’s tyrants, and accordingly failed to side with the Green Revolution for democracy and freedom. When Obama did show support for the Green movement, it was too little and too late.”

AMONG THOSE worried about a similar lack of US support are Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the small Gulf states, the three North African states, most of Lebanon and those Turks who don’t want to live under an Islamist regime.

Theme three: Iran helps its allies. Hence, Iran has more allies, while the US has fewer. Iran is going up; the US is going down. “Now compare America’s friends around the Middle East to Iran’s cronies, and you can immediately understand why Washington is in trouble, both diplomatically and on a popular level, while Iran is confident as it marches toward producing a nuclear weapon and expanding its influence across the Middle East.”

Iranian ally A, Hizbullah: “Since 1981, Iran has been funding its Lebanese ally Hizbullah, never defaulting on any of its pledged payments. Hizbullah went from an embryonic group into a state within a state, boasting a membership of several thousands and maintaining a private army, schools, hospitals, orphanages, satellite TV and a number of other facilities that have won it the hearts of Lebanon’s Shi’ites, and have given Hizbullah an absolute command over them.”

Iranian ally B, Syria: “Iran has maintained a flow of cash and political support toward Syria for a similar amount of time. Obama has been begging Syria to switch sides and abandon Iran. Judging by the mishaps that always seem to befall America’s friends with time, Syria does not seem likely to change, but is rather playing an Obama administration desperate for whatever it can claim as success in its foreign policy.”

As if to prove the point, immediately after a big American delegation visited Damascus to restore full relations and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress that US policy is seeking to detach Syria from its alliance with Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Syria and the two leaders made strong anti-American statements while pledging eternal partnership.

Here’s the headline in the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat: “Syria and Iran defy Clinton in show of unity.”

And in the Syrian government’s newspaper Tishrin a column explained that if the US wanted a deal with Iran and Syria to achieve peace in the region that would have to include Israel’s elimination.

Iranian ally C, Iraqi insurgents: “In Iraq, Iran does not only fund and train militias and violent groups, but it also funds electoral campaigns of Iraqi politicians, loyal media groups and political parties, thus expanding its influence over Iraq exponentially. Spending billions more than Iran in Iraq, America has seen its money spent to no or little effect.”

And here’s the bottom line: “The comparison between Iran and Obama’s America is simple. While Teheran never let down an ally, offering them consistent financial and political support, Washington’s support of its allies around the world has always been intermittent, due to changes with administrations and an ever swinging mood among American voters, pundits and analysts.

“So while Iran has created a mini-Islamic republic in Lebanon, and is on its way to doing the same in Iraq, America has failed in keeping friends or maintaining influence both in Lebanon and in Iraq.

“And while Teheran brutally suppressed a growing peaceful revolution for change inside Iran, Washington’s pacifism did not win any favors with the Iranian regime, or with its opponents in the Green Revolution.

“While Iran knows how to make friends, Obama’s America has become an expert in losing them.”

Yes! That’s what it’s all about. You know, it’s an interesting point. Obama and company says we should listen to Muslim and Arab voices.

Okay, but which ones? Not, as they are doing, to the apologists for radicalism and the purveyors of conventional nonsense (all that matters is the Arab-Israeli conflict, America should just make concessions, you need to understand how Islamism isn’t a threat, etc.). If you want to know what a dozen Arab governments think and fear – and Israelis, too – this is the real stuff.

The writer is Director at the Global Research in International Affairs Center (GLORIA) ( and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal (MERIA). He blogs at The Rubin Report (
Title: Ajami
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 09, 2010, 08:20:34 AM
President Obama's "war of necessity" in Afghanistan increasingly has to it the mark of a military campaign disconnected from a bigger political strategy.

Yes, it is true, he "inherited" this war. But in his fashion he embraced it and held it up as a rebuke to the Iraq war. The spectacle of Afghan President Hamid Karzai going rogue on the American and NATO allies who prop up his regime is of a piece with other runaway clients in far-off lands learning that great, distant powers can be defied and manipulated with impunity. After all, Mr. Karzai has been told again and again that his country, the safe harbor from which al Qaeda planned and carried out 9/11, is essential to winning the war on terror.

Some months ago, our envoy to Kabul, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, saw into the heart of the matter in a memo to his superiors. Mr. Eikenberry was without illusions about President Karzai. He dismissed him as a leader who continues to shun "responsibility for any sovereign burden, whether defense, governance or development. He and his circle don't want the U.S. to leave and are only too happy to see us invest further. They assume we covet their territory for a never-ending war on terror and for military bases to use against surrounding powers."

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David Klein
 .The Eikenberry memorandum lays to rest once and for all the legend of Afghanistan as a "graveyard of empires." Rather than seeking an end to the foreign military presence, the Afghans and their leader seek to perpetuate it. It spares them the hard choice of building a nation-state, knitting together feuding ethnicities and provinces, and it brings them enormous foreign treasure.

Mr. Karzai may be unusually brazen and vainglorious in his self-regard. He may have been acting out of a need to conciliate the Pashtun community from which he hails and which continues to see him as the front man for a regime that gives the Tajiks disproportionate power and influence. But his conduct is at one with the ways of Afghan warlords and chieftains.

Still, this recent dust-up with Mr. Karzai—his outburst against the West, his melodramatic statement that he, too, could yet join the Taliban in a campaign of "national resistance," his indecent warning that those American and NATO forces soldiering to give his country a chance are on the verge of becoming foreign occupiers—is a statement about the authority of the Obama administration and its standing in Afghanistan and the region.

Forgive Mr. Karzai as he tilts with the wind and courts the Iranian theocrats next door. We can't chastise him for seeking an accommodation with Iranian power when Washington itself gives every indication that it would like nothing more than a grand bargain with Iran's rulers.

In Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle East, populations long in the path, and in the shadow, of great foreign powers have a good feel for the will and staying power of those who venture into their world. If Iran's bid for nuclear weapons and a larger role in the region goes unchecked, and if Iran is now a power of the Mediterranean (through Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Beirut), the leaders in Kabul, whoever they are, are sure to do their best to secure for themselves an Iranian insurance policy.

From the very beginning of Mr. Obama's stewardship of the Afghan war, there was an odd, unsettling disjunction between the centrality given this war and the reluctance to own it in full, to stay and fight until victory (a word this administration shuns) is ours.

Consider the very announcement of the Obama war strategy last November in Mr. Obama's West Point address. The speech was at once the declaration of a "surge" and the announcement of an exit strategy. Additional troops would be sent, but their withdrawal would begin in the summer of 2011.

The Afghans, and their interested neighbors, were invited to do their own calculations. Some could arrive at a judgment that the war and its frustrations would mock such plans, that military campaigns such as the one in Afghanistan are far easier to launch than to bring to a decent conclusion, that American pride and credibility are destined to leave America entangled in Afghan troubles for many years to come. (By all indications, Mr. Karzai seems to subscribe to this view.)

Others could bet on our war weariness, for Americans have never shown an appetite for the tribal and ethnic wars of South Asia and the Middle East. The shadow of our power lies across that big region, it is true. But we blow in and out of these engagements, generally not staying long enough to assure our friends and frighten our enemies.

Zia ul-Haq, the military dictator who recast Pakistani politics away from that country's secular beginnings and plunged into the jihad and its exertions, once memorably observed that being an ally of the United States was like sitting on the bank of a great river where the ground is lush and fertile, but that every four to eight years the river changes course and the unsuspecting friend of American power finds himself in a barren desert. Mr. Obama has not given the protagonists in the Afghan war the certainty that he is in it for the long haul.

In word and deed, Mr. Obama has given a sense of his priorities. The passion with which he pursued health-care reform could be seen at home and abroad as the drive of a man determined to remake the American social contract. He aims to tilt the balance away from liberty toward equality. The very ambition of his domestic agenda in health care and state intervention in the economy conveys the causes that stir him.

Granted, Mullah Omar and his men in the Quetta Shura may not be seasoned observers of Washington's ways. But they (and Mr. Karzai) can discern if America is marking time, giving it one last try before casting Afghanistan adrift. It is an inescapable fact that Mr. Obama hasn't succeeded in selling this Afghan venture—or even the bigger war on terror itself—to his supporters on the left. He fights the war with Republican support, but his constituency remains isolationist at heart.

The president has in his command a great fighting force and gifted commanders. He clearly hopes they will succeed. But there is always the hint that this Afghan campaign became the good, worthwhile war by default, a cause with which to bludgeon his predecessor's foray into Iraq.

All this plays out under the gaze of an Islamic world that is coming to a consensus that a discernible American retreat in the region is in the works. America's enemies are increasingly brazen, its friends unnerved. Witness the hapless Lebanese, once wards of U.S. power, now making pilgrimages, one leader at a time, to Damascus. They, too, can read the wind: If Washington is out to "engage" that terrible lot in Syria, they better scurry there to secure reasonable terms of surrender.

The shadow of American power is receding; the rogues are emboldened. The world has a way of calling the bluff of leaders and nations summoned to difficult endeavors. Would that our biggest source of worry in that arc of trouble was the intemperate outburst of our ally in Kabul.

Mr. Ajami, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, is the author of "The Foreigner's Gift" (Free Press, 2007).
Title: BO's dinner in Prague
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 09, 2010, 11:26:17 AM
Obama's Working Dinner in Prague
AS THE WORLD WATCHES KYRGYZSTAN PRESIDENT Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s rule go up in flames, an important meeting scheduled for Thursday is receiving surprisingly little media attention. U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with 11 Central and Eastern European leaders in Prague on that day. Obama will have what the U.S. administration is calling a “working dinner” with the leaders at the U.S. Embassy in Prague, just a few hours after the ceremony to sign the replacement for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev at Prague Castle.

The working dinner is not receiving much media attention in the United States or Central Europe, mainly due to the coverage that the START ceremonies are garnering. Other domestic issues in Central Europe, especially upcoming elections in four of the 11 countries, are also getting a fair amount of recognition. Nonetheless, the dinner is a notable event, and the first time a U.S. president is exclusively meeting with 11 leaders from Central Europe in a forum not related to either NATO or the European Union.

The main goal of the “working dinner” is to give Central European leaders an opportunity for some face time with the U.S. president. It is not going to result in any specific joint communique or policy conclusion, but rather provide a stage for Central European leaders to voice some of their concerns. According to STRATFOR sources in the region, topics for debate will range from joint efforts in Afghanistan and upcoming revisions to the NATO Strategic Concept, to relations with Russia and regional security issues in Central Asia and the Balkans.

From the U.S. perspective, the purpose of the meeting is to reassure Central Europe’s leadership of the U.S. commitment without having to actually make a substantive effort to involve the United States in the region when Washington is still embroiled in Afghanistan and is in the process of extracting itself from Iraq. Poland and Romania are asking for the Ballistic Missile Defense systems that come with American boots on the ground, the Baltic States want a more substantive NATO military presence to counter increasing Russian pressures in the Baltic Sea and all want to see some sort of a response from Washington to the reversal of pro-Western forces in neighboring Ukraine. If Obama can reassure Central Europe by hosting a dinner at the U.S. Embassy in Prague, then he has accomplished his task at a low cost.

The symbolism of the dinner will not be lost on Central Europe’s neighbors, particularly Western Europe and Russia. Obama irritated Western Europe earlier this year when he decided not to attend the upcoming U.S.-EU summit because, as was semi-officially explained by the White House, he had better things to do. That he now has time for Central Europeans exclusively is definitely going to send a message to Berlin and Paris. The fact that the meeting comes on the heels of the Greek financial crisis and during a period of marked European disunity over how to handle it will also not be lost on Germany and France. Central Europeans are increasingly becoming frustrated at the closeness between Berlin, Paris and Moscow, and are beginning to have their economic interests (EU membership) diverge from their security interests (alliance with the United States via NATO). Obama’s meeting with the Central European leadership can be interpreted as the United States further driving a wedge — whether willingly or not — between those two interests.

“The symbolism of the dinner will not be lost on Central Europe’s neighbors, particularly Western Europe and Russia. “
Russia will not be pleased either. It has enjoyed a relatively free hand in Central and Eastern Europe while Washington has been embroiled in its Middle East adventures, and does not want to see the United States commit more attention to the region. But it will also not appreciate Obama so clearly giving Central Europe’s leaders — many of whom the Kremlin would openly describe as Russophobes — his attention on the same day that was supposed to have all the world’s media tuned to the pomp and circumstance of the START signing.

That is why we find the timing of the crisis in Kyrgyzstan…curious.

Kyrgyzstan was not really entrenched in the pro-United States or pro-Russian influence, but has essentially been available to the highest bidder. This has left Moscow irritated with Bishkek — especially with the now outgoing President Bakiyev — but it has never forced Russia to target Kyrgyzstan outright. Moscow has always felt that it would have to do little to influence the impoverished, landlocked country whose only significant export — hydroelectric power generated from rivers flowing down its mountains — is literally drying up.

That said, we are noticing traces of Russian influence in the Kyrgyz opposition movements now assuming power. Also, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has already come out to essentially praise the removal of “nepotistic” Bakiyev who had “fallen in the same trap” as his predecessor.

When it comes to protesters and government-topplers, the Russian media has traditionally been less than charitable, typically calling them “hooligans” or “criminals.” However, during the current Kyrgyz crisis, the Russian media has altered its language by referring to the protesters as “human rights activists” who are part of “NGO” groups. This is reminiscent of the language that the Western media has used to describe protesters of color revolutions it has supported in the past. It is also similar to the language that Russia typically reserves for pro-Kremlin groups operating on the other side of the NATO borders, particularly the Baltic States. This is not the first time Russia has used Western norms and language to describe events that are to its benefit. For example, Russia referred to its August 2008 Georgian intervention as “humanitarian,” mirroring the “responsibility to protect” doctrine espoused by NATO during its bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

It is also notable that the outgoing Kyrgyz government started blaming the Russian media for its coverage of Kyrgyzstan’s unrest and problems with corruption weeks before the crisis developed. This tells us that, at a minimum, Russia most likely knew what was about to occur. There is the possibility that they took an active roll in the events in Kyrgyzstan, but it is not yet clear whether the current unrest has been at all instigated by Moscow, or whether the Kremlin is simply moving to capitalize on an otherwise indigenously sparked unrest.

The fact that we have witnessed the reversals of two ostensibly pro-Western color revolutions — the Orange (in Ukraine) and Tulip (in Kyrgyzstan) — within three months of each other this year will not be lost on the dinner coterie in Prague.
Title: Friedman
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 14, 2010, 11:01:02 AM
I often find Thomas Friedman to be rather fatuous, and so hesitate to post this, but WTH, this seemed interesting to me:

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LinkedinDiggFacebookMixxMySpaceYahoo! BuzzPermalink By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: April 13, 2010
There are many differences between Iraq and Afghanistan, but they do resemble each other in one critical way. In both countries, the “bad guys,” the violent jihadists, are losing. And in both countries, it still is not clear if the “good guys” will really turn out to be good.

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Thomas L. Friedman

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And the big question the Obama team is facing in both countries is: Should we care? Should we care if these countries are run by decent leaders or by drug-dealing, oil-stealing extras from “The Sopranos” — as long as we can just get out? At this stage, alas, we have to care — and here’s why.

I’ve read a lot of analyses lately criticizing President Obama and Vice President Biden for coming down so hard on Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s corruption. Karzai’s the best we’ve got, goes the argument. He’s helped us in our primary objective of degrading Al Qaeda and done good things, like opening schools for girls. Sure, he stole his election, but he is still more popular than anyone else in Afghanistan and would have won anyway. (Then why did he have to steal it? Never mind.)

This line echoes the realist arguments during the cold war as to why we had to support various tyrants. What mattered inside their countries was not important, the argument went. What mattered is where they lined up outside in our great struggle against Soviet Communism.

The Bush team took this kind of “neo-realist” approach to Afghanistan. It had no desire to do state-building there. Once Karzai was installed, President Bush ignored the corruption of Karzai and his cronies. All the Bush team wanted was for Karzai to hold the country together so the U.S. could use it as a base to go after Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Frankly, this low-key approach made a lot of sense to me because I never thought Afghanistan was that important. But, unfortunately, the Karzai government became so rotten and incapable of delivering services that many Afghans turned back to the Taliban.

So the Obama team came with a new strategy: We have to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan if we are going to keep Al Qaeda in check there and in Pakistan — and the only way to do that is by clearing them out of the towns and installing decent Afghan police, judges and bureaucrats — i.e., good governance — in the Taliban’s wake. Obama’s view is that, to some degree, idealism is the new realism in Afghanistan: To protect our hard-core interests, to achieve even our limited goals of quashing Al Qaeda and its allies, we have to do something that looks very idealistic — deliver better governance for Afghans.

I still wish we had opted for a less intrusive alternative; I’m still skeptical about the whole thing. But I understand the logic of the Obama strategy and, given that logic, he was right to chastise Karzai — even publicly. If decent governance is the key to our strategy, it is important that Afghans see and hear where we stand on these issues. Otherwise, where will they find the courage to stand up for better governance? We need to bring along the whole society. Never forget, the Karzai regime’s misgovernance is the reason we’re having to surge anew in Afghanistan. Karzai is both the cause and the beneficiary of the surge. I’m sure the surge will beat the bad guys, but if the “good guys” are no better, it will all be for naught.

In the cold war all that mattered was whether a country was allied with us. What matters in Obama’s war in Afghanistan is whether the Afghan people are allied with their own government and each other. Only then can we get out and leave behind something stable, decent and self-sustaining.

Unlike Afghanistan, the war in Iraq was, at its core, always driven more by idealism than realism. It was sold as being about W.M.D. But, in truth, it was really a rare exercise in the revolutionary deployment of U.S. power. The immediate target was to topple Saddam’s genocidal dictatorship. But the bigger objective was to help Iraqis midwife a democratic model that could inspire reform across the Arab-Muslim world and give the youth there a chance at a better future. Again, the Iraq story is far from over, but one does have to take heart at the recent elections there and the degree to which Iraqi voters favored multiethnic, modernizing parties.

So, while Obama came to office looking at both Iraq and Afghanistan as places where we need to be focused more on protecting our interests than promoting our ideals, he’s finding himself, now in office, having to promote a more idealist approach to both. The world will be a better place if it works, but it will require constant vigilance. When Karzai tries to gut an independent election commission, that matters. When the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, refuses to accept a vote count certified by the U.N. that puts him in second place, that matters.

As I have said before, friends don’t let friends drive drunk — especially when we’re still in the back seat alongside an infant named Democracy.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 17, 2010, 06:38:10 AM
A Question of Stability
THE IRAQI MINISTRY OF DEFENSE TOOK CONTROL of the military facility inside the Green Zone in downtown Baghdad known as Camp Phoenix (where American Gen. David Petraeus’ office once was) on Thursday. It is the latest in a series of developments — like the relatively peaceful elections last month — that both Washington and Baghdad would characterize as cause for cautious optimism as the United States inches toward withdrawing nearly half the troops it has remaining in the country before the end of August.

The U.S. drawdown is predicated upon the idea that the Iraqis will have a sufficiently competent security system (whether formal military or not) to hold itself in some semblance of order. Despite an almost astonishingly stable security environment by 2007 standards, the near-term fate of Iraq is far from certain. In theory, in less than five months, the exact composition of the Iraqi government will have taken shape and the United States will have only around 50,000 troops in the country (there are already far fewer American troops in Iraq than any time since the invasion in 2003). On the surface, this is plausible enough. There are certainly promising signs for Iraq: Sunnis participated in this election en masse; Iyad Allawi — whose non-sectarian al-Iraqiyah list won the most seats, and who is maneuvering to try and become the prime minister — speaks for many of them; and the politicking for a ruling parliamentary coalition has thus far proceeded without much violence.

But beneath the surface there are a series of more fundamental – and inherently interrelated – issues that have implications not only for Iraq, but the wider region. The first issue is perhaps the most obvious one: Can this political maneuvering and negotiation yield a government that is capable of governing the country? That is certainly a possibility, but the conclusion is far from certain. If there is such a government, will it be able to wield the country’s security forces effectively? And are these forces capable enough and committed enough to impose Baghdad’s will as the United States continues to draw down its troop levels? There have been promising signs here, too. But the security environment in the country recently has been quite permissive (compared to more intense sectarian violence in years past) and the United States has continued to bolster its efforts.

“The foundation of the American strategy in the Middle East for decades has been to use Iraq and Iran to counterbalance each other.”
How these questions are answered depends a great deal upon the durability of Iraq’s current stability, and the delicate balance of power that has characterized the country recently. A relatively stable Iraq does not challenge the ruling coalition in Baghdad or the country’s security forces nearly as much as a resurgence of ethno-sectarian violence.

Iran is at the center of the stability question. Tehran continues to exercise decisive influence in the country, and it retains the ability to reignite significant ethno-sectarian violence if it finds cause to do so. But many Shia are more or less comfortable with expanding Persian influence in the country. Indeed, some members of Iraq’s political parties are actually in Iran jockeying for position in potential Iraqi governing coalitions. So Tehran may get what it wants – a government in Baghdad amenable to Persian interests – without violence.

Whether Iraq again flirts with ethno-sectarian chaos or not, the foundation of the American strategy in the Middle East for decades has been to use Iraq and Iran to counterbalance each other. When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, it destroyed that balance of power and was never able to rebuild Iraq to the point where it could again serve as a counterweight to Iran. Even if the United States ultimately finds itself with a stable Iraq, and is able to execute a smooth drawdown of all American combat forces, the fate of the balance of power in the region remains in question. It has only been the immense American military presence in Iraq that allowed Washington to counterbalance Tehran’s influence there in recent years. The ultimate question is: What becomes of the region if Persian power in Mesopotamia again becomes relatively unchecked, potentially making U.S.-Iranian relations the pivot of the entire region?
Title: A libertarian analysis: Bankrupt Empire
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 26, 2010, 08:50:01 PM
There are several substantive points in the following piece with which I disagree, but the piece presents its points in a fair and reasoned way.

These are themes worthy of our consideration.  Lets discuss:


Bankrupt Empire
by Doug Bandow
The United States government is effectively bankrupt. Washington no longer can afford to micromanage the world. International social engineering is a dubious venture under the best of circumstances. It is folly to attempt while drowning in red ink.

Traditional military threats against America have largely disappeared. There’s no more Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, Maoist China is distant history and Washington is allied with virtually every industrialized state. As Colin Powell famously put it while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs: “I’m running out of enemies. . . . I’m down to Kim Il-Sung and Castro.” However, the United States continues to act as the globe’s 911 number.

Unfortunately, a hyperactive foreign policy requires a big military. America accounts for roughly half of global military outlays. In real terms Washington spends more on “defense” today than it during the Cold War, Korean War and Vietnam War.

U.S. military expenditures are extraordinary by any measure. My Cato Institute colleagues Chris Preble and Charles Zakaib recently compared American and European military outlays. U.S. expenditures have been trending upward and now approach five percent of GDP. In contrast, European outlays have consistently fallen as a percentage of GDP, to an average of less than two percent.

The difference is even starker when comparing per capita GDP military expenditures. The U.S. is around $2,200. Most European states fall well below $1,000. Adding in non-Pentagon defense spending—Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Department of Energy (nuclear weapons)—yields American military outlays of $835.1 billion in 2008, which represented 5.9 percent of GDP and $2,700 per capita.

Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations worries that the increased financial obligations (forget unrealistic estimates about cutting the deficit) resulting from health-care legislation will preclude maintaining such oversize expenditures in the future, thereby threatening America’s “global standing.” He asks: Who will "police the sea lanes, stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, combat terrorism, respond to genocide and other unconscionable human rights violations, and deter rogue states from aggression?"

Of course, nobody is threatening to close the sea lanes these days. Washington has found it hard to stop nuclear proliferation without initiating war, yet promiscuous U.S. military intervention creates a powerful incentive for nations to seek nuclear weapons. Armored divisions and carrier groups aren’t useful in confronting terrorists. Iraq demonstrates how the brutality of war often is more inhumane than the depredations of dictators. And there are lots of other nations capable of deterring rogue states.

The United States should not attempt to do everything even if it could afford to do so. But it can’t. When it comes to the federal Treasury, there’s nothing there. If Uncle Sam was a real person, he would declare bankruptcy.

The current national debt is $12.7 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office figures that current policy—unrealistically assuming no new spending increases—will run up $10 trillion in deficits over the coming decade. But more spending—a lot more spending—is on the way.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac remain as active as ever, underwriting $5.4 trillion worth of mortgages while running up additional losses. The Federal Housing Administration’s portfolio of insured mortgages continues to rise along with defaults. Exposure for Ginnie Mae, which issues guaranteed mortgage-backed securities, also is jumping skyward. The FDIC shut down a record 140 banks last year and is running low on cash. Last year the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation figured its fund was running a $34 billion deficit. Federal pensions are underfunded by $1 trillion. State and local retirement funds are short about $3 trillion.

Outlays for the Iraq war will persist decades after the troops return as the government cares for seriously injured military personnel; total expenditures will hit $2 trillion or more. Extending and expanding the war in Afghanistan will further bloat federal outlays.

Worst of all, last year the combined Social Security/Medicare unfunded liability was estimated to be $107 trillion. Social Security, originally expected to go negative in 2016, will spend more than it collects this year, and the “trust fund” is an accounting fiction. Medicaid, a joint federal-state program, also is breaking budgets. At their current growth rate, CBO says that by 2050 these three programs alone will consume virtually the entire federal budget.

Uncle Sam’s current net liabilities exceed Americans’ net worth. Yet the debt-to-GDP ratio will continue rising and could eventually hit World War II levels. Net interest is expected to more than quadruple to $840 billion annually by 2020.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says: “It’s not something that is ten years away. It affects the markets currently.” In March, Treasury notes commanded a yield of 3.5 basis points higher than those for Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Moody’s recently threatened to downgrade federal debt: “Although AAA governments benefit from an unusual degree of balance sheet flexibility, that flexibility is not infinite.” In 2008, Tom Lemmon of Moody’s warned: “The underlying credit rating of the U.S. government faces the risk of downgrading in the next ten years if solutions are not found to our growing Medicare and Social Security unfunded obligations.”

This is all without counting a dollar of increased federal spending due to federalizing American medicine.

The United States faces a fiscal crisis. If America’s survival was at stake, extraordinary military expenditures would still be justified. But not to protect other nations, especially prosperous and populous states well able to defend themselves. Boot warns: “it will be increasingly hard to be globocop and nanny state at the same time.” America should be neither.

The issue is not just money. The Constitution envisions a limited government focused on defending Americans, not transforming the rest of the world. Moreover, if Washington continues to act as globocop, America’s friends and allies will never have an incentive to do more.

The United States will be a world power for decades. But it can no afford to act as if it is the only power. America must begin the process of becoming a normal nation with a normal foreign policy.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Rarick on April 27, 2010, 02:21:32 AM
I have always been opposed to using the military as police force.  I served my time there, and I always hated seeing the "feed the masses" type missions.  The mission of the military is to kill the people preventing the masses from feeding themselves.  The MIC is also enamored of the BIG Hardware, and LARGE program type contracts required by the cold war era.  The fact is we can now do a whole lot more, for cheaper, and without big programs.  A lot of the soldiers field gear has been getting overhaulled in this manner.  A lot of troops started bringing their own gear instead of the GI stuff and it caused some to finally notice.  The landwarrior program is way more of a starwars type technology developer than an actual develop for deployment program now.  I see our best direction for the military being ongoing r&d where we design things like the stealth fighter and build a squadron or 2 for training and proof we can do it.  The main part of the budget however should go to things like the CMP where the citizens are trained to shoot, and to troop training where our vetrans have the best possible trainingby the time they get out.  An trained and armed populace is probably the best defense against any terrorist attack we would ever have.

A hardcore cadre of professionals like we had before WW2 would be on hand for jobs like Grenada and Panama actions that were in and out in a month or so.  There simply would not be the resources or troops to get mired in mission creep situations like Somalia and Iraq.  It is about taking out the bad guy not about nation building, let the locals sort it out.  The army cadre would include stuff like THAAD and the Ground based lasers, which would be there for threats like an enemy VLS system equipped ship pulling up and volleying its magazine (our Aegis destroyers carry 60 missiles).  The airborne laser would be able to deal with stuff further out, like ballistic missiles, and be an airforce cadre job.

As far as budget........where to start.........I would go for a full revamp of the taxation system.  Make a straight percentage of earnings from top to bottom.  People and corporations use the exact same accounting method to finf their earnings.  The tax form would include a list of what congress want to spend money on.  Everyone would make check marks on what they wanted to fund.  If a program ends up unfunded, congress has just been vetoed by the people, end of program.  The various programs will simply have to do the best they can given their funding. Make the various bureaucrats earn their tax money, that would keep thing fairly lean.  I would see no problem with various departments "Infomercialing" about what they are doing, and why their project is important.  THAT would open up the process considerably wouldn't it?

The deficit.......suffer thru paying it off, and never allow it again by instituting the above rework.
Title: "This is not just an America in decline.This is an America in retreat"
Post by: ccp on May 21, 2010, 07:40:39 AM

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, May 21, 2010

It is perfectly obvious that Iran's latest uranium maneuver, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, is a ruse. Iran retains more than enough enriched uranium to make a bomb. And it continues enriching at an accelerated pace and to a greater purity (20 percent). Which is why the French foreign ministry immediately declared that the trumpeted temporary shipping of some Iranian uranium to Turkey will do nothing to halt Iran's nuclear program.

It will, however, make meaningful sanctions more difficult. America's proposed Security Council resolution is already laughably weak -- no blacklisting of Iran's central bank, no sanctions against Iran's oil and gas industry, no nonconsensual inspections on the high seas. Yet Turkey and Brazil -- both current members of the Security Council -- are so opposed to sanctions that they will not even discuss the resolution. And China will now have a new excuse to weaken it further.

But the deeper meaning of the uranium-export stunt is the brazenness with which Brazil and Turkey gave cover to the mullahs' nuclear ambitions and deliberately undermined U.S. efforts to curb Iran's program.

The real news is that already notorious photo: the president of Brazil, our largest ally in Latin America, and the prime minister of Turkey, for more than half a century the Muslim anchor of NATO, raising hands together with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the most virulently anti-American leader in the world.

That picture -- a defiant, triumphant take-that-Uncle-Sam -- is a crushing verdict on the Obama foreign policy. It demonstrates how rising powers, traditional American allies, having watched this administration in action, have decided that there's no cost in lining up with America's enemies and no profit in lining up with a U.S. president given to apologies and appeasement.

They've watched President Obama's humiliating attempts to appease Iran, as every rejected overture is met with abjectly renewed U.S. negotiating offers. American acquiescence reached such a point that the president was late, hesitant and flaccid in expressing even rhetorical support for democracy demonstrators who were being brutally suppressed and whose call for regime change offered the potential for the most significant U.S. strategic advance in the region in 30 years.

 They've watched America acquiesce to Russia's re-exerting sway over Eastern Europe, over Ukraine (pressured by Russia last month into extending for 25 years its lease of the Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol) and over Georgia (Russia's de facto annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is no longer an issue under the Obama "reset" policy).

They've watched our appeasement of Syria, Iran's agent in the Arab Levant -- sending our ambassador back to Syria even as it tightens its grip on Lebanon, supplies Hezbollah with Scuds and intensifies its role as the pivot of the Iran-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance. The price for this ostentatious flouting of the United States and its interests? Ever more eager U.S. "engagement."

They've observed the administration's gratuitous slap at Britain over the Falklands, its contemptuous treatment of Israel, its undercutting of the Czech Republic and Poland, and its indifference to Lebanon and Georgia. And in Latin America, they see not just U.S. passivity as Venezuela's Hugo Chávez organizes his anti-American "Bolivarian" coalition while deepening military and commercial ties with Iran and Russia. They saw active U.S. support in Honduras for a pro-Chávez would-be dictator seeking unconstitutional powers in defiance of the democratic institutions of that country.

This is not just an America in decline. This is an America in retreat -- accepting, ratifying and declaring its decline, and inviting rising powers to fill the vacuum.

Nor is this retreat by inadvertence. This is retreat by design and, indeed, on principle. It's the perfect fulfillment of Obama's adopted Third World narrative of American misdeeds, disrespect and domination from which he has come to redeem us and the world. Hence his foundational declaration at the U.N. General Assembly last September that "No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation" (guess who's been the dominant nation for the last two decades?) and his dismissal of any "world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another." (NATO? The West?)

Given Obama's policies and principles, Turkey and Brazil are acting rationally. Why not give cover to Ahmadinejad and his nuclear ambitions? As the United States retreats in the face of Iran, China, Russia and Venezuela, why not hedge your bets? There's nothing to fear from Obama, and everything to gain by ingratiating yourself with America's rising adversaries. After all, they actually believe in helping one's friends and punishing one's enemies.

Title: POTH: Our clueless CiC
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 23, 2010, 10:20:59 PM
WEST POINT, N.Y. — President Obama previewed a new national security strategy rooted in diplomatic engagement and international alliances on Saturday as he essentially repudiated his predecessor’s emphasis on unilateral American power and the right to wage pre-emptive war.

President Obama and West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck stood for the national anthem before Mr. Obama addressed graduates of the United States Military Academy on Saturday. More Photos »

Eight years after President George W. Bush came to the United States Military Academy to set a new security doctrine after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Obama used the same setting to offer a revised vision vowing no retreat against enemies while seeking “national renewal and global leadership.”

“Yes, we are clear-eyed about the shortfalls of our international system,” the president told graduating cadets. “But America has not succeeded by stepping out of the currents of cooperation. We have succeeded by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice, so nations thrive by meeting their responsibilities and face consequences when they don’t.”

Mr. Obama said the United States would “be steadfast in strengthening those old alliances that have served us so well,” while also trying to “build new partnerships and shape stronger international standards and institutions.” He added: “This engagement is not an end in itself. The international order we seek is one that can resolve the challenges of our times.”

The president’s address was aimed not just at 1,000 young men and women in gray and white uniforms in Michie Stadium who could soon face the perils of Afghanistan or Iraq as Army lieutenants, but also at an international audience that in some quarters grew alienated during the Bush era.

While the president never mentioned his predecessor’s name, the contrast between Mr. Bush’s address in 2002 and Mr. Obama’s in 2010 underscored the ways a wartime America has changed — and the ways it has not. This was the ninth West Point class to graduate since hijackers smashed planes into New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Most of those commissioned on Saturday were 12 at the time.

When Mr. Bush addressed their predecessors, he had toppled the Taliban government in Afghanistan and was turning attention to Iraq. “If we wait for threats to fully materialize,” he said then, “we will have waited too long.” As Mr. Obama took the stage on a mild, overcast day, the American war in Iraq was winding down, but Afghanistan had flared out of control and terrorists were making a fresh effort to strike inside the United States.

“This war has changed over the last nine years, but it’s no less important than it was in those days after 9/11,” Mr. Obama said. Recalling his decision announced here six months ago to send 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan, Mr. Obama said difficult days were ahead, but added, “I have no doubt that together with our Afghan and international partners, we will succeed in Afghanistan.”

Mr. Obama all but declared victory in Iraq, praising the military, but not Mr. Bush, for turning it around. “A lesser Army might have seen its spirit broken,” he said. “But the American military is more resilient than that.”

At home, Mr. Obama attributed the failure of efforts to blow up an airplane over Detroit and a car packed with explosives in Times Square to the intense American pursuit of radical groups abroad. “These failed attacks show that pressure on networks like Al Qaeda is forcing them to rely on terrorists with less time and space to train,” he said.

And he defended his revised counterterrorism policies that critics say have weakened America’s defenses. “We should not discard our freedoms because extremists try to exploit them,” he said. “We cannot succumb to division because others try to drive us apart.”

The speech offered a glimpse of his first official national security strategy, to be released this week, including four principles: to build strength abroad by building strength at home through education, clean energy and innovation; to promote “the renewed engagement of our diplomats” and support international development; to rebuild alliances; and to promote human rights and democracy abroad.

But even as he tried to distinguish his strategy from Mr. Bush’s, Mr. Obama faced the same daunting realization and expressed it with a line Mr. Bush used repeatedly: “This is a different kind of war,” he said. “There will be no simple moment of surrender to mark the journey’s end, no armistice or banner headline.”
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 06, 2010, 04:38:14 PM
As Sarkozy asked in a spontaneous moment, “C’est debile?” Oui, oui, monsieur il est debile.

Here’s how things stack up for me at the moment:

Our policy in Afghanistan is utterly incoherent. BO (President Obama) says we are there because it is a vital war of national self-defense. This is why we will leave it up to Karzai and the central government as we begin to leave in a year. The Wackostans will return to their wicked ways in full measure. The ISI will act accordingly. Pakistan’s nuke program, if it has not already slipped its leash, will do so once again. BO has thrown away everything in Iraq. Iran will dominate via the Shias. Turkey, will work with Iran to screw the Kurds. This may be part of why Turkey just assisted and enabled Iran’s fraudulent pretense at meeting objections to its enrichment program. Iran will go nuke. Russia, having given up nothing in return for our pulling the rug from under Poland and the Czechs, will finish re-establishing its dominance over East Europe, and central Asia. Its action in and against Georgia has ensured that no pipelines will be built through Georgia. Thus central Asian gas will not be able to get to Europe outside of Russian control. Central Europe, especially Germany, will increasingly be subject to Russian whims. With Iran going nuke, and BO and the US’s proven track record of being an unreliable umbrella, the Arab mid-east will seek to go nuke as well. Turkey will seek to re-assert its historical regional dominance and influence. The farce it just pulled off at Israel’s expense is the sign that a very large and very important decision has been made. If Israel’s blockade against arms in Gaza is broken, Iran will have Israel surrounded: via Hezbollah, thanks to Israel’s bellicus interruptus of a few years ago, it how has some 50,000 rockets which reach most of Israel. In Gaza it will be able to reach what it cannot from Lebanon. It certainly will be able to reach Israel’s nuke reactor. The US presence in Iraq will soon be meaningless. Israel’s extermination is likely to be attempted. In the meantime, back in the USA the laws of gravity and of supply and demand will assert themselves and our final economic bubble will burst. We will all be Californians. In search of purchasing the Latino vote, BO and Congress will grant amnesty to 10-20 million illegals, plus visas to some 20-50 million more family members. They will vote Democratic, and the Republican Party will become as dead a letter for the entire nation as it already is for New England and the Atlantic States.

Have a nice day.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on June 07, 2010, 06:01:12 AM
Gee, who could have seen this coming?  :roll:
Title: Geopolitics and US Foreign Policy - Victor Hanson
Post by: DougMacG on October 14, 2010, 10:08:25 AM
Speaking of someone who could hold his own in a debate with The One, meet Prof. Hanson.  Please set aside 37 minutes and watch/listen to this interview. Good questions with great answers on issues that that include Islam in Europe, defending Europe, the lack of a future for the E.U., Asia, Thomas Friedman's comments on China, the situation inside Mexico, California, the border, Russia, Iran, the possibility of taking out Iran's nuclear capability, etc.

Well informed, very clear thinking, logical, common sense answers and observations to wide ranging questions and issues today from around the globe.

Townhall has parts of this in segments.  This link has the interview in its entirety.
Title: Stratfor: The world looks at BO after the elections
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 04, 2010, 08:18:28 AM
The World Looks at Obama After the U.S. Midterm Election
November 4, 2010

By George Friedman

The 2010 U.S. midterm elections were held, and the results were as expected: The Republicans took the House but did not take the Senate. The Democrats have such a small margin in the Senate, however, that they cannot impose cloture, which means the Republicans can block Obama administration initiatives in both houses of Congress. At the same time, the Republicans cannot override presidential vetoes alone, so they cannot legislate, either. The possible legislative outcomes are thus gridlock or significant compromises.

U.S. President Barack Obama hopes that the Republicans prove rigidly ideological. In 1994, after the Republicans won a similar victory over Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich attempted to use the speakership to craft national policy. Clinton ran for re-election in 1996 against Gingrich rather than the actual Republican candidate, Bob Dole; Clinton made Gingrich the issue, and he won. Obama hopes for the same opportunity to recoup. The new speaker, John Boehner, already has indicated that he does not intend to play Gingrich but rather is prepared to find compromises. Since Tea Party members are not close to forming a majority of the Republican Party in the House, Boehner is likely to get his way.

Another way to look at this is that the United States remains a predominantly right-of-center country. Obama won a substantial victory in 2008, but he did not change the architecture of American politics. Almost 48 percent of voters voted against him. Though he won a larger percentage than anyone since Ronald Reagan, he was not even close to the magnitude of Reagan’s victory. Reagan transformed the way American politics worked. Obama did not. In spite of his supporters’ excitement, his election did not signify a permanent national shift to the left. His attempt to govern from the left accordingly brought a predictable result: The public took away his ability to legislate on domestic affairs. Instead, they moved the country to a position where no one can legislate anything beyond the most carefully negotiated and neutral legislation.

Foreign Policy and Obama’s Campaign Position

That leaves foreign policy. Last week, I speculated on what Obama might do in foreign affairs, exploring his options with regard to Iran. This week, I’d like to consider the opposite side of the coin, namely, how foreign governments view Obama after this defeat. Let’s begin by considering how he positioned himself during his campaign.

The most important thing about his campaign was the difference between what he said he would do and what his supporters heard him saying he would do. There were several major elements to his foreign policy. First, he campaigned intensely against the Bush policy in Iraq, arguing that it was the wrong war in the wrong place. Second, he argued that the important war was in Afghanistan, where he pledged to switch his attention to face the real challenge of al Qaeda. Third, he argued against Bush administration policy on detention, military tribunals and torture, in his view symbolized by the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

In a fourth element, he argued that Bush had alienated the world by his unilateralism, by which he meant lack of consultation with allies — in particular the European allies who had been so important during the Cold War. Obama argued that global hostility toward the Bush administration arose from the Iraq war and the manner in which Bush waged the war on terror. He also made clear that the United States under Bush had an indifference to world opinion that cost it moral force. Obama wanted to change global perceptions of the United States as a unilateral global power to one that would participate as an equal partner with the rest of the world.

The Europeans were particularly jubilant at his election. They had in fact seen Bush as unwilling to take their counsel, and more to the point, as demanding that they participate in U.S. wars that they had no interest in participating in. The European view — or more precisely, the French and German view — was that allies should have a significant degree of control over what Americans do. Thus, the United States should not merely have consulted the Europeans, but should have shaped its policy with their wishes in mind. The Europeans saw Bush as bullying, unsophisticated and dangerous. Bush in turn saw allies’ unwillingness to share the burdens of a war as meaning they were not in fact allies. He considered so-called “Old Europe” as uncooperative and unwilling to repay past debts.

The European Misunderstanding of Obama

The Europeans’ pleasure in Obama’s election, however, represented a massive misunderstanding. Though they thought Obama would allow them a greater say in U.S. policy — and, above all, ask them for less — Obama in fact argued that the Europeans would be more likely to provide assistance to the United States if Washington was more collaborative with the Europeans.

Thus, in spite of the Nobel Peace Prize in the early days of the romance, the bloom wore off as the Europeans discovered that Obama was simply another U.S. president. More precisely, they learned that instead of being able to act according to his or her own wishes, circumstances constrain occupants of the U.S. presidency into acting like any other president would.

Campaign rhetoric notwithstanding, Obama’s position on Iraq consisted of slightly changing Bush’s withdrawal timetable. In Afghanistan, his strategy was to increase troop levels beyond what Bush would consider. Toward Iran, his policy has been the same as Bush’s: sanctions with a hint of something later.

The Europeans quickly became disappointed in Obama, especially when he escalated the Afghan war and asked them to increase forces when they wanted to withdraw. Perhaps most telling was his speech to the Muslim world from Cairo, where he tried to reach out to, and create a new relationship with, Muslims. The problem with this approach was that that in the speech, Obama warned that the United States would not abandon Israel — the same stance other U.S. presidents had adopted. It is hard to know what Obama was thinking. Perhaps he thought that by having reached out to the Muslim world, they should in turn understand the American commitment to Israel. Instead, Muslims understood the speech as saying that while Obama was prepared to adopt a different tone with Muslims, the basic structure of American policy in the region would not be different.

Why Obama Believed in a Reset Button

In both the European and Muslim case, the same question must be asked: Why did Obama believe that he was changing relations when in fact his policies were not significantly different from Bush’s policies? The answer is that Obama seemed to believe the essential U.S. problem with the world was rhetorical. The United States had not carefully explained itself, and in not explaining itself, the United States appeared arrogant.

Obama seemed to believe that the policies did not matter as much as the sensibility that surrounded the policies. It was not so much that he believed he could be charming — although he seemed to believe that with reason — but rather that foreign policy is personal, built around trust and familiarity rather than around interests. The idea that nations weren’t designed to trust or like one another, but rather pursued their interests with impersonal force, was alien to him. And so he thought he could explain the United States to the Muslims without changing U.S. policy and win the day.

U.S. policies in the Middle East remain intact, Guantanamo is still open, and most of the policies Obama opposed in his campaign are still there, offending the world much as they did under Bush. Moreover, the U.S. relationship with China has worsened, and while the U.S. relationship with Russia has appeared to improve, this is mostly atmospherics. This is not to criticize Obama, as these are reasonable policies for an American to pursue. Still, the substantial change in America’s place in the world that Europeans and his supporters entertained has not materialized. That it couldn’t may be true, but the gulf between what Obama said and what has happened is so deep that it shapes global perceptions.

Global Expectations and Obama’s Challenge

Having traveled a great deal in the last year and met a number of leaders and individuals with insight into the predominant thinking in their country, I can say with some confidence that the global perception of Obama today is as a leader given to rhetoric that doesn’t live up to its promise. It is not that anyone expected his rhetoric to live up to its promise, since no politician can pull that off, but that they see Obama as someone who thought rhetoric would change things. In that sense, he is seen as naive and, worse, as indecisive and unimaginative.

No one expected him to turn rhetoric into reality. But they did expect some significant shifts in foreign policy and a forceful presence in the world. Whatever the criticisms leveled against the United States, the expectation remains that the United States will remain at the center of events, acting decisively. This may be a contradiction in the global view of things, but it is the reality.

A foreign minister of a small — but not insignificant — country put it this way to me: Obama doesn’t seem to be there. By that he meant that Obama does not seem to occupy the American presidency and that the United States he governs does not seem like a force to be reckoned with. Decisions that other leaders wait for the United States to make don’t get made, the authority of U.S. emissaries is uncertain, the U.S. defense and state departments say different things, and serious issues are left unaddressed.

While it may seem an odd thing to say, it is true: The American president also presides over the world. U.S. power is such that there is an expectation that the president will attend to matters around the globe not out of charity, but because of American interest. The questions I have heard most often on many different issues are simple: What is the American position, what is the American interest, what will the Americans do? (As an American, I frequently find my hosts appointing me to be the representative of the United States.)

I have answered that the United States is off balance trying to place the U.S.-jihadist war in context, that it must be understood that the president is preoccupied but will attend to their region shortly. That is not a bad answer, since it is true. But the issue now is simple: Obama has spent two years on the trajectory in place when he was elected, having made few if any significant shifts. Inertia is not a bad thing in policy, as change for its own sake is dangerous. Yet a range of issues must be attended to, including China, Russia and the countries that border each of them.

Obama comes out of this election severely weakened domestically. If he continues his trajectory, the rest of the world will perceive him as a crippled president, something he needn’t be in foreign policy matters. Obama can no longer control Congress, but he still controls foreign policy. He could emerge from this defeat as a powerful foreign policy president, acting decisively in Afghanistan and beyond. It’s not a question of what he should do, but whether he will choose to act in a significant way at all.

This is Obama’s great test. Reagan accelerated his presence in the world after his defeat in 1982. It is an option, and the most important question is whether he takes it. We will know in a few months. If he doesn’t, global events will begin unfolding without recourse to the United States, and issues held in check will no longer remain quiet.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on November 04, 2010, 08:29:36 AM
Issues aren't in check and they are only quiet as the US MSM hasn't really covered them. China and Russia have already long concluded that the US is no longer willing to stop them. Hillary's 3 party talks invitation to resolve the disputed islands claimed by Japan and China was rejected with obvious contempt by China.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 04, 2010, 08:38:03 AM
As was noted in the China thread, China's claims to the islands in question appear to have genuine legitimacy.  As I see it, the true point was not the posturing of hosting three party talks, the true point/question was whether the US would consider itself treaty bound to defend Japan if these islands were attacked.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 11, 2010, 09:56:02 PM
The G-20 Summit and the Importance of East Asia

The G-20 summit convenes Nov. 11 in Seoul, South Korea, where the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies will gather to discuss the most pressing global economic issues of the day. While there is no shortage of topics to discuss, there are two dominant themes that directly involve two major players, the United States and China. The first is the U.S.-led call for countries that have trade surpluses, most notably China and Japan, to export less and build up their domestic consumption. The second is currency devaluation, highlighted by the U.S. decision to engage in quantitative easing (essentially the digital equivalent of printing money) to the tune of $600 billion.

These themes affect each country represented at the G-20 — and to a certain extent nearly every country in the world. Moreover, due to the fundamental structural and performance differences of the G-20 countries — more specifically, trade surplus countries are opposed to U.S. demands — these topics are certain to be intensely debated.

But currency devaluation and trade are not the only reasons that Seoul, and the Asia Pacific region as a whole, is an important place to watch to gauge the temperature of some of the world’s major players. This region, not coincidentally, has drawn the attention of two countries for reasons that are only partially related to the rapid economic growth and dynamism that has come to mark East Asia over the past few decades, reasons that are more geopolitical in nature.

“There are many dynamics that will shape, and limit, the form of engagement that Russia and the United States will have with East Asia.”
One of these countries is the United States. Over the past decade, much of the United States’ attention and resources have been focused on the Middle East and South Asia. But as the United States extricates itself from Iraq (however tentatively) and is in the process of beginning a similar withdrawal from Afghanistan starting in 2011, there are other potential threats and challengers emerging in Eurasia that await Washington. One of these is China, which has become increasingly assertive in its Southeast Asian periphery and further abroad as Beijing seeks to secure the resources it needs to keep its economy churning. China’s economic policies, such as maintaining a weak yuan, and its strengthening position on the global stage have led to growing friction with the United States.

In the meantime, the United States has begun to slowly re-engage with, and strengthen new partnerships and alliances in, East Asia — a region that China would rather the United States stay out of. Indeed, it is not an accident that U.S. President Barack Obama’s Asia tour, which includes trips to India and Indonesia, comes at the same time as the G-20 summit. Obama will follow the summit by attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Japan, in effect forming an arch around China that notably excludes China itself.

The other country whose attention has returned to the region is Russia. East Asia was a region of tremendous importance for Russia throughout the Cold War, but the Soviet Union’s collapse saw much of Russia’s political, economic and military ties to this region shrivel. The aftermath of the Cold War left Russia focusing first on rebuilding itself and then on rebuilding its influence in Europe, its western theater. And now there have been many signs of an eastward gaze from Moscow — Russia has been increasing its oil and natural gas exports to the region, and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said that East Asia could soon match the European market for Russian energy, which for all its extensive, financial and technical limitations shows how enthusiastically Russia views prospects in the region.

But Moscow’s return to the region has not entirely been benevolent. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev was recently the first Russian president to visit the southern Kuril Islands, which are controlled by Russia but claimed by Japan, a source of strained relations with Tokyo. Russia also is in the process of building up its military in the region, from nuclear submarines to missile systems, increasing Japanese fears further. This antagonism with Japan is one of many issues that has actually driven Russia closer to the Chinese, though the two still have fundamental differences.

There are many dynamics that will shape, and limit, the form of engagement that Russia and the United States will have with East Asia. But it is clear that East Asia has become the center of a strategic and geopolitical focus for many reasons, and it is no coincidence that U.S. attention, Russian re-engagement, and the G-20 — both the site and the issues that it will see discussed — all coalesce around the same location.

Title: WSJ: The Emperor's Nuclear Clothes
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 29, 2010, 08:56:55 AM
Enough is enough. Every day, the events of the real world reveal that the American foreign policy establishment is wearing nothing but the emperor's new clothes—policies that make proper people murmur "how Nobel-worthy" while looking around to see if anyone else notices something odd.

Respectable wise men, in and out of government, talk of the importance of arms control and a nuclear-free world, when the reality is that Iran, North Korea and other countries have made the acquisition of nuclear weapons their highest priority. The government of Russia has committed itself to a military posture in which tactical nuclear weapons play a larger role in war fighting and war termination.

The bitter truth is that a world with fewer nuclear weapons really is in the interest of the United States. That is why it won't happen: Too many countries believe that a nuclear-free world will leave the conventional military superiority of the U.S. unchallengeable.

View Full Image

David Gothard
 .The wise men call on China to help us restrain the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran, while the Chinese official press praises North Korea for its toughness after its artillery attacks. American officials piously intone that we will not reward bad behavior. They point to the deployment of carrier forces that everyone knows are determined not to fire one round in anger. Meanwhile, the U.S. government prepares the ground for new rounds of talks in which rewards for North Korea will be carefully discussed.

The relative decline and overextension of American military power makes the prospect of using military power against U.S. allies increasingly a matter of "It just might work," rather than "Don't even think about it." American allies must, as reasonable men and women, consider whether to strike out on their own, either by increasing their own military power or by seeking accommodations with those who oppose the U.S.

So what is to be done? We have no good options, we are told, with the subtext being "Get used to North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons." But we do have options.

In the near term, we must allow our allies to acquire the weapons they need for their own defense. The U.S. government should reverse its decision not to sell F-22s to Japan. It should aid the expansion of the Japanese submarine force by transferring relevant military technologies, and it also should encourage Japanese production of anti-missile interceptors for foreign sale.

If we deploy American military power, we must do it like we mean it. If North Korea and Iran want nuclear weapons, and China does nothing to stop them, we can reintroduce tactical nuclear weapons onto American aircraft carriers and attack submarines in the Pacific. We should put on round-the-clock shifts the production lines of weapons that would be needed in the event of war with Iran or North Korea (such as the long-range version of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile).

The U.S. can also ask the United Nations for a resolution authorizing air strikes against North Korea in the event of any future attack on the people or territory of South Korea or Japan. China will then stand up and be counted on one side or the other.

Such measures would provide some immediate reassurance to our allies that we will fight if we must, if they are attacked again. Of course, they won't make the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs go away. To deal with those, we must have a longer-term program.

The U.S. will need offensive as well as defensive forces that can thwart foreign aggression, even though aggressors have nuclear weapons. This is neither impossible nor paradoxical. Countries have defeated the U.S. since we developed nuclear weapons. Israel has been attacked repeatedly even though it has had nuclear weapons since 1967. What is very hard, and may be impossible, is to get other countries to allow the U.S. military to use bases on their territory when their enemies have nuclear weapons and they do not.

Over the next 10 years, the U.S. needs to increase its ability to conduct non-nuclear war from undersea, from ships out of range of missile attack, and from bases on American soil by means of long-range missiles and aircraft, manned or unmanned. The U.S. must be able to use cyber warfare and other unconventional means, and to defend itself from retaliatory attacks in kind. The U.S. military must also be prepared to operate in an environment in which other countries have used nuclear weapons. This means having not only missile defenses, but also protection against the electromagnetic pulses generated by nuclear weapons, which can paralyze modern electronics.

This will not be cheap, but it will be less expensive if we help our democratic allies arm themselves—by transferring technologies to them, by working with them, and by encouraging them to help each other.

This isn't a recipe for World War III with China or anybody else. It is a realistic response to a world in which countries are developing nuclear weapons not to fight other countries but to coerce them. Our goal should be a world in which countries can live peacefully without fear of being coerced militarily. It is an old-school response that doesn't seek war, but that also doesn't aspire to utopian goals.

Mr. Rosen is professor of national security and military affairs at Harvard.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: ccp on November 29, 2010, 12:25:08 PM
Good article above.

I was thinking over the weekend that our response to aggression has become predictable.  And that allows us to be manipulated.

Without fail we speak of dealing with threats in predictable ways:

Start with the public announcement of "concern", "top priority", "outrage", "will discuss with allies", etc.
Then the UN security coucil route. 
Then threat of sanctions.
Then bribery attempts.
Then some mild sanctions.
Then stronger sanctions.
Then more strong sanctions.
Then getting "allies" to go along with more sanctions.

Being predictable is a huge weakness.

Suppose we just shut the hell up.  Give a stern and resolute warning or two.  If that doesn't work show we mean what we say.

And out of no where we bomb the living daylights out of one of our enemies.

Make 'em into a parking garage.  (Think of Reagan bombing Qhadafis compound in what '86?)

Sure they will hate us and there will be eternal pacts of revenge.  (Think of Lockerbie)

But we will be respected.  Not feared.  Just respected.  (Qhaddafi surely changed after he saw video of Saddam being dragged out of hole didn't he?)

Title: Stratfor: Who fears the Russian bear?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 09, 2010, 03:38:29 AM

Who Fears the Russian Bear?

The global focus on Tuesday returned to the North European Plain, specifically east of the Oder and north of the Pripyat Marshes, where Russia, Poland, Belarus and the three Baltic states continue to share what is the geopolitical version of an awkward Soviet-era communal apartment. Russian envoy to NATO Dmitri Rogozin, referring to the leaked U.S. diplomatic cables revealing NATO plans to defend the three Baltic states from Russia, asked that the plans be formally withdrawn at the next NATO-Russia meeting. Rogozin pointed out that the recently penned NATO 2010 Strategic Concept speaks of a “true strategic partnership” — a direct quote from the mission statement — between the alliance and Russia and that the supposed “anti-Russian” military plan to defend the Baltics is incompatible with the document. Referring to the plan, Rogozin rhetorically asked, “Against who else could such a defense be intended? Against Sweden, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, against polar bears, or against the Russian bear?”

Rogozin was being sardonic for dramatic effect — Moscow is not actually surprised that NATO has an active war plan against it. Russia completed joint exercises — called “Zapad” (meaning west in Russian) — with Belarus at the end of 2009 that placed 13,000 troops on the borders of the Baltic states and had as its supposed aim the simulation of the liberation of Kaliningrad from NATO forces. Russian defense establishment sources referred to the exercise as a “drill,” as in something that the Russian military routinely prepares for. Russia purposefully allowed the simulation scenario of Zapad to leak, emphasizing to the Baltic states and Poland that it is very much the bear to be feared in the region.

” Polish officials do not have the luxury of dismissing American horse-trading with the Russians over Polish security as a “one-off” affair.”
STRATFOR therefore highly doubts that Rogozin was astonished by the revelation of the defense plans, particularly as the Russian SVR — the foreign intelligence service — does not need WikiLeaks to collect intelligence from the NATO headquarters in Brussels. Moscow is using the recently adopted Strategic Concept as a way to emphasize to the Balts and the rest of Central Europe that the NATO alliance is inconsistent with its security needs — particularly that any security guarantees offered by the alliance are undermined by the very Strategic Concept of that alliance just penned in Lisbon. And ultimately, Western European — and specifically German — lobbying for inclusion of Russia as a “strategic partner” should be the writing on the wall for the region: Its fate was to either adopt a neutral posture and accept Russian security hegemony or keep being pressured by Moscow.

The countries of the region, Poland and the Balts specifically, are therefore — politically as well as geographically — stuck between a Russia that threatens them and a Germany that refuses to offer security guarantees. Berlin instead prefers to develop its own relations with Moscow and dismiss Baltic and Polish insecurities as paranoia, arguing that Russia is best countered with investments, integration into the European economy and offers of security dialogue. Warsaw and the Baltics are therefore left to look expectantly toward the United States for bilateral security guarantees.

The problem, however, is that the United States is distracted, by both its domestic politics and the management of its Middle East entanglements. Furthermore, Poland feels spurned, especially by Washington’s decision first to pull out on the initial ballistic missile defense (BMD) plans in September 2009 and then, on a rotational basis, to deploy an unarmed Patriot missile battery to the country with a minimal contingent of 20-30 personnel, when Warsaw hoped for an armed deployment with a more robust — and more importantly, permanent — U.S. military presence.

In this context, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk— symbolically returning from a Monday meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin —referred to the WikiLeaks controversy as a “problem” for Poland because the various dispatches referring to Polish-American relations reveal “illusions over the character of relations between different states.” If we understand Tusk correctly, he essentially hints that the current public Polish-American relationship is an “illusion” and that, in reality, the U.S. security guarantees are insufficient.

It is difficult to disagree with Tusk if we place ourselves in the shoes of Polish policymakers. The United States ultimately decided to back away from the initial BMD version and supposedly also the armed Patriots because it needed Russian help on a number of issues in the Middle East, particularly pressuring Tehran with U.N. sanctions and making sure that Russia does not sell the S-300 air defense system to Iran. To Warsaw, the American decision illustrates that it placed its own interests — in a tangential region of no concern to Central Europe — above the security relationship with Poland. And what is worse, Washington trades Polish security for concessions with Russia in the Middle East.

To Americans, Poland looks like a country with no options. Sure, it feels spurned, but where will the Poles turn? As it did prior to WWII, Germany is making deals with Russia, and French and British security guarantees are unreliable. The United States, remembering its history of fighting wars to defend small allies for the sake of its credibility, would say that the Poles should know better than to doubt American guarantees. An alliance with Poland is therefore not one that needs to be micromanaged. In fact, the guarantees provided by Washington should be seen as sufficient, if not generous. Poland will get over the American spurn and go about pursuing its only option of being a solid American ally. That pretty much sums up Washington’s view on the matter.

That may sound harsh, but there is much truth in that statement. Poland is not going to cease being an American ally — not considering its current geopolitical circumstances. But Polish officials also do not have the luxury of dismissing American horse-trading with the Russians over Polish security. For Poles, it isn’t a “one-off” affair easily reassured with: “But, we’ll be there when it matters.” No nation can make that sort of a bet, not with its security and not when it has a history of seeing Western powers fail to live up to their security guarantees that far east on the North European Plain.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski will travel to the United States on Wednesday, a day after he spent two days with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and half of the Russian Cabinet, inaugurating the supposed new era in Polish-Russian relations. But when Komorowski travels to Washington, he will expect the Americans to have an answer to Warsaw’s burning question of the moment — what exactly is Washington’s global security strategy and where does Poland fit? Because, as Rogozin so aptly stated, Poland is not looking for assurances against Sweden, Finland, Greenland, Iceland or against polar bears…but very much so against the Russian bear.

Title: Iran and Venezuela
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 09, 2010, 03:41:49 AM
Second post of the morning.  It presents similar deep conceptual questions:

Iran to place missiles in Venezuela according to an article in Die Welt.

Title: I am depressed
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 16, 2010, 06:39:44 AM
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Thu, December 16, 2010 -- 6:00 AM ET

Afghan Report Sees Troop Withdrawal on Schedule for July

So, the bug out is on schedule.  As promised to the Muslim world by Ahmadinjad (too cranky to look up proper spelling) the US essentially is being run out of the mid-east.  The Dems chorus of defeatist chorus against The Surge in Iraq persuaded all there that we were leaving and so they aligned themselves accordingly and now our CiC, elected to fight "the right war" in Afg, after having sabotaged any chance of success by telling the enemy we were leaving, begins our departure.  China challenges throughout SE Asia.  Even our long time ally the Philippines (along with many, many other countries) bows its head in submission by not going to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies this year.  The time is coming when we will be run out of Taiwan.  In addition to the peace at any price elements of our political spectrum, the isolationist/libertarian spirit of our polity-animated the results of a a decade of piss-poor leadership and results as well as a genuine spending crisis, calls for cuts in military spending even as the Chinese challenge our Navy in the western Pacific and the Russians put missiles in Venezuela and our 2,000 mile border with Mexico is a narco war zone.   Europe's currency (hence economic union?) teeters and we may well be only a economic step or two behind. :cry: :cry: :cry:

The Adventure continues, , ,
Title: POTH: Secret report for BO
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 17, 2011, 04:30:34 AM
This Pravda on the Hudson piece I find quite interesting and hope it will excite some comment here.  Combined with some things on Glenn Beck's fascinating show last night, it begins to appear that Baraq & Company have a hand or three in what is going on.


Secret Report Ordered by Obama Identified Potential Uprisings
Published: February 16, 2011
WASHINGTON — President Obama ordered his advisers last August to produce a secret report on unrest in the Arab world, which concluded that without sweeping political changes, countries from Bahrain to Yemen were ripe for popular revolt, administration officials said Wednesday.

Mr. Obama’s order, known as a Presidential Study Directive, identified likely flashpoints, most notably Egypt, and solicited proposals for how the administration could push for political change in countries with autocratic rulers who are also valuable allies of the United States, these officials said.
The 18-page classified report, they said, grapples with a problem that has bedeviled the White House’s approach toward Egypt and other countries in recent days: how to balance American strategic interests and the desire to avert broader instability against the democratic demands of the protesters.

Administration officials did not say how the report related to intelligence analysis of the Middle East, which the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, acknowledged in testimony before Congress, needed to better identify “triggers” for uprisings in countries like Egypt.

Officials said Mr. Obama’s support for the crowds in Tahrir Square in Cairo, even if it followed some mixed signals by his administration, reflected his belief that there was a greater risk in not pushing for changes because Arab leaders would have to resort to ever more brutal methods to keep the lid on dissent.

“There’s no question Egypt was very much on the mind of the president,” said a senior official who helped draft the report and who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss its findings. “You had all the unknowns created by Egypt’s succession picture — and Egypt is the anchor of the region.”

At the time, officials said, President Hosni Mubarak appeared to be either digging in or grooming his son, Gamal, to succeed him. Parliamentary elections scheduled for November were widely expected to be a sham. Egyptian police were jailing bloggers, and Mohamed ElBaradei, the former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had returned home to lead a nascent opposition movement.

In Yemen, too, officials said Mr. Obama worried that the administration’s intense focus on counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda was ignoring a budding political crisis, as angry young people rebelled against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, an autocratic leader of the same vintage as Mr. Mubarak.

“Whether it was Yemen or other countries in the region, you saw a set of trends” — a big youth population, threadbare education systems, stagnant economies and new social network technologies like Facebook and Twitter — that was a “real prescription for trouble,” another official said.

The White House held weekly meetings with experts from the State Department, the C.I.A. and other agencies. The process was led by Dennis B. Ross, the president’s senior adviser on the Middle East; Samantha Power, a senior director at the National Security Council who handles human rights issues; and Gayle Smith, a senior director responsible for global development.

The administration kept the project secret, officials said, because it worried that if word leaked out, Arab allies would pressure the White House, something that happened in the days after protests convulsed Cairo.

Indeed, except for Egypt, the officials refused to discuss countries in detail. The report singles out four for close scrutiny, which an official said ran the gamut: one that is trying to move toward change, another that has resisted any change and two with deep strategic ties to the United States as well as religious tensions. Those characteristics would suggest Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen.

By issuing a directive, Mr. Obama was also pulling the topic of political change out of regular meetings on diplomatic, commercial or military relations with Arab states. In those meetings, one official said, the strategic interests loom so large that it is almost impossible to discuss reform efforts.

The study has helped shape other messages, like a speech Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave in Qatar in January, in which she criticized Arab leaders for resisting change.

“We really pushed the question of who was taking the lead in reform,” said an official. “Would pushing reform harm relations with the Egyptian military? Doesn’t the military have an interest in reform?”

Mr. Obama also pressed his advisers to study popular uprisings in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia to determine which ones worked and which did not. He is drawn to Indonesia, where he spent several years as a child, which ousted its longtime leader, Suharto, in 1998.

While the report is guiding the administration’s response to events in the Arab world, it has not yet been formally submitted — and given the pace of events in the region, an official said, it is still a work in progress.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on February 17, 2011, 05:03:58 AM
Good thing Obama wore a kippa at AIPAC, otherwise I'd think that he was pro-muslim and anti-Israel.  :roll:

Gee, some of us saw this coming.....
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 17, 2011, 05:19:37 AM

That said, there is the stubborn, dilema of this:

"a greater risk in not pushing for changes because Arab leaders would have to resort to ever more brutal methods to keep the lid on dissent."

How do you address this question?

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on February 17, 2011, 05:36:00 AM
Well, let's figure out the path that will lead to a lesser loss of life and human suffering. Arab nations seized by jihadists that then wage an apocalyptic war against Israel, or some forcefully put down demonstrations/riots?

The Shah wasn't great on human rights, but when the mullahs seized Iran, the violation of human rights, like mass executions was much worse. Oh, and that nuclear crisis thing....
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 17, 2011, 05:41:45 AM
I get that BUT

a) does that not lead to situations where ultimately such a strategy blows up amidst revolution and/or chaos?
b) does that not lead to a diminishment of our moral power in the world?  (Do you believe in moral power at all?)
c) does that not lead to weak support from the American people?
d) does it bother your sleep at all?

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on February 17, 2011, 05:56:46 AM
I get that BUT

a) does that not lead to situations where ultimately such a strategy blows up amidst revolution and/or chaos?

**No. How long has N. Korea starved and brutalized it's people? Oppression is the default state of human government. What western civilization did was an abberation from the norms of human history.

b) does that not lead to a diminishment of our moral power in the world?  (Do you believe in moral power at all?)

**Like the fierce moral urgency for change that put Obama into office? Bwahahahaha!

c) does that not lead to weak support from the American people?

**How many bother to look up from their reality shows to bother to figure out the difference between Iraq and Iran?

d) does it bother your sleep at all?

**What bothers my sleep is the things I see coming.
Title: The Lara Logan syndrome
Post by: G M on February 17, 2011, 06:47:07 AM
"Hey, what possible harm could occur from wading into this mob? They're protesting for democracy! They're muslims, and we all know islam is a religion of peace and women are treated with reverence!"

MARC: Is this fair?  How do you know that she thinks like this?

Title: "A good, solid B+"
Post by: G M on February 17, 2011, 12:26:26 PM,7340,L-4029879,00.html

US clueless about Egypt?

Senate hearing turns into farce as American ignorance on Egypt situation revealed; specific agenda of Muslim Brotherhood unclear, top official says, has trouble responding to question on group’s attitude to peace with Israel
Title: W the great visionary of our age??
Post by: ccp on March 04, 2011, 12:40:55 PM
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, March 4, 2011

Voices around the world, from Europe to America to Libya, are calling for U.S. intervention to help bring down Moammar Gaddafi. Yet for bringing down Saddam Hussein, the United States has been denounced variously for aggression, deception, arrogance and imperialism.

From Baghdad to Benghazi
Iran might not be the big winner of Mideast uprisings
A strange moral inversion, considering that Hussein's evil was an order of magnitude beyond Gaddafi's. Gaddafi is a capricious killer; Hussein was systematic. Gaddafi was too unstable and crazy to begin to match the Baathist apparatus: a comprehensive national system of terror, torture and mass murder, gassing entire villages to create what author Kanan Makiya called a "Republic of Fear."

Moreover, that systemized brutality made Hussein immovable in a way that Gaddafi is not. Barely armed Libyans have already seized half the country on their own. Yet in Iraq, there was no chance of putting an end to the regime without the terrible swift sword (it took all of three weeks) of the United States.

No matter the hypocritical double standard. Now that revolutions are sweeping the Middle East and everyone is a convert to George W. Bush's freedom agenda, it's not just Iraq that has slid into the memory hole. Also forgotten is the once proudly proclaimed "realism" of Years One and Two of President Obama's foreign policy - the "smart power" antidote to Bush's alleged misty-eyed idealism.

It began on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first Asia trip, when she publicly played down human rights concerns in China. The administration also cut aid for democracy promotion in Egypt by 50 percent. And cut civil society funds - money for precisely the organizations we now need to help Egyptian democracy - by 70 percent.

This new realism reached its apogee with Obama's reticence and tardiness in saying anything in support of the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran. On the contrary, Obama made clear that nuclear negotiations with the discredited and murderous regime (talks that a child could see would go nowhere) took precedence over the democratic revolutionaries in the street - to the point where demonstrators in Tehran chanted, "Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them."

Now that revolution has spread from Tunisia to Oman, however, the administration is rushing to keep up with the new dispensation, repeating the fundamental tenet of the Bush Doctrine that Arabs are no exception to the universal thirst for dignity and freedom.

Iraq, of course, required a sustained U.S. military engagement to push back totalitarian forces trying to extinguish the new Iraq. But is this not what we are being asked to do with a no-fly zone over Libya? In conditions of active civil war, taking command of Libyan airspace requires a sustained military engagement.

Now, it can be argued that the price in blood and treasure that America paid to establish Iraq's democracy was too high. But whatever side you take on that question, what's unmistakable is that to the Middle Easterner, Iraq today is the only functioning Arab democracy, with multiparty elections and the freest press. Its democracy is fragile and imperfect - last week, security forces cracked down on demonstrators demanding better services - but were Egypt to be as politically developed in, say, a year as is Iraq today, we would think it a great success.

For Libyans, the effect of the Iraq war is even more concrete. However much bloodshed they face, they have been spared the threat of genocide. Gaddafi was so terrified by what we did to Saddam & Sons that he plea-bargained away his weapons of mass destruction. For a rebel in Benghazi, that is no small matter.

Yet we have been told incessantly how Iraq poisoned the Arab mind against America. Really? Where is the rampant anti-Americanism in any of these revolutions? In fact, notes Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes, the United States has been "conspicuously absent from the sloganeering."

It's Yemen's president and the delusional Gaddafi who are railing against American conspiracies to rule and enslave. The demonstrators in the streets of Egypt, Iran and Libya have been straining their eyes for America to help. They are not chanting the antiwar slogans - remember "No blood for oil"? - of the American left. Why would they? America is leaving Iraq having taken no oil, having established no permanent bases, having left behind not a puppet regime but a functioning democracy. This, after Iraq's purple-fingered exercises in free elections seen on television everywhere set an example for the entire region.

Facebook and Twitter have surely mediated this pan-Arab (and Iranian) reach for dignity and freedom. But the Bush Doctrine set the premise.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: ccp on March 04, 2011, 12:44:50 PM
W's policy of spreading Democracy is somehow not complimented by the Soros.  I agree with Charles in previous post that Saddam was far worse than Ghaddafi:

***Billionaire George Soros told Fareed Zakaria that if President Bush and Dick Cheney were in charge now, the Egyptian revolution would have been much more violent. But instead, Obama has been successful because he sees the revolution in terms of people asserting their right to freedom and continues to refuse to “instigate” the coming regime change.***

All of a sudden all of the libs (and McCain) are calling for the US to jump into Libya???
They can't seem to get their heads on straight.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on March 04, 2011, 01:51:28 PM
Well, I think we should kill Ka-daffy. No as far as nation-building though.
Title: US Foreign Policy, Important linguistic error: spread Liberty not 'democracy'
Post by: DougMacG on March 06, 2011, 09:09:03 AM
On a recent cross country drive I had a nice 3 hour opportunity to be lectured on the radio by Prof. Walter E. Williams of George Mason University who made the point that nearly everything good about the American system has to do with preventing rule by democracy i.e. the majority.  We are a constitutional Republic and all the little intricacies of our Republic like the electoral college, different branches of government, the bill of rights, independent judiciary, the bicameral legislature, the limits on congressional powers, individual rights, states rights, due process, etc. etc are all intended to be protections against rule by democracy.  The word democracy is not found in our constitution where the key provisions start with the phrase "Congress shall make no law..."

Bush never could articulate the value of tax cuts, but world peace rests on ability of someone to start articulating the difference between mob rule 'spreading democracy across the Middle East' and advancing liberty with true consent of the governed.  Case in point, if majorities emerge in Egypt to authorize the burning of Coptic churches, is that consent of the governed - for the Coptic Christians??

This looks like Libertarian Issues, but he is talking directly how what we have learned here applies to our American foreign policy toward change in the Middle East.  We keep saying it wrong and then hope they get it right.  Instead we lead falsely by example.  Obama opposes limits on government at every turn, for example by forcing health care change on everyone because 50.1% want that (really about 44%).

                          Democracy Versus Liberty  

              BY WALTER WILLIAMS, FEBRUARY 23, 2011

            It is truly disgusting for me to hear politicians, national and international talking heads and pseudo-academics praising the Middle East stirrings as democracy movements. We also hear democracy as the description of our own political system. Like the founders of our nation, I find democracy and majority rule a contemptible form of government.

            You say, "Whoa, Williams, you really have to explain yourself this time!"

            I'll begin by quoting our founders on democracy. James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 10, said that in a pure democracy, "there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual." At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Virginia Gov. Edmund Randolph said, "... that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy." John Adams said, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." Alexander Hamilton said, "We are now forming a Republican form of government. Real Liberty is not found in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments. If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy, or some other form of dictatorship."

            The word “democracy” appears nowhere in the two most fundamental documents of our nation -- the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Our Constitution's Article IV, Section 4, guarantees "to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." If you don't want to bother reading our founding documents, just ask yourself: Does our pledge of allegiance to the flag say to "the democracy for which it stands," or to "the Republic for which it stands"? Or, did Julia Ward Howe make a mistake in titling her Civil War song "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"? Should she have titled it "The Battle Hymn of the Democracy"?

            What's the difference between republican and democratic forms of government? John Adams captured the essence when he said, "You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe." That means Congress does not grant us rights; their (Marc: sic) job is to protect our natural or God-given rights.

            For example, the Constitution's First Amendment doesn't say Congress shall grant us freedom of speech, the press and religion. It says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..."

            Contrast the framers' vision of a republic with that of a democracy. Webster defines a democracy as "government by the people; especially: rule of the majority." In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent force. The restraint is upon the individual instead of government. Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.

            To highlight the offensiveness to liberty that democracy and majority rule is, just ask yourself how many decisions in your life would you like to be made democratically. How about what car you drive, where you live, whom you marry, whether you have turkey or ham for Thanksgiving dinner? If those decisions were made through a democratic process, the average person would see it as tyranny and not personal liberty. Is it no less tyranny for the democratic process to determine whether you purchase health insurance or set aside money for retirement? Both for ourselves, and our fellow man around the globe, we should be advocating liberty, not the democracy that we've become where a roguish Congress does anything upon which they can muster a majority vote.
Title: Re Williams piece
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 06, 2011, 12:38:55 PM
That is a very good piece there Doug, well-prefaced by your comments. 

Question raised:  Given the Natural Rights basis for our Consitution, how do we articulate that in a way that can fly on the international stage, especially viz the Muslim world?
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on March 06, 2011, 01:12:04 PM
The concept of natural rights is utterly incompatible with islamic theology.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: DougMacG on March 06, 2011, 07:16:15 PM
"Given the Natural Rights basis for our Constitution, how do we articulate that in a way that can fly on the international stage, especially viz the Muslim world?"

"The concept of natural rights is utterly incompatible with islamic theology."

How you win that argument in the Middle East is what they call above my pay grade, what I am saying is that, win or lose, you start making that argument, like Williams did, clearly, loudly and consistently - to everyone that will listen.

If the leader of the free world believed in the American principles - it would start there.  It should come from the Vice President too, it should come from the Secretary of State.  It should come in a Cairo-2 speech and it should come from the leader of the opposition party in the United States / next President of the United States - whoever wants to step forward and take on that role.  It should come from the General Secretary of the United Nations and from every member of the Security Council.  Communist China like Obama may have a problem with hypocrisy, but give it a try - let's proclaim some principles larger than the false choice of mob-rule or dictatorship.

Crafty wrote 'natural rights' rather than God-given rights. Call them common sense or human rights if we want, we don't need to know or agree on the origin (IMO). Use logic for persuasion.  Freedom to be Muslim inside your being and to associate with like minded and to not have to hide your beliefs comes from the same freedom of religion that an atheist, a Jew and a Christian also need to be free. Either you have that freedom or you don't. You don't take a majority vote religion and then force what can't be forced on all, you allow it's free expression in all its forms - universally, in order to secure your own.   Someone should make these arguments, we used to call that role 'leader of the free world' - cf. "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!"

I wrote previously about Egypt that we had a team that helped draft a constitution in other difficult places, Iraq and in Afghanistan, with some success and I'm sure some failure and some lessons learned.  We could be offering expertise to all sides behind scenes while laying out the broad principles publicly.

Maybe we lose these argument and all hell breaks loose.  That is different than not trying. 
Title: Economic Warfare
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 07, 2011, 06:32:17 AM
Not really sure where to put this one 
Title: History being rewritten on "Bush doctrine"
Post by: ccp on March 08, 2011, 11:46:33 AM
Will history look back at W as being a foreign policy giant??

"A strange moral inversion, considering that Hussein's evil was an order of magnitude beyond Gaddafi's."

Exactly! It wasn't about morality it was about politics.

***From Baghdad to Benghazi

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, March 4, 2011

Voices around the world, from Europe to America to Libya, are calling for U.S. intervention to help bring down Moammar Gaddafi. Yet for bringing down Saddam Hussein, the United States has been denounced variously for aggression, deception, arrogance and imperialism.

From Baghdad to Benghazi

A strange moral inversion, considering that Hussein's evil was an order of magnitude beyond Gaddafi's. Gaddafi is a capricious killer; Hussein was systematic. Gaddafi was too unstable and crazy to begin to match the Baathist apparatus: a comprehensive national system of terror, torture and mass murder, gassing entire villages to create what author Kanan Makiya called a "Republic of Fear."

Moreover, that systemized brutality made Hussein immovable in a way that Gaddafi is not. Barely armed Libyans have already seized half the country on their own. Yet in Iraq, there was no chance of putting an end to the regime without the terrible swift sword (it took all of three weeks) of the United States.

No matter the hypocritical double standard. Now that revolutions are sweeping the Middle East and everyone is a convert to George W. Bush's freedom agenda, it's not just Iraq that has slid into the memory hole. Also forgotten is the once proudly proclaimed "realism" of Years One and Two of President Obama's foreign policy - the "smart power" antidote to Bush's alleged misty-eyed idealism.

It began on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first Asia trip, when she publicly played down human rights concerns in China. The administration also cut aid for democracy promotion in Egypt by 50 percent. And cut civil society funds - money for precisely the organizations we now need to help Egyptian democracy - by 70 percent.

This new realism reached its apogee with Obama's reticence and tardiness in saying anything in support of the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran. On the contrary, Obama made clear that nuclear negotiations with the discredited and murderous regime (talks that a child could see would go nowhere) took precedence over the democratic revolutionaries in the street - to the point where demonstrators in Tehran chanted, "Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them."

Now that revolution has spread from Tunisia to Oman, however, the administration is rushing to keep up with the new dispensation, repeating the fundamental tenet of the Bush Doctrine that Arabs are no exception to the universal thirst for dignity and freedom.

Iraq, of course, required a sustained U.S. military engagement to push back totalitarian forces trying to extinguish the new Iraq. But is this not what we are being asked to do with a no-fly zone over Libya? In conditions of active civil war, taking command of Libyan airspace requires a sustained military engagement.

Now, it can be argued that the price in blood and treasure that America paid to establish Iraq's democracy was too high. But whatever side you take on that question, what's unmistakable is that to the Middle Easterner, Iraq today is the only functioning Arab democracy, with multiparty elections and the freest press. Its democracy is fragile and imperfect - last week, security forces cracked down on demonstrators demanding better services - but were Egypt to be as politically developed in, say, a year as is Iraq today, we would think it a great success.

For Libyans, the effect of the Iraq war is even more concrete. However much bloodshed they face, they have been spared the threat of genocide. Gaddafi was so terrified by what we did to Saddam & Sons that he plea-bargained away his weapons of mass destruction. For a rebel in Benghazi, that is no small matter.

Yet we have been told incessantly how Iraq poisoned the Arab mind against America. Really? Where is the rampant anti-Americanism in any of these revolutions? In fact, notes Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes, the United States has been "conspicuously absent from the sloganeering."

It's Yemen's president and the delusional Gaddafi who are railing against American conspiracies to rule and enslave. The demonstrators in the streets of Egypt, Iran and Libya have been straining their eyes for America to help. They are not chanting the antiwar slogans - remember "No blood for oil"? - of the American left. Why would they? America is leaving Iraq having taken no oil, having established no permanent bases, having left behind not a puppet regime but a functioning democracy. This, after Iraq's purple-fingered exercises in free elections seen on television everywhere set an example for the entire region.

Facebook and Twitter have surely mediated this pan-Arab (and Iranian) reach for dignity and freedom. But the Bush Doctrine set the premise.

Title: Two from the WSJ: Who are these people?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 09, 2011, 07:24:46 PM
"America is always talking about democracy and we want democracy to come to Bahrain. . . . We want them to practice what they preach, that's all."

–Mohammed Ansari, Bahraini

Sometimes it's a heavy load, being America.

And it won't stop unless some day the United States finds a reason to unburden itself of the heavy lift posed by the world's aspiring peoples. With the Middle East protests, we may be there.

Less than a week into the massive Cairo street demonstrations, a prominent U.S. foreign policy expert pushed back against supporting them: "No one really knows a great deal about the protesters."

When all at once the people of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Bahrain, Algeria and even Iran (a Feb. 20 protest by tens of thousands was barely noticed) summoned the courage to take to the streets for greater freedom, the U.S. foreign-policy establishment seemed like stunned deer staring into the incandescent images on television and wondering, Who are these people?

The U.S. needs to produce more than rhetoric on behalf of 10 active democracy protests in the Middle East.

Writing on behalf of de minimis support for the Libyans in these pages Tuesday, Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said: "It is one thing to acknowledge Moammar Gadhafi as a ruthless despot, which he has demonstrated himself to be. But doing so does not establish the democratic bona fides of those who oppose him." A little digging surely would find something similar said in 1770 about the Massachusetts rabble.

The we-have-no-clue-who-they-are excuse is utterly lame. Scholars at places like the American Enterprise Institute, the Carnegie Middle East Center and elsewhere have been writing in detail for years about these people, pleading with the policy establishment to recognize how volatile the "stability" status quo had become.

It's clear, however, from the tortured, unfocused U.S. reaction to these events that policy toward these nations below the level of kings had become a second-level priority. How did so many people become an afterthought?

The reason, in a phrase, is the Arab-Israeli peace process. It sucked the oxygen out of thinking about the Middle East. With every secretary of state dutifully saddling up to solve the endless riddle, the "peace process" reduced everything and everyone in the region to spear-carriers for this obsession. The populations of unemployed youth building and festering across the region became an inconsequential blur, an Arab lumpenproletariat. "We don't know who they are." And whoever they were had to wait until some U.S. president harvested another Nobel Prize by "solving" the Palestinian problem.

Well, they didn't wait. They exploded in January 2011.

None of this is to gainsay the interests of the world economy in the region. But America's leaders should not let that become an excuse to forget who they are and where they came from. Soviet-era dissidents have said and written that among the things that sustained them was that their heads were filled with the ideas drawn from America's freedoms.

What a mess the Founding Fathers and Continental Army made for the grinders at the State Department, this week producing exquisite calibrations of America's interests. We now read in news analyses and opinion columns long lists of reasons why helping the Libyan rebels would backfire. What this means is that U.S. intervention won't come until, as in Srebrenica or Kosovo, Gadhafi's killings escalate from mere slaughter to mass murder. Europe acquiesced in the Balkan genocide, but the U.S. could not, an important distinction of global status.
What is happening here is not just another crisis to work through the bureaucracies until the storm passes. The stakes for the U.S. in how these uprisings are resolved extend beyond the Middle East. They've put on the table the core arguments the U.S. will need to mount in its defense against the competitive challenge of China's market authoritarianism. If U.S. timidity is seen as U.S. acquiescence to a system of "reformed" Middle East autocracies, the debate between the American and Chinese models is over. The world's people will see, rightly, that the Chinese are winning the argument, and the U.S. will spend the next 50 years watching other nations back away from its system.

"Defining moment" may be an overworked phrase, but this one qualifies. With these protests, the trains of history have left the station. The U.S. needs to issue a more public, unequivocal statement of support for authentic representative government. And find an active policy to go with it.

Only a U.S. president can lead this fight. But he has to (truly) believe in it. There is a school of thought, popular around the Obama foreign-policy team, that the world would be better off without the myth of American exceptionalism and burdens like these that come with it. If this government can't summon more than rhetoric or a U.N. resolution on behalf of 10 up-and-running democratic movements in the Middle East, that exceptionalism will wither. I'm guessing the world won't be better for it.


America's response to the Libyan crisis is stuck in repeat mode. The Obama Administration keeps insisting that a "full spectrum of possible responses" are in play to stop Moammar Gadhafi's war on his people. And in virtually the next breath, it rules out one credible option after another.

An egregious example concerns the possible supply of military assistance to Libyan rebels. White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday that "providing weapons" to the opposition was among a "range of options." The next day State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley shot this option down.

"It would be illegal for the United States to do that," Mr. Crowley said, citing U.N. Security Council Resolution 1970, which sanctions the Gadhafi regime and only passed with U.S. support on February 26. "It's quite simple. In [the resolution] there is an arms embargo that affects Libya, which means it's a violation for any country to provide arms to anyone in Libya."

One question is how the State Department allowed such a resolution to pass in the first place. President Obama has said he wants Gadhafi to leave, yet his own diplomats negotiate and approve a U.N. embargo that reduces his options in achieving that goal. Why are we still paying Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in particular should understand that arms embargoes always benefit the better armed side in a conflict. This had terrible consequences in Bosnia during her husband's Presidency in the 1990s, when the Muslims couldn't fight back against Serb militias stocked with weapons from Belgrade. Likewise in Libya, opposition forces seem to be outgunned on the ground and vulnerable from the air. Multiple air strikes were reported yesterday in Ras Lanuf, an oil port in eastern Libya, and Gadhafi's tanks have been leveling the western city of Zawiya.

Security Council resolutions are open to interpretation, so it's also revealing that Mrs. Clinton's spokesman chose to accept an especially broad reading of the Libyan embargo. The relevant paragraph of Resolution 1970 bans "the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the Libya Arab Jamahiriya, from or through their territories or by their nationals . . . of aircraft, arms and related material of all types." The resolution also forbids "technical assistance, training, financial or other assistance, related to military activities."

By Mr. Crowley's reading, the resolution covers any military support whatsoever by America or anyone else to the forces of the provisional opposition council set up in the eastern coastal city of Benghazi. In other words, America's hands are tied by the U.N.

But another reasonable reading would distinguish between the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, another name for the Gadhafi regime, and the territory of Libya. The rebels don't recognize the regime. Nor does the U.S. now that it has called for Gadhafi to leave power. The resolution doesn't explicitly say the "territory of Libya." This would leave the door open for Washington and its allies to supply the opposition with arms and still abide by the letter of the Security Council.

The next paragraph of Resolution 1970 offers another out for the U.S. It permits "supplies of non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use, and related technical assistance or training." Protection can be defined in various ways to cover the needs of the rebel forces and the civilian population.

We don't think the U.S. should ever let the U.N. control its actions, but we suggest these loopholes because the Obama Administration puts so much stock in the U.N.'s legal imprimatur. The White House may finally have retained some new lawyers, because yesterday Mr. Carney tried to split the difference with State: "We believe that the arms embargo contains within it the flexibility to allow for a decision to arm the opposition, if that decision were made."

Once the lawyers have been satisfied, maybe the Administration will even make a decision.
Title: MaureenDowd:enough is enough
Post by: ccp on March 16, 2011, 12:04:37 PM
In Search of Monsters
Published: March 12, 2011
The Iraq war hawks urging intervention in Libya are confident that there’s no way Libya could ever be another Iraq.

Of course, they never thought Iraq would be Iraq, either.

All President Obama needs to do, Paul Wolfowitz asserts, is man up, arm the Libyan rebels, support setting up a no-fly zone and wait for instant democracy.

It’s a cakewalk.

Didn’t we arm the rebels in Afghanistan in the ’80s? And didn’t many become Taliban and end up turning our own weapons on us? And didn’t one mujahadeen from Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden, go on to lead Al Qaeda?

So that worked out well.

Even now, with our deficit and military groaning from two wars in Muslim countries, interventionists on the left and the right insist it’s our duty to join the battle in a third Muslim country.

“It is both morally right and in America’s strategic interest to enable the Libyans to fight for themselves,” Wolfowitz wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece.

You would think that a major architect of the disastrous wars and interminable occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq would have the good manners to shut up and take up horticulture. But the neo-con naif has no shame.

After all, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates told West Point cadets last month, “In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it.”

Gates boldly batted back the Cakewalk Brigade — which includes John McCain, Joe Lieberman and John Kerry — bluntly telling Congress last week: “Let’s just call a spade a spade. A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses. That’s the way you do a no-fly zone. And then you can fly planes around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down. But that’s the way it starts.”

Wolfowitz, Rummy’s No. 2 in W.’s War Department, pushed to divert attention from Afghanistan and move on to Iraq; he pressed the canards that Saddam and Osama were linked and that we were in danger from Saddam’s phantom W.M.D.s; he promised that the Iraq invasion would end quickly and gleefully; he slapped back Gen. Eric Shinseki when he said securing Iraq would require several hundred thousand troops; and he claimed that rebuilding Iraq would be paid for with Iraqi oil revenues.

How wrong, deceptive and deadly can you be and still get to lecture President Obama on his moral obligations?

Wolfowitz was driven to invade Iraq and proselytize for the Libyan rebels partly because of his guilt over how the Bush I administration coldly deserted the Shiites and Kurds who were urged to rise up against Saddam at the end of the 1991 gulf war. Saddam sent out helicopters to slaughter thousands. (A NATO no-fly zone did not stop that.)

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi is also monstrous, slaughtering civilians and hiring mercenaries to kill rebels.

It’s hard to know how to proceed, but in his rush, Wolfowitz never even seems to have a good understanding of the tribal thickets he wants America to wade into. In Foreign Affairs, Frederic Wehrey notes that “for four decades Libya has been largely terra incognita ... ‘like throwing darts at balloons in a dark room,’ as one senior Western diplomat put it to me.”

Leslie Gelb warns in The Daily Beast that no doubt some rebels are noble fighters, but some “could turn out to be thugs, thieves, and would-be new dictators. Surely, some will be Islamic extremists. One or more might turn into another Col. Qaddafi after gaining power. Indeed, when the good colonel led the Libyan coup in 1969, many right-thinking Westerners thought him to be a modernizing democrat.”

Reformed interventionist David Rieff, who wrote the book “At the Point of a Gun,” which criticizes “the messianic dream of remaking the world in either the image of American democracy or of the legal utopias of international human rights law,” told me that after Iraq: “America doesn’t have the credibility to make war in the Arab world. Our touch in this is actually counterproductive.”

He continued: “Qaddafi is a terrible man, but I don’t think it’s the business of the United States to overthrow him. Those who want America to support democratic movements and insurrections by force if necessary wherever there’s a chance of them succeeding are committing the United States to endless wars of altruism. And that’s folly.”

He quotes John Quincy Adams about America: “Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy ... she is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

As for Wolfowitz, Rieff notes drily, “He should have stayed a mathematician.”

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on March 16, 2011, 12:10:14 PM
Just as there are long term, potentially negative consequences for acting, there can be the same for failing to act. Power vacuums never go unfilled.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 16, 2011, 03:25:28 PM
NFZ is/was? but one option.  Simply supplying food, water, ammo? is/was? another-- the larger point is whether the US would help or not against a nasty dictator when the people were genuinely rising up. 

Answering that question needs to be seen in the background context of the US's geo-political situation in the mid-east and the war with Islamic Fascism. 

If we do not stand for democracy, freedom, and "the people" against a murderous thug like Kaddaffy (who has murdered hundreds of our people by the way- think Lockerbie and other attacks) what meaning then for an Arab world deciding whether to see the struggle as Islam vs the Infidels or Civilization vs. Barbarism?

Anyway, it looks like Baraq has answered that question.  I suspect we (and the civilized world) are going to profoundly regret the trajectory of his approach to Iraq, Afpakia, Israel, Iran, Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on March 16, 2011, 03:30:36 PM
Yup. I'm sure the left and MSM will insist it's all Bush's fault.
Title: “Where are the Americans?”A tale of two tsunamis
Post by: G M on March 17, 2011, 07:11:43 AM

“Where are the Americans?”A tale of two tsunamis
March 17, 2011 - 4:49 am - by Roger Kimball

On December 26, 2004, an undersea megathrust earthquake precipitated one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. With a magnitude of between 9.1 and 9.3, it was the third largest quake ever recorded. The resulting tsunamis, moving walls of water up to 100 feet high, slammed ashore in some 14 countries bordering the Indian Ocean killing some 230,000 people. By December 29, President George W. Bush had outlined a huge relief effort.  He said it was an “international coalition,” but the vital center of the coalition was the United States Navy.

    “The U.S. military responded quickly, sending ships, planes, and relief supplies to the region.  Coordinated by Joint Task Force 536, established at Utapao, Thailand, the Navy and the Marine Corps shifted assets from the Navy’s Pacific Command within days.  The rapid response once again illustrated the flexibility of naval forces when forward deployed.

    The Navy deployed four Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 P-3 Orion patrol aircraft from Kadena, Japan, to Utapao to fly reconnaissance flights in the region and five VP-8 P-3s began flying missions out of Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory.  The Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group [including Shoup (DDG 86), Shiloh (CG 67), Benfold (DDG 65) and USNS Ranier (T AOE 7)] and the Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Expeditionary Strike Group [including Duluth (LPD 6), Milius (DDG 69), Rushmore (LSD 47), Thach (FFG 43), Pasadena (SSN 752) and USCG Munro (WHEC 724)] steamed to Indonesia from the Pacific Ocean.  Marine Corps disaster relief assessment teams from Okinawa, Japan, flew in to Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, and were later joined by U.S. Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Units from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  Lastly, a total of eleven ships under the Military Sealift Command (MSC) proceeded to the region from Guam and Diego Garcia.”

At the U.N., meanwhile, Kofi Annan interrupted his holiday to go to New York where he held a “media availability” on the crisis. Annan, who frequently registered his “horror” and sadness at the event, appealed to the “international community” for aid. Annan talked.  The United States Navy said little but carried out scores of rescue operations and aid deliveries.

On March 11, 2010, an undersea megathrust earthquake  erupted off the East coast of Tohoku, Japan. With a magnitude of about 9, it was the worst earthquake ever to hit Japan. It triggered a tsunami some 30 feet high which devastated coastal areas. As of this writing,  10,000 are reported dead (some reports estimate the final figure will climb to 100,000) and 500,000 have been displaced. Property damage is enormous. The disaster severely damaged several nuclear power stations in the prefecture of Fukushima. To date, engineers have been only partially successful in cooling the nuclear fuel and containing radiation. Within hours of the disaster, President Barack Hussein Obama . . .  went golfing. Later, he had dinner with admirers from the liberal media.  The next day, he outlined his predictions about who would win this year’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

At Powerline, John Hinderaker, citing a story from the Daily Mail, quotes an associate professor at Chiba University:

    “I think the death toll is going to be closer to 100,000 than 10,000. Where is the sense of urgency? We need somebody to take charge. We’ve had an earthquake followed by fire, then a tsunami, then radiation, and now snow. It’s everything. There is nothing left. The world needs to step in. Where are the Americans? The Japanese are too proud to ask, but we need help and we need it now.”

“Where the Americans?” That’s the sixty-four-dollar question. Chaos in Egypt: “Where are the Americans?” Gadaffi in Libya: “Where are the Americans?” Devastation in Japan: “Where are the Americans?” I am in London for a few days. At a dinner party last night, that was once again the question: “Where are the Americans?” On Tuesday, U.S. debt jumped $72 billion — in one day. What are the Americans doing about it? President Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury insisted that Congress raise the debt limit so that the government could borrow more. “Where are the Americans?” President Obama has managed the impossible-seeming feat of making a President of France appear as decisive and effective.  Nicolas Sarkozy was the first Western leader to recognize the Libyan opposition. “Where are the Americans?”

Many months ago, I wondered in the space whether Obama’s behavior betoken incompetence or malevolence (noting, however, that the “or” need not be exclusive: he might e both incompetent and malevolent). On the domestic front, Obama’s activity is marked by arrogance, self-absorption, and policies that increase the power of government at the expense of local or individual initiative. In foreign affairs, his behavior is marked by contempt for America and moral paralysis  —

“Weakness, incoherence, drift, indecision,” observes John Hinderaker, are “the hallmarks of the Obama administration.” The community organizer and junior Senator is simply out of his depth.

Obama had not been in office long before comparisons with Jimmy “misery index” Carter began cropping up. We now know that a reprise of that disastrous administration would be, as Glenn Reynolds has frequently observed, the best-case scenario. “Where are the Americans?” Conrad Black had the best analogy: looking for Obama is like the children’s game “Where’s Waldo?”  The difference is that when your little one actually finds the dopey-looking fellow with the striped shirt, spectacles, and sock-like hat, he’s won the game. The philosopher Rudolph Canap used to make fun of Heidegger for treating the word “nothing” as a transitive verb: “das Nichts nichtet,”  “nothing noths,” he was fond of saying “nothing,” that is to say , begets vacancy.  Carnap thought it was nonsense.  Barack Obama shows that it is brute political reality.  Barack Obama: President Nothing.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: ccp on March 18, 2011, 10:18:37 AM
"Just as there are long term, potentially negative consequences for acting, there can be the same for failing to act. Power vacuums never go unfilled."

Well, that is the problem.  Khaddafi, Qaddafi, Gaddafi, or however it is spelled, leaves and what replaces him?

Again we have a vaccuum and the US is in the middle.  I don't know.  I tend to agree with those who feel we have enough on our plate.  On this point I agree with Gates.

Or just kill the Ghaddafi and get it over with.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on March 18, 2011, 10:25:00 AM
Or just kill the Ghaddafi and get it over with.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: DougMacG on March 18, 2011, 11:39:10 AM
CCP: "Or just kill the Ghaddafi and get it over with."
GM: "Bingo!"

There was a nice, longer explanation by GM recently to ya about how we don't just do the hit and run, scorched earth type of hit.  True, that was the thinking behind Iraq and Afghanistan.  It started with or was articulated by Powell.  If we break it, we have to fix it.  But IraQ and Afghanistan were certainly already broken.  I believe we had a right to act with either a hit and run or the full 10 years and running plan.

With Ghadafy, no one seemed to question Reagan much for an attempted assassination of a foreign leader - who executed the Lockerbie mass murder.  We missed and still accomplished the mission - scaring the #*@& out of him.  From my point of view, if we are right in our information, that these people like Saddam, Moammar are murderous thugs, it is okay with me to take them out without full followup.  The concept in law and morality is that innocent people are facing imminent death, a concept with equal standing to self defense, if I understand correctly. 

Regarding no-fly zone, I believe it was presumed candidate of no substance Palin who called for exactly that on Feb. 23, how many innocent deaths ago?
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on March 18, 2011, 12:48:33 PM
I don't think there is anyone that wants us to buy into going neck deep into Libya, but there is plenty reason to whack Ka-daffy. He's earned an airstrike.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: ccp on March 18, 2011, 01:40:19 PM
"no one seemed to question Reagan much for an attempted assassination of a foreign leader"

Good point.  Except for some hypocrite-Hollywood types I believe the sense was Reagan finally did the common sense thing.

I don't recall people sitting around ringing their hands wondering who would have replaced him if the attempt had succeeded.

We have a murderer slaughtering his own people.  If the "Colonel" (why not "general" or "admiral" anyway?) and his son got executed their regime would collapse.

Could it actually be any worse?
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on March 18, 2011, 01:45:19 PM
Well, it could always be worse, but I'm willing to take the risk.
Title: WSJ: War by Committee
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 21, 2011, 10:46:28 AM

America's founders gave the powers of Commander in Chief to the President because they knew that war had to be prosecuted with determination, discipline and the national interest foremost in mind. By marked contrast, the use of force against Libya looks like the first war by global committee, with all the limitations and greater risk that entails.

We support the military action, even if it is much belated, and the good news is that the first allied salvos from the air seem to have achieved initial success. They have knocked Gadhafi's air force out of the battle and stopped his ground forces from advancing further into the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Allied planes have also hit Gadhafi's armor and troop columns, which ought to give his mercenaries in particular reason to ask if the pay is worth the risk.

But the war's early prosecution also raises concern about its leadership, its limited means and strategic goals. On none of these have coalition members been clear or unified, starting with President Obama.

It isn't even clear who is commanding operation Odyssey Dawn. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, wasn't able to provide a clear answer as he worked the Sunday news circuit. Mr. Obama said on Saturday the U.S. will "contribute our unique capabilities at the front end of the mission"—presumably B-2 bombers and command and control—but he added that the no-fly zone "will be led by our international partners."

Will that be the French, who said yesterday they have a handful of planes flying over Libya? It won't be the Qatar air force, which is chipping in four fighters. It isn't even clear whether the NATO commander will be allowed to lead the mission, though the military alliance is equipped for precisely this kind of effort. The danger here is that if no one is in charge, then no one is accountable for success or failure.

It also isn't clear what the military and strategic goal of this operation really is. Reuters quoted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying on Friday that the goal was "Number one: Stop the violence, and number two: We do believe that a final result of any negotiations would have to be the decision by Colonel Gadhafi to leave."

Yet President Obama offered only the first aim in his statements on Friday and Saturday: "We are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal—specifically, the protection of civilians in Libya." He even suggested that if Gadhafi honors the U.N. demand for a cease fire, then the allies would stop fighting short of ousting him from Tripoli. On Sunday French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe explicitly rejected the goal of ousting Gadhafi.

Gadhafi is weak enough, and Libya is a puny enough military power, that even a limited use of force might lead to his ouster. Perhaps the officers around him will mutiny, though they would also have to defeat the Gadhafi sons who control their own mercenary bands and could be prosecuted for war crimes if they leave Libya.

Certainly Gadhafi showed no sign of retreat Sunday, promising "a long war" and revenge against the U.S., France and the United Kingdom. He already knows, thanks to the limits of U.N. resolution 1973, that he needn't fear any foreign troops parachuting into Tripoli. He received further encouragement from Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who only a day into the allied bombing denounced civilian casualties and claimed this wasn't the kind of no-fly zone the Arabs had in mind. Mr. Moussa is running to be president of Egypt, but U.S. military action should never be hostage to such a fair-weather ally.

The danger for the region, and U.S. interests, will be if Gadhafi can exploit divisions on the global war committee and achieve a military stalemate. He could then remain in control of a rump part of Libya and still create mayhem.

Even Admiral Mullen conceded that the war could end in a stalemate with Gadhafi staying in power. "Certainly, I recognize that's a possibility," he said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "It's hard to know exactly how this turns out." When America's top uniformed officer says he doesn't know what the goal of a military engagement is, you know he's not getting clear direction from political figures in the U.S., or the global committee, or whoever is really in charge.

Mr. Obama's own chief terrorism adviser, John Brennan, warned late last week that Gadhafi "has the penchant to do things of a very concerning nature," including the possible use of his stockpiles of mustard gas. If Gadhafi poses such a threat, as we agree he does, then it is essential that this war end with a new government in Tripoli.

That means not agreeing to a premature cease fire that treats the opposition as no different from Gadhafi's troops. It means aiding the rebels—with intelligence and other arms in addition to air cover—to rout Gadhafi's forces. At the very least, the U.S. ought to recognize the National Council in Benghazi as a provisional Libyan government, which will enhance its international standing and ability to arm itself. We also see nothing in U.N. Resolution 1973 that would bar the U.S. from assisting the rebels with advisers as we helped Afghans topple the Taliban in 2001.

The other problem with war by global committee is that it diminishes the role of the U.S. Congress. As he ran for President in 2008, Mr. Obama made much of his opposition, in contrast to Mrs. Clinton, to the 2002 Iraq war resolution in Congress. Yet so far regarding Libya he has been far more solicitous of the U.N., the Europeans and the Arab League than he has of domestic political consent.

We believe that, as Commander in Chief, Mr. Obama has the authority under the Constitution to order U.S. forces to act as he has in Libya. But as a simple prudential matter, a U.S. President needs to respect and bring along Congressional leaders in support of such action. All the more because members of his own party will be the first to revolt if a stalemate ensues or the TV pictures get ugly. Republicans tend to defer on principle to Presidential war decisions, but Mr. Obama also cannot afford to take them for granted.

The worst offense a Commander in Chief can make is to commit U.S. military force and the credibility that goes with it in half-hearted fashion. Now that he's taken the U.S. to war against Libya, Mr. Obama needs to make American interests his main priority, and that means ensuring that the result includes a rapid end to the long, brutal rule of Moammar Gadhafi.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on March 21, 2011, 10:54:46 AM
If I'm Ka-daffy, I just play possum, suspend overt offensives while playing the arab/global media with innocent victim of western imperialism stories. Wait for the west to get tired and leave.
Title: Here is why Ka-daffy can wait us out
Post by: G M on March 21, 2011, 11:44:51 AM

(Reuters) - Britain's military is capable of taking part in a swift campaign against Libya, but prolonged fighting could stretch its armed forces and raise pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron to rethink deep defence cuts.

Despite its role in Afghanistan and severe financial pressures, senior British ministers and military chiefs say they can comfortably help to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya.

However, if the operation grows or drags on for months, it could strain areas such as the support crews that arm and refuel planes and perform airborne reconnaissance.

Britain's involvement in the first stage of the strikes against Libya appeared to be relatively limited, with planes flying from one UK airbase and one submarine firing Tomahawk missiles, analysts noted.

France eyes five billion euro defence cuts
14 June 2010, 13:05 CET

(PARIS) - France will trim about five billion euros (6.1 billion dollars) from its defence budget, Defence Minister Herve Morin said Monday.

The defence budget cuts over the next three years are part of overall belt-tightening measures in the wake of the Greek debt crisis.
Title: Re: Here is why Ka-daffy can wait us out
Post by: G M on March 21, 2011, 12:02:49 PM
Look out Ka-daffy, France is sending this:


A little background on France's only aircraft carrier:

French aircraft carrier set to defend Britain breaks down
The flagship French aircraft carrier which is set to play a key role in defending Britain over the next decade has broken down.
French fighter jets could be stationed on Britain's new aircraft carrier as the two nations' navies become
French Rafale fighters prepare for take-off on the deck of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier Photo: AFP
By Peter Allen in Paris 7:00AM GMT 31 Oct 2010

As President Nicolas Sarkozy prepares to use a historic London summit to announce the use of RAF jets off the Charles de Gaulle, his naval chiefs have told him she is no longer seaworthy.

"She's meant to be heading to Afghanistan to support the war there but is instead in home port with a faulty propulsion system," said a French Navy source.

"This is a carrier which is meant to be defending not only France but also Britain over the next decade. As far as the London summit is concerned, her breaking down could not come at a worse time."

Following Britain's strategic defence review last week, it looks certain that the UK and France will each have just one operational aircraft carrier each towards the end of the decade.

But Britain will have to rely solely on the Charles de Gaulle until at least 2020 while the Queen Elizabeth, a new carrier, is being built.

This follows the announcement of the scrapping of the carrier Ark Royal and its Harrier Jump Jets.

In the meantime, the Charles de Gaulle will be reconfigured to carry British planes, including the new Joint Strike Fighter jets.

But the French carrier's captain, Hugues du Plessis d'Argentré, confirmed that the 16-year-old vessel was not as efficient as she used to be, despite a three year refit.

He said "common sense" had forced him to temporarily abandon his latest mission to Afghanistan.

His ship's nuclear reactor would have to be given time to "cool down" before vital repairs were carried out, said Captain Du Plessis d'Argentré.

He added: "We're looking at between three, four, five weeks," suggesting that it might even be Christmas before the carrier could resume its mission.

The French Navy has, like Britain's, been subjected to savage cuts, with Captain Du Plessis d'Argentré admitting that the cost of the Charles de Gaulle's repairs would be well into eight figures.

British and French TV crews were originally meant to broadcast from the carrier on Tuesday, when David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy meet at Lancaster Gate for their first bilateral summit.

But on Saturday a French Navy spokesman admitted: "Unfortunately the Charles de Gaulle is no longer available for broadcasters. This is of course embarrassing, but repairs will soon be under way."

The countries are set to embark on an unprecedented level of co-operation over the use of aircraft carriers and other military hardware.

Confirming the sharing of carriers, France's defence minister Hervé Morin said: "The idea is an exchange of capacity and an interdependence. It's a new approach."

Critics have slammed the plans, however, suggesting that Britain should not be partly placing its defence capability in the hands of the French, who do not share the same record for military efficiency.

Policy splits could also threaten British defences. When Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac last launched an Anglo-French defence initiative in St Malo in 1998 it came unstuck when France refused to back the invasion of Iraq.

Britain's defence review cut the Royal Navy's surface fleet to just 19 ships, with Mr Cameron now resigned to sharing equipment with the French.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said earlier this week: "The UK and France are facing the realities of the tough financial climate and it is in our best interests to work together to deliver the capabilities that both our nations need. Closer co-operation is in both our countries' interests."


French 'calamity' carrier heads for sea - again
By Julian Coman in Paris 12:00AM GMT 11 Mar 2001

ONE of the most embarrassing sagas in French maritime history took a further twist last week when France's most accident-prone warship began the countdown to another attempt to take to the high seas.

In the Ministry of Defence and on the quayside at Toulon, where the 40,000-ton aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle had been dry-docked, sceptical observers crossed their fingers and prayed for a fair wind.

The idea of France's first nuclear-powered carrier was dreamt up in 1986. It soon became a pet project of the then president, Francois Mitterrand. The ship that was built has proved, however, to be a humiliating and expensive naval failure. Fifteen years and £7 billion later, it has still to complete its first successful tour of service and has suffered a series of mishaps.

An attempt to go to sea in November ended characteristically in disaster somewhere in the Bermuda triangle. A substantial part of a 19-ton propeller broke off, obliging the carrier to limp back to southern France.

Since then, naval engineers have worked round the clock for three months in preparation for the next bid for seaworthiness. Last Tuesday, the vessel moved into the bay of Toulon proper. Its 1,950 crew are hoping for an April sailing, although no one was celebrating prematurely.
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Frustration with the carrier has become palpable. Some of the more mutinous sailors of the Charles de Gaulle have taken to calling it "the damned ship [le bateau maudit]". The French minister of defence, Alain Richard, has promised to take whoever was responsible for the latest propeller debacle to court. He has even admitted that the Charles de Gaulle has become a subject of "ridicule".

It is not hard to understand why. The propeller incident was only one of a growing list of examples of mishap, misjudgment and mismanagement of the ship that was intended to be a symbol of French military prestige in the 21st century. "If you look back on the history of this ship," said one senior naval official, "it has just been a catalogue of errors."

Even the ship's name caused trouble. In 1986, President Mitterrand decided to call it the Richelieu, after the cardinal. In 1989, however, the Gaullist Jacques Chirac became prime minister. Mr Chirac believed that such a potent symbol of national pride should be named after the general who inspired his own political beliefs.

After a ferocious row, Mr Chirac prevailed. While the arguments raged, however, construction was falling further behind schedule. As economic recession began to bite in the 1990s, the project was starved of funding. On four occasions, work on the ship was suspended altogether. It was clear that the 1996 deadline for active service was wildly unrealistic.

Mr Chirac, then president of France, made a virtue out of necessity and decided that the Charles de Gaulle should become a millennium project, ready for service in 2000. After years of neglect, technical work and development began to be conducted at breakneck speed. By the late 1990s, the carrier was ready for its first proper sea tests, at which point things began to go even more awry.

The ship's flight decks, it became clear, were too short to accommodate the American Hawkeye radar aircraft that France had bought for the vessel. In addition, the decks had been painted with a substance that eroded the arrest wires used to slow the aircraft as they landed.

The ship's electronics circuits were malfunctioning, while its personnel, it emerged, were being exposed to unacceptable levels of radiation. The ship was simply not fit to sail. After many months of repairs, the Charles de Gaulle was relaunched last year on a cruise to Guadaloupe. Then the propeller problems began.

The firm that made the propellers, Atlantic Industries, went bankrupt in 1999. When the ship sails next month, it will borrow two propellers from older carriers. This time, the voyage must be a success. "If repeated mishaps don't finish a ship off, ridicule does," said Mr Richard. The French navy's communications officer in Toulon, Pierre Olivier is issuing similarly warnings. "Nothing must be left to chance for this trip," he said. "Everything must be in order this time."

Title: Re: Here is why Ka-daffy can wait us out
Post by: G M on March 21, 2011, 12:16:50 PM
NEW YORK – Oil prices climbed Monday as energy experts warned that Libya's oil exports could be off the world market longer than expected, and countries including the U.S. enforced a no-fly zone over Libya.

Traders also fretted about other uprisings in the Middle East and how much they could affect production from OPEC heavyweights, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Those two countries produce 12.4 million barrels of oil per day.

Benchmark West Texas crude for May delivery gained $1.24 to settle at $103.09 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The April contract, which ends Tuesday, rose $1.36 to $102.43 per barrel.

Prices climbed after another violent weekend in Libya. Moammar Gadhafi vowed a "long war" as allied forces smashed his air defenses. On Monday, a top French official said international intervention could last "a while."
Title: Coalition of the ailing
Post by: G M on March 21, 2011, 01:08:58 PM
Forces not providing air support for rebels-general

WASHINGTON, March 21 | Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:25pm EDT

WASHINGTON, March 21 (Reuters) - U.S. and coalition military forces enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya are there to protect civilians and not to provide close-air support for opposition forces fighting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the head of U.S. Africa Command said on Monday.

U.S. Army General Carter Ham said the military mission in Libya was "very clear" and he was not concerned that the objectives would grow and change in the coming days. He said he had no orders to directly attack the Libyan leader.
Title: A rounding error for Obamacare
Post by: G M on March 21, 2011, 05:12:30 PM
But still not cheap.

With U.N. coalition forces bombarding Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi from the sea and air, the United States’ part in the operation could ultimately hit several billion dollars -- and require the Pentagon to request emergency funding from Congress to pay for it.

The first day of Operation Odyssey Dawn had a price tag that was well over $100 million for the U.S. in missiles alone. And the U.S. military, which remains in the lead now in its third day, has pumped millions more into air- and sea-launched strikes targeting air-defense sites and ground-force positions along Libya’s coastline.

The ultimate total that the United States spends will hinge on the length and scope of the strikes as well as on the contributions of its coalition allies. But Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said on Monday that the U.S. costs could “easily pass the $1 billion mark on this operation, regardless of how well things go.”

The Pentagon has the money in its budget to cover unexpected contingencies and can also use fourth-quarter dollars to cover the costs of operations now. “They’re very used to doing this operation where they borrow from Peter to pay Paul,” said Gordon Adams, who served as the Office of Management and Budget’s associate director for national security during the Clinton administration.

However, there comes a point when there simply isn’t enough cash to pay for everything. The White House said on Monday it was not prepared to request emergency funding yet, but former Pentagon comptroller Dov Zakheim estimated that the Defense Department would need to send a request for supplemental funding to Capitol Hill if the U.S. military’s share of Libya operations expenses tops $1 billion.

"The operation in Libya is being funded with existing resources at this point. We are not planning to request a supplemental at this time," said Kenneth Baer, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget.

Such a request would likely be met with mixed reactions in a Congress focused on deficit reduction. And while many key lawmakers have been agitating for action in Libya, others have been more reluctant and have urged the Obama administration to send them a declaration of war.
Title: Ceasefire Is Victory for Gaddafi
Post by: G M on March 21, 2011, 08:08:43 PM

Ceasefire Is Victory for Gaddafi

Limiting our objective to a ceasefire allows a deranged Gaddafi to remain, does not protect the rebels, and requires a lengthy military obligation.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: ccp on March 22, 2011, 08:48:05 AM
Maybe we should forget "doctrines".  Every situation is unique and to tie us down with doctrines doesn't really make sense.
Maybe we simply do what is best for the US period in each given situation.

I am of the opinion we should either go arrest the Colonel for war crimes (using new evidence he ordered Lockerbie), or simply assasinate him.

To go about these military/political rituals for this ONE guy is nuts.

That said I don't see how he can survive long unless we let him.  And letting him do that for political reasons just doesn't seem worth it.  Either kill the guy or attempt to arrest him.  IF necessary to appease the libs arrest the guy and have the mock war crimes trial drag on for years while the ACLU gives him all the lawyers he needs and go through the silly spectacle of giving him them the motions of a justice system and then hang him anyway.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on March 22, 2011, 08:53:47 AM
Well, arresting him would probably be as easy as the arrest of Saddam was.

Killing him is a better option, especially given that he's pinned down in Tripoli. Oh wait, he isn't anymore, is he?

I guess we missed our chance.

So, who of the "Coalition of the Ailing" drops out first?
Title: From NFZ to "regime change"
Post by: G M on March 22, 2011, 11:24:28 AM

The White House suggested Tuesday the mission in Libya is one of regime change, despite emphatic statements from President Obama and military brass that the goal is not to remove Moammar Gadhafi from power.

According to a White House readout of a Monday night call between Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two leaders "underscored their shared commitment to the goal of helping provide the Libyan people an opportunity to transform their country, by installing a democratic system that respects the people’s will."

The term "installing" suggests the goal of regime change.

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for clarification.
Title: Re: From NFZ to "regime change"
Post by: G M on March 22, 2011, 11:53:18 AM
Well, this should be quick, cheap and bloodless.

Anyone seen the “Mission Accomplished” banner? Barry wants it for a photo op.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: DougMacG on March 22, 2011, 12:01:58 PM
"Maybe we should forget "doctrines".Every situation is unique..."- CCP

My doctrine is full of caveats.  In Iraq, I would say that if your neighbor's house is on fire, and you are standing there with a fire hose, then it might make sense to help out.  That assumes that by neighbor they share some form of positive humanity, by fire hose that means something that helps put out the fire, not makes the fire worse etc.  It doesn't mean that when you are done you also build them a new house.

I agree with the Lockerbie charge if we have evidence / access to witnesses.  Murder in our law does not have a statute of limitations.  This also was terror so he can sit for trial in Obama's Guantanamo if captured.

OTOH, the 'Rebels' stronghold is also the area of largest per capita recruitment for al Qaida to Iraq:   "A 2007 US Military Academy study of information on al-Qaida forces in Iraq indicate that by far, Eastern Libya made the largest per capita contribution to al-Qaida forces in Iraq.

Like Saddam in hiding and what GM wrote about catching him, if we were going to go in by executive order without consultation or declaration from congress, then we could have done that on Feb.23 when the resigned governor of Alaska suggested it, better yet before the uprising with an element of surprise, instead of with advance notice and 3 1/2 weeks to hide.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on March 22, 2011, 12:31:08 PM
So, how soon do we go hat-in-hand to China for more money, so we can continue our military campaign in Libya, which is costing China money because of increased oil prices?
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: JDN on March 22, 2011, 02:31:32 PM
And I thought we were only fighting for democracy and freedom....  And doing what's right...     :-o

Frankly, I just wish we would stay out of the entire mess...

By Dr. Kristin Diwan – Special to CNN
The international community is intervening to stop killing in Libya. But it is standing by as the Bahraini government - aided by the Saudis and broader Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) - suppresses its own people with brutal force.
Bahraini opposition groups have petitioned the United Nations to intervene on their behalf.  U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his "deepest concern" at the use of "excessive and indiscriminate force ... against unarmed civilians.” Yet there are no plans for U.N.-sponsored action.
Why isn’t the world acting in Bahrain as it did in Libya?
The reasons are political.
Moammar Gadhafi alienated almost everyone in the region and had few international friends. In contrast, Bahrain’s ruling Al-Khalifa family has earned strong support in neighboring Gulf states, along with goodwill from the United States, which has its Fifth Fleet stationed in the country.
In addition, Bahrain's uprising, while cross-sectarian, would empower the Shia majority. Shia empowerment through democratization - which occurred in neighboring Iraq – is feared by the Sunni minority in Bahrain, even by some who would welcome political reforms to make the ruling family more accountable to its populace. Shia empowerment is certainly feared by Saudi Arabia, which is intervening to ensure Bahrain does not fall under Iranian influence.
The U.S. encourages Bahraini’s democratic aspirations and worries that if Bahrain brutally puts down the protests, the demonstrators would turn to Iran for support. The U.S. does not want to see revolution, but rather reform. Among other things, revolution in this region would disrupt oil supplies.
Meanwhile, the countries of the Gulf are eager to suppress the uprising in Bahrain. They would not provide cover for international intervention, as it did by voting for a no-fly zone in the Arab League.
This is because while the Libyan uprising earned sympathy from neighboring Egypt and Tunisia, Bahrain's uprising is feared by its neighbors. Any overthrow of a monarch - or even reform to a genuine constitutional monarchy - would be sure to increase democratic pressure among neighboring monarchs.
A final reason why the United States and the broader international community have been reluctant to even confront Bahrain and the Saudi troops is because the U.S. needs as much GCC support in Libya as possible.
Title: It gets even better
Post by: G M on March 22, 2011, 03:25:05 PM

France proposes “political steering committee” to take over Libya mission

Title: And even better....
Post by: G M on March 22, 2011, 05:18:44 PM
Who's in charge? Germans pull forces out of NATO as Libyan coalition falls apart

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:42 PM on 22nd March 2011

    * Tensions with Britain as Gates rebukes UK government over suggestion Gaddafi could be assassinated
    * French propose a new political 'committee' to oversee operations
    * Germany pulls equipment out of NATO coalition over disagreement over campaign's direction
    * Italians accuse French of backing NATO in exchange for oil contracts
    * No-fly zone called into question after first wave of strikes 'neutralises' Libyan military machine
    * U.K. ministers say war could last '30 years'
    * Italy to 'take back control' of bases used by allies unless NATO leadership put in charge of the mission
    * Russians tell U.S. to stop bombing in order to protect civilians - calls bombing a 'crusade'

Deep divisions between allied forces currently bombing Libya worsened today as the German military announced it was pulling forces out of NATO over continued disagreement on who will lead the campaign.

A German military spokesman said it was recalling two frigates and AWACS surveillance plane crews from the Mediterranean, after fears they would be drawn into the conflict if NATO takes over control from the U.S.

The infighting comes as a heated meeting of NATO ambassadors yesterday failed to resolve whether the 28-nation alliance should run the operation to enforce a U.N.-mandated no-fly zone, diplomats said.

Yesterday a war of words erupted between the U.S. and Britain after the U.K. government claimed Muammar Gaddafi is a legitimate target for assassination.

U.K. government officials said killing the Libyan leader would be legal if it prevented civilian deaths as laid out in a U.N. resolution.

But U.S. defence secretary Robert Gates hit back at the suggestion, saying it would be 'unwise' to target the Libyan leader adding cryptically that the bombing campaign should stick to the 'U.N. mandate'.

Read more:
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 22, 2011, 06:13:07 PM
Our Community Organizer in Chief organizes the International Community.

What could go wrong?
Title: White House reassures congressional aides: Er, we’re not at war with Libya
Post by: G M on March 22, 2011, 06:27:15 PM

It's not War-War.
Title: France also says it's not war
Post by: G M on March 22, 2011, 06:34:24 PM

'We are not at war...,’ Fillon says
Title: We have an exit strategy!
Post by: G M on March 23, 2011, 09:24:21 AM

Obama exit strategy: sticking around

 posted at 12:15 pm on March 23, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama tried to convince Univision last night that the US has an exit strategy from the Libya conflict, and that strategy is to, er, stick around and fight.  Jake Tapper calls it a Lewis Carroll moment, while others might consider it more Orwellian:
In an interview with Univision Tuesday, President Obama re-defined the term “exit strategy,” and said our exit strategy in Libya would begin this week.
“The exit strategy will be executed this week,” President Obama said, “in the sense that we will be pulling back from our much more active efforts to shape the environment. We will still be in a support role. We will be supplying jamming, intelligence and other assets unique to us.”
Planes in the air? Ships in the Mediterranean? Intelligence being provided? Doesn’t sound like an exit strategy at all.
What it does recall is Lewis Carroll.
“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
Tapper goes on to heap more scorn on Obama’s sudden embrace of the non-exit exit strategy, so be sure to read it all.  And he’s right to do so: an exit strategy is just that: a strategy towards an exit.  What Obama is attempting to sell is a handoff of responsibility for military leadership to someone else, anyone else.
It’s not the only point of confusion about Obama’s aims, either.  Even before this conflict, people expressed puzzlement over what an Obama Doctrine that would explain his foreign policy would comprise.  That ambiguity, sold as “nuance” before the Libya attack, now looks more like a chaotic muddle:
But on Libya, Obama’s opacity is coming back to haunt him, as critics from both parties press him on his rationale for taking action and for a more specific articulation of his vision for American goals and aspirations in the Mideast and elsewhere.
Politico’s Glenn Thrush spins this heavily towards nuance, but calling an ambiguous plan for long-term involvement an “exit strategy” reveals that this President has no idea what he wants or how to get it.  Instead of having some semblance of a foreign policy plan, Obama and his team are playing it by ear — an obvious conclusion based on the no-we-won’t-oh-wait-yes-we-will vacillation on Libya that put American forces in position to start a mission whose window for success had already closed.
Update: Jazz Shaw writes today about the blatant hypocrisy at the heart of the UN “R2P” doctrine on which Obama relied.

Title: Symposium: The Mismanaged War Against Libya
Post by: G M on March 23, 2011, 10:43:32 AM
- FrontPage Magazine - -

Symposium: The Mismanaged War Against Libya

Posted By Jamie Glazov On March 23, 2011 @ 12:40 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 4 Comments

In this special edition of Frontpage Symposium, we have gathered a distinguished panel to explore what American — and Western — interests are served by the coalition’s war against Libya. Our guests today are:

Michael Ledeen, a noted political analyst and a Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He is the author of The Iranian Time Bomb, Machiavelli on Modern Leadership and Tocqueville on American Character, and he is a contributor to The Wall Street Journal. His latest book is Accomplice to Evil: Iran and the War Against the West.

Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest official ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc. His first book, Red Horizons, was republished in 27 languages. In April 2010, Pacepa’s latest book, Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination, was prominently displayed at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians held in Washington D.C., as a “superb new paradigmatic work” and a “must read” for “everyone interested in the assassination of President Kennedy.”

Dr. Walid Phares, an expert on the Middle East who teaches Global Strategies in Washington DC. His most recent book is The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East.


Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad, Stealth Jihad and The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran.

FP: Walid Phares, Mihai Pacepa, Michael Ledeen and Robert Spencer, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Robert Spencer, let us begin with you. What is your position on the coalition campaign, with U.S. involvement, against Gaddafi?

Spencer: As the U.S. fired over one hundred Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya Saturday, the objective seems clear. Barack Obama declared that “we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy.” He explained: “Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world.” But he didn’t explain how acting forcibly to remove Muammar Gaddafi would indeed be in America’s interests. And that is a case that is not as easily made as it might appear to be.

How could removing Gaddafi not be in America’s interests? It is unlikely that he will be succeeded by Thomas Jefferson. The fact that Gaddafi is a reprehensible human being and no friend of the U.S. does not automatically turn his opponents into Thomas Paine.

Obama has affirmed his support for “the universal rights of the Libyan people,” including “the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny,” but he has never specified who in Libya is working to uphold and defend those rights. He has praised “the peaceful transition to democracy” that he says is taking place across the Middle East, and yet the countries where uprisings have taken place have no democratic traditions or significant forces calling for the establishment of a secular, Western-style republics.

Eastern Libya, where the anti-Gaddafi forces are based, is a hotbed of anti-Americanism and jihadist sentiment. A report by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center reveals that over the last few years, more jihadists per capita entered Iraq from Libya than from any other Muslim country – and most of them came from the region that is now spearheading the revolt against Gaddafi.

That may explain why Libyan protesters have defaced Gaddafi’s picture with the Star of David, the hated symbol of the Jews, whom the Koran designates as the “strongest in enmity” toward the Muslims. There has been a notable absence among the protesters of anything equivalent to “Don’t Tread On Me” flags or other signs that what the uprising is really all about is establishing the ballot box and the give-and-take of open-society politics. The Libyan protesters have chanted not “Give me liberty or give me death!,” but “No god but Allah!”

Abu Yahia al-Libi, a Libyan who heads up al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, has warmly praised the uprising in his homeland, calling on Libyans to murder the tyrant and crowing: “Now it is the turn of Gaddafi after he made the people of Libya suffer for more than 40 years.” He said that removing Gaddafi as well as other Middle Eastern autocrats was “a step to reach the goal of every Muslim, which is to make the word of Allah the highest” – that is, to establish a state ruled by Islamic law.

And America’s Tomahawk cruise missiles will have helped bring about such a state in Libya.

Pacepa: I fully agree with Robert Spencer.

There are few people on earth who want to see Gaddafi removed from power more than I do. I could write a book about my reasons, and maybe someday I will. Here I will just say that, after I was granted political asylum by President Carter (1978), Gaddafi set a $2 million bounty on my head because I had revealed his secret efforts to arm international terrorists with bacteriological and other weapons of mass destruction. But my personal animus against Gaddafi is my own policy, and it should not have anything to do with the policy of the U.S. Nor should the personal hatred for Gaddafi on the part of other Americans, such as those whose relatives he killed at the La Belle nightclub in West Berlin (1986), in the Pan Am Flight 103 at Lockerbie (1988) or elsewhere, be raised to the level of U.S. foreign policy.

The U.S., policy toward Libya—and any other country—should defend and promote only the interests of the United States. Unfortunately, the current events taking place in Libya show that our administration does not have any coherent foreign policy toward that country, and that U.S. foreign policy simply blows with the prevailing wind.

The name of the wind propelling the current U.S. policy toward Libya is Sarkozy. The president of France has no real policy toward Libya either, and he is also blowing with the wind—the wind of the 2012 presidential elections, where he is seriously threatened by the socialist Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Rattling sabers has always helped French politicians in the short run–in spite of the fact that France has lost every war it ever started.

Just three years ago, President Sarkozy welcomed Gaddafi and his 400-person entourage on a five-day royal visit to Paris, allowing him to set up his Bedouin tent near the Elysée Palace. “Gaddafi is not perceived as a dictator in the Arab world,” Sarkozy explained at the time, adding as further justification: “He is the longest-serving head of state in the region.” Now this justification is Sarkozy’s reason to go to war against Gaddafi. “France has decided to play its part in history,” Sarkozy gravely announced from the steps of the Elysée Palace just before starting the war against Libya. “The Libyan people need our aid and support.”[ii] But he, and the rest of the Western World, still do not really know who those people are that he decided to protect.

All we know for certain about the “freedom fighters” opposing Gaddafi is that they fight with Kalashnikov in hand, and that Kalashnikovs have no history of promoting freedom. A recent article published in the prestigious Le Monde goes a step further, revealing that these “brave Libyan freedom fighters” are dominated by jihadists espousing the same complaints of “Westoxification,” accompanied by the Jew-hatred and broader infidel-hatred that permeates the Arab world.[iii]

President Obama has also praised Gaddafi in the past. According to press reports, last year, around the time Gaddafi called Obama “our son,” the U.S. president earmarked $400,000 for two of Gaddafi’s charities. The money was divided between the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, run by Gaddafi’s son Saif, and the Wa Attasimou, run by Gaddafi’s daughter Aicha.[iv]

Now President Obama is also facing elections, also in 2012, and he is having at least as much difficulty with the electorate as Sarkozi has. A new war would certainly help. Americans are patriots, and their support for our troops might occasion them to move to the back burner their discontent with Obamacare and with this administration’s disastrous spending habits.

The U.S. has made it abundantly clear to Gaddafi that he had better not try any more dirty tricks against us. He got the message and has so far been quiet toward us. There are plenty of evil dictators in the world who kill their own people, and whom we do not attack. The United States is not the police country of the world.

War is a matter of life and death. It should be never used as a way to win elections.



Ledeen: A week ago I wrote a little blog wondering what Obama might do to prevent everyone from concluding he’s a wimp. I confessed that this thought worried me quite a bit, as it had in the 1970s when Carter’s name became inseparably tied to “wimp.”  Every author falls in love with his own words, but I hope to be forgiven for saying that I was right to worry.

I quite agree with both Robert Spencer and General Pacepa, both of whom remind us of my grandmother’s famous bit of folk wisdom, “things are never so bad that they can’t get worse.”  Indeed, both of them raise the truly paradoxical and terrible possibility that we may “win” in Libya, only to find that we have made things worse: worse for American interests, worse for the Libyan people, worse for the whole region, which hardly needs to get even worse.

But that’s not my major concern.  What gets my juices flowing is the ongoing failure to see the Middle Eastern cauldron in full context, and that we are bringing American power to bear on Qadaffi, but not on the tyrants in Tehran.  As almost everyone with a keyboard has said, we don’t have a major national interest at stake in Libya, but Iran is our main enemy, and is killing Americans every day.  So if you want to act decisively in the Middle East, you should be working for regime change in Iran; Libya is a sideshow.

So it’s the wrong war in the wrong place.

That said, I have a lot of sympathy for the view (often attributed to Samantha Power, Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton) that America should support citizens fighting for freedom against tyrants.  But that does not mean a suspension of strategic judgment, and a failure to recognize which of those fights is most important.

Bits and pieces:  I never liked the no-fly-zone idea, and in fact several weeks ago I said about Libya what I had said years before about Darfur:  bomb the airforce, destroy the planes of the regime.  That takes a few minutes.  Then, if you decide you want to support the rebels, or some of them, go ahead.  At least you’ve given them a respite from the slaughter.

More:  It’s not all bad, you know.  This gives hope to the “rebels” we should be supporting–the ones in Syria and Iran.  Maybe one of the three Administration Valkyries will call for political support for the dissidents in those two unhappy lands.  Obama’s video to the Iranians marks a significant change in rhetoric, he’s abandoned all that sweet talk about “outstretched hands” and told the young Iranians on the streets that “I’m with you.”  I don’t quite believe it, but he may now find it much more difficult to appease Tehran.  Time will tell.

As you see, I keep coming back to the big context, because that’s the one that really matters.  We’re in a big war, the Libya thing is a skirmish.

Phares: We all agree that Colonel Gaddafi is a dictator, that he supported terrorism against the U.S. and France, was responsible for the tragedy of PanAm 103, that he funded, armed and trained radicals in many African countries such as in Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Haute Volta, and in a few Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon. We all are aware that his regime oppressed his people and tortured and jailed his opponents for four decades. I observed Gaddafi ruling Libya unchecked during and after the Cold War before and after 9/11 and he was received by liberal democracies as a respectable leader.

My first question is: Why has the West been silent so long and why is it so late in taking action against this dictator? Of course it had to do with oil. Western elites were morally and politically encouraging him by buying his oil and empowering him with endless cash as Libyan dissidents were dying in jails.

Now, as missiles are crushing Gaddafi’s air defense systems and tanks, Western governments should be invited for serious self-criticism for having enabled this regime to last that long. Squeezing or even defeating Gaddafi should prompt a comprehensive review of past decades of Western policies towards this regime and its abuses of human rights. The military operation should not end with the departure of Gaddafi from power. It must open the door for an examination of US and European policies that have aligned themselves with Petrodollars interests for over half a century. Such self-criticism was supposed to start with the removal of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, but unfortunately, it hasn’t taken place yet, precisely because of the mega-influence inside the West and the United States by powerful lobbies representing the interests of OPEC, the Arab League and the OIC.

Besides, questions should be raised about the Arab League and OIC endorsement of an action against Gaddafi’s regime. Where were they for decades, when the Libyan dictator used to seize the microphone on their platforms and blast the very democracies they implored to act against him? These organizations catered to the interest of regimes they now are calling for sanctions against. Mr. Amr Moussa, the current secretary general of the Arab League, rises against Gaddafi after having supported him for years, while the latter was oppressing his own people.

In my book, The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East, I call all these regimes and organizations a “brotherhood against democracy.” They have supported each other against democratic movements and minorities everywhere in the region. From Sudan to Lebanon, from Iraq to Libya, the regional organizations were at the service of these regimes, not of the people. As these revolts are ongoing, these inter-regimes’ organizations must be criticized and eventually reformed. Last year, the Arab League and OIC were endorsing Libya’s role in the UN Council on Human Rights. Egypt, Tunisia and Libya’s representatives at the Geneva UN body were shutting up the voices of Libyan dissidents just a few months ago. Now that the uprisings have crumbled the regimes in Cairo and Tunisia, and Tripoli’s ruler is cornered, the negative impact these inter-regime organizations have on dissidents and human rights on international levels must be exposed and their future representation comprehensively reformed.

I do agree with Mr. Spencer that many jihadists have been recruited from Libya, and particularly from its eastern provinces. I also agree with General Pacepa that Western policies towards Gaddafi’s regime were incoherent. And I certainly agree with Dr. Ledeen that US policy should support true democratic forces and uprisings in the region from Iran to the Arab world.

In short I would have advised for a different set of US global strategies in the Middle East. We should have backed the Iranian Green Revolution in 2009, the Cedars Revolution as it struggles against Hezbollah, and Darfur in its liberation drive against the Jihadist regime in Khartoum. In Egypt, we should have clearly sided with the secular youth and Copts, as they asked for a new constitution. In Iraq, we should have been clear in supporting reformist and secular forces.

As far as Libya is concerned, removing Gaddafi is not the question. That should have been done years ago on the grounds of abuse of human rights. The question is who will come next? Clearly, the agenda of the Benghazi leadership is not clear. We know there is a layer of former bureaucrats, diplomats, intellectuals and military dissidents with whom partnership is possible and should be encouraged. But there is another layer below the surface which is made of Islamists, Salafists and in some cases Jihadists.

From a simple observation of the latter’s narrative on al Jazeera, one major component of the opposition is an Islamist force aiming at taking over in Tripoli. Hence, Washington must partner with the secular-democrats and warn that it won’t endorse replacing Gaddafi’s Jamahiriyya with a Jihadi emirate. Why aren’t the most liberal Libyan dissidents received in Washington and made visible? As Mr. Spencer said, the US and NATO military has been tasked to open the highways to Tripoli for the opposition, but we need to insure that on that highway we won’t see the democracy groups eliminated by the next authoritarians.

FP: Walid Phares, Mihai Pacepa, Michael Ledeen and Robert Spencer, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.


Joseph A. Harris, “Sarko’s War,” The American Spectator, March 21, 2011.

[ii] Idem.

[iii] Andrew G. Bostom, “Let Muslim Anti-Terrosit States Police Libya,” Human Events, March 21, 2011.

[iv] “Obama Gave $400,000 To Libyan Charities Run By Gaddafi’s Children,”, February 24, 2011.


Article printed from FrontPage Magazine:

URL to article:

Title: Gates: No exit
Post by: G M on March 23, 2011, 11:41:07 AM

Gates: No timeline for end of Libyan mission
 posted at 2:15 pm on March 23, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama has repeatedly insisted that the American role in the Libyan war will only last “days, not weeks,” although he has also said that US forces will remain engaged, and that the purpose of the operation is to “install a democratic system” while somehow not aiming at the removal of the dictator at the top.  Got all that?  Neither has Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who now insists that the Obama administration has “no timeline” for the end of operations in Libya, and he’s not sure how it will all end, either:
Title: WSJ: The Stability Dilema
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 24, 2011, 05:34:37 AM
'Stability" was the watchword of virtually all Middle East policy as far back as anyone can remember. Whether for purposes of avoiding war with Israel, protecting a primary source of world energy, or securing intelligence-sharing relationships to fight al Qaeda, stability had its reasons in the Middle East.

That model of stability ended its long run with the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor in December. It's not coming back.

The future holds three alternative models of stability: The first is Gadhafism, the stability of the fist; the second is the enforcements of Islam; and the last—and most desirable—is economic modernity.

Some in the anti-Gadhafi coalition from Europe and the U.S seem willing to accept an endgame in which Gadhafi retains power. Unrestrained Gadhafism will follow: The stability that the psychopathic colonel imposes after the coalition goes home will make previous repressions look like kindergarten exercises.

This may be an acceptable price to some realists in the Pentagon and Europe and to reluctant soldiers in the White House. The problem is that variants of Gadhafist stability, without the evil clown, are likely to be the new norm among the Middle East's surviving autocrats. This degree of repression is already standard in Iran, which hangs opponents with metronomic regularity.

This week, protests of almost unbelievable pluck and courage emerged in Syria of all places. But the Assad family, back to the Hama massacre of 1982, has a dishonorable tradition of stability through murder and imprisonment. With Saudi assistance, Bahrain's opposition is getting hammered hard.

One might even argue that Mubarak blinked. If Mubarak had known how tough it would be for the West to oppose Gadhafi's bombing of his own people, he might have loosed his army on the Cairo protesters and survived, once past a spate of pro-forma international denunciation. Yemen's President Saleh won't blink.

If Gadhafism survives and spreads, with the West's assent, its tens of millions of victims will have a more rational reason than "oil" to blame the West for their condition. They may go looking for targets.

Pre-modern Islam is eager to impose another form of stability. The snap referendum on constitutional amendments in Egypt showed that the Muslim Brotherhood is building a modus vivendi with the military. Egypt's brass are uncomfortable with the youth movement, whose complaints are mostly economic and thereby a threat to the military's cash flow from crony capitalism.

Associated Press
Moammar Gadhafi
.Some say that the Islamic nations of southeast Asia or even Turkey prove Middle Eastern Islam can co-exist with the world economy. But there is scant evidence. Read the translated sermons of the Brotherhood's current chairman, Mohammed Badie (at for a sense of his millennial obsessions.

Gadhafism or ascendant Islam make it likely that the U.S. military will have to return to the region on a large scale—either after another massively homicidal terrorist attack on a Western urban center or a bad miscalculation over Israel. Or when the next street vendor reignites the region.

For reasons of self-protection and self-respect, we need an alternative to the fake stability of Gadhafism or militant Islam. Why not economic modernity?

The protests in these nations are political and economic, but I think they are mostly economic. In a column last month, "Is Egypt Hopeless?" I argued that the autocrats' decades-old model of using public-sector jobs to placate their populations' economic aspirations was falling apart. More recently for National Review, Daniel Doron wrote a more complete summary (which our Pentagon brass should read) of how these nations have stumbled through Cold War socialism, nationalizations, the corruption of their elites, and the destruction of their middle classes to arrive at this year's multi-nation eruption of refusal.

The latest nerve-wracking basket-case is Yemen. Its unemployment rate the past 10 years has been about 35%. For Yemenis under 26, the current rate is 53%. Yemen produces about 300,000 mostly unemployable college graduates annually. No wonder the American-born Anwar al- Awlaki headed to Yemen to recruit.

The outside world has a self-interest in pushing the Middle East's economies toward the 21st century. Without economic upgrades, the underemployment bomb will tick and re-explode—there or here.

Rebuilding from economic failure isn't easy, but it isn't rocket science. One good, achievable idea suggested recently has been a free trade agreement between Egypt and the U.S. and Europe. But if the Obama team won't complete a free trade deal with Colombia, a friend and ally, then Egypt and the rest really are hopeless. Barack Obama's union base is looking like a national security issue.

Many people in U.S. public life don't want to get involved with this Middle East tangle. Alas, the gods do not ordain a timeline for crises. These insurrections—now spread across 11 separate nations—are a big, historic moment, similar in some ways to what happened around Eastern Europe before the Berlin Wall fell. The U.S. didn't blow that one. What's needed now is an equivalent level of leadership and strategic thinking to ensure we don't fall on the wrong side of this one.

Write to

Title: From Statfor, Pt. 1
Post by: G M on March 24, 2011, 12:39:39 PM
Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a four-part series
publishing in the next few days that will examine the motives and mindset
behind current European intervention in Libya. We begin with an overview and
will follow with an examination of the positions put forth by the United
Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and Russia.

Distinct interests sparked the European involvement in Libya. The United
Kingdom and France have issued vociferous calls for intervention in Libya
for the past month, ultimately managing to convince the rest of Europe —
with some notable exceptions — to join in military action, the Arab League
to offer its initial support, and global powers China and Russia to abstain
from voting at the U.N. Security Council.

U.S. President Barack Obama said March 21 that the leadership of the
U.S.-European coalition against Libya would be transitioned to the European
allies “in a matter of days.” While the United States would retain the lead
during Operation Odyssey Dawn — intended to incapacitate Tripoli’s command
and control, stationary air defenses and airfields — Obama explained that
Odyssey Dawn would create the “conditions for our European allies and Arab
partners to carry out the measures authorized by the U.N. Security Council
resolution.” While Obama pointed out that the U.S.-European intervention in
Libya is very much Europe’s war, French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier
Charles de Gaulle (R91) and Italian aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi
(551) arrived in waters near Libya, giving Europeans a valuable asset from
which to increase European air sortie generation rates and time on station.

Before analyzing the disparate interests of European nations in Libya, one
must first take stock of this coalition in terms of its stated military and
political goals.

The Military Response to the ‘Arab Spring’

The intervention in Libya thus far has been restricted to the enforcement of
a no-fly zone and to limited attacks against ground troops loyal to Libyan
leader Moammar Gadhafi in the open. However, the often-understated but
implied political goal seems to be the end of the Gadhafi regime. (Some
French and British leaders certainly have not shied from stressing that

Europeans are not united in their perceptions of the operation’s goals — or
on how to wage the operation. The one thing the Europeans share is a seeming
lack of an exit strategy from a struggle originally marketed as a no-fly
zone akin to that imposed on Iraq in 1997 to a struggle that is actually
being waged as an airstrike campaign along the lines of the 1999 campaign
against Serbia, with the goal of regime change mirroring that of the 2001
Afghan and 2003 Iraq campaigns.

Underlying Europeans’ willingness to pursue military action in Libya are two
perceptions. The first is that Europeans did not adequately support the
initial pro-democratic protests across the Arab world, a charge frequently
coupled with accusations that many European governments failed to respond
because they actively supported the regimes being challenged. The second
perception is that the Arab world is in fact seeing a groundswell of
pro-democratic sentiment.

The first charge particularly applies to France — the country now most
committed to the Libyan intervention — where Former French Foreign Minister
Michele Alliot-Marie vacationed in Tunisia a few weeks before the
revolution, using the private jet owned by a businessman close to the
regime, and offered then-Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali the
services of French security forces to suppress the rebellion. Though an
extreme example, the French case highlights the close business, energy and
often personal relationships Europeans had with Middle Eastern leaders.

(click here to enlarge image)

In fact, EU states have sold Gadhafi 1.1 billion euros ($1.56 billion) worth
of arms between 2004, when they lifted their arms embargo, and 2011, and
were looking forward to much more in the future. Paris and Rome, which had
lobbied hardest for an end to the embargo, were particularly active in this
trade. As recently as 2010, France was in talks with Libya for the sale of
14 Dassault Mirage fighter jets and the modernization of some of Tripoli’s
aircraft. Rome, on the other hand, was in the middle of negotiating a
further 1 billion euros worth of deals prior to the unrest. British media
meanwhile had charged the previous British government with kowtowing to
Gadhafi by releasing Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan held for the Pan
Am Flight 103 bombing. According to widespread reports, the United Kingdom’s
Labour government released al-Megrahi so that British energy supermajor BP
would receive favorable energy concessions in Libya.

The second perception is the now-established narrative in the West that the
ongoing protests in the Middle East are truly an outburst of pro-democratic
sentiment in the Western sense. From this, there arises a public perception
in Europe that Arab regimes must be put on notice that severe crackdowns
will not be tolerated since the protests are the beginning of a new era of
democracy in the region.

(click here to enlarge image)

These two perceptions have created a context under which Gadhafi’s crackdown
against protesters is simply unacceptable to Paris and London and
unacceptable to domestic public opinion in Europe. Not only would tolerating
Tripoli’s crackdown confirm European leaderships’ multi-decade
fraternization with unsavory Arab regimes, but the eastern Libyan rebels’
fight against Gadhafi has been grafted on to the narrative of Arab
pro-democracy movements seeking to overthrow brutal regimes — even though it
is unclear who the eastern rebels are or what their intentions are for a
post-Gadhafi Libya.

The Coalition

According to U.N. Security Council resolution 1973, the military objective
of the intervention is to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya and to protect
civilians from harm across all of Libya. The problem is that the first goal
in no way achieves the second. A no-fly zone does little to stop Gadhafi’s
troops on the ground. In the first salvo of the campaign — even before
suppression of enemy air defenses operations — French aircraft attacked
Libyan ground troops around Benghazi. The attack — which was not coordinated
with the rest of the coalition, according to some reports — was meant to
signal two things: that the French were in the lead and that the
intervention would seek to protect civilians in a broader mandate than just
establishing a no-fly zone.

(click here to enlarge image)

Going beyond the enforcement of the no-fly zone, however, has created rifts
in Europe, with both NATO and the European Union failing to back the
intervention politically. Germany, which broke with its European allies and
voted to abstain from resolution 1973, has argued that mission creep could
force the coalition to get involved in a drawn-out war. Central and Eastern
Europeans, led by Poland, have been cautious in providing support because it
yet again draws NATO further from its core mission of European territorial
defense and the theater they are mostly concerned about: the Russian sphere
of influence. Meanwhile, the Arab League, which initially offered its
support for a no-fly zone, seemed to renege as it became clear that Libya in
2011 was far more like Serbia 1999 than Iraq in 1997 — airstrikes against
ground troops and installations, not just a no-fly zone. Italy, a critical
country because of its air bases close to the Libyan theater, has even
suggested that if some consensus is not found regarding NATO’s involvement
it would withdraw its offer of air bases so that “someone else’s action did
not rebound on us,” according Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. In
reality, Rome is concerned that the Franco-British alliance is going to
either reduce Italy’s interests in a post-Ghadafi Libya or fail to finish
the operation, leaving Italy to deal with chaos a few hundred miles across
the Mediterranean.

Title: Stratfor, Pt. 2
Post by: G M on March 24, 2011, 12:41:00 PM
Ultimately, enforcing a humanitarian mandate across the whole of Libya via
air power alone will be impossible. It is unclear how Gadhafi would be
dislodged from power from 15,000 feet in the sky. And while Europeans have
largely toed the line in the last couple of days that regime change is not
the explicit goal of the intervention, French and British leaders continue
to caveat that “there is no decent future for Libya with Gadhafi in power,”
as British Prime Minister David Cameron stated March 21, virtually mirroring
a statement by Obama. But wishing Gadhafi gone will not make it so.

Endgame Scenarios

With the precise mission of the intervention unclear and exact command and
control structures yet to be decided (though the intervention itself is
already begun, a summit in London on March 29 will supposedly hash out the
details) it is no surprise that Europeans seem to lack a consensus as to
what the exit strategies are. Ultimately some sort of NATO command structure
will be enacted, even if it is possible that NATO never gives its political
consent to the intervention and is merely “subcontracted” by the coalition
to make coordination between different air forces possible.

U.S. military officials, on the other hand, have signaled that a divided
Libya between the Gadhafi-controlled west and the rebel-controlled east is
palatable if attacks against civilians stop. Resolution 1973 certainly does
not preclude such an end to the intervention. But politically, it is unclear
if either the United States or Europe could accept that scenario. Aside from
the normative issues the European public may have with a resolution that
leaves a now-thoroughly vilified Gadhafi in power, European governments
would have to wonder whether Gadhafi would be content ruling Tripolitania, a
pared-down version of Libya, given that the bulk of the country’s oil fields
and export facilities are located in the east.

Gadhafi could seek non-European allies for arms and support and/or plot a
reconquest of the east. Either way, such a scenario could necessitate a
drawn-out enforcement of the no-fly zone over Libya — testing already
war-weary European publics’ patience, not to mention government pocketbooks.
It would also require continuous maritime patrols to prevent Gadhafi from
unleashing migrants en masse, a possibility that is of great concern for
Rome. Now that Europe has launched a war against Gadhafi, it has raised the
costs of allowing a Gadhafi regime to remain lodged in North Africa. That
the costs are not the same for all participating European countries —
especially for Italy, which has the most to lose if Gadhafi retains power —
is the biggest problem for creating European unity.

The problem, however, is that an alternative endgame scenario where Gadhafi
is removed would necessitate a commitment of ground troops. It is unclear
that the eastern rebels could play the role of the Afghan Northern Alliance,
whose forces had considerable combat experience such that only modest
special operations forces and air support were needed to dislodge the
Taliban (or, rather, force them to retreat) in late 2001 through early 2002.
Thus, Europe would have to provide the troops — highly unlikely, unless
Gadhafi becomes thoroughly suicidal and unleashes asymmetrical terrorist
attacks against Europe — or enlist the support of an Arab state, such as
Egypt, to conduct ground operations in its stead. The latter scenario seems
far-fetched as well, in part because Libyans historically have as much
animosity toward Egyptians as they do toward Europeans.

What ultimately will transpire in Libya probably lies somewhere in between
the extreme scenarios. A temporary truce is likely once Gadhafi has been
sufficiently neutralized from the air, giving the West and Egypt sufficient
time to arm, train and support the rebels for their long march to Tripoli
(though it is far from clear that they are capable of this, even with
considerable support in terms of airpower, basic training, organization and
military competencies). The idea that Gadhafi, his sons and inner circle
would simply wait to be rolled over by a rebel force is unlikely. After all,
Gadhafi has not ruled Libya for 42 years because he has accepted his fate
with resignation — a notion that should worry Europe’s governments now
looking to end his rule.
Title: One question
Post by: ccp on March 25, 2011, 09:52:59 AM
Has anyone EVER heard someone from any Muslim country get on a "news" network and explicitly THANK the US for investing lives, limb and money to free THEM?

I have yet to hear ONE SINGLE Muslim thank us.

Perhaps they did I just missed it.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: JDN on March 25, 2011, 10:02:01 AM
No, I too have never heard "Thank you".

Therefore I wonder why we spend billions upon billions of dollars (going into debt) and lose thousands of American lives
to supposedly "free" them when they don't even know what they want and definitely are not grateful.

I say forget Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  Let's worry about our own problems at home.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: ccp on March 25, 2011, 10:31:28 AM
"Therefore I wonder why..."


We keep making the same mistake over and over again that if we try to do humanitarian things the world will love us.

I say enough stupidity and naivity.

The world want our money.  That is it.

We should kill Khaddafy and put the world on notice you murder our citizens (LOckerbie) than *you* are next.  Otherwise get the hell out of Libya.  Now we are in Iraq/Afghanistan we need to finish the job.

I have no doubt that most Americans have elected a President to look out for our interests not the rest of the thankless planet.
Title: Feel the love!
Post by: G M on March 25, 2011, 11:24:16 AM

Remember how we had to elect Obama to rebuild our relationships with the world?
Title: Reagan and Grenada
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 25, 2011, 12:31:53 PM
Hat tip to GM for this one:

A congressional study group concluded, after a three-day trip to Grenada, that Reagan's move had been justified. The 14 members of Congress, headed by Democrat Thomas Foley of Washington State, reported to House Speaker Tip O'Neill that most of them felt that the students had been possible targets for a Tehran-type taking of hostages. This caused O'Neill, who had denounced Reagan's decision, to reverse himself. Noting that "a potentially life-threatening situation existed on the island," the Speaker said that the invasion "was justified under these particular circumstances."

Read more:,9171,926318-2,00.html

Title: Peggy Noonan: The Speech Obama hasn't given
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 26, 2011, 07:48:13 AM
It all seems rather mad, doesn't it? The decision to become involved militarily in the Libyan civil war couldn't take place within a less hospitable context. The U.S. is reeling from spending and deficits, we're already in two wars, our military has been stretched to the limit, we're restive at home, and no one, really, sees President Obama as the kind of leader you'd follow over the top. "This way, men!" "No, I think I'll stay in my trench." People didn't hire him to start battles but to end them. They didn't expect him to open new fronts. Did he not know this?

He has no happy experience as a rallier of public opinion and a leader of great endeavors; the central initiative of his presidency, the one that gave shape to his leadership, health care, is still unpopular and the cause of continued agitation. When he devoted his entire first year to it, he seemed off point and out of touch.

This was followed by the BP oil spill, which made him look snakebit. Now he seems incompetent and out of his depth in foreign and military affairs. He is more observed than followed, or perhaps I should say you follow him with your eyes and not your heart. So it's funny he'd feel free to launch and lead a war, which is what this confused and uncertain military action may become.

What was he thinking? What is he thinking?

View Full Image

Barbara Kelley
 .Which gets me to Mr. Obama's speech, the one he hasn't given. I cannot for the life of me see how an American president can launch a serious military action without a full and formal national address in which he explains to the American people why he is doing what he is doing, why it is right, and why it is very much in the national interest. He referred to his aims in parts of speeches and appearances when he was in South America, but now he's home. More is needed, more is warranted, and more is deserved. He has to sit at that big desk and explain his thinking, put forward the facts as he sees them, and try to garner public support. He has to make a case for his own actions. It's what presidents do! And this is particularly important now, because there are reasons to fear the current involvement will either escalate and produce a lengthy conflict or collapse and produce humiliation.

Without a formal and extended statement, the air of weirdness, uncertainty and confusion that surrounds this endeavor will only deepen.

The questions that must be answered actually start with the essentials. What, exactly, are we doing? Why are we doing it? At what point, or after what arguments, did the president decide U.S. military involvement was warranted? Is our objective practical and doable? What is America's overriding strategic interest? In what way are the actions taken, and to be taken, seeing to those interests?

 Matthew Kaminski of the editorial board explains America's role in the Libyan campaign.
.From those questions flow many others. We know who we're against—Moammar Gadhafi, a bad man who's done very wicked things. But do we know who we're for? That is, what does the U.S. government know or think it knows about the composition and motives of the rebel forces we're attempting to assist? For 42 years, Gadhafi controlled his nation's tribes, sects and groups through brute force, bribes and blandishments. What will happen when they are no longer kept down? What will happen when they are no longer oppressed? What will they become, and what role will they play in the coming drama? Will their rebellion against Gadhafi degenerate into a dozen separate battles over oil, power and local dominance?

What happens if Gadhafi hangs on? The president has said he wants U.S. involvement to be brief. But what if Gadhafi is fighting on three months from now?

On the other hand, what happens if Gadhafi falls, if he's deposed in a palace coup or military coup, or is killed, or flees? What exactly do we imagine will take his place?

Supporters of U.S. intervention have argued that if we mean to protect Libya's civilians, as we have declared, then we must force regime change. But in order to remove Gadhafi, they add, we will need to do many other things. We will need to provide close-in air power. We will probably have to put in special forces teams to work with the rebels, who are largely untrained and ragtag. The Libyan army has tanks and brigades and heavy weapons. The U.S. and the allies will have to provide the rebels training and give them support. They will need antitank missiles and help in coordinating air strikes.

Once Gadhafi is gone, will there be a need for an international peacekeeping force to stabilize the country, to provide a peaceful transition, and to help the post-Gadhafi government restore its infrastructure? Will there be a partition? Will Libyan territory be altered?

None of this sounds like limited and discrete action.

In fact, this may turn out to be true: If Gadhafi survives, the crisis will go on and on. If Gadhafi falls, the crisis will go on and on.

Everyone who supports the Libyan endeavor says they don't want an occupation. One said the other day, "We're not looking for a protracted occupation."


More Peggy Noonan
Read Peggy Noonan's previous columns

click here to order her book, Patriotic Grace
.Mr. Obama has apparently set great store in the fact that he was not acting alone, that Britain, France and Italy were eager to move. That's good—better to work with friends and act in concert. But it doesn't guarantee anything. A multilateral mistake is still a mistake. So far the allied effort has not been marked by good coordination and communication. If the conflict in Libya drags on, won't there tend to be more fissures, more tension, less commitment and more confusion as to objectives and command structures? Could the unanticipated results of the Libya action include new strains, even a new estrangement, among the allies?

How might Gadhafi hit out, in revenge, in his presumed last days, against America and the West?

And what, finally, about Congress? Putting aside the past half-century's argument about declarations of war, doesn't Congress, as representative of the people, have the obvious authority and responsibility to support the Libyan endeavor, or not, and to authorize funds, or not?

These are all big questions, and there are many other obvious ones. If the Libya endeavor is motivated solely by humanitarian concerns, then why haven't we acted on those concerns recently in other suffering nations? It's a rough old world out there, and there's a lot of suffering. What is our thinking going forward? What are the new rules of the road, if there are new rules? Were we, in Libya, making a preemptive strike against extraordinary suffering—suffering beyond what is inevitable in a civil war?

America has been through a difficult 10 years, and the burden of proof on the need for U.S. action would be with those who supported intervention. Chief among them, of course, is the president, who made the decision as commander in chief. He needs to sit down and tell the American people how this thing can possibly turn out well. He needs to tell them why it isn't mad.

Title: US Foreign Policy: The Middle East Crisis Has Just Begun For the U.S. - Kaplan
Post by: DougMacG on March 26, 2011, 08:17:01 AM
This sums up our problems for the next 100 years pretty well.

The Middle East Crisis Has Just Begun
For the U.S., democracy's fate in the region matters much less than the struggle between the Saudis and Iran

Despite the military drama unfolding in Libya, the Middle East is only beginning to unravel. American policy-makers have been spoiled by events in Tunisia and Egypt, both of which boast relatively sturdy institutions, civil society associations and middle classes, as well as being age-old clusters of civilization where states of one form or another have existed since antiquity. Darker terrain awaits us elsewhere in the region, where states will substantially weaken once the carapace of tyranny crumbles. The crucial tests lie ahead, beyond the distraction of Libya.

The United States may be a democracy, but it is also a status quo power, whose position in the world depends on the world staying as it is. In the Middle East, the status quo is unsustainable because populations are no longer afraid of their rulers. Every country is now in play. Even in Syria, with its grisly security services, widespread demonstrations have been reported and protesters killed. There will be no way to appease the region's rival sects, ethnicities and other interest groups except through some form of democratic representation, but anarchic quasi-democracy will satisfy no one. Other groups will emerge, and they may be distinctly illiberal.

Whatever happens in Libya, it is not necessarily a bellwether for the Middle East. The Iranian green movement knows that Western air forces and navies are not about to bomb Iran in the event of a popular uprising, so it is unclear what lesson we are providing to the region. Because outside of Iran, and with the arguable exceptions of Syria and Libya itself, there is no short-term benefit for the U.S. in democratic revolts in the region. In fact, they could be quite destructive to our interests, even as they prove to be unstoppable.

Yemen, strategically located on the Gulf of Aden, as well as the demographic core of the Arabian Peninsula and a haunt of al Qaeda, is more important to American interests than Libya. In Yemen, too, a longtime ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has shot protesters in the street to keep order. Yemen constitutes the most armed populace in the world, with almost four times as many firearms as people. It is fast running out of ground water, and the median age of the population is 17. This is to say nothing of the geographical, political and sectarian divisions in the sprawling, mountainous country. However badly Mr. Saleh has ruled Yemen, more chaos may follow him. Coverage by Al Jazeera can help to overthrow a government like his, but it can't help to organize new governments.

In Jordan, at the other end of the Arabian Peninsula, democratic pressure will force King Abdullah to give more power to the Islamists and to urban Palestinians. The era of a dependable, pro-Western Jordan living in peace with Israel may not go on indefinitely. Bahrain, meanwhile, may descend into a low-level civil war. The country's Shia have legitimate complaints against the ruling Sunni royal family, but their goals will play into Iranian hands.

Yemen, Jordan, Iraq, Bahrain and the other Gulf states are all individually more important than Libya because they constitute Saudi Arabia's critical near-abroad. In this era of weakening central authority throughout the Middle East, the core question for the U.S. will be which regime lasts longer: Saudi Arabia's or Iran's. If the Saudi monarchy turns out to have more staying power, we will wrest a great strategic victory from this process of unrest; if Iran's theocracy prevails, it will signal a fundamental eclipse of American influence in the Middle East.

Criticize the Saudi royals all you want—their country requires dramatic economic reform, and fast—but who and what would replace them? There is no credible successor on the horizon. Even as Saudi Arabia's youthful population, 40% of which is unemployed, becomes more restive, harmony within the royal family is beginning to fray as the present generation of leaders gives way to a new one. And nothing spells more trouble for a closed political system than a divided elite. Yes, Iran experienced massive antiregime demonstrations in 2009 and smaller ones more recently. But the opposition there is divided, and the regime encompasses various well-institutionalized power centers, thus making a decapitation strategy particularly hard to achieve. The al Sauds may yet fall before the mullahs do, and our simplistic calls for Arab democracy only increase that possibility.

Democracy is part of America's very identity, and thus we benefit in a world of more democracies. But this is no reason to delude ourselves about grand historical schemes or to forget our wider interests. Precisely because so much of the Middle East is in upheaval, we must avoid entanglements and stay out of the domestic affairs of the region. We must keep our powder dry for crises ahead that might matter much more than those of today.

Our most important national-security resource is the time that our top policy makers can devote to a problem, so it is crucial to avoid distractions. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the fragility of Pakistan, Iran's rush to nuclear power, a possible Israeli military response—these are all major challenges that have not gone away. This is to say nothing of rising Chinese naval power and Beijing's ongoing attempt to Finlandize much of East Asia.

We should not kid ourselves. In foreign policy, all moral questions are really questions of power. We intervened twice in the Balkans in the 1990s only because Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic had no nuclear weapons and could not retaliate against us, unlike the Russians, whose destruction of Chechnya prompted no thought of intervention on our part (nor did ethnic cleansing elsewhere in the Caucasus, because it was in Russia's sphere of influence). At present, helping the embattled Libyan rebels does not affect our interests, so we stand up for human rights there. But helping Bahrain's embattled Shia, or Yemen's antiregime protesters, would undermine key allies, so we do nothing as demonstrators are killed in the streets.

Of course, just because we can't help everywhere does not mean we can't help somewhere. President Barack Obama has steered a reasonable middle course. He was right to delay action in Libya until the Arab League, the United Nations Security Council, France and Great Britain were fully on board, and even then to restrict our military actions and objectives. He doesn't want the U.S. to own the Libyan problem, which could drag on chaotically for years. President Obama is not feeble, as some have said; he is cunning.

Like former President George H.W. Bush during the collapse of the Soviet Union, he intuits that when history is set in motion by forces greater than our own, we should interfere as little as possible so as not to provoke unintended consequences. The dog that didn't bark when the Berlin Wall fell was the intervention of Soviet troops to restore parts of the empire. The dog that won't bark now, we should hope, is the weakening of the Saudi monarchy, to which America's vital interests are tied. So long as the current regime in Iran remains in place, the U.S. should not do anything to encourage protests in Riyadh.

In the background of the ongoing Middle Eastern drama looms the shadow of a rising China. China is not a "responsible stakeholder" in the international system, as we proclaim it should be; it is a free rider. We are at war in Afghanistan to make it a safe place for China to extract minerals and metals. We have liberated Iraq so that Chinese firms can extract its oil. Now we are at war with Libya, which further diverts us from concentrating on the western Pacific—the center of the world's economic and naval activity—which the Chinese military seeks eventually to dominate.

Every time we intervene somewhere, it quickens the pace at which China, whose leaders relish obscurity in international affairs, closes the gap with us. China will have economic and political problems of its own ahead, no doubt, and these will interrupt its rise. But China is spending much less to acquire an overseas maritime empire than we are spending, with all our interventions, merely to maintain ours.

The arch-realist approach would be to forswear a moral narrative altogether and to concentrate instead on our narrow interests in the Middle East. The problem is that if we don't provide a narrative, others will, notably al Qaeda, whose fortunes will rise as the region's dictators, with their useful security services, struggle to survive. But we should craft our narrative with care. It should focus on the need for political and social reform, not on regime change.

Order is preferable to disorder. Just consider what happened to Iraq after we toppled Saddam Hussein. The U.S. should not want Iraq's immediate past to be a foretaste of the region's future.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: ccp on March 26, 2011, 10:47:21 AM
"Of course, just because we can't help everywhere does not mean we can't help somewhere. President Barack Obama has steered a reasonable middle course. He was right to delay action in Libya until the Arab League, the United Nations Security Council, France and Great Britain were fully on board, and even then to restrict our military actions and objectives. He doesn't want the U.S. to own the Libyan problem, which could drag on chaotically for years. President Obama is not feeble, as some have said; he is cunning"

I agree that Obama is right to keep us out of it unlike Hillary and McCain who can't seem to wait to jump in to "prevent a humanitarian crises".
I don't agree doing anything under the guise of Nato or the UN makes any sense other than creating a huge amount of confusion.
He certainly didn't help specifying Ghaddafi must go than get cold feet realizing that whoever/whatever replaces him could be worse and back off that declaration.
I wouldn't call that cunning as much as stupid and incompetent.

And GHWBush started this whole coalition thing.  What a darn mess this has left us with now.
Kaplan is exactly right that China freeloads.  And why not?  This country is lead by a bunch of suckers and idiots. 
Even O'Reilly is talking up this "we are an exceptional nation".  Oh really?  So that means we were founded on having to be the world's Nanny???
I don't think our founders had any inclination for that.

Hey Bill.  Why don't you buy 50 million in arms and pay off some mercenaries to go fight and arm the "rebels" and you stop the "humanitarian cirses".
The rest of the US is broke.
Title: WSJ: Robert Gates Interview
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 27, 2011, 06:31:03 AM
ABOARD THE NATIONAL AIRBORNE OPERATIONS CENTER—Robert Gates is a compact and unassuming man, but a U.S. Secretary of Defense does not travel in compact or unassuming ways. The National Airborne Operations Center, a.k.a. the "doomsday plane," is a giant, windowless fortress of an aircraft built during the Cold War and designed to survive a nuclear war. In just five days the 67-year-old Secretary has flown it to St. Petersburg, Moscow, Cairo, Tel Aviv (with a stop in Ramallah) and Amman, and held parleys with two presidents, three prime ministers, three ministers of defense and a king.

By the time it's my turn to step into the plane's conference room, Mr. Gates, tieless and in blue jeans, looks bushed. He has just wrapped up a nearly two-hour phone call on Libya with President Obama and the National Security Council. NATO is about to assume primary responsibility for enforcing the no-fly zone. Benghazi has been saved by Western intervention but it's far from clear whether other besieged cities will have equal luck.

I begin by asking Mr. Gates the same question House Speaker John Boehner recently put to Mr. Obama: Is it acceptable for Moammar Gadhafi to remain in power after the military mission concludes?

"This mission was never about regime change," Mr. Gates says. "Certainly it was not one of the military objectives." He recites the mandate of U.N. Security Council resolutions—to establish a no-fly zone and protect civilians—and concludes: "I think we've come pretty close to accomplishing those objectives."

Does that mean "Mission Accomplished"? Even as we spoke, the besieged Libyan city of Misurata was without water and electricity and running low on food and medicine. Yet Mr. Gates is sanguine, though perhaps less about the outcome for Libya than for the U.S. The imposition of the no-fly zone, he says proudly, was "a textbook case."

He appears even more pleased by the benefits to the Pentagon of the transition to NATO control: "The resources that we're going to commit to it are, I think, almost certainly going to diminish," he says, describing a U.S. support role that includes "electronic warfare" and "tanking fighters [aerial refueling] from other countries."

But where does all this leave the Libyan people? Twice Mr. Gates stresses that "at the end of the day this needs to be settled by the Libyans themselves," adding that "I don't think we ever had illusions about the ability to reverse the gains [Gadhafi had made] on the ground, other than stopping him from doing more and stopping him from slaughtering civilians." But he also says that if Gadhafi "were to send a big column toward Benghazi there would be the authority to take it out." The suggestion here is that NATO will not do very much to help the rebels to win, but it will backstop them to keep them from losing.

View Full Image

Zina Saunders
 .It's hard to deny the virtues of this approach: It does not overcommit the West, either militarily or financially; it stems the bloodletting even if it doesn't halt it; and it asks the Libyans to win their own freedom. But it's equally difficult to deny its drawbacks, not the least of which is that the longer Gadhafi hangs on to power the longer the crisis will roil Western politics and consume Western resources.

Here again Mr. Gates seems fairly optimistic. "The idea that [Gadhafi] needs to go . . . goes without saying," he says. "But how long it takes, how it comes about, remains to be seen. Whether elements of the army decide to go to the other side, as some small elements have, whether the family cracks—who knows how this is going to play out."

He is less persuasive when he starts naming the various nonmilitary tools, such as economic sanctions and indictments from the International Criminal Court, that the West could use to bring further pressure on Gadhafi. Saddam Hussein survived a dozen years under sanctions and a no-fly zone, and Sudan's Omar Bashir has more or less laughed off the ICC indictments against him for genocide.

A larger consideration for Mr. Gates is how the crisis in Libya fits into American interests. "There are American national security interests and American vital interests where, in my view, we need to act decisively and if necessary act unilaterally," he says. "This is not one of them."

Then again, neither does Mr. Gates think that the crisis in Libya amounts to little more than a strictly humanitarian tragedy, on a par with, say, last year's earthquake in Haiti. "It is a concern of ours if more than a million Egyptians in Libya decide they have to immigrate home. It is a concern if civil war contributes to destabilization in either Tunisia or Egypt." Libya, he concludes, "is not a vital national interest of the United States. But it is an interest."

Mention of Egypt turns the interview to the subject of the broader changes taking place throughout the Middle East. Mr. Gates call them "tectonic . . . frozen for 60 years and now all of a sudden they're all moving." His counsel is to deal with countries as they are and situations as they come—"our reaction in Libya will be very different than our reaction in Tunisia or in Egypt or Bahrain"—but he also sees lessons.

"Maybe the Syrians can take a lesson out of what happened in Egypt, where the army stood aside and let the people demonstrate," he says when I ask what he makes of the growing domestic opposition to the regime of Bashar Assad. But as for whether he would favor regime change in Damascus, he strikes a more cautious note: "No, I'm not going to go that far."

Mr. Gates also rejects the view that the ultimate winner from the upheavals throughout the Middle East is Iran. He notes the "very stark" contrast between the "repression of any dissent, any protest, compared with what is going on in any number of other countries in the region." Over the longer term, he says, "this is a hugely negative message in terms of Iran and what Iran is trying to do."

Still, Mr. Gates awards the Biggest Loser trophy to al Qaeda, which he believes is "being rendered irrelevant, at least in a political sense." Al Qaeda's basic political pitch, and the source of its popular appeal, rests on the idea that the only way of replacing corrupt Muslim governments with better ones is through violence. Now, the examples of Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere "show that these are countries that are tolerating demonstrations." In that sort of atmosphere, Mr. Gates seems to think, the appeal of the bullet or bomb is bound to wane, while the appeal of the ballot box will grow.

More Gates optimism. Is it justified? Al Qaeda has never lacked for excuses, or recruits, to mount terrorist attacks, whether against despotisms or democracies. In Egypt, last week's referendum on a package of constitutional reforms that pave the way toward early parliamentary and presidential elections was a huge win for the Muslim Brotherhood, which stands to gain from going to the polls before its secular opponents can organize. The Iranian "political model" may be out of vogue on the Arab street, but that doesn't mean that all of Tehran's regional ventures—including support for Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon—are unsuccessful or unpopular.

As our interview nears its end, I turn to a speech Mr. Gates gave last month to the cadets at West Point. In widely quoted remarks, he said that "Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as Gen. MacArthur so delicately put it." I ask him whether that line should be taken to suggest that the United States should never have entered the wars it is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"To tell you the truth, I wish I hadn't even had that sentence in the speech," he confesses. "I should have taken it out because it was a distraction from the larger message in the speech, which was the importance of the flexibility of the American military to deal with a range of threats."

Mr. Gates clearly seems pained by the subject and eager to clear the record. "I'm the guy who not only increased the end strength of the Army and the Marine Corps, but pressed for the increase in the number of troops in Afghanistan. I totally believe in the mission that we're in in Afghanistan. And so, you know, I was really dismayed to see that what I had said was interpreted as questioning the mission in Afghanistan, because I absolutely do not. I totally believe in it."

Again, Mr. Gates circles back to his point: "I believe we have a winning strategy. So I am totally committed in that respect. And just to repeat, I was just really dismayed that what I said was misinterpreted that way."

Mr. Gates has made it clear that his tenure as secretary will end this year, and his trip last week—particularly in St. Petersburg, where he addressed naval officers and reminisced about the Cold War—had a wistful, valedictory quality. It seems appropriate to ask him to define his legacy.

"I have a feeling I'm going to get asked this question a lot," Mr. Gates says, laughing.

His answer comes in two parts. "When I took this job," he says, everybody—meaning journalists, politicians and so on—had said I would be judged on the outcome in Iraq, and I testified my agenda in this job is Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. And so I think that the partnership with [General] Dave Petraeus and having Iraq be the place it is—that'll be one of the principal evaluations that I think are made of my time in office."

Then he comes to the second part: "The thing that would mean the most to me when I leave this job is if those kids in uniform remember they had a secretary of defense who, from the first day, they knew had their back."

Mr. Stephens writes the Journal's Global View column.

Title: McCain and Lieberman
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 28, 2011, 09:19:01 AM
Is it true they are calling for NFZ's over Yemen and Syria?!?
Title: Lieberman: Maybe we should go into Syria, too
Post by: G M on March 28, 2011, 09:36:10 AM

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: DougMacG on March 28, 2011, 12:04:40 PM
Yemen and Syria would be 2 examples of countries more strategic to our interests than Libya. Egypt, Israel, Bahrain perhaps, Saudi, Jordan, Iran, Pakistan, etc. are more strategic to our interests.  Sec. Gates says Libya is not in our vital interest.  Tonight the President will imply something else.  I am not trivializing the importance of Libya, but can anyone name all the countries more strategic to our interests at this moment than Libya?

Regarding NFZ's in Syria and Yemen, I do not know.  Yemen voted for the no fly zone in Libya.  My understanding is that the 'rebels' in Yemen are even more clearly al Qaidi affiliates than Libya's rebels and that the leadership is more with us on anti-terror, and less tied to things like shooting done American civilians.  In normal times we would be more on the side of the regime than with the rebels (I would think).  With Obama in charge, who knows.  In that sense an NFZ doesn't make sense.  Obama ruled out troops a year ago,  but again, who knows.

Yemen was once North and South Yemen, the south was a cold war Communist state.  Yemen supported Saddam's invasion of Kuwait.  Now they fight against their own harboring of terrorists and camps. (?)  A sea border with Somalia only thickens the plot.  Yemen is deserving of its own thread if only we knew enough to post in it.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 28, 2011, 01:51:51 PM

Title: The Obama doctrine, finally articulated!
Post by: G M on March 28, 2011, 02:21:20 PM
White House says Libya decision based on 'best interests'
By Michael O'Brien - 03/28/11 12:54 PM ET
No sense of precedent guided President Obama’s decision to intervene in Libya, administration officials said Monday.

"We don’t make decisions about questions like intervention based on consistency or precedent,"
said Denis McDonough, the administration's deputy national security adviser, amid an off-camera gaggle of reporters. "We make them based on how we can best advance our interests in the region."

Title: Re: Here is why Ka-daffy can wait us out
Post by: G M on March 29, 2011, 02:00:28 PM

Since the conflict began, a squadron of 18 RAF Typhoon pilots has enforced the Libya no-fly zone from an air base in southern Italy. However, a shortage of qualified fighter pilots means the RAF may not have enough to replace all of them when the squadron has to rotate in a few weeks.

The situation is so serious that the RAF has halted the teaching of trainee Typhoon pilots so instructors can be drafted on to the front line, according to air force sources. The handful of pilots used for air shows will also be withdrawn from displays this summer.

The shortage has arisen because cuts to the defence budget over the past decade have limited the number of pilots who have been trained to fly the new Typhoon.

There are also fewer newly qualified pilots coming through after the RAF was forced to cut a quarter of its trainee places due to cuts announced in last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review.

The Government’s decision to decommission HMS Ark Royal, Harrier jump jets and the Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft — all of which could have played a role in the Libya conflict — has exacerbated the problem. Serving RAF pilots contacted The Daily Telegraph to warn of the risks to the Libya operation. “We have a declining pool of pilots,” one said. “There’s less people to do twice as much work. If we are not training any more we are going to run out of personnel very soon.”

Title: A compelling case for Libya
Post by: G M on March 30, 2011, 10:30:58 AM

Libya: What’s Really Behind the U.S. Action
By LIZ PEEK, The Fiscal Times
March 30, 2011Self interest is at the core of diplomacy. Therefore, the acknowledged lack of apparent U.S. self interest in containing Gaddafi’s troops in Libya has led some to question our military intervention in that country. Last night President Obama defended our engagement in Libya, suggesting that the United States is “different” from those countries that can stand by and witness atrocities; unlike others, Mr. Obama said, we have a moral mandate to protect innocent citizens. Naturally, we are led to wonder whether that same obligation extends to Syria or to Bahrain, or to any other country where a desperate government decides to slaughter its own people.

Is there something that President Obama is not telling us? Is it possible that we have a greater vested interest in squashing Gaddafi’s belligerence than we are letting on? Could it be that Gaddafi’s reported threats to bomb his country’s oilfields lit the fuse under the leaders of France and Britain who all but shamed us into climbing aboard? Or was it Gaddafi’s prediction that a flood of immigrants would “swamp” Europe that aroused Sarkozy’s energies? 

It is possible that the U.S. is more vulnerable to chaos in Libya than is generally known. Our economic recovery is hanging by a thread — a thread which weaves through the EU and also through Asia. Our modest recovery has been threatened repeatedly — by the government debt crisis in Europe last year and more recently by the tsunami in Japan. Rising oil prices and the prospect of more wide-spread inflation appears to be taking a toll. The recent swoon in consumer confidence presages a fall-off in all-important spending while the housing numbers continue dismal.

Europe’s leaders might have convinced Obama that
Gaddafi’s threats to attack oilfields or create chaos
through disruptive immigration could sow the seeds of a
double dip in Europe.

As important as the consumer is in the U.S., it is also essential that our major export markets remain healthy. As in our country, the OECD members are challenged by fiscal difficulties and more recently by inflation. Consumer prices rose 2.4 percent in the OECD in February — the highest rate of increase since October 2008. Concerns about price hikes are likely fueling anxiety among consumers in Europe as well as in the U.S.

All of these developments mean that the upturn from the banking crisis remains fragile. Fed Chair Ben Bernanke repeatedly has used this uncertainty to argue for the quantitative easing program (QE2) that many view as dangerously encouraging inflation. Bottom line: It is not a stretch to imagine that Europe’s leaders might have convinced President Obama that Gaddafi’s threats to attack oil fields or create chaos through disruptive immigration could sow the seeds of a double dip in Europe.

They could have made the case that a slump would have pulled the U.S. down as well — the worst of all possible preludes to the 2012 election for Mr. Obama. Were that case made, it is equally believable that Obama would engage all possible measures to thwart such a development.

In Europe, Italy is especially vulnerable to threats by Gaddafi to bomb his own oilfields and to unleash a massive wave of illegal immigrants. Because of its location, that country is already dealing with the exodus of large numbers of Tunisians and would be the natural entry point for Libyans as well. Italy, like other countries in the E.U., is already struggling and in no position to support a wave of dependent newcomers. At the same time, Italy has sizeable economic interests in its former colony — its state-owned oil company is the largest in the North African nation.

Title: Noonan "The Bang-Bang"
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 01, 2011, 05:49:35 AM

I want to step back from the controversy over Libya and take a look at one definition of what foreign policy is, or rather what its broader purposes might be. Then I want to make a small point.

The other day I came across an extract from a debate that took place in the British House of Commons in July 1864. Benjamin Disraeli, the future prime minister, was arguing that the government's policy in Germany and Denmark was a failure and deserved Parliament's formal censure. In damning Westminster's mismanagement, he drew a pretty good, broad-strokes picture of what a great nation's foreign policy might look like.

First the damning. "Do you see," Disraeli asks, "the kind of capacity that is adequate to the occasion? Do you find . . . that sagacity, that prudence, that dexterity, that quickness of perception" and that mood of "conciliation" that are necessary in the transaction of foreign affairs? No, he suggests, you do not. All these characteristics have been "wanting," and because they are wanting, three results have accrued: The policy of Her Majesty's government has failed, England's "influence in the councils of Europe has been lowered," and that waning of influence has left the prospects for peace diminished.

He stops to define terms: Regarding influence, "I mean an influence that results from the conviction of foreign Powers that our resources are great and that our policy is moderate and steadfast." He seeks the return of a conservative approach. "I do not mean by a Conservative foreign policy a foreign policy that would disapprove, still less oppose, the natural development of nations. I mean a foreign policy interested in the tranquility and prosperity of the world," one condition of which is peace. England should be "a moderating and mediatorial Power." Its interest, when changes in the world are inevitable and necessary, is to assist so that the changes "if possible, may be accomplished without war; or, if war occurs, that its duration and asperity be lessened."

Disraeli's censure motion would narrowly fail and in the end not matter much. But there's something satisfying and refreshing in his clear assertion of basic principles, of beginning points for thinking about foreign policy. A nation, to have influence, must be understood by all to be both very strong and very sober. Prosperity and tranquility are legitimate goals, peace a necessary condition. And there's a paradox as great nations move forward in the world: In order to have a dramatically good influence, you must have a known bias toward the nondramatic, toward the merely prudent and wise. A known bias, that is, toward peaceableness. And here is my small point.

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Benjamin Disraeli at the Bucks election, 1847.
.All this speaks to something I think we have lost the past 10 years—the generally understood sense in the world that the U.S. has a known bias toward the moderate and peaceable. I don't here argue or debate the many reasons, the history, or the series of actions that have brought this about, only to note: It was a lot to lose! I think we want to get it back, or try to re-establish a good portion of it. Because there is great benefit in seeming to be a big strong nation that is unroiled, unruffled and unbattered by the constant high seas of the world. Passivity isn't an option, and what's called isolationism is an impossibility—we live in the world—but we are too much taken by the idea of dramatic action. We've become almost addicted to it, or that our presidents have.

There are always many facts and dynamics that prompt modern leaders toward dramatic and immediate action as opposed to reflection, serious debate, and the long slog of diplomatic effort. But are we fully appreciating that our media, now, seem to force the hand of every leader and require them to decide, move and push forward?

The bias of the media is for action, passion and pictures. It is television producers and website runners who are the greatest lovers of "kinetic" events. They need to fill time. They need conflict and drama. At CBS News years ago there was a producer who called the film, as it then was, of a military or street battle "the bang-bang." The bang-bang was good for a piece. In a good minute-30 report there would be the stand-up opening by the correspondent, the statement of the besieged ruler or the aggrieved rebel, the map with arrows, the bang-bang, and then the closing summation. It was good TV! It is still good TV, and there is more TV than ever.

Every president has to know now that if there is fighting somewhere in the world, if there is suffering somewhere in the world, and the U.S. does not become involved, the scandal of that lack of involvement will become an endless segment on an endless television show full of endless questions. Why the inaction? Why are we doing nothing?

It should be noted that we are fighting now in Libya not because of mass slaughter but because of the threat of mass slaughter. Let's say what the president's supporters can't say and his opponents won't say: If the slaughter had happened, those pictures would have been very bad politically for the president.

Our foreign policy is increasingly driven by the needs of television programmers. I think I'll repeat that: Our foreign policy is more and more being dictated by the people who do the rundowns for tv new shows.

A president who "does nothing" in the face of trouble, who does not respond to the constant agitation of dramatic videotape on television and the Internet, is called weak. He is called cowardly, dithering, unworthy. He is called Jimmy Carter.

More Peggy Noonan
Read Peggy Noonan's previous columns

click here to order her new book, Patriotic Grace
.So he and his administration feel forced to share the media's bias toward action. No longer are leaders allowed to think what previous generations of political leaders knew, or learned: that when 10 problems are walking toward you on the street, you don't have to rush forward to confront them. It's wiser to wait because, life being messy and unpredictable, half the problems will fall in a ditch or lose their strength before they get to you. The trick is to handle with dispatch ones that do reach you. The talent is in guessing which ones they might be.

I know that this particular challenge to foreign policy sobriety is not new and is in fact at least 30 years old. But with the proliferation of media and technology, it is getting more intense. It will never lessen now. It will only build.

There ought to be a word for something we know that is so much a part of our lives that we forget to know it, we forget to see it, and yet it has a profound impact on the world we live in. We forget to fully factor it in, or we do factor it in but don't notice it is a primary factor.

Every leader now must know the dynamic and be an active bulwark against it. He will have to discuss why we cannot allow our nervous, agitating media to demand our involvement in every fight.

A president has to provide all the pushback. Republicans should keep that in mind, too. They'll have the White House soon enough. Some of their decisions will be at the mercy of television programmers too.

Title: Humanitarian War
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 05, 2011, 04:22:04 AM
April 5, 2011


By George Friedman

There are wars in pursuit of interest. In these wars, nations pursue economic or
strategic ends to protect the nation or expand its power. There are also wars of
ideology, designed to spread some idea of "the good," whether this good is religious
or secular. The two obviously can be intertwined, such that a war designed to spread
an ideology also strengthens the interests of the nation spreading the ideology.

Since World War II, a new class of war has emerged that we might call humanitarian
wars -- wars in which the combatants claim to be fighting neither for their national
interest nor to impose any ideology, but rather to prevent inordinate human
suffering. In Kosovo and now in Libya, this has been defined as stopping a
government from committing mass murder. But it is not confined to that. In the
1990s, the U.S. intervention in Somalia was intended to alleviate a famine while the
invasion of Haiti was designed to remove a corrupt and oppressive regime causing
grievous suffering.

It is important to distinguish these interventions from peacekeeping missions. In a
peacekeeping mission, third-party forces are sent to oversee some agreement reached
by combatants. Peacekeeping operations are not conducted to impose a settlement by
force of arms; rather, they are conducted to oversee a settlement by a neutral
force. In the event the agreement collapses and war resumes, the peacekeepers either
withdraw or take cover. They are soldiers, but they are not there to fight beyond
protecting themselves.

Concept vs. Practice

In humanitarian wars, the intervention is designed both to be neutral and to protect
potential victims on one side. It is at this point that the concept and practice of
a humanitarian war become more complex. There is an ideology undergirding
humanitarian wars, one derived from both the U.N. Charter and from the lessons drawn
from the Holocaust, genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia and a range of other circumstances
where large-scale slaughter -- crimes against humanity -- took place. That no one
intervened to prevent or stop these atrocities was seen as a moral failure.
According to this ideology, the international community has an obligation to prevent
such slaughter.

This ideology must, of course, confront other principles of the U.N. Charter, such
as the right of nations to self-determination. In international wars, where the
aggressor is trying to both kill large numbers of civilians and destroy the enemy's
right to national self-determination, this does not pose a significant intellectual
problem. In internal unrest and civil war, however, the challenge of the
intervention is to protect human rights without undermining national sovereignty or
the right of national self-determination.

The doctrine becomes less coherent in a civil war in which one side is winning and
promising to slaughter its enemies, Libya being the obvious example. Those
intervening can claim to be carrying out a neutral humanitarian action, but in
reality, they are intervening on one side's behalf. If the intervention is
successful -- as it likely will be given that interventions are invariably by
powerful countries against weaker ones -- the practical result is to turn the
victims into victors. By doing that, the humanitarian warriors are doing more than
simply protecting the weak. They are also defining a nation's history.

There is thus a deep tension between the principle of national self-determination
and the obligation to intervene to prevent slaughter. Consider a case such as Sudan,
where it can be argued that the regime is guilty of crimes against humanity but also
represents the will of the majority of the people in terms of its religious and
political program. It can be argued reasonably that a people who would support such
a regime have lost the right to national self-determination, and that it is proper
that a regime be imposed on it from the outside. But that is rarely the argument
made in favor of humanitarian intervention. I call humanitarian wars immaculate
intervention, because most advocates want to see the outcome limited to preventing
war crimes, not extended to include regime change or the imposition of alien values.
They want a war of immaculate intentions surgically limited to a singular end
without other consequences. And this is where the doctrine of humanitarian war

Regardless of intention, any intervention favors the weaker side. If the side were
not weak, it would not be facing mass murder; it could protect itself. Given that
the intervention must be military, there must be an enemy. Wars by military forces
are fought against enemies, not for abstract concepts. The enemy will always be the
stronger side. The question is why that side is stronger. Frequently, this is
because a great many people in the country, most likely a majority, support that
side. Therefore, a humanitarian war designed to prevent the slaughter of the
minority must many times undermine the will of the majority. Thus, the intervention
may begin with limited goals but almost immediately becomes an attack on what was,
up to that point, the legitimate government of a country.

A Slow Escalation

The solution is to intervene gently. In the case of Libya, this began with a no-fly
zone that no reasonable person expected to have any significant impact. It proceeded
to airstrikes against Gadhafi's forces, which continued to hold their own against
these strikes. It now has been followed by the dispatching of Royal Marines, whose
mission is unclear, but whose normal duties are fighting wars. What we are seeing in
Libya is a classic slow escalation motivated by two factors. The first is the hope
that the leader of the country responsible for the bloodshed will capitulate. The
second is a genuine reluctance of intervening nations to spend excessive wealth or
blood on a project they view in effect as charitable. Both of these need to be

The expectation of capitulation in the case of Libya is made unlikely by another
aspect of humanitarian war fighting, namely the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Modeled in principle on the Nuremberg trials and the International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia, the ICC is intended to try war criminals. Trying to
induce Moammar Gadhafi to leave Libya knowing that what awaits him is trial and the
certain equivalent of a life sentence will not work. Others in his regime would not
resign for the same reason. When his foreign minister appeared to defect to London,
the demand for his trial over Lockerbie and other affairs was immediate. Nothing
could have strengthened Gadhafi's position more. His regime is filled with people
guilty of the most heinous crimes. There is no clear mechanism for a plea bargain
guaranteeing their immunity. While a logical extension of humanitarian warfare --
having intervened against atrocities, the perpetrators ought to be brought to
justice -- the effect is a prolongation of the war. The example of Slobodan
Milosevic of Yugoslavia, who ended the Kosovo War with what he thought was a promise
that he would not be prosecuted, undoubtedly is on Gadhafi's mind.

But the war is also prolonged by the unwillingness of the intervening forces to
inflict civilian casualties. This is reasonable, given that their motivation is to
prevent civilian casualties. But the result is that instead of a swift and direct
invasion designed to crush the regime in the shortest amount of time, the regime
remains intact and civilians and others continue to die. This is not simply a matter
of moral squeamishness. It also reflects the fact that the nations involved are
unwilling -- and frequently blocked by political opposition at home -- from the
commitment of massive and overwhelming force. The application of minimal and
insufficient force, combined with the unwillingness of people like Gadhafi and his
equally guilty supporters to face The Hague, creates the framework for a long and
inconclusive war in which the intervention in favor of humanitarian considerations
turns into an intervention in a civil war on the side that opposes the regime.

This, then, turns into the problem that the virtue of the weaker side may consist
only of its weakness. In other words, strengthened by foreign intervention that
clears their way to power, they might well turn out just as brutal as the regime
they were fighting. It should be remembered that many of Libya's opposition leaders
are former senior officials of the Gadhafi government. They did not survive as long
as they did in that regime without having themselves committed crimes, and without
being prepared to commit more.

In that case, the intervention -- less and less immaculate -- becomes an exercise in
nation-building. Having destroyed the Gadhafi government and created a vacuum in
Libya and being unwilling to hand power to Gadhafi's former aides and now enemies,
the intervention -- now turning into an occupation-- must now invent a new
government. An invented government is rarely welcome, as the United States
discovered in Iraq. At least some of the people resent being occupied regardless of
the occupier's original intentions, leading to insurgency. At some point, the
interveners have the choice of walking away and leaving chaos, as the United States
did in Somalia, or staying for a long time and fighting, as they did in Iraq.

Iraq is an interesting example. The United States posed a series of justifications
for its invasion of Iraq, including simply that Saddam Hussein was an amoral monster
who had killed hundreds of thousands and would kill more. It is difficult to choose
between Hussein and Gadhafi. Regardless of the United States' other motivations in
both conflicts, it would seem that those who favor humanitarian intervention would
have favored the Iraq war. That they generally opposed the Iraq war from the
beginning requires a return to the concept of immaculate intervention.

Hussein was a war criminal and a danger to his people. However, the American
justification for intervention was not immaculate. It had multiple reasons, only one
of which was humanitarian. Others explicitly had to do with national interest, the
claims of nuclear weapons in Iraq and the desire to reshape Iraq. That it also had a
humanitarian outcome -- the destruction of the Hussein regime -- made the American
intervention inappropriate in the view of those who favor immaculate interventions
for two reasons. First, the humanitarian outcome was intended as part of a broader
war. Second, regardless of the fact that humanitarian interventions almost always
result in regime change, the explicit intention to usurp Iraq's national
self-determination openly undermined in principle what the humanitarian interveners
wanted to undermine only in practice.

Other Considerations

The point here is not simply that humanitarian interventions tend to devolve into
occupations of countries, albeit more slowly and with more complex rhetoric. It is
also that for the humanitarian warrior, there are other political considerations. In
the case of the French, the contrast between their absolute opposition to Iraq and
their aggressive desire to intervene in Libya needs to be explained. I suspect it
will not be.

There has been much speculation that the intervention in Libya was about oil. All
such interventions, such as those in Kosovo and Haiti, are examined for hidden
purposes. Perhaps it was about oil in this case, but Gadhafi was happily shipping
oil to Europe, so intervening to ensure that it continues makes no sense. Some say
France's Total and Britain's BP engineered the war to displace Italy's ENI in
running the oil fields. While possible, these oil companies are no more popular at
home than oil companies are anywhere in the world. The blowback in France or Britain
if this were shown to be the real reason would almost certainly cost French
President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron their jobs, and
they are much too fond of those to risk them for oil companies. I am reminded that
people kept asserting that the 2003 Iraq invasion was designed to seize Iraq's oil
for Texas oilmen. If so, it is taking a long time to pay off. Sometimes the lack of
a persuasive reason for a war generates theories to fill the vacuum. In all
humanitarian wars, there is a belief that the war could not be about humanitarian

Therein lays the dilemma of humanitarian wars. They have a tendency to go far beyond
the original intent behind them, as the interveners, trapped in the logic of
humanitarian war, are drawn further in. Over time, the ideological zeal frays and
the lack of national interest saps the intervener's will. It is interesting that
some of the interventions that bought with them the most good were carried out
without any concern for the local population and with ruthless self-interest. I
think of Rome and Britain. They were in it for themselves. They did some good

My unease with humanitarian intervention is not that I don't think the intent is
good and the end moral. It is that the intent frequently gets lost and the moral end
is not achieved. Ideology, like passion, fades. But interest has a certain enduring
quality. A doctrine of humanitarian warfare that demands an immaculate intervention
will fail because the desire to do good is an insufficient basis for war. It does
not provide a rigorous military strategy to what is, after all, a war. Neither does
it bind a nation's public to the burdens of the intervention. In the end, the
ultimate dishonesties of humanitarian war are the claims that "this won't hurt much"
and "it will be over fast." In my view, their outcome is usually either a withdrawal
without having done much good or a long occupation in which the occupied people are
singularly ungrateful.

North Africa is no place for casual war plans and good intentions. It is an old,
tough place. If you must go in, go in heavy, go in hard and get out fast.
Humanitarian warfare says that you go in light, you go in soft and you stay there
long. I have no quarrel with humanitarianism. It is the way the doctrine wages war
that concerns me. Getting rid of Gadhafi is something we can all feel good about and
which Europe and America can afford. It is the aftermath -- the place beyond the
immaculate intervention -- that concerns me.

This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.

Title: Armed Humanitarianism Often Goes Awry
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on April 05, 2011, 03:04:55 PM
Why We Should Be Against Armed Humanitarianism by Gene Healy
from Cato Recent Op-eds
Why are we bombing Libya? To prevent a massacre that would have "stained the conscience of the world," President Obama proclaimed in his address to the nation last week.

"As president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action," he said.

Say what you will about the Bush Doctrine of preventive war, at least it was directed at purported threats to American national security. Obama, by contrast, reserves the right to shoot first before the global conscience gets stained. In this vision, the U.S. military serves as a sort of Scotchgard for the World-Soul.

The president allowed that "America cannot use our military whenever repression occurs." But when our interests, values, "unique abilities" and the will of the international community properly align — he'll let us know when that is — we'll act "on behalf of what's right."

But when it comes to armed humanitarianism, deciding what's right may not be quite so simple, argues international relations scholar Alan J. Kuperman, author of The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention. First, generally speaking, "killers are quicker than intervenors"; second, "more intervention might actually lead to a net increase in killing," not just from "collateral damage," but by changing the incentives of actors on the ground.

Take the case of Rwanda. Our failure to intervene there in 1994 is now widely considered a shameful missed opportunity to avert mass murder.

But "had the United States tried to stop the Rwandan genocide," Kuperman writes, "it would have required about six weeks to deploy a task force of 15,000 personnel and their equipment," meaning that "by the time Western governments learned of the Rwandan genocide and deployed an intervention force, the vast majority of the ultimate Tutsi victims would already have been killed."

Indeed, sometimes intervention increases the pace of violence. Serbian forces sped up ethnic cleansing in Kosovo in response to NATO's March 1999 decision to bomb. "Most of their cleansing occurred in the first two weeks, and they managed to force out 850,000 Albanians."

Further complicating matters is what Kuperman calls "the moral hazard of humanitarian intervention." Such interventions can have the perverse effect of encouraging risk-seeking behavior by those expecting rescue.

That happened in the 1990s, Kuperman argues, when the policy of humanitarian intervention "convinced some groups that the international community would intervene to protect them from retaliation, thereby encouraging armed rebellions."

But in the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina's Muslims, for example, intervention occurred three years after secession, by which time an estimated 100,000 had been killed.

Last month, Jackson Diehl chided his Washington Post colleague George Will for asking, "Would not U.S. intervention in Libya encourage other restive peoples to expect U.S. military assistance?"

"Perhaps it would," Diehl replied, "and if a powerful opposition movement appeared in Syria, and asked the West for weapons or air support to finish off the Assad regime, would that be a disaster?"

I don't know, perhaps it would. Diehl, an ardent supporter of the Iraq War, ought to at least entertain the possibility. After all, that war turned out to be far more costly than folks like Diehl imagined at the outset. More than 4,000 Americans and anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 Iraqi civilians have vanished so far in the fog of humanitarian war.

Would Syria present similar risks? Does Libya? Probably not, but one thing is certain: War is a bloody, uncertain business. When you decide to wage one, you need a good reason. Airy doctrines about impending moral stains on the international conscience don't make the grade.

Here, a little less hubris might be more humanitarian.

Gene Healy is a vice president at the Cato Institute and the author of The Cult of the Presidency.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on April 05, 2011, 03:07:22 PM
China is aggressively crushing dissenters as we speak. NFZ?


Selective moral outrage.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: JDN on April 09, 2011, 07:39:44 AM
CCP; is this an example of the "thanks" we get?    :?

I still don't understand why we just don't stay home and solve our own domestic problems rather than trying to solve everyone else's.

"Tens of thousands of demonstrators in eastern Baghdad marked the eighth anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime with a protest Saturday against the American troop presence there."
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: ccp on April 09, 2011, 08:35:34 AM
"I still don't understand why we just don't stay home and solve our own domestic problems rather than trying to solve everyone else's."

I agree JDN. 

INjecting Soros into this -

He blames Bush for policies around the world and stating Bush is why people hate Jews? (I presume he is alluding to Wolfowitz).  Yet at the same time this mixed up joker states we should be fighting for democracy against autocratic regimes and let peoples all over decide their own leadership.  Well if the second sentence is his wish than he should be praising Bush for leading the charge for Demcracy around the world. 

Yet the party hack this clown is just won't do it.

Israel is in big trouble thanks to the likes of him.  I digress....
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 09, 2011, 06:24:14 PM
Eastern Baghdad is Mookie Sadr territory, yes?  I read his point is to stop hit burbles coming out of some in the White House about extending the stay of the US Army in Iraq.  The US staying longer than promised would be a huge red flag to several powerful groups in Iraq besides Sadr.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on April 09, 2011, 06:29:45 PM
Given the general chaos and ineptitude from this white house, it's hard to say if keeping troops in Iraq longer is actually a plan or not.
Title: WSJ: Secy Clinton
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 13, 2011, 10:34:00 AM
WASHINGTON—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed Arab leaders on Tuesday to accelerate economic and political reforms to meet the growing demands of their publics, but refrained from calling for rulers in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria to step down.

Mrs. Clinton's comments illustrate the selective approach the Obama administration continues to employ in responding to the political uprisings that have surged across the Middle East and North Africa since January.

The secretary of state has aggressively called for the resignations of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak in recent months, but suggested to Tuesday's gathering of Arab and American policy makers that other Arab rulers might still play a role in their countries' futures if they embrace political and economic liberalization.

"We know that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't make sense in such a diverse region at such a fluid time," Mrs. Clinton told the U.S.-Islamic World Forum. "Going forward, the United States will be guided by careful consideration of all the circumstances on the ground and by our consistent values and interests."

The calls for democratic change in Bahrain and Yemen have placed Washington in a diplomatic bind, as both countries' leaders have provided significant cooperation in combating terrorism and the regional influence of Iran.

Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which patrols the oil-rich Persian Gulf. And Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has allowed the U.S. to conduct airstrikes inside his country against suspected al Qaeda members.

Still, Bahrain and Yemen have both launched bloody crackdowns on their political oppositions in recent weeks. The relatively subdued U.S. response has drawn criticism from human-rights activists who accuse Washington of employing a double standard in the region.

Mrs. Clinton said the U.S. would continue to press the governments in Manama and San'a to liberalize, but also said they could be part of the solution.

"The United States has a decades-long friendship with Bahrain that we expect to continue long into the future," Mrs. Clinton said. "We have made clear that security alone cannot resolve the challenges facing Bahrain."

The Obama administration also has been restrained in calling for leadership change in Syria, despite President Bashar al-Assad's significant role in challenging U.S. interests in the Mideast. Mr. Assad is Iran's closest Arab ally and directly arms and funds militant groups Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories.

In recent weeks, Syrian security forces have killed hundreds of anti-Assad protesters, according to human-rights groups. But Mrs. Clinton was careful in her speech Tuesday not to suggest that Washington is seeking Mr. Assad's ouster. Privately, U.S. officials have voiced concerns that the Syrian leader's fall could lead to sectarian strife.

"President Assad and the Syrian government must respect the universal rights of the Syrian people, who are rightly demanding the basic freedoms that they have been denied," she said.

Mrs. Clinton praised the revolutions that have toppled the decades-old dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt. But sShe stressed that both countries must continue with political and economic changes to ensure their political transitions breed democratic governments that meet the needs of their young, rapidly growing populations. She specifically cited the need for the emerging systems to embrace free markets, combat extremism and promote the rights of women and religious minorities.

"The United States will work with people and leaders across the region to create more open, dynamic and diverse economies," Mrs. Clinton said.

Washington's top diplomat said the Obama administration will increasingly provide financial and technical assistance to help Mideast countries transition to democracy. She said a fund has already been created, with $150 million already committed to assisting Egypt. The U.S.'s Overseas Private Investment Corp. has also committed $2 billion to support private-sector investments in the region, Mrs. Clinton said.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on April 21, 2011, 11:52:43 AM
Worth noting here IMHO is that the rationale for our efforts in Afpakia of preventing the return of AQ training bases for attacks upon the American homeland, is in tatters.  AQ now establishes training bases in Yemen, the Horn of Africa, (and with the help of President Baraq in Libya too?-- though this remains to be seen).  If we are not going to go in and stop them all (and I suspect no one here is calling for boots on the ground in Yemen!) then what is the point of going into just one (Afpakia)?

Our strategy is utterly incoherent.

Those who wish to comment on this point should please do so either on the US Foreign Policy thread or the Middle East/SNAFU thread.

I wish I had some pity and/or snarky comment, but the cold hard fact is that our attempt to drain the swamps has become pretty much impossible with the "Caliphatezation" of the middle east and our economic decline.
Title: What's Next Mr. President?
Post by: G M on April 21, 2011, 12:12:12 PM
April 21, 2011
Iran, Nukes, and China's Inroads to the Middle East: What's Next Mr. President?
By Reza Kahlili

With the Middle East in an uproar, the roles being played by Iran and China are of utmost importance to our national security, economy, and global stability.  It is imperative that Americans grasp the significance of this.

President Obama's simple approach to dealing with the Iranian nuclear bomb program was to extend a hand toward the radical mullahs ruling Iran hoping to appease them.  Clearly, he thought an apology for what America stands for would motivate the Iranian leaders to change their behavior and find a resolution that would solve our differences.  He turned his back on millions of Iranians who took to the streets in protest, legitimizing this very barbaric regime -- a regime that has raped, tortured, and executed tens of thousands of brave Iranians and deprived them of their aspirations for freedom and democracy.

The Iranians instead, once again, outmaneuvered and deceived the Obama administration by promising cooperation.  Instead, they bought time to continue their nuclear enrichment to where they now have over 8000 pounds of enriched uranium -- enough for three nuclear bombs.

Today it is quite clear that President Obama's policies vis-à-vis Iran's nuclear program have failed.  The negotiations have not worked and the sanctions have proven to be a dismal disaster.

As a result of Obama's obvious weakness, many countries such as Germany, India, Venezuela, China, and others are openly collaborating with the regime by providing backdoor financial channels, arms, and even nuclear material.

The Iranian leaders have detected total confusion, weakness, and incompetence from the White House and have picked up their activities.  Iranian agents, who have long infiltrated the region, are helping to incite uprisings in Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, and other countries in the Middle East.  As I revealed recently, there is a secret documentary, "The Coming is Upon Us," which will be distributed shortly in the Middle East among the Muslim population, that is calling for the unification of Arabs, the overthrow of U.S.-backed governments, and promising the destruction of Israel and the demise of the U.S.

Just in the last couple of months, many shipments of arms and explosives have been confiscated by authorities in Turkey, Israel, and others destined for Syria, Hezb'allah, Hamas, Taliban, and North Africa.  Also several ships containing nuclear material destined for Iran have been confiscated in South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia, where two containers were confiscated carrying material used for weapons of mass destruction and nuclear armaments.  Interestingly, the parts were labeled as boiler parts and loaded in those containers at a port in China!

China, also sensing the weakness of the Obama administration, is helping Iran with its nuclear program exactly as they did with Pakistan with their nuclear bomb.  Pakistan recently announced that with the help of China, they were building more nuclear plants, making them the fourth largest nuclear state by the end of this decade.

Reports indicate that the Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has warned that the recent China and Pakistan strategic agreements are a signal to China's ambitions regarding the vital energy resources of the Middle East.  This new strategic agreement between the two allows China access to the Karakoram Highway and therefore its reach to the Arabian Sea.  Other reports indicate that even Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf countries have turned to China because of Obama's apparent confusion in dealing with the current crisis in the Middle East.

While China and Iran share a common goal, which is the demise of America's supremacy in the region, they differ on the outcome.  China believes, for the first time in a long time, it has been provided a grand opportunity to access the Middle East, secure its energy source, and become the next superpower of the world.

However, the Iranian leaders, who say the destruction of America and the West is at hand, are quite excited about the recent events in the Middle East and believe that the overthrow of U.S.-backed governments are just around the corner.  Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated just days ago: "Expect more events in the region soon," and on the nuclear issue he went on to say, "And now, after eight years of pressure, the Islamic Iran has won out."

The Iranian leaders today, more than any time in the past, believe that the conditions are prime for the End of Times as predicted in the centuries-old Hadith; that the last Messiah, the Shiites' 12th Imam, Imam Mahdi, will return as promised opening the way for Islam's conquest throughout the world.  But, they also fervently believe that in order for that to happen, Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth.

It is quite clear that we live in very dangerous times and unless and until our leaders grasp the reality of the events taking place in the Middle East and the world, U.S. supremacy and superiority will be lost for decades to come, perhaps never to recover.  Millions of lives could be lost and the world could suffer destruction and depression worse than anything in recent memory!

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for an ex-CIA spy who requires anonymity for safety reasons.  He is the author of A Time to Betray, a book about his double life as a CIA agent in Iran's Revolutionary Guards, published by Threshold Editions, Simon & Schuster.

Page Printed from: at April 21, 2011 - 02:10:46 PM CDT
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: DougMacG on April 21, 2011, 12:27:19 PM
"If we are not going to go in and stop them all (and I suspect no one here is calling for boots on the ground in Yemen!) then what is the point of going into just one (Afpakia)?

Our strategy is utterly incoherent."

I suppose the answer is that we pick our battles to isolate and defeat enemies on our choice of time and location.  All-out war simultaneous in all locations may not fit our strengths and capabilities very well much less fit with our limited attention span.  Problem is a) we are doing the opposite, responding to nuisances in the least strategic areas (Libya), and completely out of the most crucial areas, and b) we have lost confidence in those who make the choices and set the strategies for us.

If we are forcing them to move, our intelligence at some point should be picking up some of those moves.  But that matters only if we take action on the intelligence.

What is strangest about our AfPak strategy is that what is working (allegedly), the tripling of manpower, is what we have pre-decided and declared we won't continue.  What we might need most in the long run is at least a small permanent presence to shut down bases as they pop up.  That is something we gave up completely in Iraq. (see links below)

My central strategy (broken record, and GM just hit this same point) is that we better get our economic house in order and in full gear if we expect to be able to respond later to what is brewing in the world right now.  

Yemen looks like one of those backyard situations for Saudi, just like the Caucasus for Russia, but I have no idea whether Saudi escalation would help or hurt the situation.

A nice review(a must read?) at the links below of all our wars and where they stand now, part 1 and part 2:
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: JDN on May 01, 2011, 07:24:35 AM
Ya quoted (I think he has offered superb insight) on the Afghanistan-Pakistan forum,
"Initially, the American thinking was that an India-Pak nuclear exchange while undesirable, was without risk to the US and so the US  turned a blind eye to Chinese proliferation support to Pak. Today, the thinking on Indian defense sites is that the jihadis hate the US and Israel more than they hate India (infact polls show that). Anytime the pakis hate someone more than India, that's a major the nukes may come back and bite us in the US and not India. I for one dont doubt the plausibility of the scenario."

I think this is just one more example of the cost to America for our unbridled support for Israel.  Petraeus said the same thing.

I'm not saying whether we should change or not; just appreciate the very high price we have to pay and don't be in denial.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 01, 2011, 08:27:49 AM
A) Citation on the Petraeus quote?

B)  I'd say the Paks are more pissed that we told them after 911 we would bomb them back to the stone age if they didn't cooperate with us against AQ and the Taliban and that we regularly intrude upon their sovereignty, yet somehow the Jews get blamed  :-P , , ,  Anyone blaming the Taiwanese for troubles in our relations with China?  Anyone blaming the South Koreans for our troubles with the North Koreans?
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on May 01, 2011, 08:34:03 AM
So, if we officially abandoned Israel tomorrow, what happens then, JDN?
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: JDN on May 01, 2011, 08:57:25 AM
A) Citation on the Petraeus quote?

B)  I'd say the Paks are more pissed that we told them after 911 we would bomb them back to the stone age if they didn't cooperate with us against AQ and the Taliban and that we regularly intrude upon their sovereignty, yet somehow the Jews get blamed  :-P , , ,  Anyone blaming the Taiwanese for troubles in our relations with China?  Anyone blaming the South Koreans for our troubles with the North Koreans?

Petraeus?  I posted it before on this forum; I'm sure you can find it. If I remember he was testifying before Congress and commented on the price America pays for loyalty to Israel.

As for your explanation of the Pak issue; I think Ya has good insight.  But, I think you could replace the word Pak and replace it with any one of many countries, the resentment and hatred of America because of our unwavering association with Israel is the same.

As for the Taiwanese and Koreans, well, they are all either Chinese or Koreans.  It's like the West German East German division years ago; it's different than the Israeli issue. 
Also, I do think our relationship with Taiwan does strain our relationship with China.  Again, like Israel, I am not commenting here if that is good or bad; nor am I advocating abandoning Israel, I am
merely pointing out we pay a price far above the dollars we send and need to recognize that cost in the equation.

Again, my point is not that we should or shouldn't support Israel or Taiwan, but that we appreciate the intangible high cost.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on May 01, 2011, 09:02:47 AM
"But, I think you could replace the word Pak and replace it with any one of many countries, the resentment and hatred of America because of our unwavering association with Israel is the same."

They hate us because we are disgusting kafirs. We don't beat our women into burkas, we have freedom instead on being "slaves of allah" and we eat pork. Israel is the small satan, we are the great satan. They will not be content until the world bows before islam.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: DougMacG on May 01, 2011, 10:48:34 AM
"So, if we officially abandoned Israel tomorrow, what happens then...?"

What is the answer to that?  I suppose a race by Iran, Syria, Egypt, and who knows who else, to see who can destroy Israel first.  Israel would fight back and win for a while, but Israel can't withstand as many casualties and would lose in the end.  The regional cooperation in that destruction might lead to some kind of Caliphate that we fear along with a lot of enegy and confidence to keep going.  Would we really just sit out while that happens in the name of ... peace?? We wouldn't even go in for evacuations?  Unarmed, getting shot at?  If we were morally neutral about the destruction of Israel (I hope we aren't!), the question still remains - would they (the Islamic militarists/extemists/jihadists) still hate us and attack us all they can for at least another century?  The answer is yes, I think we know that.  If yes, then that extra intangible cost for our support of Israel is nil.

And then what, with Israel off the table, for US foreign policy?  Then we sit down without preconditions? Argue for sanctions at the U.N.?  Hope they don't want western Europe next? (They do!)  Abandon Europe next?  Then they will like us?  Or draw the line there instead and start over?

I look forward to hearing a different, plausible scenario, I but I say that idea doesn't work, isn't an option, and wouldn't make us safer.  The issue is not whether to support Israel, only how best to do that.
Title: US Foreign Policy: Leading from Behind - (Obama) The Consequentialist
Post by: DougMacG on May 01, 2011, 11:17:08 AM
Moving right along... This was an interview I found interesting of Hugh Hewitt with the author of th New Yorker's current piece on the Obama administration's foreign poliy, called "The Consequentialist':

New Yorker's Ryan Lizza On Barack Obama Foreign Policy, The Consequentialist
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

HH: I am also talking foreign policy today with Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post, and my guest right now, Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, whose piece, The Consequentialist in the new New Yorker is turning a lot of heads and causing a lot of comment. Ryan, welcome back, it’s great to have you. ... I have been through this article twice now. And I am completely amazed that you got what you got here, and that the White House hasn’t blown up your car. What is the reaction to this piece?

RL: This is, the reaction is fascinating, because I think perhaps liberals see one thing in this piece, and conservatives see another. And I imagine you’re going to want to talk about this phrase, “leading from behind.”

HH: Yes, in the very last paragraph of the piece. Explain to people how proud they are of leading from behind.

RL: Well Hugh, I think it’s an easy phrase to poke fun of, right?

HH: Right.

RL: Because it’s this paradox, leading from behind, ha ha ha. We don’t want a president who leads from behind. We want a president who leads. And that’s been the tenor of a lot of the commentary about that quote, especially on the right, that there can’t be any such thing as leading from behind. And just before I got on the show, I was writing a blog on it about this, maybe helping explain this concept in a little bit more detail. And I agree that as a political slogan, as I point out in the piece, you know, not the greatest phrase in the world. But the context this came up in is the Obama administration’s response to Libya, okay? And I think you have to look carefully at what they did in Libya to understand why this was their strategy. We went to war, and we are at war, in another Muslim country. Now how do you get the world to go along with the United States wanting to bomb another Muslim country? Do you do it just unilaterally? Does the President just get up and say hey, I want Gaddafi gone, we’re sending in the bombs right now? Or do you work through multilateral institutions, and try to get the U.N. to back you, try and get Arab support, and try not to have the whole effort branded as an American-led enterprise, because you know that that will be used against us in some, in many quarters of the world? And if you look really, really carefully at what they did in Libya, it was essentially a massive bait and switch. The Arab League, and some other Arab states, said oh, yeah, we want a no-fly zone. Well, the no-fly zone was the option on the table at the United Nations. It was the resolution that was proposed by Lebanon, the U.K., and the French. And what Obama did at the very last second, and I think this has really been missed in a lot of the reporting on what went down over Libya, at the last second, they said no, a no-fly zone won’t do anything to save Benghazi, because there are no Libyan planes about to bomb Benghazi, there are tanks on the ground, so what we need is a resolution that gives full authorization for military intervention in Libya. And so essentially the Obama administration very quietly asked for a more hawkish, a more militaristic resolution, and they got it.

HH: But you know, Ryan, if that was…

RL: And I go through all of that, Hugh, just to say that if the way that they got that was by playing down their own role in it, then you have to judge it on the terms of the outcome rather than on the style of leadership.

HH: Well, if they had intended to get there, you have a pretty good argument. But what emerges from The Consequentialist is incoherence, schizophrenia, an up/down, almost manic-depressive engagement with the world. And what really is powerfully condemning of the Obama administration is the light you throw on their Iranian policy, or actually the failure of Iranian policy. And I think buried in The Consequentialist is one revelation that some of Obama’s White House aides regretted having stood idly by why the Iranian regime brutally repressed the Green Revolution. And more than standing idly by, they rebuked the State Department young guy for getting involved with the Twitter controversy. It confirms every conservative’s critique of President Obama’s indifference to the smashing of the Green Revolution. I think that’s one of the huge takeaways of your piece.

RL: I agree. I agree that that’s…to me, that was a very important part of the piece, and to really spell out how there was a major shift in policy. And as they moved from engagement, and almost a certain amount of respect for the Iranian regime, as that whole policy really got upended by the Green Revolution, there is quite a bit, several of his advisors realize and will admit that yeah, they got that wrong, that to the extent that they…now let me explain…from their point of view, their explanation is well, it was really about, the policy of non-interference with the protestors was really about making sure that the regime couldn’t use the U.S. involvement to sort of discredit them. And look, there’s something to be said for that. You have to be careful about the effects. But they, there was regret over that, and I think that’s why when it came to Egypt, they tried to strike a different balance. And you’re absolutely right. I was very surprised to find that this young guy, Jared Cohen, who unilaterally, essentially all by himself, contacted Twitter, and told them to delay a scheduled maintenance upgrade so that the Iranians could continue to use Twitter. It was a very controversial, I mean, inside, someone at the White House referred to it as, when I asked about it, they said oh yeah, you’re talking about Twittergate, right?

HH: You see, that’s quite good reporting. I’m curious, how did you get this much access, because you were with Hillary in Tunis, you were with her in Cairo. You obviously talked to Donilon, you quote him here, and that’s one of the freighted quotes in this piece about we’re over-weighted in the Middle East, and underweighted in China and Asia. And I thought to myself, that’s just perfect gibberish from the new age nonsensical people. But how did they, why did they say yes to you on these requests?

RL: Well look, I think when you’re going in and you’re saying I’m going to do a lengthy review of your foreign policy, and I want you to explain it to me, they have an incentive to explain it. And so they were all, at various parts of the administration, they were very willing to sit down, you know, and talk about this stuff.

HH: Hillary? I mean, when you’re talking, when you’re having breakfast with her, I think it’s in Tunis?

RL: Yes.

HH: And she kind of implores you, what’s the standard? I can just see her saying what am I going to do? I can’t go everywhere in the world.

RL: Well, yeah, and I thought that was a very revealing moment.

HH: It was.

RL: …because she was saying like look, these cases are hard. You can’t, if you, you know, there’s a lot of bad stuff happening in the world. And she pointed out at that point Congo and Cote d’Ivoire, and we can’t intervene everywhere. And I think her point was, you know, what she said is part of her job is to try and build an international consensus to do something about these problems. And that was her point about Libya, is you’ve got to get consensus from the actors in the region. There is this sense in the Obama administration that the U.S. can’t do everything. And I’ll tell you, Hugh, on the right, I think we’re, I think folks in America are sort of schizophrenic about this, because on the one hand, we feel somehow if the U.S. isn’t leading the charge on a big international issue, we feel like you know, that’s not right, we’re supposed to lead on every issue. On the other hand, you talk to a lot of people who think well, why should be bear all the burdens? And I saw that, I saw both of those arguments among conservatives as we went back and forth about what to do in Libya, right?

HH: Right.

RL: Some people saying how are we letting Sarkozy lead this effort, and other people saying you know, why are we getting involved at all.

HH: Well, it’s the Scowcroft-Cheney divide in the Republican Party.

RL: Yes.

HH: But what got me about this piece that’s communicated so well is that the Secretary of State would tell you, however widely regarded you are as a reporter, Ryan, that the biggest problem in the administration is that they don’t have a rule yet articulated. She’s telling you this on the record. It confirms for me they really don’t know what they’re doing, and that the Department of State and the White House are at loggerheads with each other.

RL: Well, I think that they don’t have a…look, Obama himself has said this pretty clearly in some of the TV interviews he did after the Libyan intervention. He said that this doesn’t mean that there’s a new doctrine being laid down about when we do and don’t intervene. And you know, there’s a school of foreign policy thinking that doctrines are the worst thing for a president, because once you have some doctrine, you are straightjacketed when presented with a new crisis or threat. And you know, I think there’s a reluctance by Obama to sort of lay down something that everyone will call a doctrine, because you want to, frankly, as president, you want to have the flexibility to be inconsistent, right? You want to have the flexibility to do something in Libya, and maybe not in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia.

HH: Or Iran or Syria, where we’re getting standing idly by 2.0 underway right now in Syria.
- -    -   -
HH: A couple of other aspects I can’t cover, it’s a very long article, I’ve linked it at, Ryan Lizza. The President sends a memo out on August 12, 2010, saying you know, we really have got to take a look at these Middle Eastern regimes ruled by autocrats. Things could go wrong there. So he gets a little working group together which reports back the day before Tunisia falls apart. Good timing, that, eh?

RL: Well look, you could look at this…one way to look at that is hey, they were still debating these issues when the Middle East exploded. But another way to look at it is they realized that things weren’t going well in the Middle East. They realized that there were limits to their approach, they’ve realized that Iran policy got short-circuited by the Green Revolution, although remember, Hugh, they did get sanctions on Iran. That was a pretty big step, and they got the Security Council to support sanctions on Iran, so that’s not nothing. And you know, they realized that with elections in Egypt and a few other places coming up, that it was time to look anew at U.S. policy in the Middle East. And Obama basically wanted to know was it now more in our interest to support a bold, political reform message in the Middle East. And that was what that group was discussing.

HH: But you know, Ryan, I’m a member of a faculty, a law school faculty.

RL: Yeah.

HH: So I know what faculty meetings are like. And there are a lot of smart people talking, talking, talking.

RL: Yeah.

HH: In fact, at one point in your piece, you write about all the earnest, young women and men over at the Department of State, talking about Facebook revolutions, and globalization, and they’re talking over at the White House, and they’re having these seminars. Meanwhile, the world is rushing past them. And I’m sure they’re talking about Syria right now, but they don’t have anything to do about it, do they?

RL: You know, I haven’t done enough reporting about Syria to really know. And the issue has obviously gotten much, much more intense over the last few days when Assad has just decided that he’s, you know, he’s going to do anything it takes to stay in power. What are the options in Syria, though, right? I mean, we don’t have leverage with Assad. We had a lot of leverage with Mubarak. It’s one of the cases for engagement with bad guys, is when they get, when they’re at their worst, you at least have some leverage. And one of the things we did with Mubarak is we very strongly sent the message that violence against the protestors was a red line that he shouldn’t cross.

HH: But Ryan…

RL: Whether the U.S. is responsible for him holding back or not, I don’t know. But I’m just saying in Syria, we don’t have a lot of great options, right? Our influence is extremely limited.

HH: No, but in your piece, I mean, the Egyptian reporting is fascinating, because yeah, we sent that message, and we sent a bunch of other messages as well, and then we sent Wisner, and they threw Wisner under the bus, or as he said, to the reelection committee. And at one point, you’re downstairs, the Secretary of State’s upstairs, and there are a bunch of Muslim Brotherhood guys who won’t go upstairs, because they prefer Obama’s policy to that of the Secretary of State. That is in one anecdote the definition of incoherence in a foreign policy, isn’t it?

RL: I disagree. Your takeaway from some of these anecdotes is probably a little bit different than mine. So my view of, so this was a meeting for Egyptian activists. Two of them were sort of self-described moderates or liberals, one of them is a Marxist, and one is Muslim Brotherhood. And they all boycotted Hillary Clinton’s meeting because of something she said very early on in the protests. She said that the Mubarak regime is stable, or Mubarak government is stable. They all remembered that stable comment, and it really pissed them off. And they wouldn’t meet with her over it. Interestingly, I asked the Muslim Brotherhood guy if he would meet with Obama, and his face lit up and said yes. So Hugh, just think about that for a second. On the one hand, it gets at this sort of split between Hillary and Obama. But it’s a split in their perceptions of the two of them. In other words, they thought that Obama was on their side. This is a guy…and isn’t that what we want? We want the guys in the Muslim Brotherhood to think you know what, the U.S. has a president that in some way I can relate to. I don’t see that as a negative. I see that in some ways as a positive.

HH: I’m pretty sure my pal, Frank Gaffney, would say the Muslim Brotherhood is thinking that this guy is a patsy, and we can play him like a rube, and therefore, we’re not going to deal with the tough lady upstairs. We’re going to wait for Obama to wilt under the pressure of public opinion, and his perceived need to be liked by quasi-revolutionary movements.

RL: No, but my view of what they were telling me, and remember, it wasn’t just the Muslim Brotherhood. It was the guys from a selfish U.S. perspective, that you want to see succeed in Egypt. It was the moderates. It was the guys who, the non-religious moderates. They…and remember, all these guys were on the same side. It’s the same anti-Mubarak side. They’re all starting to divide and split and form parties and oppose each other. But for that one moment in Tahrir Square, they were all on the same side, right? So the Muslim Brotherhood guys and the liberals we want to succeed, were all trying to oust Mubarak together. And so where they agreed was that they thought that President Obama was more on the side of the protestors than on the side of Mubarak. And you know, I think the White House very skillfully maneuvered Obama into that sort of public position, even though behind the scenes, things were a lot more complicated with the whole Wisner episode, as you point out.

HH: Let me close by talking about the one passage which really jumped out, and it jumped out because it echoed, I had Mitt Romney on the program, oh, about a week ago, blasting President Obama. I had Tim Pawlenty on yesterday.

RL: Yeah, I saw that. I didn’t see Romney, but I read the Pawlenty excerpt.

HH: Yeah.

RL: He didn’t totally take the bait on the leading from behind, though.

HH: Oh, he was getting there. I ran out of time, though. But he did love the Zbigniew Brzezinski piece, where you quote Zbig as saying about the President, I don’t think he really has a policy that’s implementing his insights and understanding. The rhetoric is always terribly imperative and categorical. You must do this, he must do that, this is unacceptable. Brzezinski added, he doesn’t strategize, he sermonizes. That’s almost verbatim from Romney’s critique eight or nine days ago, and may become a meme along with leading from behind, Ryan Lizza. What are they saying about your piece? Are they happy with it?

RL: I don’t know. Frankly, I haven’t talked to many people in the administration since it’s come out. But you know, all you can do is…

HH: Write what you hear.

RL: Yeah, write what you hear, be fair, but also be tough. It’s our job, to maintain some critical distance.

HH: Was there much conversation about Israel at all? Because it’s not here.

RL: There was some. Hey look, there was some, and look, Zbig, I think Zbig, I didn’t detail this, but I think Zbig Brzezinski’s big issue is Israel. I think he thinks that Obama has mishandled Israel, and has retreated from a policy that Zbig was encouraging, that is to be a little bit tougher on Israel. And so I think that’s part of Zbig’s concern. But in general, as the quote you read suggests, Zbig thinks there’s a gap between the words and actions of the administration.

HH: Ryan Lizza, great piece, thanks for joining me on it. The Consequentialist is in the latest issue of the New York, how the Arab spring remade Obama’s foreign policy. And you’ve got to read it a couple of times. I think you’ll, I know every Republican presidential candidate is going over it and reading it with a fine-toothed comb, as I suspect the House Foreign Affairs Committee will be, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Title: Stratfor: Beyond OBL
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 10, 2011, 01:23:35 PM

There are assertions in here which are not self-apparent to me; regardless it is a thought provoking piece:

U.S.-Pakistani Relations Beyond Bin Laden
May 10, 2011

By George Friedman

The past week has been filled with announcements and speculations on how Osama bin Laden was killed and on Washington’s source of intelligence. After any operation of this sort, the world is filled with speculation on sources and methods by people who don’t know, and silence or dissembling by those who do.

Obfuscating on how intelligence was developed and on the specifics of how an operation was carried out is an essential part of covert operations. The precise process must be distorted to confuse opponents regarding how things actually played out; otherwise, the enemy learns lessons and adjusts. Ideally, the enemy learns the wrong lessons, and its adjustments wind up further weakening it. Operational disinformation is the final, critical phase of covert operations. So as interesting as it is to speculate on just how the United States located bin Laden and on exactly how the attack took place, it is ultimately not a fruitful discussion. Moreover, it does not focus on the truly important question, namely, the future of U.S.-Pakistani relations.

Posturing Versus a Genuine Breach
It is not inconceivable that Pakistan aided the United States in identifying and capturing Osama bin Laden, but it is unlikely. This is because the operation saw the already-tremendous tensions between the two countries worsen rather than improve. The Obama administration let it be known that it saw Pakistan as either incompetent or duplicitous and that it deliberately withheld plans for the operation from the Pakistanis. For their part, the Pakistanis made it clear that further operations of this sort on Pakistani territory could see an irreconcilable breach between the two countries. The attitudes of the governments profoundly affected the views of politicians and the public, attitudes that will be difficult to erase.

Posturing designed to hide Pakistani cooperation would be designed to cover operational details, not to lead to significant breaches between countries. The relationship between the United States and Pakistan ultimately is far more important than the details of how Osama bin Laden was captured, but both sides have created a tense atmosphere that they will find difficult to contain. One would not sacrifice strategic relationships for the sake of operational security. Therefore, we have to assume that the tension is real and revolves around the different goals of Pakistan and the United States.

A break between the United States and Pakistan holds significance for both sides. For Pakistan, it means the loss of an ally that could help Pakistan fend off its much larger neighbor to the east, India. For the United States, it means the loss of an ally in the war in Afghanistan. Whether the rupture ultimately occurs, of course, depends on how deep the tension goes. And that depends on what the tension is over, i.e., whether the tension ultimately merits the strategic rift. It also is a question of which side is sacrificing the most. It is therefore important to understand the geopolitics of U.S.-Pakistani relations beyond the question of who knew what about bin Laden.

From Cold to Jihadist War
U.S. strategy in the Cold War included a religious component, namely, using religion to generate tension within the Communist bloc. This could be seen in the Jewish resistance in the Soviet Union, in Roman Catholic resistance in Poland and, of course, in Muslim resistance to the Soviets in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, it took the form of using religious Islamist militias to wage a guerrilla war against Soviet occupation. A three-part alliance involving the Saudis, the Americans and the Pakistanis fought the Soviets. The Pakistanis had the closest relationships with the Afghan resistance due to ethnic and historical bonds, and the Pakistani intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had built close ties with the Afghans.

As frequently happens, the lines of influence ran both ways. The ISI did not simply control Islamist militants, but instead many within the ISI came under the influence of radical Islamist ideology. This reached the extent that the ISI became a center of radical Islamism, not so much on an institutional level as on a personal level: The case officers, as the phrase goes, went native. As long as the U.S. strategy remained to align with radical Islamism against the Soviets, this did not pose a major problem. However, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the United States lost interest in the future of Afghanistan, managing the conclusion of the war fell to the Afghans and to the Pakistanis through the ISI. In the civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the United States played a trivial role. It was the ISI in alliance with the Taliban — a coalition of Afghan and international Islamist fighters who had been supported by the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan — that shaped the future of Afghanistan.

The U.S.- Islamist relationship was an alliance of convenience for both sides. It was temporary, and when the Soviets collapsed, Islamist ideology focused on new enemies, the United States chief among them. Anti-Soviet sentiment among radical Islamists soon morphed into anti-American sentiment. This was particularly true after the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait and Desert Storm. The Islamists perceived the U.S. occupation and violation of Saudi territorial integrity as a religious breach. Therefore, at least some elements of international Islamism focused on the United States; al Qaeda was central among these elements. Al Qaeda needed a base of operations after being expelled from Sudan, and Afghanistan provided the most congenial home. In moving to Afghanistan and allying with the Taliban, al Qaeda inevitably was able to greatly expand its links with Pakistan’s ISI, which was itself deeply involved with the Taliban.

After 9/11, Washington demanded that the Pakistanis aid the United States in its war against al Qaeda and the Taliban. For Pakistan, this represented a profound crisis. On the one hand, Pakistan badly needed the United States to support it against what it saw as its existential enemy, India. On the other hand, Islamabad found it difficult to rupture or control the intimate relationships, ideological and personal, that had developed between the ISI and the Taliban, and by extension with al Qaeda to some extent. In Pakistani thinking, breaking with the United States could lead to strategic disaster with India. However, accommodating the United States could lead to unrest, potential civil war and even collapse by energizing elements of the ISI and supporters of Taliban and radical Islamism in Pakistan.

The Pakistani Solution
The Pakistani solution was to appear to be doing everything possible to support the United States in Afghanistan, with a quiet limit on what that support would entail. That limit on support set by Islamabad was largely defined as avoiding actions that would trigger a major uprising in Pakistan that could threaten the regime. Pakistanis were prepared to accept a degree of unrest in supporting the war but not to push things to the point of endangering the regime.

The Pakistanis thus walked a tightrope between demands they provide intelligence on al Qaeda and Taliban activities and permit U.S. operations in Pakistan on one side and the internal consequences of doing so on the other. The Pakistanis’ policy was to accept a degree of unrest to keep the Americans supporting Pakistan against India, but only to a point. So, for example, the government purged the ISI of its overt supporters of radial Islamism, but it did not purge the ISI wholesale nor did it end informal relations between purged intelligence officers and the ISI. Pakistan thus pursued a policy that did everything to appear to be cooperative while not really meeting American demands.

The Americans were, of course, completely aware of the Pakistani limits and did not ultimately object to this arrangement. The United States did not want a coup in Islamabad, nor did it want massive civil unrest. The United States needed Pakistan on whatever terms the Pakistanis could provide help. It needed the supply line through Pakistan from Karachi to the Khyber Pass. And while it might not get complete intelligence from Pakistan, the intelligence it did get was invaluable. Moreover, while the Pakistanis could not close the Afghan Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan, they could limit them and control their operation to some extent. The Americans were as aware as the Pakistanis that the choice was between full and limited cooperation, but could well be between limited and no cooperation, because the government might well not survive full cooperation. The Americans thus took what they could get.

Obviously, this relationship created friction. The Pakistani position was that the United States had helped create this reality in the 1980s and 1990s. The American position was that after 9/11, the price of U.S. support involved the Pakistanis changing their policies. The Pakistanis said there were limits. The Americans agreed, so the fight was about defining the limits.

The Americans felt that the limit was support for al Qaeda. They felt that whatever Pakistan’s relationship with the Afghan Taliban was, support in suppressing al Qaeda, a separate organization, had to be absolute. The Pakistanis agreed in principle but understood that the intelligence on al Qaeda flowed most heavily from those most deeply involved with radical Islamism. In others words, the very people who posed the most substantial danger to Pakistani stability were also the ones with the best intelligence on al Qaeda — and therefore, fulfilling the U.S. demand in principle was desirable. In practice, it proved difficult for Pakistan to carry out.

The Breakpoint and the U.S. Exit From Afghanistan
This proved the breakpoint between the two sides. The Americans accepted the principle of Pakistani duplicity, but drew a line at al Qaeda. The Pakistanis understood American sensibilities but didn’t want to incur the domestic risks of going too far. This psychological breakpoint cracked open on Osama bin Laden, the Holy Grail of American strategy and the third rail of Pakistani policy.

Under normal circumstances, this level of tension of institutionalized duplicity should have blown the U.S.-Pakistani relationship apart, with the United States simply breaking with Pakistan. It did not, and likely will not for a simple geopolitical reason, one that goes back to the 1990s. In the 1990s, when the United States no longer needed to support an intensive covert campaign in Afghanistan, it depended on Pakistan to manage Afghanistan. Pakistan would have done this anyway because it had no choice: Afghanistan was Pakistan’s backdoor, and given tensions with India, Pakistan could not risk instability in its rear. The United States thus did not have to ask Pakistan to take responsibility for Afghanistan.

The United States is now looking for an exit from Afghanistan. Its goal, the creation of a democratic, pro-American Afghanistan able to suppress radical Islamism in its own territory, is unattainable with current forces — and probably unattainable with far larger forces. Gen. David Petraeus, the architect of the Afghan strategy, has been nominated to become the head of the CIA. With Petraeus departing from the Afghan theater, the door is open to a redefinition of Afghan strategy. Despite Pentagon doctrines of long wars, the United States is not going to be in a position to engage in endless combat in Afghanistan. There are other issues in the world that must be addressed. With bin Laden’s death, a plausible (if not wholly convincing) argument can be made that the mission in AfPak, as the Pentagon refers to the theater, has been accomplished, and therefore the United States can withdraw.

No withdrawal strategy is conceivable without a viable Pakistan. Ideally, Pakistan would be willing to send forces into Afghanistan to carry out U.S. strategy. This is unlikely, as the Pakistanis don’t share the American concern for Afghan democracy, nor are they prepared to try directly to impose solutions in Afghanistan. At the same time, Pakistan can’t simply ignore Afghanistan because of its own national security issues, and therefore it will move to stabilize it.

The United States could break with Pakistan and try to handle things on its own in Afghanistan, but the supply line fueling Afghan fighting runs through Pakistan. The alternatives either would see the United States become dependent on Russia — an equally uncertain line of supply — or on the Caspian route, which is insufficient to supply forces. Afghanistan is war at the end of the Earth for the United States, and to fight it, Washington must have Pakistani supply routes.

The United States also needs Pakistan to contain, at least to some extent, Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan. The United States is stretched to the limit doing what it is doing in Afghanistan. Opening a new front in Pakistan, a country of 180 million people, is well beyond the capabilities of either forces in Afghanistan or forces in the U.S. reserves. Therefore, a U.S. break with Pakistan threatens the logistical foundation of the war in Afghanistan and poses strategic challenges U.S. forces cannot cope with.

The American option might be to support a major crisis between Pakistan and India to compel Pakistan to cooperate with the United States. However, it is not clear that India is prepared to play another round in the U.S. game with Pakistan. Moreover, creating a genuine crisis between India and Pakistan could have two outcomes. The first involves the collapse of Pakistan, which would create an India more powerful than the United States might want. The second and more likely outcome would see the creation of a unity government in Pakistan in which distinctions between secularists, moderate Islamists and radical Islamists would be buried under anti-Indian feeling. Doing all of this to deal with Afghan withdrawal would be excessive, even if India played along, and could well prove disastrous for Washington.

Ultimately, the United States cannot change its policy of the last 10 years. During that time, it has come to accept what support the Pakistanis could give and tolerated what was withheld. U.S. dependence on Pakistan so long as Washington is fighting in Afghanistan is significant; the United States has lived with Pakistan’s multitiered policy for a decade because it had to. Nothing in the capture of bin Laden changes the geopolitical realities. So long as the United States wants to wage — or end — a war in Afghanistan, it must have the support of Pakistan to the extent that Pakistan is prepared to provide support. The option of breaking with Pakistan because on some level it is acting in opposition to American interests does not exist.

This is the ultimate contradiction in U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and even the so-called war on terror as a whole. The United States has an absolute opposition to terrorism and has waged a war in Afghanistan on the questionable premise that the tactic of terrorism can be defeated, regardless of source or ideology. Broadly fighting terrorism requires the cooperation of the Muslim world, as U.S. intelligence and power is inherently limited. The Muslim world has an interest in containing terrorism, but not the absolute concern the United States has. Muslim countries are not prepared to destabilize their countries in service to the American imperative. This creates deeper tensions between the United States and the Muslim world and increases the American difficulty in dealing with terrorism — or with Afghanistan.

The United States must either develop the force and intelligence to wage war without any assistance — which is difficult to imagine given the size of the Muslim world and the size of the U.S. military — or it will have to accept half-hearted support and duplicity. Alternatively, it could accept that it will not win in Afghanistan and will not be able simply to eliminate terrorism. These are difficult choices, but the reality of Pakistan drives home that these, in fact, are the choices.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on May 10, 2011, 02:58:05 PM
Pakistan needs to be made an example of, otherwise the lesson to the world is: Use non-state actors to wage mass-casualty terrorism on America and then fund and shelter the terrorists. The worst thing the US will do is kill the non-state actor and cut some funding.
Title: WSJ
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 19, 2011, 09:35:15 AM
WASHINGTON—When President Barack Obama lays out his vision for the Middle East in a speech Thursday, he will also be tacitly drawing attention to another upheaval: Tumult in the Arab world has accelerated a shift in the standing of Washington's foreign-policy power players.

The Obama White House has moved to exert greater civilian control over the military, challenging the views of the top brass in some areas, officials say. At the same time, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's State Department, together with a more assertive White House National Security Council, has taken a lead in crafting America's response to the greatest geopolitical challenge since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Underscoring this shift is Mr. Obama's choice of venue to deliver the address: the State Department. The address Thursday morning—which is late afternoon, Cairo time—will be the president's first major policy address from the home base of U.S. foreign diplomacy.

The military's standing in the White House reflects lingering tensions with some of Mr. Obama's civilian advisers that grew out of a 2009 debate over escalating the war in Afghanistan, according to senior U.S. officials and foreign diplomats.

When popular revolutions began sweeping the Arab world, many in the military, which has been generally cautious about intervention, were reluctant to see longstanding Arab allies, such as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, pushed out.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and many military leaders were also particularly cautious about military action in Libya. Some have taken to calling the Libya campaign the "estrogen war" in an implicit critique of Mrs. Clinton and other female administration officials who backed it.

Mrs. Clinton was also an early voice of caution when it came to Egypt. But she moved more quickly to break with autocrats in Yemen and Libya and push for democratic change in Bahrain, while managing to maintain relationships with unhappy Arab allies, U.S. officials say.

Officials in the State Department and the White House, especially those who backed the use of force in Libya, dismiss the estrogen comment as the sexist grousing of military men who lost the argument.

Managing the Turmoil | Some U.S. responses to Arab uprisings
Egypt State Department and Pentagon joined in urging caution about pushing for President Hosni Mubarak's ouster. On peace with Israel, counterterrorism and hostility to Iran, he was a vital U.S. ally. Having invested decades in building ties to the Egyptian army, Pentagon veterans shared Mrs. Clinton's view.

Bahrain The popular uprising in the tiny Persian Gulf sheikdom concerned U.S. military officials, who were fearful of losing their base for the Pentagon's Fifth Fleet, which polices the Gulf, and worried about what might happen if the regime fell. Mrs. Clinton pushed Bahrain to make political changes, chilling relations with Arab states.

Yemen Mrs. Clinton angered President Ali Abdullah Saleh in January by demanding a meeting with activists. In March, Defense Secretary Gates said the Yemeni leader's fate was 'too soon to call,' and praised his government as an ally against al Qaeda. The White House is now pushing Mr. Saleh to resign sooner rather than later.

Libya Mr. Gates, urged caution when considering military intervention. Pentagon officials worried about the department being overstretched. 'This is not a question of whether we or our allies can do this. We can,' Mr. Gates said. 'The question is whether this is a wise thing to do.' The White House chose to proceed.
."Secretary Clinton has become one of the most forceful officials working on the world stage," says Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), a long-serving member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Her influence with the president has been enhanced by her stature."

The next test is Syria, where officials across the administration worry the fall of President Bashar al-Assad could unleash sectarian violence. Some aides to Mrs. Clinton, however, see the unrest as an unrivaled opportunity to diminish the power of Syria's ally, Iran, and rewrite the politics of the region.

Mr. Obama is expected to argue Thursday that the death of Osama bin Laden, paired with the popular uprisings, signals the possibility of a new, open and democratic opportunity for a region that is largely the province of entrenched autocrats.

Mr. Obama will also announce an economic aid plan focused on Egypt and Tunisia, according to senior administration officials, including $1 billion in debt relief and $1 billion in loan guarantees for Egypt, the creation of an Egyptian-American enterprise fund to help promote private investment, and a framework for strengthening trade.

Mr. Obama will speak from the State Department's Benjamin Franklin Room. White House officials say the setting embodies the policy shift the president is trying to achieve.

Even as the U.S. pursues "principally military and intelligence efforts" to fight terrorism and build toward an exit from Afghanistan, "the longer future in the Middle East we believe will have a huge diplomatic component to it," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

That puts the military in a bind. Many in the Pentagon ascribe to what Washington policy wonks call the "realist" theory of foreign policy, which believes in narrowly defined international goals, not reshaping the world. "We take countries as they are, not as we might wish they could be," said a senior military officer working on the Middle East.

Mrs. Clinton is no idealist, but she has sought to build the State Department into a powerful base, and in recent months has made common cause with a younger group of more idealistic White House officials, according to U.S. officials. Senior U.S. officials say the eruption of political revolts across the Middle East at the beginning of 2011 blindsided the administration.

Mrs. Clinton was forced to fashion the administration's first response to the crisis literally on the fly as she toured Persian Gulf states. In a speech in Qatar, she stunned Arab leaders by saying they risked "sinking into the sand" if they didn't change course.

During the first act of the Arab Spring, however, the State Department and Pentagon joined in pressing caution, especially with Egypt, a vital U.S. ally.

For Mrs. Clinton, a turning point came with the uprising in Bahrain, home to the Pentagon's Fifth Fleet, which polices the oil-rich Gulf. The Pentagon was fearful of losing its basing rights and worried about what might happen if the regime fell.

Mrs. Clinton pushed Bahrain for political change. That chilled relations to the point that neither Bahrain nor Saudi Arabia directly notified the White House in March before deploying thousands of Saudi and Emirati troops to shore up its ruling family, according to the U.S.

The State Department believed it was within hours of a breakthrough that could have pushed Bahrain closer to a deal with the political opposition. Mrs. Clinton was livid.

It was the decision to attack Libya that laid bare the new dynamic most starkly. Pentagon officials worried out loud that France and Britain were playing down the difficulty of removing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. They were outspoken about the limited effectiveness of a no-fly zone and skeptical about the impact of financial sanctions.

The White House and State Department, however, were under pressure from European and Arab allies. The U.S. put forth to allied countries and Arab states preconditions to military action that included a United Nations resolution, Arab participation and drawing up a plan that went beyond a no-fly zone.

Some officials worried Col. Gadhafi's troops would slaughter rebel forces, an echo of the violence in Rwanda and Srebrenica that occurred on President Bill Clinton's watch. "Senior officials all agreed to the pillars of our Libya policy," said a senior aide to Mrs. Clinton. "If all of these became available to us, could we really stand aside?"

Title: Baraq and the Arab Spring
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 24, 2011, 03:52:49 PM
Some distinct gaps here e.g. that candidate BO sedulously worked to undermine the efforts GF sees him as now supporting but as always an interesting analysis:


May 24, 2011 | 0902 GMT

Obama and the Arab Spring
By George Friedman

U.S. President Barack Obama gave a speech last week on the Middle East. Presidents make many speeches. Some are meant to be taken casually, others are made to address an immediate crisis, and still others are intended to be a statement of broad American policy. As in any country, U.S. presidents follow rituals indicating which category their speeches fall into. Obama clearly intended his recent Middle East speech to fall into the last category, as reflecting a shift in strategy if not the declaration of a new doctrine.

While events in the region drove Obama’s speech, politics also played a strong part, as with any presidential speech. Devising and implementing policy are the president’s job. To do so, presidents must be able to lead — and leading requires having public support. After the 2010 election, I said that presidents who lose control of one house of Congress in midterm elections turn to foreign policy because it is a place in which they retain the power to act. The U.S. presidential campaign season has begun, and the United States is engaged in wars that are not going well. Within this framework, Obama thus sought to make both a strategic and a political speech.

Obama’s War Dilemma
The United States is engaged in a  broad struggle against jihadists. Specifically, it is engaged in a war in Afghanistan and is in the terminal phase of the Iraq war.

The Afghan war is stalemated. Following the death of Osama bin Laden, Obama said that the Taliban’s forward momentum has been stopped. He did not, however, say that the Taliban is being defeated. Given the state of affairs between the United States and Pakistan following bin Laden’s death, whether the United States can defeat the Taliban remains unclear. It might be able to, but the president must remain open to the possibility that the war will become an extended stalemate.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops are being withdrawn from Iraq, but that does not mean the conflict is over. Instead, the withdrawal has opened the door to Iranian power in Iraq. The Iraqis lack a capable military and security force. Their government is divided and feeble. Meanwhile, the Iranians have had years to infiltrate Iraq. Iranian domination of Iraq would open the door to  Iranian power projection throughout the region. Therefore, the United States has proposed keeping U.S. forces in Iraq but has yet to receive Iraq’s approval. If that approval is given (which looks unlikely), Iraqi factions with clout in parliament have threatened to renew the anti-U.S. insurgency.

The United States must therefore consider its actions should the situation in Afghanistan remain indecisive or deteriorate and should Iraq evolve into an Iranian strategic victory. The simple answer — extending the mission in Iraq and increasing forces in Afghanistan — is not viable. The United States could not pacify Iraq with 170,000 troops facing determined opposition, while the 300,000 troops that Chief of Staff of the Army Eric Shinseki argued for in 2003 are not available. Meanwhile, it is difficult to imagine how many troops would be needed to guarantee a military victory in Afghanistan. Such surges are not politically viable, either. After nearly 10 years of indecisive war, the American public has little appetite for increasing troop commitments to either war and has no appetite for conscription.

Obama thus has limited military options on the ground in a situation where conditions in both war zones could deteriorate badly. And his political option — blaming former U.S. President George W. Bush — in due course would wear thin, as Nixon found in blaming Johnson.

The Coalition of the Willing Meets the Arab Spring
For his part, Bush followed a strategy of a coalition of the willing. He understood that the United States could not conduct a war in the region without regional allies, and he therefore recruited a coalition of countries that calculated that radical Islamism represented a profound threat to regime survival. This included Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Pakistan. These countries shared a desire to see al Qaeda defeated and a willingness to pool resources and intelligence with the United States to enable Washington to carry the main burden of the war.

This coalition appears to be fraying. Apart from the tensions between the United States and Pakistan, the unrest in the Middle East of the last few months apparently has undermined the legitimacy and survivability of many Arab regimes, including key partners in the so-called coalition of the willing. If these pro-American regimes collapse and are replaced by anti-American regimes, the American position in the region might also collapse.

Obama appears to have reached three conclusions about the Arab Spring:

It represented a genuine and liberal democratic rising that might replace regimes.
American opposition to these risings might result in the emergence of anti-American regimes in these countries.
The United States must embrace the general idea of the Arab risings but be selective in specific cases; thus, it should support the rising in Egypt, but not necessarily in Bahrain.
Though these distinctions may be difficult to justify in intellectual terms, geopolitics is not an abstract exercise. In the real world, supporting regime change in Libya costs the United States relatively little. Supporting an uprising in Egypt could have carried some cost, but not if the military was the midwife to change and is able to maintain control. (Egypt was more an exercise of regime preservation than true regime change.) Supporting regime change in Bahrain, however, would have proved quite costly. Doing so could have seen the United States lose a major naval base in the Persian Gulf and incited spillover Shiite protests in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province.

Moral consistency and geopolitics rarely work neatly together. Moral absolutism is not an option in the Middle East, something Obama recognized. Instead, Obama sought a new basis for tying together the fraying coalition of the willing.

Obama’s Challenge and the Illusory Arab Spring
Obama’s conundrum is that there is still much uncertainty as to whether that coalition would be stronger with current, albeit embattled, regimes or with new regimes that could arise from the so-called Arab Spring. He began to address the problem with an empirical assumption critical to his strategy that  in my view is questionable, namely, that there is such a thing as an Arab Spring.

Let me repeat something I have said before: All demonstrations are not revolutions. All revolutions are not democratic revolutions. All democratic revolutions do not lead to constitutional democracy.

The Middle East has seen many demonstrations of late, but that does not make them revolutions. The 300,000 or so demonstrators concentrated mainly in Tahrir Square in Cairo represented a tiny fraction of Egyptian society. However committed and democratic those 300,000 were, the masses of Egyptians did not join them along the lines of what happened in Eastern Europe in 1989 and in Iran in 1979. For all the media attention paid to Egypt’s demonstrators, the most interesting thing in Egypt is not who demonstrated, but the vast majority who did not. Instead, a series of demonstrations gave the Egyptian army cover to carry out what was tantamount to a military coup. The president was removed, but his removal would be difficult to call a revolution.

And where revolutions could be said to have occurred, as in Libya, it is not clear they were democratic revolutions. The forces in eastern Libya remain opaque, and it cannot be assumed their desires represent the will of the majority of Libyans — or that the eastern rebels intend to create, or are capable of creating, a democratic society. They want to get rid of a tyrant, but that doesn’t mean they won’t just create another tyranny.

Then, there are revolutions that genuinely represent the will of the majority, as in Bahrain. Bahrain’s Shiite majority rose up against the Sunni royal family, clearly seeking a regime that truly represents the majority. But it is not at all clear that they want to create a constitutional democracy, or at least not one the United States would recognize as such. Obama said each country can take its own path, but he also made clear that the path could not diverge from basic principles of human rights — in other words, their paths can be different, but they cannot be too different. Assume for the moment that the Bahraini revolution resulted in a democratic Bahrain tightly aligned with Iran and hostile to the United States. Would the United States recognize Bahrain as a satisfactory democratic model?

The central problem from my point of view is that the Arab Spring has consisted of demonstrations of limited influence, in non-democratic revolutions and in revolutions whose supporters would create regimes quite alien from what Washington would see as democratic. There is no single vision to the Arab Spring, and the places where the risings have the most support are the places that will be least democratic, while the places where there is the most democratic focus have the weakest risings.

As important, even if we assume that democratic regimes would emerge, there is no reason to believe they would form a coalition with the United States. In this, Obama seems to side with the neoconservatives, his ideological enemies. Neoconservatives argued that democratic republics have common interests, so not only would they not fight each other, they would band together — hence their rhetoric about creating democracies in the Middle East. Obama seems to have bought into this idea that a truly democratic Egypt would be friendly to the United States and its interests. That may be so, but it is hardly self-evident — and this assumes democracy is a real option in Egypt, which is questionable.

Obama addressed this by saying we must take risks in the short run to be on the right side of history in the long run. The problem embedded in this strategy is that if the United States miscalculates about the long run of history, it might wind up with short-term risks and no long-term payoff. Even if by some extraordinary evolution the Middle East became a genuine democracy, it is the ultimate arrogance to assume that a Muslim country would choose to be allied with the United States. Maybe it would, but Obama and the neoconservatives can’t know that.

But to me, this is an intellectual abstraction. There is no Arab Spring, just some demonstrations accompanied by slaughter and extraordinarily vacuous observers. While the pressures are rising, the demonstrations and risings have so far largely failed, from Egypt, where Hosni Mubarak was replaced by a junta, to Bahrain, where Saudi Arabia by invitation led a contingent of forces to occupy the country, to Syria, where Bashar al Assad continues to slaughter his enemies just like his father did.

A Risky Strategy
Obviously, if Obama is going to call for sweeping change, he must address the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. Obama knows this is the graveyard of foreign policy: Presidents who go into this rarely come out well. But any influence he would have with the Arabs would be diminished if he didn’t try. Undoubtedly understanding the futility of the attempt, he went in, trying to reconcile an Israel that has no intention of returning to thegeopolitically vulnerable borders of 1967 with a Hamas with no intention of publicly acknowledging Israel’s right to exist — with Fatah hanging in the middle. By the weekend, the president was doing what he knew he would do and was switching positions.

At no point did Obama address the question of Pakistan and Afghanistan or the key issue: Iran. There can be fantasies about uprisings in Iran, but 2009 was crushed, and no matter what political dissent there is among the elite, a broad-based uprising is unlikely. The question thus becomes how the United States plans to deal with Iran’s emerging power in the region as the United States withdraws from Iraq.

But Obama’s foray into Israeli-Palestinian affairs was not intended to be serious; rather, it was merely a cover for his broader policy to reconstitute a coalition of the willing. While we understand why he wants this broader policy to revive the coalition of the willing, it seems to involve huge risks that could see a diminished or disappeared coalition. He could help bring down pro-American regimes that are repressive and replace them with anti-American regimes that are equally or even more repressive.

If Obama is right that there is a democratic movement in the Muslim world large enough to seize power and create U.S.-friendly regimes, then he has made a wise choice. If he is wrong and the Arab Spring was simply unrest leading nowhere, then he risks the coalition he has by alienating regimes in places like Bahrain or Saudi Arabia without gaining either democracy or friends.
Title: Allies anonymous
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 29, 2011, 01:19:47 PM
Title: Re: Allies anonymous
Post by: G M on May 29, 2011, 02:49:30 PM

Remember when Obama was going to rebuild America's relationships in the world?

As has been pointed out many times, every Obama promise comes with an expiration date.
Title: WSJ: Helprin
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 30, 2011, 03:45:32 PM
Largely out of touch with the tragedies of war, America sends often principled and self-sacrificing volunteers to suffer and die in our behalf. We call them heroes and salve our consciences in a froth of words. Or, among those of us who will fight only if the Taliban come to Beverly Hills, and probably not even then, congratulate ourselves for being intelligent enough not to volunteer. Then we go about our business, either satisfied that we are appropriately patriotic or assuming that as we face only imagined dangers we need not lose sleep over the unfortunates who pursue them, often unto death, leaving behind broken and grieving families who suffer a pain that never goes away.

On Memorial Day, we pause at the graves of lost soldiers and make speeches that sometimes open to view the heartbreak and love that are their last traces. But this is not enough, because they do not hear, and because those who will have followed in the years to come will not hear. Love is not enough, rationalization not enough, commemoration a thin and insufficient offering. The only just memorial to those who went forth and died for us, and who therefore question us eternally, cannot be of stone or steel or time set aside for speeches and picnics.

We should offer instead a memorial, never ending, of probity and preparation, shared sacrifice, continuing resolve, and the clarity the nation once had in regard to how, where, when, and when not to go to war. This is the least we can do both for America and for the troops we dispatch into worlds of sorrow and death. Once, it came naturally, but no longer, and it must be restored.

First, and despite the times, is the demonstrable fact that throttling defense in the name of economy is economical neither in the long nor the short run. Not if you count the cost of avoidable wars undeterred. Not if you count the cost of major world realignments that lead to overt challenges and adventures. Not if you count the cost—in money, division, demoralization, decline, death, and grief—of lost wars. Is there any doubt that a relatively minor expenditure of money and courage could have kept Germany in its place and prevented the incalculable cost of World War II?

A public that otherwise professes deep loyalty to its troops is in the name of economy stripping down their equipment and resources, making it more likely that they will fight future battles against forces both gratuitously undeterred and against which they may not prevail. This is short sighted, tragic, hardly a memorial, and in fact an irony, in that other than in redeploying a portion of our wealth from luxury to security, military spending has always been a spur to the economy, as history demonstrates and every member of Congress with military facilities or manufactures in his district knows.

Nonetheless, the greatest economy—of lives, money, strategy—is found in neither the diminution nor the accretion of forces but in the wisdom and precision of their deployment and the adoption of feasible goals. It is neither possible nor desirable to build nations while simultaneously trying to conquer them with inadequate force. (Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, the oft-mentioned counter examples of Germany and Japan had been decisively defeated and were heirs to different traditions of governance.)

And what opponents of the United States could not be delighted that the current administration, in the name of unrealizable ideals, has made a project of destabilizing the whole world by abandoning friendly countries and allies because it is too delicate and self-concerned to tolerate that they are at times unsavory? President Obama would undoubtedly praise this in FDR, but apparently to him the co-operative states and allies he has undermined are neither as warm nor as fuzzy as Stalin.

When in defense of our essential interests we do go to war, not only must we carefully determine war aims—and thus dictate to the enemy the time, place, and nature of battle rather than chasing him into the briar patch of his choosing—but we must accomplish them massively, overwhelmingly, decisively, and, if necessary, ruthlessly. For anything other than minor operations this requires the consent of Congress, a declaration of war, and the clear statement and unflinching prosecution of our objectives. Rapid shocks cost less in lives, ours and theirs, than wars that drag inconclusively for a decade. We must make our enemies understand at the deepest level of apprehension that if we are attacked we will be quick and they will be dead.

We can construct a genuine memorial to the patriot graves in Arlington and thousands of other cemeteries only if we abandon the many illusory and destructive assumptions with which the weakness of the present will burden the future.

We will fail to assure the national security if we assume that we will not be drawn into two wars at once; if we do not provide a surplus of material power; if we believe that "conventional" war is a thing of the past; if in the name of false economy we do not apply our full technological potential to our arsenals; if we imagine that technological advance will carry the day in the absence of strategic clarity and the proven principles of warfare; if we make the armed forces a laboratory for the hobby horses of progressivism; and if our political leaders, very few of whom have studied much less known war, commit our troops promiscuously, in service to tangential ideology, with scatterbrained objectives, and without what Winston Churchill called the "continual stress of soul" necessary for proper decision.

Only the dead have seen the end of war, which will not be eradicated but must be suppressed, managed, and minimized. This cannot be accomplished in the absence of resolution, vigilance, and sacrifice. These are the only fitting memorials to the long ranks of the dead, and what we owe to those who in the absence of our care and devotion are sure to join them.

Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is the author of, among
Title: The US and the Pacific: a historical strategic priority
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 02, 2011, 10:11:21 PM

Gates and the Pacific: A Historical Strategic Priority

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates left Hawaii for Singapore on Wednesday, bound for the 10th annual Asia Security Summit in Singapore — his last foreign trip before he leaves office at the end of the month. While in Hawaii, Gates signaled that at the summit he will emphasize the long-standing American commitment to the region: “We are a Pacific nation. We will remain a Pacific nation. We will remain engaged.”

This statement does more than reassure allies in the region at a time of personnel transition. It reflects the United States’ historical strategic commitments in the region. As an economic power, American commerce is closely tied to the world’s second- and third-largest economies — China and Japan. As a maritime power, the U.S. Navy has shifted more of its focus to East Asian waters. But while the importance of the Pacific region has grown since the Cold War, it has long been of foundational, fundamental importance to American geopolitical security and grand strategy.

“Rare is the country that does not see its relationship with Washington as at least a hedge against a rising and more assertive Beijing.”
When Gates called the United States “a Pacific nation” Tuesday, he was at the USS Missouri (BB 63), one of the last battleships the Americans built and now a museum at Pearl Harbor. Built and commissioned during World War II, the Missouri shelled Iwo Jima and Okinawa as the United States closed in on the Japanese home islands, and later provided fire support to troops in Korea. Indeed, some 50 years prior to the Missouri’s commissioning, U.S. naval officers began crafting and refining a plan to defeat “orange” — a notional adversary representing imperial Japan. For half a century, debates raged over the defensibility of Guam and ports in the Philippines, over the speed at which a fleet could be assembled to sail for the western Pacific, and what would be required to sustain it in extended combat.

Now, Gates travels to a region that has been neglected amid distraction for the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq. He travels to a region where, since Washington’s focus waned following 9/11, North Korea has tested crude atomic devices and China has made enormous strides in building a modern military — including anti-ship ballistic missiles intended to target American aircraft carriers at a range of thousands of kilometers. The status of an American air station on Okinawa has faced intense debate and South Korea is uncomfortable with American deference to China in the midst of North Korean aggression.

But Gates is also visiting a region that has been a strategic U.S. priority since the 19th century — and a theater where the country has long worked to strengthen its position. It was no mistake that the Americans forced Spain to surrender Guam and the Philippines after the Spanish-American War, nor was the domination and ultimate annexation of Hawaii or the deployment of U.S. Marines to Beijing a product of happenstance. The result a century later is a robust foundation for American national power in the region.

In terms of commerce, the region’s economic bonds with the American economy continue to grow. In terms of military presence, while the United States may have some operational challenges in certain scenarios, it can call on allies from Australia to Japan and has sovereign-basing options in Hawaii and Guam. Politically, rare is the country that does not see its relationship with Washington as at least a hedge against a rising and more assertive Beijing, particularly as China asserts its maritime claims in the South China Sea. And, it is a region of powerful intra-regional tensions. Countries are more likely to distrust the intentions of those that border them than to share a powerful alliance with them. Even in the absence of deeply entrenched alliances with Australia, Japan and South Korea (not to mention other ties, such as the Philippines on counterterrorism, or with Taiwan, which depends on U.S. military armaments), this patchwork of regional tensions provides considerable flexibility to Washington, allowing it a number of scenarios to play a spoiling role and frustrate the emergence of a single regional hegemon.

Title: WSJ: Gates's speech on NATO
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 12, 2011, 04:32:05 AM
BRUSSELS—Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued a blunt critique of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Friday, arguing the Libya operations demonstrated America's allies suffered from serious gaps in military capabilities because of their failure to spend enough on their own defense.

One of the NATO's most ardent defenders and pointed critics, the outgoing U.S. defense chief scathingly accused Europe of behaving increasingly like a free rider, as budget cuts eat deeper into military spending.

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America's European allies, Mr. Gates said, are "apparently willing and eager for American taxpayers to assume the growing security burden left by reductions in European defense budgets."

Although the Libya mission has met its initial military objectives of grounding the Libyan air force and eroding Col. Moammar Gadhafi's ability to mount attacks on his own citizens, the operations have exposed weaknesses in the alliance, Mr. Gates said. While all members of the 28-nation alliance approved the Libya mission, fewer than half are participating, and even a smaller fraction are conducting air-to-ground strike missions.

"Frankly, many of those allies sitting on the sidelines do so not because they do not want to participate, but simply because they can't. The military capabilities simply aren't there," he said.

Journal Community

On the day of his speech, Norway—one of just seven NATO nations contributing ground-strike aircraft to the Libya campaign—announced it would pull out of the operation on Aug. 1 and, in the meantime, reduce the number of its strike fighters to four from six.

Norway's Defense Minister Grete Faremo said she expected understanding from allies, because the country's small air force couldn't maintain a large fighter-jet contribution over an extended period.

Norway, along with Denmark, has been praised by U.S. officials for pulling more than its weight over Libya. The two countries have provided 12% of allied strike aircraft yet have struck about one-third of the targets, Mr. Gates said.

In a private meeting with NATO defense ministers Wednesday, Mr. Gates identified Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands as countries that should contribute more to the Libya mission, and urged Germany and Poland, which have so far not contributed, to join the fight.


Full Text: Gates's speech on NATO
Dozens Die in Fresh Gadhafi Offensive
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has expressed his own fears about other allies falling further behind the U.S. and being dependent on American technology. But he was confident allies would provide what was necessary to fulfill the Libya mission, she said.

A spokeswoman for Germany's foreign service said the country makes a considerable contribution to NATO and to NATO-led operations. She said the "large German engagement" in Afghanistan and elsewhere was explicitly praised by President Barack Obama when he met Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington on June 7.

Officials from the U.K., which has the second-largest defense budget in NATO, said they didn't believe Mr. Gates's comments were directed at them. Nonetheless, U.S. officials have expressed disappointment at a 7.5% cut to defense spending in coming years.

British Defence Secretary Liam Fox has echoed some of Mr. Gates's views, saying other countries are relying too much on a few countries, particularly the U.K. and France, in Libya.

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Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert delivered a speech in Brussels Friday.

French and British officials have spoken of a three-tier alliance—with the U.S. far ahead of the second tier of Britain and France, and the rest way behind them.

Mr. Gates said he had long worried NATO was developing into a tiered alliance, divided between countries willing to bear the burden of military operations and those who "enjoy the benefits" but won't share the costs. "This is no longer a hypothetical worry," he said. "We are there today. And it is unacceptable."

Mr. Gates blasted the alliance for failing to develop intelligence and reconnaissance assets, forcing NATO to rely on American capabilities to develop targeting lists. "The most advanced fighter aircraft are little use if allies do not have the means to identify, process and strike targets as part of an integrated campaign," Mr. Gates said.

In addition, he said, even in a campaign against a "poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country" allies began running short on munitions after just 11 weeks, forcing the U.S. to step in and help.

NATO officials said ammunition shortages hadn't affected the campaign.

Mr. Gates said the alliance had outperformed his expectations in Afghanistan. But even in the face of increased operations there, NATO defense budgets have fallen, forcing allies to put off critical modernization programs. In the 10 years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. defense spending doubled. European defense spending, Mr. Gates said, fell by 15%. NATO members are supposed to spend 2% of their GDP on defense, but only five of the 28 allies meet that target.

In a question-and-answer session after the speech, Mr. Gates said historical attachments U.S. leaders have had to NATO are "aging out."

"Decisions and choices are going to be made more on what is in the best interest of the United States going forward," he said.
Title: Palestinian State
Post by: JDN on June 12, 2011, 08:47:06 AM
The LA Times gets a lot of bad press on this forum, but I think lately they have been trying to represent both sides of many important issues.
One example is two articles presented side by side in the printed newspaper on the establishment of a Palestinian State.  John Bolton writing one side. 
Regardless of your viewpoint, I think it is helpful to hear and read both to better understand the issues.,0,4707176.story
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 13, 2011, 04:56:57 AM
Well, nice to see Bolton get it right in his customarily pithy manner, and what a disingenous lying sack of excrement the Hamas guy is.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 18, 2011, 04:32:57 PM
While this could be posted in the Afpakia thread I am posting it here because of its focus on the larger international context.  IMHO it would be a better piece if it included more analysis of what happens as we leave.

June 18, 2011


U.S. President Barack Obama met with the outgoing commander of U.S. forces in
Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, and Obama's national security team Thursday to
review the status of the counterinsurgency-focused campaign. At the center of the
discussion was next month's deadline for a drawdown of forces, set by Obama when he
committed 30,000 additional troops at the end of 2009. An announcement on this
initial drawdown is expected within weeks.
The ballpark figure of this first reduction is said to be on the order of 30,000
U.S. troops -- mirroring the 2009 surge -- over the next 12-18 months. This would
leave some 70,000 U.S. troops, plus allied forces, in the country. Any reduction
will ostensibly be founded on oft-cited "conditions-based" decisions by military
commanders, though ultimate authority remains with the White House.
Far more interesting are the rumors -- coming from STRATFOR sources, among many
others -- suggesting that the impending White House announcement will spell out not
only the anticipated reduction, but a restatement of the strategy and objectives of
the war effort (and by implication, the scale and duration of the commitment of
forces and resources). The stage has certainly been set with the killing of Osama
bin Laden, the single most wanted individual in the American war on terror, and the
shuffling of Petraeus, the counterinsurgency-focused strategy’s principal architect
and most ardent defender, to the CIA.
Nearly 150,000 troops cannot and will not be suddenly extracted from landlocked
Central Asia in short order. Whatever the case, a full drawdown is at best years
away. And even with a fundamental shift in strategy, some sort of training,
advising, intelligence and particularly, special-operations presence, could well
remain in the country far beyond the deadline for the end of combat operations,
currently set for the end of 2014.
But a change in strategy could quickly bear significant repercussions, particularly
if a drawdown begins to accelerate more rapidly than originally planned. Even the
most committed allies to the war in Afghanistan are there to support the United
States, often in pursuit of their own political aims, which may be only obliquely
related to anything happening in Afghanistan. While there may not be a rush for the
exit, most are weary and anxious for the war to end. Any prospect of a more rapid
withdrawal will certainly be welcomed news to American allies. (Recall the rapid
dwindling, in the latter years of the Iraq war, of the "coalition of the willing,"
which, aside from a company of British trainers, effectively became a coalition of
one by mid-2009.)

"For Washington, the imperative is to extract itself from these wars and focus its
attention on more pressing and significant geopolitical challenges. For the rest of
the world, the concern is that it might succeed sooner than expected."

More important will be regional repercussions. India will be concerned that a U.S.
withdrawal will leave Washington more dependent on Islamabad to manage Afghanistan
in the long run, thereby strengthening India’s rival to the north. India's concern
over Islamist militancy will only grow. Pakistan's concerns, meanwhile, are far more
fundamental. Afghanistan, on one hand, could provide some semblance of strategic
depth to the rear that the country sorely lacks to the front. On the other hand, it
offers a potential foothold to any potential aggressor, from India to Islamist
militants, intent on striking at the country’s core. Meanwhile, Iran -- though
geographically buffered in comparison to Pakistan -- has its own concerns about
cross-border militancy, particularly regarding the Baloch insurgency within its own
borders. And this, of course, intersects the larger American-Iranian struggle.
Concern about militancy abounds. Potential spillover of militancy in the absence of
a massive American and allied military presence in Afghanistan affects all bordering
countries. Even in the best case scenario, from a regional perspective, a
deterioration of security conditions can be expected to accompany any U.S. drawdown.
The presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan acts as a magnet for all manner of
regional militant entities, though Pakistan has already begun to feel the spillover
effects from the conflict in Afghanistan in the form of the Tehrik-i-Taliban, the
Pakistani version of the Taliban phenomenon, along with an entire playbill of other
militant actors. The presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan consumes much of
those militants’ efforts and strength. As the attraction and pressure of foreign
troops begin to lift, some battle-hardened militants will begin to move homeward or
toward the next perceived frontline, where they can turn their refined operational
skill on new foes.

Others, like Russia, will be concerned about an expansion of the already enormous
flow of Afghan poppy-based opiates into their country. From Moscow’s perspective,
counternarcotics efforts are already insufficient, as they have been sacrificed for
more pressing operational needs, and are likely to further decline as the United
States and its allies begin to extricate themselves from this conflict.
Domestically, Afghanistan is a fractious country. The infighting and civil war that
followed the Soviet withdrawal ultimately killed more Afghans than the Soviets'
scorched-earth policy did over the course of nearly a decade. Much will rest on
whatever political accommodation can be reached between Kabul, Islamabad and the
Taliban as the Americans and their allies shape the political circumstances of their
withdrawal. The durability of that political accommodation will be another question
But ultimately, for the last decade, the international system has been defined by a
United States bogged down in two wars in Asia. For Washington, the imperative is to
extract itself from these wars and focus its attention on more pressing and
significant geopolitical challenges. For the rest of the world, the concern is that
it might succeed sooner than expected.

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.

Title: leon panetta progressive ties
Post by: ccp on June 28, 2011, 07:59:06 AM

Posted: June 18, 2011
12:40 am Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2011 WND

Leon Panetta
CIA Director Leon Panetta, President Obama's nominee to serve as secretary of defense, keynoted the conference of a pro-Soviet, anti-war group during the height of the Cold War.

Panetta also honored the founding member of the group, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, or WILPF, which was once named by the State Department as a "Soviet front."

On April 11, 1984, Panetta, then a California congressman, entered into the congressional record a tribute in honor of WILPF's founding member, Lucy Haessler.

Find out what's needed to restore America to greatness.

In the record, Panetta praised Haessler as "one of the most dedicated peace activists I have ever known."

Panetta recognized that Haessler traveled to the Soviet Union as a member of the WILPF:

"She has also participated in peace conferences conducted by WILPF and the Woman's International Democracy Foundation in France, the Soviet Union, Poland and East Germany," read Panetta's congressional praise.

Panetta hailed Haessler for her activism against the pending deployment of U.S. missiles to counter the Soviet build up:

"She joined thousands of dedicated peace activists where she expressed her concern about the impending deployment of Cruise missiles and Pershing II missiles in Europe," he noted.

Haessler's WILPF took on a pro-Soviet stance. It sponsored frequent exchange visits with the Soviet Women's Committee and against "anti-Sovietism" while calling for President Reagan to "Stop the Arms Race."

Panetta's relationship with Haessler and the WILPF goes back to at least June 1979, when was the keynote speaker of WILPF's Biennial Conference at the University of California at Santa Cruz. The conference was arranged by Haessler.

WILPF's literature notes the conference honored Ava and Linus Pauling, who were prominent supports of ending nuclear proliferation.

"This successful event elevated Santa Cruz WILPF permanently into the orbit of outstanding WILPF conferences," recalled WILPF life member Ruth Hunter in a tribute to Haessler.

Haessler, meanwhile, was aligned with communist activists. KeyWiki notes that in April 1966, Haessler sponsored a testimonial dinner in New York in honor of pro-communist scientist Herbert Aptheker.

The dinner also marked the second anniversary of the American Institute for Marxist Studies. Most speakers, organizers and sponsors were known members or supporters of the Communist Party USA.

Panetta later stated he was not aware of the WILPF's communist background and was merely praising Haessler's anti-war actions.

The background is the latest concern following Panetta's nomination for Defense Department chief.

Yesterday, WND reported Panetta once proposed allowing Congress to conduct spot checks at its discretion of the country's sensitive intelligence agency.

In 1987, Panetta as a congressman introduced the CIA Accountability Act, which would have made the CIA subject to audits by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

Panetta's legislation would have allowed the comptroller general, who directs the GAO, to audit any financial transactions of the CIA and evaluate all of the agency's activities either at his own initiative or at the request of the congressional intelligence committees.

The CIA is the only government agency that contests the authority of the comptroller general to audit its activities, citing the covert aspects of its operation.

Marxist think tank

Earlier this week, WND reported on Panetta's ties to a pro-Marxist think tank accused of anti-CIA activity.

The Institute for Policy Studies, or IPS, has long faced criticism for positions some say attempt to undermine U.S. national security and for its cozy relationship with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

A review of the voting record for Panetta, a member of Congress from 1977 to 1993, during the period in question shows an apparent affinity toward IPS's agenda.

The IPS is funded by philanthropist George Soros' Open Society Institute.

Panetta was reportedly on IPS's official 20th Anniversary Committee, celebrated April 5, 1983, at a time when the group was closely aligned with the Soviet Union.

In his authoritative book "Covert Cadre: Inside the Institute for Policy Studies," S. Steven Powell writes: "April 5, 1983, IPS threw a large twentieth-anniversary celebration to raise funds.

"On the fundraising committee for the event were 14 then-current members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including "Leon E. Panetta (D-Calif.), chairman of Budget Process Task Force of the House Committee on Budget (chairman of Subcommittee on Police and Personnel, Ninety-ninth Congress)."

Researcher Trevor Loudon, a specialist on communism, obtained and posted IPS literature documenting members of the 20th Anniversary Committee, which also included Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Gary Hart, D-Colo., with an endorsement by Sen. Mark Hatfield, R-Ore.

Besides Panetta, congressmen on the IPS committee included Les Aspin, D-Wis., George E Brown Jr., D-Calif., Philip Burton, D-Calif., George Crockett, D-Mich., Tom Harkin, D-Iowa and Richard Ottinger, D-N.Y. Besides serving on the IPS committee, Panetta supported the IPS's "Coalition for a New Foreign and Military Policy Line" in 1983.

Powell wrote that in the 1980s, Panetta commissioned the IPS to produce an "alternative" budget that dramatically cut defense spending.

"The congressional supporters for the Institute for Policy Studies included many of those who biennially commission I.P.S. to produce an 'Alternative' Budget that dramatically cuts defense spending while increasing the spending for social welfare to levels only dreamed of by Karl Marx," wrote Powell in the November 1983 issue of the American Opinion.

"In this pact of I.P.S. intimates [are] such luminaries as ... Leon Panetta (D.-California), Chairman of the Budget Process Task Force," wrote Powell.

Congressional record

Panetta's ties to the IPS have some worried.

"Members of the mainstream news media seem to have no interest in Leon Panetta's past open involvement with the Institute for Policy Studies, an anti-CIA think tank closely linked to the former Soviet Union's KGB spy agency. But they should," writes blogger and former Air Force public affairs officer Bob McCarty.

Writing in the New American earlier this month, Christian Gomez notes, "Careful observation of former Rep. Panetta's record in the U.S. House of Representatives reveals a history of votes perceivable as in contrast with U.S. national security objectives, which if confirmed as Sec. of Defense may compromise U.S. national defense."

Indeed, as Gomez outlined, Panetta voted against the reaffirmation of the Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan and in support of continuing foreign aid to the Sandinista government of communist Nicaragua.

The lawmaker supported extending most-favored nation status to the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact states during the height of the Cold War and voted to cede control of the Panama Canal to the pro-Soviet Panamanian government.

Panetta also vocally supported various communist regimes throughout Latin America as well as Soviet-backed paramilitary groups in the region.

He endorsed the IPS-supported bill H.R. 2760, known as the Boland-Zablocki bill, to terminate U.S. efforts to resist communism in Nicaragua.

Panetta slammed what he called President Ronald Reagan's "illegal and extraordinary vicious wars against the poor of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala."

Panetta supported the Soviet satellite government of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and was a vocal opponent of Chile's anti-communist government.

On July 19, 1983, on the floor of the House, Panetta condemned what he called the "U.S.-sponsored covert action against Nicaragua," stating that it was "among the most dangerous aspects of the (Reagan]) administration's policy in Central America."

Soviet agents, propaganda

The IPS, meanwhile, has long maintained controversial views and a pro-Marxist line on foreign policy. It was founded in 1963 by two former governmental workers, Marcus Raskin and Richard Barnet.

In his 1988 book "Far Left of Center: The American Radical Left Today," Harvey Klehr, professor of politics and history at EmoryUniversity, said that IPS "serves as an intellectual nerve center for the radical movement, ranging from nuclear and anti-intervention issues to support for Marxist insurgencies."

The FBI labeled the group a "think factory" that helps to "train extremists who incite violence in U.S. cities, and whose educational research serves as a cover for intrigue, and political agitation."

The IPS has been accused serving as a propaganda arm of the USSR and even a place where agents from the Soviet embassy in Washington came to convene and strategize.

In his book "The KGB and Soviet Disinformation: An Insider's View," Ladislav Bittman, a former KGB agent, called the IPS a Soviet misinformation operation at which Soviet insiders worked.

Brian Crozier, director of the London-based Institute for the Study of Conflict, described IPS as the "perfect intellectual front for Soviet activities which would be resisted if they were to originate openly from the KGB."

The IPS has been implicated in anti-CIA activity. The Center for Security Studies was a 1974 IPS spin-off and sought to compromise the effectiveness of U.S. intelligence agencies, according to Discover the Networks.

The mastheads of two anti-FBI and anti-CIA publications, Counterspy and the Covert Action Information Bulletin, were heavy with IPS members.

Further, the group's former director, Robert Borosage, penned a book shortly out of college attacking the CIA and ran the so-called CIA watchdog, Center for National Security Studies.

The group has been particularly concerned with researching U.S. defense industries and arms sales policies. .

In March 1982, IPS's Arms Race and Nuclear Weapons Project was directed by Bill Arkin, who had been compiling a book of U.S. nuclear weapons data with "everything from where the bombs are stored to where weapons delivery systems are cooked up," according to KeyWiki.

With research by Brenda J. Ellison
Title: Allen West: First Principles
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 29, 2011, 07:34:55 AM

Haven't had a chance to watch this yet-- it is 35 minutes long-- but it is Allen West, so it promises to be lively :wink:
Title: US Foreign Policy: Pawlenty speech
Post by: DougMacG on June 29, 2011, 11:51:21 AM
I agree with Crafty that separate from the context of the campaign we should discuss and argue this from a policy point of view.  He basically argued these same (hawkish) points in rebuttal to Ron Paul in the NH debate - in the 60 seconds provided.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty at the Council on Foreign Affairs, 6/28/11:  (Link at the end)

I want to speak plainly this morning about the opportunities and the dangers we face today in the Middle East.  The revolutions now roiling that region offer the promise of a more democratic, more open, and a more prosperous Arab world.  From Morocco to the Arabian Gulf, the escape from the dead hand of oppression is now a real possibility.   

Now is not the time to retreat from freedom’s rise.

Yet at the same time, we know these revolutions can bring to power forces that are neither democratic nor forward-looking.  Just as the people of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria and elsewhere see a chance for a better life of genuine freedom, the leaders of radical Islam see a chance to ride political turmoil into power.

The United States has a vital stake in the future of this region.  We have been presented with a challenge as great as any we have faced in recent decades.  And we must get it right.  The question is, are we up to the challenge?

My answer is, of course we are.  If we are clear about our interests and guided by our principles, we can help steer events in the right direction.  Our nation has done this in the past -- at the end of World War II, in the last decade of the Cold War, and in the more recent war on terror … and we can do it again.

But President Obama has failed to formulate and carry out an effective and coherent strategy in response to these events.  He has been timid, slow, and too often without a clear understanding of our interests or a clear commitment to our principles.

And parts of the Republican Party now seem to be trying to out-bid the Democrats in appealing to isolationist sentiments.  This is no time for uncertain leadership in either party.  The stakes are simply too high, and the opportunity is simply too great.

No one in this Administration predicted the events of the Arab spring - but the freedom deficit in the Arab world was no secret.  For 60 years, Western nations excused and accommodated the lack of freedom in the Middle East.  That could not last.  The days of comfortable private deals with dictators were coming to an end in the age of Twitter, You Tube, and Facebook.  And history teaches there is no such thing as stable oppression.

President Obama has ignored that lesson of history.  Instead of promoting democracy – whose fruit we see now ripening across the region – he adopted a murky policy he called “engagement.”

“Engagement” meant that in 2009, when the Iranian ayatollahs stole an election, and the people of that country rose up in protest, President Obama held his tongue.  His silence validated the mullahs, despite the blood on their hands and the nuclear centrifuges in their tunnels.

While protesters were killed and tortured, Secretary Clinton said the Administration was “waiting to see the outcome of the internal Iranian processes.”  She and the president waited long enough to see the Green Movement crushed.

“Engagement” meant that in his first year in office, President Obama cut democracy funding for Egyptian civil society by 74 percent.  As one American democracy organization noted, this was “perceived by Egyptian democracy activists as signaling a lack of support.”  They perceived correctly.  It was a lack of support.

“Engagement” meant that when crisis erupted in Cairo this year, as tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square, Secretary Clinton declared, “the Egyptian Government is stable.”  Two weeks later, Mubarak was gone.  When Secretary Clinton visited Cairo after Mubarak’s fall, democratic activist groups refused to meet with her.  And who can blame them?

The forces we now need to succeed in Egypt -- the pro-democracy, secular political parties -- these are the very people President Obama cut off, and Secretary Clinton dismissed.

The Obama “engagement” policy in Syria led the Administration to call Bashar al Assad a “reformer.”  Even as Assad’s regime was shooting hundreds of protesters dead in the street, President Obama announced his plan to give Assad “an alternative vision of himself.”  Does anyone outside a therapist’s office have any idea what that means?  This is what passes for moral clarity in the Obama Administration.

By contrast, I called for Assad’s departure on March 29; I call for it again today.  We should recall our ambassador from Damascus; and I call for that again today.  The leader of the United States should never leave those willing to sacrifice their lives in the cause of freedom wondering where America stands.  As President, I will not.

We need a president who fully understands that America never “leads from behind.”

We cannot underestimate how pivotal this moment is in Middle Eastern history.  We need decisive, clear-eyed leadership that is responsive to this historical moment of change in ways that are consistent with our deepest principles and safeguards our vital interests.

Opportunity still exists amid the turmoil of the Arab Spring -- and we should seize it.

As I see it, the governments of the Middle East fall into four broad categories, and each requires a different strategic approach.

The first category consists of three countries now at various stages of transition toward democracy – the formerly fake republics in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya.  Iraq is also in this category, but is further along on its journey toward democracy.

For these countries, our goal should be to help promote freedom and democracy.

Elections that produce anti-democratic regimes undermine both freedom and stability.  We must do more than monitor polling places.  We must redirect foreign aid away from efforts to merely build good will, and toward efforts to build good allies -- genuine democracies governed by free people according to the rule of law.  And we must insist that our international partners get off the sidelines and do the same.

We should have no illusions about the difficulty of the transitions faced by Libya, Tunisia, and especially Egypt.  Whereas Libya is rich in oil, and Tunisia is small, Egypt is large, populous, and poor.  Among the region’s emerging democracies, it remains the biggest opportunity and the biggest danger for American interests.

Having ejected the Mubarak regime, too many Egyptians are now rejecting the beginnings of the economic opening engineered in the last decade.  We act out of friendship when we tell Egyptians, and every new democracy, that economic growth and prosperity are the result of free markets and free trade—not subsidies and foreign aid.  If we want these countries to succeed, we must afford them the respect of telling them the truth.

In Libya, the best help America can provide to these new friends is to stop leading from behind and commit America’s strength to removing Ghadafi, recognizing the TNC as the government of Libya, and unfreezing assets so the TNC can afford security and essential services as it marches toward Tripoli.

Beyond Libya, America should always promote the universal principles that undergird freedom.  We should press new friends to end discrimination against women, to establish independent courts, and freedom of speech and the press.  We must insist on religious freedoms for all, including the region’s minorities—whether Christian, Shia, Sunni, or Bahai.

The second category of states is the Arab monarchies.  Some – like Jordan and Morocco – are engaging now in what looks like genuine reform.  This should earn our praise and our assistance.  These kings have understood they must forge a partnership with their own people, leading step by step toward more democratic societies.  These monarchies can smooth the path to constitutional reform and freedom and thereby deepen their own legitimacy.  If they choose this route, they, too, deserve our help.

But others are resisting reform. While President Obama spoke well about Bahrain in his recent speech, he neglected to utter two important words:  Saudi Arabia.

US-Saudi relations are at an all-time low—and not primarily because of the Arab Spring.  They were going downhill fast, long before the uprisings began.  The Saudis saw an American Administration yearning to engage Iran—just at the time they saw Iran, correctly, as a mortal enemy.

We need to tell the Saudis what we think, which will only be effective if we have a position of trust with them.  We will develop that trust by demonstrating that we share their great concern about Iran and that we are committed to doing all that is necessary to defend the region from Iranian aggression.

At the same time, we need to be frank about what the Saudis must do to insure stability in their own country.  Above all, they need to reform and open their society.  Their treatment of Christians and other minorities, and their treatment of women, is indefensible and must change.

We know that reform will come to Saudi Arabia—sooner and more smoothly if the royal family accepts and designs it.  It will come later and with turbulence and even violence if they resist.  The vast wealth of their country should be used to support reforms that fit Saudi history and culture—but not to buy off the people as a substitute for lasting reform.

The third category consists of states that are directly hostile to America.  They include Iran and Syria.  The Arab Spring has already vastly undermined the appeal of Al Qaeda and the killing of Osama Bin Laden has significantly weakened it.

The success of peaceful protests in several Arab countries has shown the world that terror is not only evil, but will eventually be overcome by good.  Peaceful protests may soon bring down the Assad regime in Syria.  The 2009 protests in Iran inspired Arabs to seek their freedom.  Similarly, the Arab protests of this year, and the fall of regime after broken regime, can inspire Iranians to seek their freedom once again.

We have a clear interest in seeing an end to Assad’s murderous regime.  By sticking to Bashar al Assad so long, the Obama Administration has not only frustrated Syrians who are fighting for freedom—it has demonstrated strategic blindness.  The governments of Iran and Syria are enemies of the United States.  They are not reformers and never will be.  They support each other.  To weaken or replace one, is to weaken or replace the other.   

The fall of the Assad mafia in Damascus would weaken Hamas, which is headquartered there.  It would weaken Hezbollah, which gets its arms from Iran, through Syria.  And it would weaken the Iranian regime itself.   

To take advantage of this moment, we should press every diplomatic and economic channel to bring the Assad reign of terror to an end.  We need more forceful sanctions to persuade Syria’s Sunni business elite that Assad is too expensive to keep backing.  We need to work with Turkey and the Arab nations and the Europeans, to further isolate the regime.  And we need to encourage opponents of the regime by making our own position very clear, right now:  Bashar al-Assad must go.

When he does, the mullahs of Iran will find themselves isolated and vulnerable.  Syria is Iran’s only Arab ally.  If we peel that away, I believe it will hasten the fall of the mullahs.  And that is the ultimate goal we must pursue.  It’s the singular opportunity offered to the world by the brave men and women of the Arab Spring.

The march of freedom in the Middle East cuts across the region’s diversity of religious, ethnic, and political groups.  But it is born of a particular unity.  It is a united front against stolen elections and stolen liberty, secret police, corruption, and the state-sanctioned violence that is the essence of the Iranian regime’s tyranny.

So this is a moment to ratchet up pressure and speak with clarity.  More sanctions.  More and better broadcasting into Iran.  More assistance to Iranians to access the Internet and satellite TV and the knowledge and freedom that comes with it.  More efforts to expose the vicious repression inside that country and expose Teheran’s regime for the pariah it is.

And, very critically, we must have more clarity when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program.  In 2008, candidate Barack Obama told AIPAC that he would “always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel.”  This year, he told AIPAC “we remain committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”  So I have to ask: are all the options still on the table or not?  If he’s not clear with us, it’s no wonder that even our closest allies are confused.   

The Administration should enforce all sanctions for which legal authority already exits.  We should enact and then enforce new pending legislation which strengthens sanctions particularly against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who control much of the Iranian economy.

And in the middle of all this, is Israel.

Israel is unique in the region because of what it stands for and what it has accomplished.  And it is unique in the threat it faces—the threat of annihilation.  It has long been a bastion of democracy in a region of tyranny and violence.  And it is by far our closest ally in that part of the world.

Despite wars and terrorists attacks, Israel offers all its citizens, men and women, Jews, Christians, Muslims and, others including 1.5 million Arabs, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to vote, access to independent courts and all other democratic rights.

Nowhere has President Obama’s lack of judgment been more stunning than in his dealings with Israel.

It breaks my heart that President Obama treats Israel, our great friend, as a problem, rather than as an ally.  The President seems to genuinely believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies at the heart of every problem in the Middle East.  He said it Cairo in 2009 and again this year.   

President Obama could not be more wrong.

The uprisings in Tunis, Cairo, Tripoli and elsewhere are not about Israelis and Palestinians. They’re about oppressed people yearning for freedom and prosperity.  Whether those countries become prosperous and free is not about how many apartments Israel builds in Jerusalem.

Today the president doesn’t really have a policy toward the peace process.  He has an attitude.  And let’s be frank about what that attitude is:  he thinks Israel is the problem.  And he thinks the answer is always more pressure on Israel.

I reject that anti-Israel attitude.  I reject it because Israel is a close and reliable democratic ally.  And I reject it because I know the people of Israel want peace.

Israeli – Palestinian peace is further away now than the day Barack Obama came to office.  But that does not have to be a permanent situation.

We must recognize that peace will only come if everyone in the region perceives clearly that America stands strongly with Israel.

I would take a new approach.

First, I would never undermine Israel’s negotiating position, nor pressure it to accept borders which jeopardize security and its ability to defend itself.

Second, I would not pressure Israel to negotiate with Hamas or a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, unless Hamas renounces terror, accepts Israel’s right to exist, and honors the previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. In short, Hamas needs to cease being a terrorist group in both word and deed as a first step towards global legitimacy.

Third, I would ensure our assistance to the Palestinians immediately ends if the teaching of hatred in Palestinian classrooms and airwaves continues. That incitement must end now.

Fourth, I would recommend cultivating and empowering moderate forces in Palestinian society.

When the Palestinians have leaders who are honest and capable, who appreciate the rule of law, who understand that war against Israel has doomed generations of Palestinians to lives of bitterness, violence, and poverty – then peace will come.

The Middle East is changing before our eyes—but our government has not kept up.  It abandoned the promotion of democracy just as Arabs were about to seize it.  It sought to cozy up to dictators just as their own people rose against them.  It downplayed our principles and distanced us from key allies.

All this was wrong, and these policies have failed.  The Administration has abandoned them, and at the price of American leadership.  A region that since World War II has looked to us for security and progress now wonders where we are and what we’re up to.

The next president must do better. Today, in our own Republican Party, some look back and conclude our projection of strength and defense of freedom was a product of different times and different challenges.  While times have changed, the nature of the challenge has not.

In the 1980s, we were up against a violent, totalitarian ideology bent on subjugating the people and principles of the West.  While others sought to co-exist, President Reagan instead sought victory.  So must we, today.  For America is exceptional, and we have the moral clarity to lead the world.

It is not wrong for Republicans to question the conduct of President Obama’s military leadership in Libya.  There is much to question.  And it is not wrong for Republicans to debate the timing of our military drawdown in Afghanistan— though my belief is that General Petraeus’ voice ought to carry the most weight on that question.   

What is wrong, is for the Republican Party to shrink from the challenges of American leadership in the world.  History repeatedly warns us that in the long run, weakness in foreign policy costs us and our children much more than we’ll save in a budget line item.

America already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment, and withdrawal.  It does not need a second one.

Our enemies in the War on Terror, just like our opponents in the Cold War, respect and respond to strength.  Sometimes strength means military intervention.  Sometimes it means diplomatic pressure.  It always means moral clarity in word and deed.

That is the legacy of Republican foreign policy at its best, and the banner our next Republican President must carry around the world.   

Our ideals of economic and political freedom, of equality and opportunity for all citizens, remain the dream of people in the Middle East and throughout the world.  As America stands for these principles, and stands with our friends and allies, we will help the Middle East transform this moment of turbulence into a firmer, more lasting opportunity for freedom, peace, and progress.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 29, 2011, 07:15:02 PM
Just watched the Allen West speech of my previous post-- well worth the time and quite relevant to this thread-- including the political dimension.
Title: US reaches out to Islamist parties
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 30, 2011, 03:37:04 PM

By MATT BRADLEY in Cairo and ADAM ENTOUS in Washington
The Obama administration is reaching out to Islamist parties whose political power is on the rise in the wake of Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa.

The tentative outreach effort to religious political groups—the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Ennahda in Tunisia—reflects the administration's realization that democracy in the Middle East means dealing more directly with popular Islamist movements the U.S. has long kept at arm's length.

Speaking to reporters in Budapest, Hungary, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Obama administration is seeking "limited contacts" with Muslim Brotherhood members ahead of Egypt's parliamentary and presidential elections slated for later this year.

"You cannot leave out half the population and claim that you are committed to democracy," Mrs. Clinton said.

The Obama administration has been even more aggressive in courting Tunisia's most prominent Islamist party, Ennahda.

Since the fall of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January, the party has sought contact with the West, vowing to respect women's rights and not to impose religious law if it comes to power in elections.

In May, with help from the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, Ennahda party leaders quietly visited Washington for talks at the State Department and with congressional leaders, including Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), according to organizers. U.S. officials described the visit as an opportunity to build bridges with a moderate Islamist party that could serve as a model for groups in other countries in the region.

"We told the Americans that we are a civil, not a religious, party," Hamadi Jebali, secretary general of Ennahda, said in an interview.

He assured U.S. officials that Ennahda wouldn't impose its religious beliefs on more secular Tunisians. "Islamic parties are evolving, both in the Maghreb and elsewhere," Mr. Jebali said.

U.S. officials said the Obama administration was responding to changes in the "political landscape" across the region, but that it would treat parties in different countries in different ways, depending on the degree to which they were open to the West and shunned violence.

"The political landscape in Egypt has changed, and is changing," said one Obama administration official. "It is in our interests to engage with all of the parties that are competing for parliament or the presidency."

Before a street-level uprising toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February, U.S. contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood were infrequent and limited to members of parliament affiliated with the group. The Egyptian government banned the 83-year-old organization in 1954 because of its suspected role in an assassination attempt on the Egyptian president, so Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary candidates had to run for parliament as independents.

U.S. officials say Mr. Mubarak, long a close American ally in the turbulent Middle East, objected to previous U.S. efforts to reach out to the Muslim Brotherhood.

When President Barack Obama delivered a speech to the Muslim world in 2009, as many as 10 Brotherhood members were allowed to attend at the U.S. Embassy's invitation, said Shadi Hamid, an Egypt analyst for the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

Muslim Brotherhood officials cautiously welcome the American overture but remained bitter about the long alliance with Mr. Mubarak, a hated figure among Islamists and other opposition groups.

"When we sit on the dialogue table we will discuss why the [Egyptian] people hate the American administration," said Mohamed Al Biltagy, a prominent member of the group's parliamentary bloc before Brotherhood members were swept from Egypt's legislature last November in allegedly fraudulent elections.

U.S. officials played down the implications of the administration's decision to renew contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood. They said any exchanges would likely be held at a lower level at first, reflecting concerns in Congress and the Pentagon about taking any steps that could boost the group's political standing.

Mrs. Clinton said U.S. diplomats who meet with Muslim Brotherhood members will "emphasize the importance of and support for democratic principles, and especially a commitment to nonviolence, respect for minority rights, and the full inclusion of women in any democracy."

U.S.-funded election advisers working in Egypt have met several times with Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Cairo since the fall of the Mubarak regime. "There's no legal prohibition whatsoever," a senior U.S.-paid election adviser said.

The U.S. decision to approach both Egyptian and Tunisian Islamists reflects the strong possibility that they will play a prominent role after elections are held in both countries. Secular parties appear to be struggling to organize themselves, even though secularists drove the popular uprisings.

The election adviser said newly established secular parties in Egypt have in recent weeks stepped up their election preparations, hoping to counter the Muslim Brotherhood's widely perceived organizational advantage. But the adviser said these secular parties were, for the most part, still ill-prepared to make a strong showing if parliamentary elections are held as planned in September.

"We're trying to get people to lower their expectations," the adviser said.

—Keith Johnson in Washington and Amina Ismail in Cairo contributed to this article.
Title: Re: US reaches out to Islamist parties
Post by: G M on June 30, 2011, 03:39:44 PM

By MATT BRADLEY in Cairo and ADAM ENTOUS in Washington
The Obama administration is reaching out to Islamist parties whose political power is on the rise in the wake of Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa.

The tentative outreach effort to religious political groups—the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Ennahda in Tunisia—reflects the administration's realization that democracy in the Middle East means dealing more directly with popular Islamist movements the U.S. has long kept at arm's length.

Speaking to reporters in Budapest, Hungary, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Obama administration is seeking "limited contacts" with Muslim Brotherhood members ahead of Egypt's parliamentary and presidential elections slated for later this year.

"You cannot leave out half the population and claim that you are committed to democracy," Mrs. Clinton said.

The Obama administration has been even more aggressive in courting Tunisia's most prominent Islamist party, Ennahda.

What? I thought the Muslim Brotherhood was a secular organization.  :roll:

Like Obama hasn't been courting the jihadists since before he ran for president.....
Title: KMA without end
Post by: G M on July 04, 2011, 05:02:26 AM

Remember all the howling over Bush's "illegal war"? To quote Glenn Reynolds "They told me if I voted for McCain, there would be endless wars without congressional oversight, and they were right!"
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 04, 2011, 03:55:56 PM
Are you saying you have a problem with what happened here?
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on July 04, 2011, 04:51:21 PM
Actually, the AUMF says we get to hunt down AQ and their allies anywhere on the globe. So targeting them in Africa is nothing we haven't been doing since 9/11, although the left screamed about it when Bush was president.

At least some of the Libyan rebels we are supporting are AQ or allied with AQ, so it's not covered by the AUMF from 9/18/01, I'd think.

I'm glad to see Ka-Daffy targeted, but pretending that the WPA is valid law but ignoring it is bogus.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 04, 2011, 09:46:38 PM
So, what was the point of this post?

Remember all the howling over Bush's "illegal war"? To quote Glenn Reynolds "They told me if I voted for McCain, there would be endless wars without congressional oversight, and they were right!""
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on July 05, 2011, 06:57:28 AM
So, what was the point of this post?

Remember all the howling over Bush's "illegal war"? To quote Glenn Reynolds "They told me if I voted for McCain, there would be endless wars without congressional oversight, and they were right!""

After years of listening to the left screaming about "Bush's illegal war", I never miss the opportunity to point out the epic hypocrisy so clearly demonstrated now.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 08, 2011, 11:18:58 PM
My last two posts in the SNAFU thread contain what is IMHO some very important material.  The US, as Iran has predicted for some time now, appears to be in the process of being run out of the Middle East altogether.  It appears we are out of Afpakia, Iraq, Egypt, and now Saudi Arabia, hence out of all the smaller kingdoms of the Arabian peninsula.

It appears that Baraq has managed to completely rupture the Saudis trust in our will with his handling of their concerns during the uprising against Mubarak in Egypt.

Looking backwards for a moment, in a larger sense it seems to be that all of this was already in the cards when the Dems determined to bring down US efforts in Iraq and Baraq pretend surged in Afpakia.

Bush is not immune here either.  A plausible although mistaken case can be made that we should have finished with Afpakia (either leaving altogether or finishing the job) before going into Iraq.  This IMHO ignores what would have happened had we not gone into Iraq- which is a longer discussion than I feel up to right now with the Gathering in a few hours.  Bush-Rumbo also did a poor job of running the Iraq War, even when taking into account the utter destructiveness of the Dem opposition.

But here we are.   What to do now?

One idea that occurs to me is a mutual defense treaty with Israel with a base in Israel. 
Title: Panetta: Winning!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 09, 2011, 09:05:52 AM
Panetta: US within reach of defeating al-Qaida
FILE - In this June 9, 2011 file photo, Leon Panetta testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington during a hearing on his nomination for defense secretary. Speaking with reporters flying with him on his first visit to Afghanistan since taking over as defense secretary, Panetta said Saturday, July 9, 2011 that the U.S. and its allies are within reach of defeating al-Qaida after killing Osama bin Laden and gaining new insights about the terrorist group's other leading figures. (AP Photo - Manuel Balce Ceneta)
From Associated Press
July 09, 2011 11:23 AM EDT
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S. and its allies are within reach of defeating al-Qaida after killing Osama bin Laden and gaining new insights about the terrorist group's other leading figures, new U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Saturday.

The former CIA director offered an upbeat assessment about the prospects for ending al-Qaida's threat as he spoke with reporters flying with him on his first visit to Afghanistan since taking over as Pentagon chief July 1.

In a separate interview later, Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said he agreed with Panetta's assessment.

In the aftermath of the May 2 raid that killed bin Laden in Pakistan, the U.S. has determined that eliminating "somewhere around 10 to 20 key leaders" of al-Qaida would cripple the network, Panetta said. Those leaders are in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and North Africa, he added.

"We're within reach of strategically defeating al-Qaida," Panetta said, addressing reporters for the first time since succeeding Robert Gates as defense secretary.

"The key is that, having gotten bin Laden, we've now identified some of the key leadership within al-Qaida, both in Pakistan as well as in Yemen and other areas," he said.

"If we can be successful at going after them, I think we can really undermine their ability to do any kind of planning, to be able to conduct any kind of attack" on the United States. "That's why I think it's within reach. Is it going to take some more work? You bet it is. But I think it's within reach," Panetta said.

In an interview at the main U.S. military headquarters in Kabul, Petraeus said al-Qaida is on the run.

"There has been enormous damage done to al-Qaida," beyond the death of bin Laden, in the areas of western Pakistan where the group is believed operating, Petraeus said. "That has very significantly disrupted their efforts and it does hold the prospect of a strategic defeat, if you will, a strategic dismantling, of al-Qaida."

Asked how he defines a "strategic defeat" for al-Qaida, Petraeus said it means that "they can't carry out strategically important attacks."

Petraeus, who is leaving his post this month and succeeding Panetta at the CIA, said there are small numbers of al-Qaida terrorists in Afghanistan. He said the al-Qaida "brand" is likely to remain a feature of the global terrain, even if the Pakistan-based core of al-Qaida is unable to carry out large attacks against the West.

Panetta said the 10 to 20 top terrorist figures in al-Qaida's hierarchy who are now the focus of U.S. efforts include Ayman al-Zawahri, the designator successor to bin Laden as al-Qaida's leader.

Panetta said the U.S. believes al-Zawahri is living in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of western Pakistan.

The only other name he mentioned was Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born Muslim cleric living in Yemen. The U.S. has put him on a kill-or-capture list.

"Now is the moment, following what happened with bin Laden, to put maximum pressure on them because I do believe that if we continue this effort we can really cripple al-Qaida as a major threat" to America, he said.

Al-Qaida's attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, triggered the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Taliban government that had sheltered bin Laden. But in the years since, the Taliban has reasserted itself and al-Qaida has managed to operate from havens in neighboring Pakistan.

Al-Qaida affiliates have emerged in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere. That's led many in the U.S. to argue for a shift from fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan to targeting al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan and other places.

Asked whether he thought Pakistani authorities knew that bin Laden had been living in their country, Panetta said, "Suspicions, but no smoking gun." The Pakistani government says it did not know bin Laden's whereabouts when Navy SEALs attacked his compound not far from Islamabad.

In Panetta's talks with Petraeus and his successor, Marine Gen. John R. Allen, a central topic was expected to be President Barack Obama's decision on June 22 to withdraw 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan this year and 23,000 more by September 2012. The drawdown is to begin this month, but not all details have been worked out.

Offering an overview of the security situation in Afghanistan, Petraeus said he was encouraged that the number of insurgent attacks in June was down slightly from June 2010 and that the trend is holding thus far in July. This contrasts with intelligence analysts' forecast of an 18 percent to 30 percent increase for 2011, he said.

Panetta also intended to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Karzai's mercurial character and frequent public criticisms of the U.S.-led international military coalition have soured his relations with many U.S. officials, including the current U.S. ambassador. Karl Eikenberry.

Eikenberry is handing off that post this month to Ryan Crocker, a veteran diplomat and former U.S, ambassador to Iraq who was coaxed out of retirement. Crocker reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul after the 2001 toppling of the Taliban

Panetta said he believes he and Obama's "whole new team" of U.S. leaders in Kabul have a good understanding of Karzai.

"Hopefully, it can be the beginning of a much better relationship than what we've had over the last few years," he said.

On a lighter note, he said he has gotten a feel for his new job as defense secretary. He compared it to his official aircraft, a towering military version of the Boeing 747.

"It's big, it's complicated, it's filled with sophisticated technology, it's bumpy, but in the end it's the best in the world."
Title: Re: Here is why Ka-daffy can wait us out
Post by: G M on July 10, 2011, 05:21:43 PM

(Reuters) - Britain's military is capable of taking part in a swift campaign against Libya, but prolonged fighting could stretch its armed forces and raise pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron to rethink deep defence cuts.

Despite its role in Afghanistan and severe financial pressures, senior British ministers and military chiefs say they can comfortably help to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya.

However, if the operation grows or drags on for months, it could strain areas such as the support crews that arm and refuel planes and perform airborne reconnaissance.

Britain's involvement in the first stage of the strikes against Libya appeared to be relatively limited, with planes flying from one UK airbase and one submarine firing Tomahawk missiles, analysts noted.

France eyes five billion euro defence cuts
14 June 2010, 13:05 CET

(PARIS) - France will trim about five billion euros (6.1 billion dollars) from its defence budget, Defence Minister Herve Morin said Monday.

The defence budget cuts over the next three years are part of overall belt-tightening measures in the wake of the Greek debt crisis.

(Reuters) - A French minister said on Sunday it was time for Libya's rebels to negotiate with Muammar Gaddafi's government, but Washington said it stood firm in its belief that the Libyan leader cannot stay in power.

The diverging messages from two leading members of the Western coalition opposing Gaddafi hinted at the strain the alliance is under after more than three months of air strikes that have cost billions of dollars and failed to produce the swift outcome its backers had expected.

French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet signaled growing impatience with the progress of the conflict when he said the rebels should negotiate now with Gaddafi's government and not wait for his defeat.

The rebels have so far refused to hold talks as long as Gaddafi is still in power, a stance which before now none of NATO's major powers has publicly challenged.

"We have .... have asked them to speak to each other," Longuet, whose government has until now been among the most hawkish on Libya, said on French television station BFM TV.

"The position of the TNC (rebel Transitional National Council) is very far from other positions. Now, there will be a need to sit around a table," he said."

Oncle! At least Ka-daffy's forces won't be marching through the Arc de Triomphe........yet.
Title: WSJ: US Naval Power
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 11, 2011, 01:18:26 PM

All our citizens, and especially our servicemen and women, expect and deserve a thorough review of critical security decisions. After all, decisions today will affect the nation's strategic position for future generations.

The future security environment underscores two broad security trends. First, international political realities and the internationally agreed-to sovereign rights of nations will increasingly limit the sustained involvement of American permanent land-based, heavy forces to the more extreme crises. This will make offshore options for deterrence and power projection ever more paramount in support of our national interests.

Second, the naval dimensions of American power will re-emerge as the primary means for assuring our allies and partners, ensuring prosperity in times of peace, and countering anti-access, area-denial efforts in times of crisis. We do not believe these trends will require the dismantling of land-based forces, as these forces will remain essential reservoirs of power. As the United States has learned time and again, once a crisis becomes a conflict, it is impossible to predict with certainty its depth, duration and cost.

That said, the U.S. has been shrinking its overseas land-based installations, so the ability to project power globally will make the forward presence of naval forces an even more essential dimension of American influence.

What we do believe is that uniquely responsive Navy-Marine Corps capabilities provide the basis on which our most vital overseas interests are safeguarded. Forward presence and engagement is what allows the U.S. to maintain awareness, to deter aggression, and to quickly respond to threats as they arise. Though we clearly must be prepared for the high-end threats, such preparation should be made in balance with the means necessary to avoid escalation to the high end in the first place.

The versatility of maritime forces provides a truly unmatched advantage. The sea remains a vast space that provides nearly unlimited freedom of maneuver. Command of the sea allows for the presence of our naval forces, supported from a network of shore facilities, to be adjusted and scaled with little external restraint. It permits reliance on proven capabilities such as prepositioned ships.

Maritime capabilities encourage and enable cooperation with other nations to solve common sea-based problems such as piracy, illegal trafficking, proliferation of W.M.D., and a host of other ills, which if unchecked can harm our friends and interests abroad, and our own citizenry at home. The flexibility and responsiveness of naval forces provide our country with a general strategic deterrent in a potentially violent and unstable world. Most importantly, our naval forces project and sustain power at sea and ashore at the time, place, duration, and intensity of our choosing.

Given these enduring qualities, tough choices must clearly be made, especially in light of expected tight defense budgets. The administration and the Congress need to balance the resources allocated to missions such as strategic deterrence, ballistic missile defense, and cyber warfare with the more traditional ones of sea control and power projection. The maritime capability and capacity vital to the flexible projection of U.S. power and influence around the globe must surely be preserved, especially in light of available technology. Capabilities such as the Joint Strike Fighter will provide strategic deterrence, in addition to tactical long-range strike, especially when operating from forward-deployed naval vessels.

Postured to respond quickly, the Navy-Marine Corps team integrates sea, air, and land power into adaptive force packages spanning the entire spectrum of operations, from everyday cooperative security activities to unwelcome—but not impossible—wars between major powers. This is exactly what we will need to meet the challenges of the future.

Mr. England is a former secretary of the Navy. Mr. Jones is a former commandant of the Marine Corps. Mr. Clark is a former chief of naval operations.
Title: Newt Gingrich
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 12, 2011, 03:50:25 AM
This could be posted elsewhere, but I am posting it here because of how it underelines just how bad the current trajectory is.  What are we to do?

A Diplomatic Defeat for President Obama
and America
by Newt Gingrich

The elite media largely ignored an astounding defeat recently for the United States and for the cause of freedom.

The Iranian dictatorship hosted an anti-terrorism conference in Tehran.

That's right. The world's leading state sponsor of terrorism--the country that funds and trains Hamas and Hezbollah and sends arms to the Taliban--simply stole our language and held a conference that professed to oppose terrorism.

Under the Iranian definition of that term, the United States and Israel are the primary supporters of terrorism in the world.

Amazingly, sixty countries--yes, sixty--participated in the Iranian conference.

In a scene worthy of a Kurt Vonnegut satire, the North Koreans, Cubans, Venezuelans, Palestineans and other enthusiastic supporters of anti-American activities all showed up.

Even more alarmingly, our so-called allies Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan were also in attendance. After billions of dollars spent and thousands of Americans lost, these "allies" ignored our requests and dignified the dishonest event and a country that is funding terrorism worldwide.

Cliff May captured the disaster in the National Review.

"A few days ago, the regime that rules Iran, designated by the U.S. State Department as the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism, held what it called the First International Conference on the Global Fight against Terrorism. The U.S. and Israel were singled out as "satanic world powers" with a "black record of terrorist behaviors." This should have been the subject of scorn and ridicule from the "international community." But senior officials from at least 60 countries attended and U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon delivered a message via special envoy expressing his appreciation to Tehran. Apparently he was not bothered by the fact that Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court, was among those attending."

As an example of how bad some of the participants were who showed up to accuse the U.S. of "terrorism," consider the indictment of the Sudanese President: Omar al-Bashir was charged with genocide, with crimes against humanity (including murder, extermination, forcible transfer of civilian populations, torture, and rapes), and with war crimes (including intentional attacks against civilians and pillaging).

This is the company our so-called allies are comfortable with?

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To make this outrageous situation even worse, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon sent a special envoy to Tehran to deliver a message supporting the conference.

Perhaps nothing should have surprised us after Iran won a vice-presidency of the U.N. General Assembly recently. An organization founded to preserve peace has now elevated the world's top state sponsor of terrorism to a leadership role.

Unfortunately, also like a Vonnegut novel, these stories represent a reality that is less humorous than it is distressing.

The participation of allies like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in the anti-American charade in Tehran is just the kind of sight that could become more common in the future amid questions about the United States' commitment in the region.

As the Obama Administration's policy--which appears to be "weakness and abandonment"--becomes clearer, allies will revaluate and reorient away from the United States and toward Iran. After all, the U.S. is leaving, and Iran is an increasingly powerful force in the region--and it will soon be armed with nuclear weapons.

The elite media has largely ignored this unfolding disaster. Yet the dangers of this realignment are serious. The radical Islamists that countries like Iran arm, train, and support while claiming to oppose terrorism are no small threat. They aim to destroy the United States and Israel, and to halt the cause of freedom wherever they can.

Radical Islamism is dangerous given weak state sponsors, and it will be even more serious when backed by a large regional power such as Iran is becoming.

The Obama Administration, meanwhile, remains blind to the forces threatening us.

Consider this additional report from Cliff May regarding a young Marine who was charged last month for repeated shooting attacks on the Pentagon and was arrested, in Arlington Cemetery, with explosives materials and literature referencing Al Qaeda:

"Yonathan Melaku was charged in federal court with shooting at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The officials who arrested him later searched his home and found a videotape in which he is shouting "Allahu Akbar!" They also found a notebook in which he'd written about Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda , the Taliban, and The Path to Jihad, a book of lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Islamic cleric who was widely considered a moderate before he fled to Yemen where he is now a top Al Qaeda commander.

"So it's pretty obvious what Melaku was up to, right? Not if you're a federal employee, it's not. "I can't suggest to you his motivations or intent," James W. McJunkin, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office, told reporters at a news conference. "It's not readily apparent yet."

"Many in the mainstream media also expressed befuddlement. A Washington Post story carried the headline: "Pentagon Shooting Subject Not Known to Law Enforcement." (Really? That's the news here?) The article told readers that "a motive for the shootings -- and why Melaku had possible bomb-making materials -- remains elusive." So does that mean we can't rule out a crime of passion -- or a paint-ball competition that got out of hand?"

In case after case, we have leaders who are determined to ignore obvious truths.

Not since the 1930s have our leaders so willfully deceived themselves about a growing threat to our survival.
Your Friend,
Title: Stratfor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 19, 2011, 10:49:26 PM
Petraeus Departs Afghanistan, Wider American Challenges Remain

U.S. Gen. David Petraeus handed over command of the war in Afghanistan to his successor Monday after serving in the post for a little more than a year. Petraeus was appointed in 2010 as a provisional replacement for Gen. Stanley McChrystal .

As STRATFOR has argued, Petraeus’s departure represents anything but a routine personnel change. Despite being a key architect of the current counterinsurgency-focused strategy in Afghanistan and its principal proponent, Petraeus is now the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, a post that considerably constrains his ability to influence strategy in Afghanistan. Combined with the death of Osama bin Laden in May — an event with little tactical but enormous symbolic importance — Petraeus’s new appointment gives the White House some room to maneuver in the war effort in Afghanistan. Signs already indicate that the United States is attempting to redefine and reshape the psychology and the perceptions of the Afghan war and its parameters for “success.”

“While the American military focus appeared to shift toward Afghanistan years ago, Washington never solved its fundamental problem in Iraq, even as the United States successfully drew down its forces from the surge levels of 2007-2008.”
However, even as new Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta describes the defeat of al Qaeda as “within reach,” the Taliban insurgency continues to rage. Just before Petraeus handed over command to U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen — a commander no doubt carefully vetted by the White House — Jan Mohammad Khan, the senior Afghan presidential adviser on tribal affairs, was assassinated in his home in Kabul. Khan’s assassination occurred just one week after an apparent family feud within the Karzai clan resulted in the death of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s half-brother Ahmed Wali Karzai — the clan’s most powerful ally in the country’s restive southwest. The Taliban continues to perceive itself as winning and shows little inclination toward a negotiated settlement aimed at facilitating an accelerated drawdown of forces.

Nevertheless, the drawdown begins this month with the withdrawal of some 1,000 U.S. National Guard troops and American allies beginning their own reductions. The incipient withdrawal is the first step toward a new reality wherein Washington dedicates far fewer troops and resources to Afghanistan and manages its interests in the country from a greater distance.

While the United States attempts to extricate itself from Afghanistan, Washington is making its final attempts to convince Baghdad to allow a sizeable contingent of troops to remain in Iraq beyond the end of 2011, the deadline for withdrawal stipulated by the current Status of Forces Agreement. While the American military focus appeared to shift toward Afghanistan years ago, Washington never solved its fundamental problem in Iraq, even as the United States successfully drew down its forces from the surge levels of 2007-2008.

That fundamental problem is Iran. U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan will ultimately strengthen Pakistan. A strong Pakistani state — whether that can be resurrected or not is a separate question — and a stable balance of power between India and Pakistan are in the long-term national interests of the United States. However, when the United States invaded Iraq, it destroyed the balance of power between Iran and Iraq. Initially, Washington wanted to establish a pro-American government in Baghdad, but instead it must now try to limit the extent to which the government in Baghdad favors Iran. Tehran has extensively penetrated the political and security apparatus of the Iraqi government. Iranian covert capabilities in Iraq — and within the wider region — are well-established. As the U.S. military leaves, Iran’s overt military capabilities will become the dominant military force in the region.

Even if the United States is able to secure an extended stay for its forces in Iraq, the problem with Iran will remain. An extension would merely bolster a weak American position — one in which the United States (rather than a proxy) is directly responsible for balancing a regional power.

This predicament is why Turkey — Petraeus’s first stop upon leaving Afghanistan — is important. In Ankara, Petraeus discussed counterterrorism and Turkey’s commitment to Afghanistan. However, even if doubled, the fewer than 2,000 troops Turkey contributes to the Afghan war effort will have no decisive impact. Turkey’s importance in current U.S. counterinsurgency efforts is small. Turkey matters because it is the historical pivot between Europe and the Middle East — and outside of Iraq, the natural counterbalance to Iran. Ankara is neither ready nor able to assume such a role within the next few years. Nevertheless, in the long run, Turkey is crucial to American hopes for returning balance to the region and it is the power whose resurgence Iran must fear.

Title: George Friedman: Rethinking Arab Spring
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 16, 2011, 10:21:54 AM
By George Friedman

On Dec. 17, 2010, Mohammed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, set himself on fire in a show of public protest. The self-immolation triggered unrest in Tunisia and ultimately the resignation of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. This was followed by unrest in a number of Arab countries that the global press dubbed the “Arab Spring.” The standard analysis of the situation was that oppressive regimes had been sitting on a volcano of liberal democratic discontent. The belief was that the Arab Spring was a political uprising by masses demanding liberal democratic reform and that this uprising, supported by Western democracies, would generate sweeping political change across the Arab world.

It is now more than six months since the beginning of the Arab Spring, and it is important to take stock of what has happened and what has not happened. The reasons for the widespread unrest go beyond the Arab world, although, obviously, the dynamics within that world are important in and of themselves. However, the belief in an Arab Spring helped shape European and American policies in the region and the world. If the assumptions of this past January and February prove insufficient or even wrong, then there will be regional and global consequences.

It is important to begin with the fact that, to this point, no regime has fallen in the Arab world. Individuals such as Tunisia’s Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have been replaced, but the regimes themselves, which represent the manner of governing, have not changed. Some regimes have come under massive attack but have not fallen, as in Libya, Syria and Yemen. And in many countries, such as Jordan, the unrest never amounted to a real threat to the regime. The kind of rapid and complete collapse that we saw in Eastern Europe in 1989 with the fall of communism has not happened in the Arab world. More important, what regime changes that might come of the civil wars in Libya and Syria are not going to be clearly victorious, those that are victorious are not going to be clearly democratic and those that are democratic are obviously not going to be liberal. The myth that beneath every Libyan is a French republican yearning to breathe free is dubious in the extreme.

Consider the case of Mubarak, who was forced from office and put on trial, although the regime — a mode of governing in which the military remains the main arbiter of the state — remains intact. Egypt is now governed by a committee of military commanders, all of whom had been part of Mubarak’s regime. Elections are coming, but the opposition is deeply divided between Islamists and secularists, and personalities and ideological divisions in turn divide these factions. The probability of a powerful democratic president emerging who controls the sprawling ministries in Cairo and the country’s security and military apparatus is slim, and the Egyptian military junta is already acting to suppress elements that are too radical and too unpredictable.

The important question is why these regimes have been able to survive. In a genuine revolution, the regime loses power. The anti-communist forces overwhelmed the Polish Communist government in 1989 regardless of the divisions within the opposition. The sitting regimes were not in a position to determine their own futures, let alone the futures of their countries. There was a transition, but they were not in control of it. Similarly, in 1979, when the Shah of Iran was overthrown, his military and security people were not the ones managing the transition after the shah left the country. They were the ones on trial. There was unrest in Egypt in January and February 2011, but the idea that it amounted to a revolution flew in the face of the reality of Egypt and of what revolutions actually look like.

Shaping the Western Narrative

There were three principles shaping the Western narrative on the Arab Spring. The first was that these regimes were overwhelmingly unpopular. The second was that the opposition represented the overwhelming will of the people. The third was that once the unrest began it was unstoppable. Add to all that the notion that social media facilitated the organization of the revolution and the belief that the region was in the midst of a radical transformation can be easily understood.

It was in Libya that these propositions created the most serious problems. Tunisia and Egypt were not subject to very much outside influence. Libya became the focus of a significant Western intervention. Moammar Gadhafi had ruled Libya for nearly 42 years. He could not have ruled for that long without substantial support. That didn’t mean he had majority support (or that he didn’t). It simply meant that the survival of his regime did not interest only a handful of people, but that a large network of Libyans benefitted from Gadhafi’s rule and stood to lose a great deal if he fell. They were prepared to fight for his regime.

The opposition to him was real, but its claim to represent the overwhelming majority of Libyan people was dubious. Many of the leaders had been part of the Gadhafi regime, and it is doubtful they were selected for their government posts because of their personal popularity. Others were members of tribes that were opposed to the regime but not particularly friendly to each other. Under the mythology of the Arab Spring, the eastern coalition represented the united rage of the Libyan people against Gadhafi’s oppression. Gadhafi was weak and isolated, wielding an army that was still loyal and could inflict terrible vengeance on the Libyan people. But if the West would demonstrate its ability to prevent slaughter in Benghazi, the military would realize its own isolation and defect to the rebels.

It didn’t happen that way. First, Gadhafi’s regime was more than simply a handful of people terrorizing the population. It was certainly a brutal regime, but it hadn’t survived for 42 years on that alone. It had substantial support in the military and among key tribes. Whether this was a majority is as unclear as whether the eastern coalition was a majority. But it was certainly a substantial group with much to fight for and a great deal to lose if the regime fell. So, contrary to expectations in the West, the regime has continued to fight and to retain the loyalty of a substantial number of people. Meanwhile, the eastern alliance has continued to survive under the protection of NATO but has been unable to form a united government or topple Gadhafi. Most important, it has always been a dubious assertion that what would emerge if the rebels did defeat Gadhafi would be a democratic regime, let alone a liberal democracy, and this has become increasingly obvious as the war has worn on. Whoever would replace Gadhafi would not clearly be superior to him, which is saying quite a lot.

A very similar process is taking place in Syria. There, the minority Alawite government of the Assad family, which has ruled Syria for 41 years, is facing an uprising led by the majority Sunnis, or at least some segment of them. Again, the assumption was that the regime was illegitimate and therefore weak and would crumble in the face of concerted resistance. That assumption proved wrong. The Assad regime may be running a minority government, but it has substantial support from a military of mostly Alawite officers leading a largely Sunni conscript force. The military has benefited tremendously from the Assad regime — indeed, it brought it to power. The one thing the Assads were careful to do was to make it beneficial to the military and security services to remain loyal to the regime. So far, they largely have. The danger for the regime looking forward is if the growing strain on the Alawite-dominated army divisions leads to fissures within the Alawite community and in the army itself, raising the potential for a military coup.

In part, these Arab leaders have nowhere to go. The senior leadership of the military could be tried in The Hague, and the lower ranks are subject to rebel retribution. There is a rule in war, which is that you should always give your enemy room to retreat. The Assad supporters, like the Gadhafi supporters and the supporters of Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, have no room to retreat. So they have fought on for months, and it is not clear they will capitulate anytime soon.

Foreign governments, from the United States to Turkey, have expressed their exasperation with the Syrians, but none has seriously contemplated an intervention. There are two reasons for this: First, following the Libyan intervention, everyone became more wary of assuming the weakness of Arab regimes, and no one wants a showdown on the ground with a desperate Syrian military. Second, observers have become cautious in asserting that widespread unrest constitutes a popular revolution or that the revolutionaries necessarily want to create a liberal democracy. The Sunnis in Syria might well want a democracy, but they might well be interested in creating a Sunni “Islamic” state. Knowing that it is important to be careful what you wish for, everyone seems to be issuing stern warnings to Damascus without doing very much.

Syria is an interesting case because it is, perhaps, the only current issue that Iran and Israel agree on. Iran is deeply invested in the Assad regime and wary of increased Sunni power in Syria. Israel is just as deeply concerned that the Assad regime — a known and manageable devil from the Israeli point of view — could collapse and be replaced by a Sunni Islamist regime with close ties to Hamas and what is left of al Qaeda in the Levant. These are fears, not certainties, but the fears make for interesting bedfellows.

Geopolitical Significance

Since late 2010, we have seen three kinds of uprisings in the Arab world. The first are those that merely brushed by the regime. The second are those that created a change in leaders but not in the way the country was run. The third are those that turned into civil wars, such as Libya and Yemen. There is also the interesting case of Bahrain, where the regime was saved by the intervention of Saudi Arabia, but while the rising there conformed to the basic model of the Arab Spring — failed hopes — it lies in a different class, caught between Saudi and Iranian power.

The three examples do not mean that there is not discontent in the Arab world or a desire for change. They do not mean that change will not happen, or that discontent will not assume sufficient force to overthrow regimes. They also do not mean that whatever emerges will be liberal democratic states pleasing to Americans and Europeans.

This becomes the geopolitically significant part of the story. Among Europeans and within the U.S. State Department and the Obama administration is an ideology of human rights — the idea that one of the major commitments of Western countries should be supporting the creation of regimes resembling their own. This assumes all the things that we have discussed: that there is powerful discontent in oppressive states, that the discontent is powerful enough to overthrow regimes, and that what follows would be the sort of regime that the West would be able to work with.

The issue isn’t whether human rights are important but whether supporting unrest in repressive states automatically strengthens human rights. An important example was Iran in 1979, when opposition to the oppression of the shah’s government was perceived as a movement toward liberal democracy. What followed might have been democratic but it was hardly liberal. Indeed, many of the myths of the Arab Spring had their roots both in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and later in Iran’s 2009 Green Movement, when a narrow uprising readily crushed by the regime was widely viewed as massive opposition and widespread support for liberalization.

The world is more complicated and more varied than that. As we saw in the Arab Spring, oppressive regimes are not always faced with massed risings, and unrest does not necessarily mean mass support. Nor are the alternatives necessarily more palatable than what went before or the displeasure of the West nearly as fearsome as Westerners like to think. Libya is a case study on the consequences of starting a war with insufficient force. Syria makes a strong case on the limits of soft power. Egypt and Tunisia represent a textbook lesson on the importance of not deluding yourself.

The pursuit of human rights requires ruthless clarity as to whom you are supporting and what their chances are. It is important to remember that it is not Western supporters of human rights who suffer the consequences of failed risings, civil wars or revolutionary regimes that are committed to causes other than liberal democracy.

The misreading of the situation can also create unnecessary geopolitical problems. The fall of the Egyptian regime, unlikely as it is at this point, would be just as likely to generate an Islamist regime as a liberal democracy. The survival of the Assad regime could lead to more slaughter than we have seen and a much firmer base for Iran. No regimes have fallen since the Arab Spring, but when they do it will be important to remember 1979 and the conviction that nothing could be worse than the shah’s Iran, morally or geopolitically. Neither was quite the case.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t people in the Arab world who want liberal democracy. It simply means that they are not powerful enough to topple regimes or maintain control of new regimes even if they did succeed. The Arab Spring is, above all, a primer on wishful thinking in the face of the real world.

Title: Stratfor: The geopolitics of the US-1
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 25, 2011, 11:36:45 AM

The Geopolitics of the United States, Part 1: The Inevitable Empire
August 25, 2011 | 1159 GMT
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STRATFOREditor’s Note: This installment on the United States, presented in two parts, is the 16th in a series of STRATFOR monographs on the geopolitics of countries influential in world affairs.

Related Special Topic Page
Geopolitical Monographs: In-depth Country Analysis
Like nearly all of the peoples of North and South America, most Americans are not originally from the territory that became the United States. They are a diverse collection of peoples primarily from a dozen different Western European states, mixed in with smaller groups from a hundred more. All of the New World entities struggled to carve a modern nation and state out of the American continents. Brazil is an excellent case of how that struggle can be a difficult one. The United States falls on the opposite end of the spectrum.

The American geography is an impressive one. The Greater Mississippi Basin together with the Intracoastal Waterway has more kilometers of navigable internal waterways than the rest of the world combined. The American Midwest is both overlaid by this waterway, and is the world’s largest contiguous piece of farmland. The U.S. Atlantic Coast possesses more major ports than the rest of the Western Hemisphere combined. Two vast oceans insulated the United States from Asian and European powers, deserts separate the United States from Mexico to the south, while lakes and forests separate the population centers in Canada from those in the United States. The United States has capital, food surpluses and physical insulation in excess of every other country in the world by an exceedingly large margin. So like the Turks, the Americans are not important because of who they are, but because of where they live.

The North American Core
North America is a triangle-shaped continent centered in the temperate portions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is of sufficient size that its northern reaches are fully Arctic and its southern reaches are fully tropical. Predominant wind currents carry moisture from west to east across the continent.

Climatically, the continent consists of a series of wide north-south precipitation bands largely shaped by the landmass’ longitudinal topography. The Rocky Mountains dominate the Western third of the northern and central parts of North America, generating a rain-shadow effect just east of the mountain range — an area known colloquially as the Great Plains. Farther east of this semiarid region are the well-watered plains of the prairie provinces of Canada and the American Midwest. This zone comprises both the most productive and the largest contiguous acreage of arable land on the planet.

East of this premier arable zone lies a second mountain chain known as the Appalachians. While this chain is far lower and thinner than the Rockies, it still constitutes a notable barrier to movement and economic development. However, the lower elevation of the mountains combined with the wide coastal plain of the East Coast does not result in the rain-shadow effect of the Great Plains. Consequently, the coastal plain of the East Coast is well-watered throughout.

In the continent’s northern and southern reaches this longitudinal pattern is not quite so clear-cut. North of the Great Lakes region lies the Canadian Shield, an area where repeated glaciation has scraped off most of the topsoil. That, combined with the area’s colder climate, means that these lands are not nearly as productive as regions farther south or west and, as such, remain largely unpopulated to the modern day. In the south — Mexico — the North American landmass narrows drastically from more than 5,000 kilometers (about 3,100 miles) wide to, at most, 2,000 kilometers, and in most locations less than 1,000 kilometers. The Mexican extension also occurs in the Rocky Mountain/Great Plains longitudinal zone, generating a wide, dry, irregular uplift that lacks the agricultural promise of the Canadian prairie provinces or American Midwest.

The continent’s final geographic piece is an isthmus of varying width, known as Central America, that is too wet and rugged to develop into anything more than a series of isolated city-states, much less a single country that would have an impact on continental affairs. Due to a series of swamps and mountains where the two American continents join, there still is no road network linking them, and the two Americas only indirectly affect each other’s development.

The most distinctive and  important feature of North America is the river network in the middle third of the continent. While its components are larger in both volume and length than most of the world’s rivers, this is not what sets the network apart. Very few of its tributaries begin at high elevations, making vast tracts of these rivers easily navigable. In the case of the Mississippi, the head of navigation — just north of Minneapolis — is 3,000 kilometers inland.

The network consists of six distinct river systems: the Missouri, Arkansas, Red, Ohio, Tennessee and, of course, the Mississippi. The unified nature of this system greatly enhances the region’s usefulness and potential economic and political power. First, shipping goods via water is an order of magnitude cheaper than shipping them via land. The specific ratio varies greatly based on technological era and local topography, but in the petroleum age in the United States, the cost of transport via water is roughly 10 to 30 times cheaper than overland. This simple fact makes countries with robust maritime transport options extremely capital-rich when compared to countries limited to land-only options. This factor is the primary reason why the major economic powers of the past half-millennia have been Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Second, the watershed of the Greater Mississippi Basin largely overlays North America’s arable lands. Normally, agricultural areas as large as the American Midwest are underutilized as the cost of shipping their output to more densely populated regions cuts deeply into the economics of agriculture. The Eurasian steppe is an excellent example. Even in modern times it is very common for Russian and Kazakh crops to occasionally rot before they can reach market. Massive artificial transport networks must be constructed and maintained in order for the land to reach its full potential. Not so in the case of the Greater Mississippi Basin. The vast bulk of the prime agricultural lands are within 200 kilometers of a stretch of navigable river. Road and rail are still used for collection, but nearly omnipresent river ports allow for the entirety of the basin’s farmers to easily and cheaply ship their products to markets not just in North America but all over the world.

Third, the river network’s unity greatly eases the issue of political integration. All of the peoples of the basin are part of the same economic system, ensuring constant contact and common interests. Regional proclivities obviously still arise, but this is not Northern Europe, where a variety of separate river systems have given rise to multiple national identities.

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It is worth briefly explaining why STRATFOR fixates on navigable rivers as opposed to coastlines. First, navigable rivers by definition service twice the land area of a coastline (rivers have two banks, coasts only one). Second, rivers are not subject to tidal forces, greatly easing the construction and maintenance of supporting infrastructure. Third, storm surges often accompany oceanic storms, which force the evacuation of oceanic ports. None of this eliminates the usefulness of coastal ports, but in terms of the capacity to generate capital, coastal regions are a poor second compared to lands with navigable rivers.

There are three other features — all maritime in nature — that further leverage the raw power that the Greater Mississippi Basin provides. First are the severe indentations of North America’s coastline, granting the region a wealth of sheltered bays and natural, deep-water ports. The more obvious examples include the Gulf of St. Lawrence, San Francisco Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Galveston Bay and Long Island Sound/New York Bay.

Second, there are the Great Lakes. Unlike the Greater Mississippi Basin, the Great Lakes are not naturally navigable due to winter freezes and obstacles such as Niagara Falls. However, over the past 200 years extensive hydrological engineering has been completed — mostly by Canada — to allow for full navigation on the lakes. Since 1960, penetrating halfway through the continent, the Great Lakes have provided a secondary water transport system that has opened up even more lands for productive use and provided even greater capacity for North American capital generation. The benefits of this system are reaped mainly by the warmer lands of the United States rather than the colder lands of Canada, but since the Great Lakes constitute Canada’s only maritime transport option for reaching the interior, most of the engineering was paid for by Canadians rather than Americans.

Third and most important are the lines of barrier islands that parallel the continent’s East and Gulf coasts. These islands allow riverine Mississippi traffic to travel in a protected intracoastal waterway all the way south to the Rio Grande and all the way north to the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to serving as a sort of oceanic river, the island chain’s proximity to the Mississippi delta creates an extension of sorts for all Mississippi shipping, in essence extending the political and economic unifying tendencies of the Mississippi Basin to the eastern coastal plain.

Thus, the Greater Mississippi Basin is the continent’s core, and whoever controls that core not only is certain to dominate the East Coast and Great Lakes regions but will also have the agricultural, transport, trade and political unification capacity to be a world power — even without having to interact with the rest of the global system.

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There is, of course, more to North America than simply this core region and its immediate satellites. There are many secondary stretches of agricultural land as well — those just north of the Greater Mississippi Basin in south-central Canada, the lands just north of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, the Atlantic coastal plain that wraps around the southern terminus of the Appalachians, California’s Central Valley, the coastal plain of the Pacific Northwest, the highlands of central Mexico and the Veracruz region.

But all of these regions combined are considerably smaller than the American Midwest and are not ideal, agriculturally, as the Midwest is. Because the Great Lakes are not naturally navigable, costly canals must be constructed. The prairie provinces of south-central Canada lack a river transport system altogether. California’s Central Valley requires irrigation. The Mexican highlands are semiarid and lack any navigable rivers.

The rivers of the American Atlantic coastal plain — flowing down the eastern side of the Appalachians — are neither particularly long nor interconnected. This makes them much more like the rivers of Northern Europe in that their separation localizes economic existence and fosters distinct political identities, dividing the region rather than uniting it. The formation of such local — as opposed to national — identities in many ways contributed to the American Civil War.

But the benefits of these secondary regions are not distributed evenly. What is now Mexico lacks even a single navigable river of any size. Its agricultural zones are disconnected and it boasts few good natural ports. Mexico’s north is too dry while its south is too wet — and both are too mountainous — to support major population centers or robust agricultural activities. Additionally, the terrain is just rugged enough — making transport just expensive enough — to make it difficult for the central government to enforce its writ. The result is the near lawlessness of the cartel lands in the north and the irregular spasms of secessionist activity in the south.

Canada’s maritime transport zones are far superior to those of Mexico but pale in comparison to those of the United States. Its first, the Great Lakes, not only requires engineering but is shared with the United States. The second, the St. Lawrence Seaway, is a solid option (again with sufficient engineering), but it services a region too cold to develop many dense population centers. None of Canada boasts naturally navigable rivers, often making it more attractive for Canada’s provinces — in particular the prairie provinces and British Columbia — to integrate with the United States, where transport is cheaper, the climate supports a larger population and markets are more readily accessible. Additionally, the Canadian Shield greatly limits development opportunities. This vast region — which covers more than half of Canada’s landmass and starkly separates Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto and the prairie provinces — consists of a rocky, broken landscape perfect for canoeing and backpacking but unsuitable for agriculture or habitation.

So long as the United States has uninterrupted control of the continental core — which itself enjoys independent and interconnected ocean access — the specific locations of the country’s northern and southern boundaries are somewhat immaterial to continental politics. To the south, the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts are a significant barrier in both directions, making the exceedingly shallow Rio Grande a logical — but hardly absolute — border line. The eastern end of the border could be anywhere within 300 kilometers north or south of its current location (at present the border region’s southernmost ports — Brownsville and Corpus Christi — lie on the U.S. side of the border). As one moves westward to the barren lands of New Mexico, Arizona, Chihuahua and Sonora, the possible variance increases considerably. Even controlling the mouth of the Colorado River where it empties into the Gulf of California is not a critical issue, since hydroelectric development in the United States prevents the river from reaching the Gulf in most years, making it useless for transport.

In the north, the Great Lakes are obviously an ideal break point in the middle of the border region, but the specific location of the line along the rest of the border is largely irrelevant. East of the lakes, low mountains and thick forests dominate the landscape — not the sort of terrain to generate a power that could challenge the U.S. East Coast. The border here could theoretically lie anywhere between the St. Lawrence Seaway and Massachusetts without compromising the American population centers on the East Coast (although, of course, the farther north the line is the more secure the East Coast will be). West of the lakes is flat prairie that can be easily crossed, but the land is too cold and often too dry, and, like the east, it cannot support a large population. So long as the border lies north of the bulk of the Missouri River’s expansive watershed, the border’s specific location is somewhat academic, and it becomes even more so when one reaches the Rockies.

On the far western end of the U.S.-Canada border is the only location where there could be some border friction. The entrance to Puget Sound — one of the world’s best natural harbors — is commanded by Vancouver Island. Most of the former is United States territory, but the latter is Canadian — in fact, the capital of British Columbia, Victoria, sits on the southern tip of that strategic island for precisely that reason. However, the fact that British Columbia is more than 3,000 kilometers from the Toronto region and that there is a 12:1 population imbalance between British Columbia and the American West Coast largely eliminates the possibility of Canadian territorial aggression.

A Geographic History of the United States
It is common knowledge that the United States began as 13 rebellious colonies along the east coast of the center third of the North American continent. But the United States as an entity was not a sure thing in the beginning. France controlled the bulk of the useful territory that in time would enable the United States to rise to power, while the Spanish empire boasted a larger and more robust economy and population in the New World than the fledgling United States. Most of the original 13 colonies were lightly populated by European standards — only Philadelphia could be considered a true city in the European sense — and were linked by only the most basic of physical infrastructure. Additionally, rivers flowed west to east across the coastal plain, tending to sequester regional identities rather than unify them.

But the young United States held two advantages. First, without exception, all of the European empires saw their New World holdings as secondary concerns. For them, the real game — and always the real war — was on another continent in a different hemisphere. Europe’s overseas colonies were either supplementary sources of income or chips to be traded away on the poker table of Europe. France did not even bother using its American territories to dispose of undesirable segments of its society, while Spain granted its viceroys wide latitude in how they governed imperial territories simply because it was not very important so long as the silver and gold shipments kept arriving. With European attentions diverted elsewhere, the young United States had an opportunity to carve out a future for itself relatively free of European entanglements.

Second, the early United States did not face any severe geographic challenges. The barrier island system and local rivers provided a number of options that allowed for rapid cultural and economic expansion up and down the East Coast. The coastal plain — particularly in what would become the American South — was sufficiently wide and well-watered to allow for the steady expansion of cities and farmland. Choices were limited, but so were challenges. This was not England, an island that forced the early state into the expense of a navy. This was not France, a country with three coasts and two land borders that forced Paris to constantly deal with threats from multiple directions. This was not Russia, a massive country suffering from short growing seasons that was forced to expend inordinate sums of capital on infrastructure simply to attempt to feed itself. Instead, the United States could exist in relative peace for its first few decades without needing to worry about any large-scale, omnipresent military or economic challenges, so it did not have to garrison a large military. Every scrap of energy the young country possessed could be spent on making itself more sustainable. When viewed together — the robust natural transport network overlaying vast tracts of excellent farmland, sharing a continent with two much smaller and weaker powers — it is inevitable that whoever controls the middle third of North America will be a great power.

Geopolitical Imperatives
With these basic inputs, the American polity was presented a set of imperatives it had to achieve in order to be a successful nation. They are only rarely declared elements of national policy, instead serving as a sort of subconscious set of guidelines established by geography that most governments — regardless of composition or ideology — find themselves following. The United States’ strategic imperatives are presented here in five parts. Normally imperatives are pursued in order, but there is considerable time overlap between the first two and the second two.

1. Dominate the Greater Mississippi Basin
The early nation was particularly vulnerable to its former colonial master. The original 13 colonies were hardwired into the British Empire economically, and trading with other European powers (at the time there were no other independent states in the Western Hemisphere) required braving the seas that the British still ruled. Additionally, the colonies’ almost exclusively coastal nature made them easy prey for that same navy should hostilities ever recommence, as was driven brutally home in the War of 1812 in which Washington was sacked.

There are only two ways to protect a coastal community from sea power. The first is to counter with another navy. But navies are very expensive, and it was all the United States could do in its first 50 years of existence to muster a merchant marine to assist with trade. France’s navy stood in during the Revolutionary War in order to constrain British power, but once independence was secured, Paris had no further interest in projecting power to the eastern shore of North America (and, in fact, nearly fought a war with the new country in the 1790s).

The second method of protecting a coastal community is to develop territories that are not utterly dependent upon the sea. Here is where the United States laid the groundwork for becoming a major power, since the strategic depth offered in North America was the Greater Mississippi Basin.

Achieving such strategic depth was both an economic and a military imperative. With few exceptions, the American population was based along the coast, and even the exceptions — such as Philadelphia — were easily reached via rivers. The United States was entirely dependent upon the English imperial system not just for finished goods and markets but also for the bulk of its non-agricultural raw materials, in particular coal and iron ore. Expanding inland allowed the Americans to substitute additional supplies from mines in the Appalachian Mountains. But those same mountains also limited just how much depth the early Americans could achieve. The Appalachians may not be the Swiss Alps, but they were sufficiently rugged to put a check on any deep and rapid inland expansion. Even reaching the Ohio River Valley — all of which lay within the initial territories of the independent United States — was largely blocked by the Appalachians. The Ohio River faced the additional problem of draining into the Mississippi, the western shore of which was the French territory of Louisiana and all of which emptied through the fully French-held city of New Orleans.

The United States solved this problem in three phases. First, there was the direct purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803. (Technically, France’s Louisiana Territory was Spanish-held at this point, its ownership having been swapped as a result of the Treaty of Paris in 1763 that ended the Seven Years’ War. In October 1800, France and Spain agreed in secret to return the lands to French control, but news of the transfer was not made public until the sale of the lands in question to the United States in July 1803. Therefore, between 1762 and 1803 the territory was legally the territory of the Spanish crown but operationally was a mixed territory under a shifting patchwork of French, Spanish and American management.)

At the time, Napoleon was girding for a major series of wars that would bear his name. France not only needed cash but also to be relieved of the security burden of defending a large but lightly populated territory in a different hemisphere. The Louisiana Purchase not only doubled the size of the United States but also gave it direct ownership of almost all of the Mississippi and Missouri river basins. The inclusion of the city of New Orleans in the purchase granted the United States full control over the entire watershed. Once the territory was purchased, the challenge was to develop the lands. Some settlers migrated northward from New Orleans, but most came via a different route.

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The second phase of the strategic-depth strategy was the construction of that different route: the National Road (aka the Cumberland Road). This project linked Baltimore first to Cumberland, Md. — the head of navigation of the Potomac — and then on to the Ohio River Valley at Wheeling, W. Va., by 1818. Later phases extended the road across Ohio (1828), Indiana (1832) and Illinois (1838) until it eventually reached Jefferson City, Mo., in the 1840s. This single road (known in modern times as Interstate 40 or Interstate 70 for most of its length) allowed American pioneers to directly settle Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri and granted them initial access to Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. For the better part of a century, it was the most heavily trafficked route in the country, and it allowed Americans not only to settle the new Louisiana Territory but also to finally take advantage of the lands ceded by the British in 1787. With the road’s completion, the original 13 colonies were finally lashed to the Greater Mississippi Basin via a route that could not be challenged by any outside power.

The third phase of the early American expansion strategy was in essence an extension of the National Road via a series of settlement trails, by far the most important and famous of which was the Oregon Trail. While less of a formal construction than the National Road, the Oregon Trail opened up far larger territories. The trail was directly responsible for the initial settling of Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon. A wealth of secondary trails branched off from the main artery — the Mormon, Bozeman, California and Denver trails — and extended the settlement efforts to Montana, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California. The trails were all active from the early 1840s until the completion of the country’s first transcontinental railway in 1869. That project’s completion reduced East Coast-West Coast travel time from six months to eight days and slashed the cost by 90 percent (to about $1,100 in 2011 dollars). The river of settlers overnight turned into a flood, finally cementing American hegemony over its vast territories.

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Collectively, the Louisiana Purchase, the National Road and the Oregon Trail facilitated the largest and fastest cultural expansion in human history. From beginning to end, the entire process required less than 70 years. However, it should be noted that the last part of this process — the securing of the West Coast — was not essential to American security. The Columbia River Valley and California’s Central Valley are not critical American territories. Any independent entities based in either could not possibly generate a force capable of threatening the Greater Mississippi Basin. This hardly means that these territories are unattractive or a net loss to the United States — among other things, they grant the United States full access to the Pacific trading basin — only that control of them is not imperative to American security.

2. Eliminate All Land-Based Threats to the Greater Mississippi Basin
The first land threat to the young United States was in essence the second phase of the Revolutionary War — a rematch between the British Empire and the young United States in the War of 1812. That the British navy could outmatch anything the Americans could float was obvious, and the naval blockade was crushing to an economy dependent upon coastal traffic. Geopolitically, the most critical part of the war was the participation of semi-independent British Canada. It wasn’t so much Canadian participation in any specific battle of the war (although Canadian troops did play a leading role in the sacking of Washington in August 1814) as it was that Canadian forces, unlike the British, did not have a supply line that stretched across the Atlantic. They were already in North America and, as such, constituted a direct physical threat to the existence of the United States.

Canada lacked many of the United States’ natural advantages even before the Americans were able to acquire the Louisiana Territory. First and most obvious, Canada is far enough north that its climate is far harsher than that of the United States, with all of the negative complications one would expect for population, agriculture and infrastructure. What few rivers Canada has neither interconnect nor remain usable year round. While the Great Lakes do not typically freeze, some of the river connections between them do. Most of these river connections also have rapids and falls, greatly limiting their utility as a transport network. Canada has made them more usable via grand canal projects, but the country’s low population and difficult climate greatly constrain its ability to generate capital locally. Every infrastructure project comes at a great opportunity cost, such a high cost that the St. Lawrence Seaway — a series of locks that link the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes and allow full ocean access — was not completed until 1959.

Canada is also greatly challenged by geography. The maritime provinces — particularly Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island — are disconnected from the Canadian landmass and unable to capitalize on what geographic blessings the rest of the country enjoys. They lack even the option of integrating south with the Americans and so are perennially poor and lightly populated compared to the rest of the country. Even in the modern day, what population centers Canada does have are geographically sequestered from one another by the Canadian Shield and the Rocky Mountains.

As time advanced, none of Canada’s geographic weaknesses worked themselves out. Even the western provinces — British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — are linked to Canada’s core by only a single transport corridor that snakes 1,500 kilometers through the emptiness of western and central Ontario north of Lake Superior. All four provinces have been forced by geography and necessity to be more economically integrated with their southern neighbors than with their fellow Canadian provinces.

Such challenges to unity and development went from being inconvenient and expensive to downright dangerous when the British ended their involvement in the War of 1812 in February 1815. The British were exhausted from the Napoleonic Wars in Europe and, with the French Empire having essentially imploded, were more interested in reshaping the European balance of power than re-engaging the Americans in distant North America. For their part, the Americans were mobilized, angry and — remembering vividly the Canadian/British sacking of Washington — mulling revenge. This left a geographically and culturally fractured Canada dreading a long-term, solitary confrontation with a hostile and strengthening local power. During the following decades, the Canadians had little choice but to downgrade their ties to the increasingly disinterested British Empire, adopt political neutrality vis-a-vis Washington, and begin formal economic integration with the United States. Any other choice would have put the Canadians on the path to another war with the Americans (this time likely without the British), and that war could have had only one outcome.

With its northern border secured, the Americans set about excising as much other extra-hemispheric influence from North America as possible. The Napoleonic Wars had not only absorbed British attention but had also shattered Spanish power (Napoleon actually succeeded in capturing the king of Spain early in the conflicts). Using a combination of illegal settlements, military pressure and diplomacy, the United States was able to gain control of east and west Florida from Madrid in 1819 in exchange for recognizing Spanish claims to what is now known as Texas (Tejas to the Spanish of the day).

This “recognition” was not even remotely serious. With Spain reeling from the Napoleonic Wars, Spanish control of its New World colonies was frayed at best. Most of Spain’s holdings in the Western Hemisphere either had already established their independence when Florida was officially ceded, or — as in Mexico — were bitterly fighting for it. Mexico achieved its independence a mere two years after Spain ceded Florida, and the United States’ efforts to secure its southwestern borders shifted to a blatant attempt to undermine and ultimately carve up the one remaining Western Hemispheric entity that could potentially challenge the United States: Mexico.

The Ohio and Upper Mississippi basins were hugely important assets, since they provided not only ample land for settlement but also sufficient grain production and easy transport. Since that transport allowed American merchants to easily access broader international markets, the United States quickly transformed itself from a poor coastal nation to a massively capital-rich commodities exporter. But these inner territories harbored a potentially fatal flaw: New Orleans. Should any nation but the United States control this single point, the entire maritime network that made North America such valuable territory would be held hostage to the whims of a foreign power. This is why the United States purchased New Orleans.

But even with the Louisiana Purchase, owning was not the same as securing, and all the gains of the Ohio and Louisiana settlement efforts required the permanent securing of New Orleans. Clearly, the biggest potential security threat to the United States was newly independent Mexico, the border with which was only 150 kilometers from New Orleans. In fact, New Orleans’ security was even more precarious than such a small distance suggested.

Most of eastern Texas was forested plains and hills with ample water supplies — ideal territory for hosting and supporting a substantial military force. In contrast, southern Louisiana was swamp. Only the city of New Orleans itself could house forces, and they would need to be supplied from another location via ship. It did not require a particularly clever military strategy for one to envision a Mexican assault on the city.

The United States defused and removed this potential threat by encouraging the settlement of not just its own side of the border region but the other side as well, pushing until the legal border reflected the natural border — the barrens of the desert. Just as the American plan for dealing with Canada was shaped by Canada’s geographic weakness, Washington’s efforts to first shield against and ultimately take over parts of Mexico were shaped by Mexico’s geographic shortcomings.

In the early 1800s Mexico, like the United States, was a very young country and much of its territory was similarly unsettled, but it simply could not expand as quickly as the United States for a variety of reasons. Obviously, the United States enjoyed a head start, having secured its independence in 1783 while Mexico became independent in 1821, but the deeper reasons are rooted in the geographic differences of the two states.

In the United States, the cheap transport system allowed early settlers to quickly obtain their own small tracts of land. It was an attractive option that helped fuel the early migration waves into the United States and then into the continent’s interior. Growing ranks of landholders exported their agricultural output either back down the National Road to the East Coast or down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and on to Europe. Small towns formed as wealth collected in the new territories, and in time the wealth accumulated to the point that portions of the United States had the capital necessary to industrialize. The interconnected nature of the Midwest ensured sufficient economies of scale to reinforce this process, and connections between the Midwest and the East Coast were sufficient to allow advances in one region to play off of and strengthen the other.

Mexico, in contrast, suffered from a complete lack of navigable rivers and had only a single good port (Veracruz). Additionally, what pieces of arable land it possessed were neither collected into a singular mass like the American interior nor situated at low elevations. The Mexico City region is arable only because it sits at a high elevation — at least 2,200 meters above sea level — lifting it out of the subtropical climate zone that predominates at that latitude.

This presented Mexico with a multitude of problems. First and most obviously, the lack of navigable waterways and the non-abundance of ports drastically reduced Mexico’s ability to move goods and thereby generate its own capital. Second, the disassociated nature of Mexico’s agricultural regions forced the construction of separate, non-integrated infrastructures for each individual sub-region, drastically raising the costs of even basic development. There were few economies of scale to be had, and advances in one region could not bolster another. Third, the highland nature of the Mexico City core required an even more expensive infrastructure, since everything had to be transported up the mountains from Veracruz. The engineering challenges and costs were so extreme and Mexico’s ability to finance them so strained that the 410-kilometer railway linking Mexico City and Veracruz was not completed until 1873. (By that point, the United States had two intercontinental lines and roughly 60,000 kilometers of railways.)

The higher cost of development in Mexico resulted in a very different economic and social structure compared to the United States. Instead of small landholdings, Mexican agriculture was dominated by a small number of rich Spaniards (or their descendants) who could afford the high capital costs of creating plantations. So whereas American settlers were traditionally yeoman farmers who owned their own land, Mexican settlers were largely indentured laborers or de facto serfs in the employ of local oligarchs. The Mexican landowners had, in essence, created their own company towns and saw little benefit in pooling their efforts to industrialize. Doing so would have undermined their control of their economic and political fiefdoms. This social structure has survived to the modern day, with the bulk of Mexican political and economic power held by the same 300 families that dominated Mexico’s early years, each with its local geographic power center.

For the United States, the attraction of owning one’s own destiny made it the destination of choice for most European migrants. At the time that Mexico achieved independence it had 6.2 million people versus the U.S. population of 9.6 million. In just two generations — by 1870 — the American population had ballooned to 38.6 million while Mexico’s was only 8.8 million. This U.S. population boom, combined with the United States’ ability to industrialize organically, not only allowed it to develop economically but also enabled it to provide the goods for its own development.

The American effort against Mexico took place in two theaters. The first was Texas, and the primary means was settlement as enabled by the Austin family. Most Texas scholars begin the story of Texas with Stephen F. Austin, considered to be the dominant personality in Texas’ formation. STRATFOR starts earlier with Stephen’s father, Moses Austin. In December 1796, Moses relocated from Virginia to then-Spanish Missouri — a region that would, within a decade, become part of the Louisiana Purchase — and began investing in mining operations. He swore fealty to the Spanish crown but obtained permission to assist with settling the region — something he did with American, not Spanish, citizens. Once Missouri became American territory, Moses shifted his attention south to the new border and used his contacts in the Spanish government to replicate his Missouri activities in Spanish Tejas.

After Moses’ death in 1821, his son took over the family business of establishing American demographic and economic interests on the Mexican side of the border. Whether the Austins were American agents or simply profiteers is irrelevant; the end result was an early skewing of Tejas in the direction of the United States. Stephen’s efforts commenced the same year as his father’s death, which was the same year that Mexico’s long war of independence against Spain ended. At that time, Spanish/Mexican Tejas was nearly devoid of settlers — Anglo or Hispanic — so the original 300 families that Stephen F. Austin helped settle in Tejas immediately dominated the territory’s demography and economy. And from that point on the United States not so quietly encouraged immigration into Mexican Tejas.

Once Tejas’ population identified more with the United States than it did with Mexico proper, the hard work was already done. The remaining question was how to formalize American control, no small matter. When hostilities broke out between Mexico City and these so-called “Texians,” U.S. financial interests — most notably the U.S. regional reserve banks — bankrolled the Texas Revolution of 1835-1836.

It was in this war that one of the most important battles of the modern age was fought. After capturing the Alamo, Mexican dictator Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna marched north and then east with the intention of smashing the Texian forces in a series of engagements. With the Texians outnumbered by a factor of more than five to one, there was every indication that the Mexican forces would prevail over the Texian rebels. But with no small amount of luck the Texians managed not only to defeat the Mexican forces at the Battle of San Jacinto but also capture Santa Anna himself and force a treaty of secession upon the Mexican government. An independent Texas was born and the Texians became Texans.

However, had the battle gone the other way the Texian forces would not have simply been routed but crushed. It was obvious to the Mexicans that the Texians had been fighting with weapons made in the United States, purchased from the United States with money lent by the United States. Since there would have been no military force between the Mexican army and New Orleans, it would not have required a particularly ingenious plan for Mexican forces to capture New Orleans. It could well have been Mexico — not the United States — that controlled access to the North American core.

But Mexican supremacy over North America was not to be, and the United States continued consolidating. The next order of business was ensuring that Texas neither fell back under Mexican control nor was able to persist as an independent entity.

Texas was practically a still-born republic. The western half of Texas suffers from rocky soil and aridity, and its rivers are for the most part unnavigable. Like Mexico, its successful development would require a massive application of capital, and it attained its independence only by accruing a great deal of debt. That debt was owed primarily to the United States, which chose not to write off any upon conclusion of the war. Add in that independent Texas had but 40,000 people (compared to the U.S. population at the time of 14.7 million) and the future of the new country was — at best — bleak.

Texas immediately applied for statehood, but domestic (both Texan and American) political squabbles and a refusal of Washington to accept Texas’ debt as an American federal responsibility prevented immediate annexation. Within a few short years, Texas’ deteriorating financial position combined with a revenge-minded Mexico hard by its still-disputed border forced Texas to accede to the United States on Washington’s terms in 1845. From that point the United States poured sufficient resources into its newest territory (ultimately exchanging approximately one-third of Texas’ territory for the entirety of the former country’s debt burden in 1850, giving Texas its contemporary shape) and set about enforcing the new U.S.-Mexico border.

Which brings us to the second part of the American strategy against Mexico. While the United States was busy supporting Texian/Texan autonomy, it was also undermining Spanish/Mexican control of the lands of what would become the American Southwest farther to the west. The key pillar of this strategy was another of the famous American trails: the Santa Fe.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Santa Fe Trail was formed not only before the New Mexico Territory became American, or even before Texas became an U.S. state, but before the territory become formally Mexican — the United States founded the trail when Santa Fe was still held by Spanish authority. The trail’s purpose was twofold: first, to fill the region on the other side of the border with a sufficient number of Americans so that the region would identify with the United States rather than with Spain or Mexico and, second, to establish an economic dependency between the northern Mexican territories and the United States.

The United States’ more favorable transport options and labor demography granted it the capital and skills it needed to industrialize at a time when Mexico was still battling Spain for its independence. The Santa Fe Trail started filling the region not only with American settlers but also with American industrial goods that Mexicans could not get elsewhere in the hemisphere.

Even if the race to dominate the lands of New Mexico and Arizona had been a fair one, the barrens of the Chihuahuan, Sonoran and Mojave deserts greatly hindered Mexico’s ability to settle the region with its own citizens. Mexico quickly fell behind economically and demographically in the contest for its own northern territories. (Incidentally, the United States attempted a similar settlement policy in western Canada, but it was halted by the War of 1812.)

The two efforts — carving out Texas and demographically and economically dominating the Southwest — came to a head in the 1846-1848 Mexican-American War. In that war the Americans launched a series of diversionary attacks across the border region, drawing the bulk of Mexican forces into long, arduous marches across the Mexican deserts. Once Mexican forces were fully engaged far to the north of Mexico’s core territories — and on the wrong side of the deserts — American forces made an amphibious landing and quickly captured Mexico’s only port at Veracruz before marching on and capturing Mexico City, the country’s capital. In the postwar settlement, the United States gained control of all the lands of northern Mexico that could sustain sizable populations and set the border with Mexico through the Chihuahuan Desert, as good of an international border as one can find in North America. This firmly eliminated Mexico as a military threat.

3. Control the Ocean Approaches to North America
With the United States having not simply secured its land borders but having ensured that its North American neighbors were geographically unable to challenge it, Washington’s attention shifted to curtailing the next potential threat: an attack from the sea. Having been settled by the British and being economically integrated into their empire for more than a century, the Americans understood very well that sea power could be used to reach them from Europe or elsewhere, outmaneuver their land forces and attack at the whim of whoever controlled the ships.

But the Americans also understood that useful sea power had requirements. The Atlantic crossing was a long one that exhausted its crews and passengers. Troops could not simply sail straight across and be dropped off ready to fight. They required recuperation on land before being committed to a war. Such ships and their crews also required local resupply. Loading up with everything needed for both the trip across the Atlantic and a military campaign would leave no room on the ships for troops. As naval technology advanced, the ships themselves also required coal, which necessitated a constellation of coaling stations near any theaters of operation. Hence, a naval assault required forward bases that would experience traffic just as heavy as the spear tip of any invasion effort.

Ultimately, it was a Russian decision that spurred the Americans to action. In 1821 the Russians formalized their claim to the northwest shore of North America, complete with a declaration barring any ship from approaching within 100 miles of their coastline. The Russian claim extended as far south as the 51st parallel (the northern extreme of Vancouver Island). A particularly bold Russian effort even saw the founding of Fort Ross, less than 160 kilometers north of San Francisco Bay, in order to secure a (relatively) local supply of foodstuffs for Russia’s American colonial effort.

In response to both the broader geopolitical need as well as the specific Russian challenge, the United States issued the Monroe Doctrine in 1823. It asserted that European powers would not be allowed to form new colonies in the Western Hemisphere and that, should a European power lose its grip on an existing New World colony, American power would be used to prevent their re-entrance. It was a policy of bluff, but it did lay the groundwork in both American and European minds that the Western Hemisphere was not European territory. With every year that the Americans’ bluff was not called, the United States’ position gained a little more credibility.

All the while the United States used diplomacy and its growing economic heft to expand. In 1867 the United States purchased the Alaska Territory from Russia, removing Moscow’s weak influence from the hemisphere and securing the United States from any northwestern coastal approach from Asia. In 1898, after a generation of political manipulations that included indirectly sponsoring a coup, Washington signed a treaty of annexation with the Kingdom of Hawaii. This secured not only the most important supply depot in the entire Pacific but also the last patch of land on any sea invasion route from Asia to the U.S. West Coast.

The Atlantic proved far more problematic. There are not many patches of land in the Pacific, and most of them are in the extreme western reaches of the ocean, so securing a buffer there was relatively easy. On the Atlantic side, many European empires were firmly entrenched very close to American shores. The British held bases in maritime Canada and the Bahamas. Several European powers held Caribbean colonies, all of which engaged in massive trade with the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War. The Spanish, while completely ejected from the mainland by the end of the 1820s, still held Cuba, Puerto Rico and the eastern half of Hispaniola (the modern-day Dominican Republic).

All were problematic to the growing United States, but it was Cuba that was the most vexing issue. Just as the city of New Orleans is critical because it is the lynchpin of the entire Mississippi watershed, Cuba, too, is critical because it oversees New Orleans’ access to the wider world from its perch on the Yucatan Channel and Florida Straits. No native Cuban power is strong enough to threaten the United States directly, but like Canada, Cuba could serve as a launching point for an extra-hemispheric power. At Spain’s height of power in the New World it controlled Florida, the Yucatan and Cuba — precisely the pieces of territory necessary to neutralize New Orleans. By the end of the 19th century, those holdings had been whittled down to Cuba alone, and by that time the once-hegemonic Spain had been crushed in a series of European wars, reducing it to a second-rate regional power largely limited to southwestern Europe. It did not take long for Washington to address the Cuba question.

In 1898, the United States launched its first-ever overseas expeditionary war, complete with amphibious assaults, long supply lines and naval support for which American warfighting would in time become famous. In a war that was as globe-spanning as it was brief, the United States captured all of Spain’s overseas island territories — including Cuba. Many European powers retained bases in the Western Hemisphere that could threaten the U.S. mainland, but with Cuba firmly in American hands, they could not easily assault New Orleans, the only spot that could truly threaten America’s position. Cuba remained a de facto American territory until the Cuban Revolution of 1959. At that point, Cuba again became a launching point for an extra-hemispheric power, this time the Soviet Union. That the United States risked nuclear war over Cuba is a testament to how seriously Washington views Cuba. In the post-Cold War era Cuba lacks a powerful external sponsor and so, like Canada, is not viewed as a security risk.

After the Spanish-American war, the Americans opportunistically acquired territories when circumstances allowed. By far the most relevant of these annexations were the results of the Lend-Lease program in the lead-up to World War II. The United Kingdom and its empire had long been seen as the greatest threat to American security. In addition to two formal American-British wars, the United States had fought dozens of skirmishes with its former colonial master over the years. It was British sea power that had nearly destroyed the United States in its early years, and it remained British sea power that could both constrain American economic growth and ultimately challenge the U.S. position in North America.

The opening years of World War II ended this potential threat. Beset by a European continent fully under the control of Nazi Germany, London had been forced to concentrate all of its naval assets on maintaining a Continental blockade. German submarine warfare threatened both the strength of that blockade and the ability of London to maintain its own maritime supply lines. Simply put, the British needed more ships. The Americans were willing to provide them — 40 mothballed destroyers to be exact — for a price. That price was almost all British naval bases in the Western Hemisphere. The only possessions that boasted good natural ports that the British retained after the deal were in Nova Scotia and the Bahamas.

The remaining naval approaches in the aftermath of Lend-Lease were the Azores (a Portuguese possession) and Iceland. The first American operations upon entering World War II were the occupations of both territories. In the post-war settlement, not only was Iceland formally included in NATO but its defense responsibilities were entirely subordinated to the U.S. Defense Department.

4. Control the World’s Oceans
The two world wars of the early 20th century constituted a watershed in human history for a number of reasons. For the United States the wars’ effects can be summed up with this simple statement: They cleared away the competition.

Global history from 1500 to 1945 is a lengthy treatise of increasing contact and conflict among a series of great regional powers. Some of these powers achieved supra-regional empires, with the Spanish, French and English being the most obvious. Several regional powers — Austria, Germany, Ottoman Turkey and Japan — also succeeded in extending their writ over huge tracts of territory during parts of this period. And several secondary powers — the Netherlands, Poland, China and Portugal — had periods of relative strength. Yet the two world wars massively devastated all of these powers. No battles were fought in the mainland United States. Not a single American factory was ever bombed. Alone among the world’s powers in 1945, the United States was not only functional but thriving.

The United States immediately set to work consolidating its newfound power, creating a global architecture to entrench its position. The first stage of this — naval domination — was achieved quickly and easily. The U.S. Navy at the beginning of World War II was already a respectable institution, but after three years fighting across two oceans it had achieved both global reach and massive competency. But that is only part of the story. Equally important was the fact that, as of August 1945, with the notable exception of the British Royal Navy, every other navy in the world had been destroyed. As impressive as the United States’ absolute gains in naval power had been, its relative gains were grander still. There simply was no competition. Always a maritime merchant power, the United States could now marry its economic advantages to absolute dominance of the seas and all global trade routes. And it really didn’t need to build a single additional ship to do so (although it did anyway).

Over the next few years the United States’ undisputed naval supremacy allowed the Americans to impose a series of changes on the international system.

The formation of NATO in 1949 placed all of the world’s surviving naval assets under American strategic direction.
The inclusion of the United Kingdom, Italy, Iceland and Norway in NATO granted the United States the basing rights it needed to utterly dominate the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean — the two bodies of water that would be required for any theoretical European resurgence. The one meaningful European attempt to challenge the new reality — the Anglo-French Sinai campaign of 1956 — cemented the downfall of the European navies. Both London and Paris discovered that they now lacked the power to hold naval policies independent of Washington.
The seizure of Japan’s Pacific empire granted the Americans basing access in the Pacific, sufficient to allow complete American naval dominance of the north and central portions of that ocean.
A formal alliance with Australia and New Zealand extended American naval hegemony to the southern Pacific in 1951.
A 1952 security treaty placed a rehabilitated Japan — and its navy — firmly under the American security umbrella.
Shorn of both independent economic vitality at home and strong independent naval presences beyond their home waters, all of the European empires quickly collapsed. Within a few decades of World War II’s end, nearly every piece of the once globe-spanning European empires had achieved independence.

There is another secret to American success — both in controlling the oceans and taking advantage of European failures — that lies in an often-misunderstood economic structure called Bretton Woods. Even before World War II ended, the United States had leveraged its position as the largest economy and military to convince all of the Western allies — most of whose governments were in exile at the time — to sign onto the Bretton Woods accords. The states committed to the formation of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to assist with the expected post-War reconstruction. Considering the general destitution of Western Europe at the time, this, in essence, was a U.S. commitment to finance if not outright fund that reconstruction. Because of that, the U.S. dollar was the obvious and only choice to serve as the global currency.

But Bretton Woods was about more than currency regimes and international institutions; its deeper purpose lay in two other features that are often overlooked. The United States would open its markets to participating states’ exports while not requiring reciprocal access for its own. In exchange, participating states would grant the United States deference in the crafting of security policy. NATO quickly emerged as the organization through which this policy was pursued.

From the point of view of the non-American founders of Bretton Woods, this was an excellent deal. Self-funded reconstruction was out of the question. The bombing campaigns required to defeat the Nazis leveled most of Western Europe’s infrastructure and industrial capacity. Even in those few parts of the United Kingdom that emerged unscathed, the state labored under a debt that would require decades of economic growth to recover from.

It was not so much that access to the American market would help regenerate Europe’s fortunes as it was that the American market was the only market at war’s end. And since all exports from Bretton-Woods states (which the exception of some Canadian exports) to the United States had to travel by water, and since the U.S. Navy was the only institution that could guarantee the safety of those exports, adopting security policies unfriendly to Washington was simply seen as a nonstarter. By the mid-1950s, Bretton Woods had been expanded to the defeated Axis powers as well as South Korea and Taiwan. It soon became the basis of the global trading network, first being incorporated into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and in time being transformed into the World Trade Organization. With a single policy, the Americans not only had fused their economic and military policies into a single robust system but also had firmly established that American dominance of the seas and the global economic system would be in the interest of all major economies with the exception of the Soviet Union.

5. Prevent any Potential Challengers from Rising
From a functional point of view the United States controls North America because it holds nearly all of the pieces that are worth holding. With the possible exception of Cuba or some select sections of southern Canada, the rest of the landmass is more trouble than it is worth. Additionally, the security relationship it has developed with Canada and Mexico means that neither poses an existential threat to American dominance. Any threat to the United States would have to come from beyond North America. And the only type of country that could possibly dislodge the United States would be another state whose power is also continental in scope.

As of 2011, there are no such states in the international system. Neither are there any such powers whose rise is imminent. Most of the world is simply too geographically hostile to integration to pose significant threats. The presence of jungles, deserts and mountains and the lack of navigable rivers in Africa does more than make Africa capital poor; it also absolutely prevents unification, thus eliminating Africa as a potential seedbed for a mega-state. As for Australia, most of it is not habitable. It is essentially eight loosely connected cities spread around the edges of a largely arid landmass. Any claims to Australia being a “continental” power would be literal, not functional.

In fact, there are only two portions of the planet (outside of North America) that could possibly generate a rival to the United States. One is South America. South America is mostly hollow, with the people living on the coasts and the center dominated by rainforests and mountains. However, the Southern Cone region has the world’s only other naturally interconnected and navigable waterway system overlaying arable land, the building blocks of a major power. But that territory — the Rio de la Plata region — is considerably smaller than the North American core and it is also split among four sovereign states. And the largest of those four — Brazil — has a fundamentally different culture and language than the others, impeding unification.

State-to-state competition is hardwired into the Rio de la Plata region, making a challenge to the United States impossible until there is political consolidation, and that will require not simply Brazil’s ascendency but also its de facto absorption of Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina into a single Brazilian superstate. Considering how much more powerful Brazil is than the other three combined, that consolidation — and the challenge likely to arise from it — may well be inevitable but it is certainly not imminent. Countries the size of Argentina do not simply disappear easily or quickly. So while a South American challenge may be rising, it is extremely unlikely to occur within a generation.

The other part of the world that could produce a rival to the United States is Eurasia. Eurasia is a region of extremely varied geography, and it is the most likely birthplace of an American competitor that would be continental in scope. Geography, however, makes it extremely difficult for such a power (or a coalition of such powers) to arise. In fact, the southern sub-regions of Eurasia cannot contribute to such formation. The Ganges River Basin is the most agriculturally productive in the world, but the Ganges is not navigable. The combination of fertile lands and non-navigable waterways makes the region crushingly overpopu
Title: US Foreign Policy: We’re All Cheneyites Now
Post by: DougMacG on August 29, 2011, 09:32:29 AM
From Daily Beast and Newsweek, hardly right wing publications:

We’re All Cheneyites Now
Aug 28, 2011 10:01 AM EDT
The dark lord of American politics has a new book out, fiercely defending his Legacy. Lay down your arms, Dick. You won the fight.

On the Fourth of July, Dick Cheney surprised his friends and neighbors in Jackson, Wyo., by coming downtown for the parade, an annual procession featuring a rollerblading moose and a wagon of farmers tossing raw corn—the Wyoming equivalent of Mardi Gras beads—into the crowd. Cheney didn’t stay long and he didn’t say much. Mostly he chatted with folks about fishing (the water’s too damn high this year) and posed for a few pictures. But it was enough to reassure people that the former vice president, who had been rarely spotted during a year that combined recuperation from radical heart surgery with the burden of producing a lengthy memoir, was still on the scene.

This week, his book, In My Time, is scheduled to arrive in bookstores. Simon & Schuster paid Cheney a multimillion-dollar advance, and recouping it means mounting the kind of intensive marketing effort that would tax the energy of a much younger, healthier author. But much more than money is involved. After 40 years in the contentious center ring of American politics, this is Cheney’s last rodeo.

When he signed the deal in 2009, he was in bunker mentality—an embattled ideologue gearing up to defend a deeply unpopular terrorism policy under constant attack from the left. As his tome arrives in bookstores at summer’s end, the battlefield has changed dramatically. His defense brief lands after the court of public opinion has ruled—in his favor. President Obama has largely adopted the Cheney playbook on combating terrorism, from keeping Gitmo open to trying suspected enemies of the state in military tribunals. Obama’s drone war, which has quadrupled the number of attacks in the past two years, reflects Cheney’s whatever-it-takes approach. The leftist wrath once trained on Bush’s veep is aimed at the Democratic incumbent these days. Even the Bush-Cheney pro-democracy doctrine, born as a substitute rationale for the Iraq War after the failure to find WMD, is bearing fruit, toppling dictators from Cairo to Tripoli. The dirty little secret of the last few years is that the man George Bush called “Big Time” won. We’re all Cheneyites now.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney., David Hume Kennerly / Contour-Getty Images

But he’s still fighting the good fight—taking shots in the book at members of the national-security team who didn’t share his Manichaean view. George Tenet let the president down by bailing under fire, in Cheney’s telling; Condi Rice was wobbly on Iraq and suspect in her dealings with North Korea (Rice can return fire this fall, when her own book comes out). He’s rough on Colin Powell: “It was as though he thought the proper way to express his views was by criticizing administration policy to people outside the government.”

But then it’s no real surprise that he’s drifted far from Powell politically. Two years ago, he said on Face the Nation that he was closer to Rush Limbaugh than the general. He won the lasting admiration of conservatives for speaking out against Obama at the height of his popularity, while 43 maintained a studious silence.

On May 2, as the final version of In My Time was coming together, American SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Cheney praised President Obama, but the hit meant going back to the book for “updating” as his editor, Mary Matalin, put it. Whatever edits Cheney made, they didn’t require a change of mind about how to deal with America’s enemies. As the anniversary of 9/11 draws near, and In My Time hits the bookstores, Dick Cheney will have one more moment on the national stage to remind people that the policies of today were shaped by his strategic vision. And then, if his HeartMate II keeps pumping and the water recedes, he can go back home and fish in peace.
Title: Southern Mexican Army operations on US soil?!?!?!?!?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 31, 2011, 04:03:16 AM
Mexico - President Calderon calls for U.S. action following attack in Monterrey

Following the attack on Casino Royal, which killed more than 50 in Monterrey on 25 August 2011, Mexican President Felipe Calderon addressed the nation on 26 August 2011, condemning the attacks and calling them acts of terrorism. Calderon placed some blame on the United States, citing the fact that the U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of drugs and leading weapons retailer, stating that these activities finance the criminal activity plaguing Mexico. Calderon implored both the U.S. President and Congress to take action to prevent the transfer of profits from drug sales back to Mexico and also to curb the criminal sale of high-powered assault rifles.

MARC: Better talk to the BATF about the last point , , ,

Mexico - U.S. increases role in war against drugs in Mexico

The United States is expanding their role in the war on drugs in Mexico, allowing Mexican authorities to stage cross border helicopter raids in the U.S., in addition to staging drones to eavesdrop on cartel’s cell phone communications and to capture video of drug processing labs and smuggling units. While U.S. authorities maintain these are not joint operations, rather Mexican operations staged in U.S. territory, cooperation is increasing despite historical tensions between the two nations.
Title: Ajami: From 911 to Arab Spring
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 08, 2011, 08:47:21 AM
The Arabic word shamata has its own power. The closest approximation to it is the German schadenfreude—glee at another's misfortune. And when the Twin Towers fell 10 years ago this week, there was plenty of glee in Arab lands—a sense of wonder, bordering on pride, that a band of young Arabs had brought soot and ruin onto American soil.

The symbols of this mighty American republic—the commercial empire in New York, the military power embodied by the Pentagon—had been hit. Sweets were handed out in East Jerusalem, there were no tears shed in Cairo for the Americans, more than three decades of U.S. aid notwithstanding. Everywhere in that Arab world—among the Western-educated elite as among the Islamists—there was unmistakable satisfaction that the Americans had gotten their comeuppance.

There were sympathetic vigils in Iran—America's most determined enemy in the region—and anti-American belligerence in the Arab countries most closely allied with the United States. This occasioned the observation of the noted historian Bernard Lewis that there were pro-American regimes with anti-American populations, and anti-American regimes with pro-American populations.

I traveled to Jeddah and Cairo in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. In the splendid homes of wealthy American-educated businessmen, in the salons of perfectly polished men and women of letters, there was no small measure of admiration for Osama bin Laden. He was the avenger, the Arabs had been at the receiving end of Western power, and now the scales were righted. "Yes, but . . . ," said the Arab intellectual class, almost in unison. Those death pilots may have been zealous, but now the Americans know, and for the first time, what it means to be at the receiving end of power.

Very few Arabs believed that the landscape all around them—the tyrannical states, the growing poverty, the destruction of what little grace their old cities once possessed, the war across the generations between secular fathers and Islamist children—was the harvest of their own history. It was easier to believe that the Americans had willed those outcomes.

In truth, in the decade prior to 9/11, America had paid the Arab world scant attention. We had taken a holiday from history's exertions. But the Arabs had hung onto their belief that a willful America disposed of their fate. The Arab regimes possessed their own sources of power—fearsome security apparatuses, money in the oil states, official custodians of religion who gave repression their seal of approval.

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CloseAFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators in Instanbul hold a Syrian flag in support of the protests in Syria.
.But it was more convenient to trace the trail across the ocean, to the United States. Mohammed Atta, who led the death pilots, was a child of the Egyptian middle class, a lawyer's son, formed by the disappointments of Egypt and its inequities. But there was little of him said in Egypt. The official press looked away.

There was to be no way of getting politically conscious Arabs to accept responsibility for what had taken place on 9/11. Set aside those steeped in conspiracy who thought that these attacks were the work of Americans themselves, that thousands of Jews had not shown up at work in the Twin Towers on 9/11. The pathology that mattered was that of otherwise reasonable men and women who were glad for America's torment. The Americans had might, but were far away. Now the terrorism, like a magnet, drew them into Arab and Muslim lands. Now they were near, and they would be entangled in the great civil war raging over the course of Arab and Muslim history.

The masters and preachers of terror had told their foot soldiers, and the great mass on the fence, that the Americans would make a run for it—as they had in Lebanon and Somalia, that they didn't have the stomach for a fight. The Arabs barely took notice when America struck the Taliban in Kabul. What was Afghanistan to them? It was a blighted and miserable land at a safe distance.

But the American war, and the sense of righteous violation, soon hit the Arab world itself. Saddam Hussein may not have been the Arab idol he was a decade earlier, but he was still a favored son of that Arab nation, its self-appointed defender. The toppling of his regime, some 18 months or so after 9/11, had brought the war closer to the Arabs. The spectacle of the Iraqi despot flushed out of his spider hole by American soldiers was a lesson to the Arabs as to the falseness and futility of radicalism.

It is said that "the east" is a land given to long memory, that there the past is never forgotten. But a decade on, the Arab world has little to say about 9/11—at least not directly. In the course of that Arab Spring, young people in Tunisia and Egypt brought down the dreaded dictators. And in Libya, there is the thrill of liberty, delivered, in part, by Western powers. In the slaughter-grounds of Syria, the rage is not directed against foreign demons, but against the cruel rulers who have robbed that population of a chance at a decent life.

America held the line in the aftermath of 9/11. It wasn't brilliant at everything it attempted in Arab lands. But a chance was given the Arabs to come face to face, and truly for the first time, with the harvest of their own history. Now their world is what they make of it.

Mr. Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and co-chair of the Working Group on Islamism and the International Order.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: JDN on September 09, 2011, 08:59:08 AM
I read Crafty's Stratfor's Turkey Post with great interest.  It made me think if I substituted the word "America" for Turkey it had many of the same meanings.  Also, if I substituted "America" for Turkey and "Taiwan" for Israel, again, the article makes some good points.  It truly is more like two "who have interests and the question is will those interest realign?"  And like Israel/Turkey our interests are "not as deep as they were 20 or 30 years ago.

America needs to look after her interests; period.

"The region in which Turkey operates is no longer threatened by the Soviet Union. It doesn’t have a common interest with Israel in fighting the Soviets. Turkey is living in a world that is increasingly Islamist as opposed to secular. It’s accommodating itself to it. Israel, in the meantime, has its own interests in trying to preserve what it thinks are its territorial interests, and they simply don’t coincide with what Turkey is saying. Therefore, these are two countries that were once linked with common interests. Those interests have withered, and the relationship is seriously in trouble.

Colin: In this context, do you think Israel and Turkey can repair their relationship and, if they can, what will that new relationship be?

George: Well this is not like a marriage that gets repaired or unrepaired. These are more like businesses who have interests and the question is: will those interest realign? And there are certainly some common interests, though they’re not as deep as they were 20 or 30 years ago. Because the foundation of the relationship has changed, the nature of the relationship is going to change. Also, the tolerance on the part of each side is going to change."
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on September 09, 2011, 09:21:09 AM
I agree JDN, time to cut Japan loose. The Chinese need to get revenge for the horrors of Nanjing, Manchuria and Unit 731, why should we get involved?

Not our problem, right?
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: JDN on September 09, 2011, 09:56:44 AM
Many people on the right in Japan say the same thing.  An armed nuclear Japan would be a force to be reckoned with in Asia.  They argue we need
Japan and our massive bases there more than they need us.  Also, it's to our strategic advantage to have bases in Japan.  Do you know how valuable the extensive land is that Japan allows us to use?  It's worth untold billions upon billions of dollars.  And rather than us pay Japan, Japan pays us billions of dollars.  Where else do we have such a good deal?  In contrast we give foreign aid to Taiwan and Israel, Think about it; Japan gives money to us.

Not to mention our massive trade with Japan, their huge holding of our debt, etc.  I'm missing something.  So how is Japan again relevant or equivalent to Taiwan and Israel?   :-o

I'm curious GM: if my wife was Peruvian instead of being Japanese would you bring up Peru as an opposing arguement?   :?  It would be about as relevant as this post of yours.  Or not....    :-(

Or should we talk about your wife...
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on September 09, 2011, 10:03:12 AM
Just pointing out your hypocrisy.

If Japan were Jewish, I doubt you'd be such an advocate for them.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: JDN on September 09, 2011, 10:11:55 AM


Frankly, I don't know what religion Japan is.  And I'm not necessarily an advocate for them; I can give you good and bad.  But if they were Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or Christian it would have nothing to do with the issue except how it affects America.  The key is whether the relationship is mutually beneficial.  As the Stratfor piece points out, it's a business relationship, not a marriage.  So we need to be practical, not emotional. 
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on September 09, 2011, 10:16:58 AM

Methinks Japan better rediscover Bushido quickly.

We may have de-militarized them a bit too much. The Japanese Navy makes Obama's "mom jeans" look masculine.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 09, 2011, 10:24:36 AM
The US would not need Turkey for anti-Iranian missile defense if Baraq had not pussed out on the AMD batteries in eastern Europe.

Anyway, more to the point, it makes perfect sense to me that the best thing the US could do would be to sign a mutual defense treaty with Israel.  Reliable and highly capable ally (e.g. two nuke enemies-- Iraq and Syria-- nipped in the bud), permanent base of operations in the mid-east, end to any doubt about viability of Israel's survival, great intel, foxy women, and much more.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on September 09, 2011, 10:30:00 AM

Good thing we don't have any cuts for the defense budget, right?
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on September 09, 2011, 10:35:38 AM
If it comes down to a dance-off, Japan will totally crush the PLAN.

I bet the normally hostile towards the military Bay Area is now going to push for a Port Call from The Japanese Navy. So they got that going for them....
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: JDN on September 09, 2011, 10:41:59 AM
GM; Funny.   :-)  But I suggest you ask China? Or Korea?  Or anyplace else in Asia....

What would China say if Japan decided to remilitarize, join the nuclear club, and become nationalistic?  

Would they be laughing?

That said, you have to admit, they can dance.   :-D

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on September 09, 2011, 10:48:53 AM
I'd say they should be doing this now, but they won't. Remember, PLA generals have threatened a nuclear exchange with us, you think they'd hesitate to trade nukes with their most hated enemy?

Make no mistake, the Chinese HATE the Japanese as much as the muzzies and europeans hate Jews. Much like Israel, Japan has no strategic depth and a nuclear exchange would mean the end of Japan.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on September 09, 2011, 11:00:18 AM

"Peaceful rise".   :roll:

The PLA has come a long way since they were "A million guys with rifles".
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 09, 2011, 11:46:14 AM
"Thread Nazi" here again.  The preceding posts I think would do just fine on the China-US thread or the Military thread.

I picture this thread as being more about "the vision thing"; e.g. "The US's unipolar moment is over.  Now what?"
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on September 09, 2011, 11:50:49 AM
"The US's unipolar moment is over.  Now what?"

Si vis pacem, para bellum
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on September 09, 2011, 11:57:06 AM

The Effect of Ever More Defense Budget Cuts
on U.S. Armed Forces
A joint project of
American Enterprise Institute, Foreign Policy Initiative, and
The Heritage Foundation

National security is neither a “sacred cow” nor just another federal budget line item. Providing for the common defense of the American people and our homeland is the primary responsibility of policymakers in Washington. However, in an effort to protect social entitlements like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the health care reform law from serious deficit and debt reduction efforts, President Obama has proposed not only to raise taxes, but also to cut another $400 billion more from future national security spending. As Obama said on June 29, 2011, “[Outgoing Secretary of Defense] Bob Gates has already done a good job identifying $400 billion in cuts, but we’re going to do more.”

It appears the President wants to do much more when it comes to cutting defense. This week, Obama praised the latest in a series of plans to cut military spending by roughly $900 billion or more. He said the most recent plan that proposes cutting $886 billion from defense is “broadly consistent” with his own approach for getting the country’s finances under control. Although this plan, like the others, is light on details of how it would actually achieve trillions in overall spending cuts, it is clear that there is a willingness within the administration and among some members of Congress to slash defense well beyond the President’s earlier mark of $400 billion.

So far, the debate over long-term defense spending cuts has been a war among accountants—an abstract numbers game played with little regard for its concrete effect on the future of America’s armed forces and national security. This backgrounder describes the likely results of the significant defense spending reductions now being considered: a “hollow force” characterized by fewer personnel and weapon systems, slowed military modernization, reduced readiness for operations, and continued stress on the all-volunteer force. If realized, this modern day “hollow force” will be less capable of securing America’s interests and preserving the international leadership role that rests upon military preeminence.

Myth: Proposed cuts represent a small part of future military spending.
Fact: When adjusted for inflation, President Obama’s April 2011 proposal to cut $400 billion in long-term national security spending accounts for anywhere between 5%-to-8% of projected defense spending over a 12-year-period. For many, this appears to be only a marginal reduction in the Pentagon’s budget.

However, the President’s $400 billion in cuts is best understood as a floor—rather than as a ceiling—for reductions to baseline defense spending. If news reports are accurate, senior Obama administration officials and key members of Congress appear open to cutting the military’s future budget even more deeply. More likely, the cuts will occur over ten fiscal years starting in February 2012 when the President’s 2013 defense budget request arrives on Capitol Hill.

Moreover, it is worth recalling that Obama has already presided over two rounds of reductions to defense spending. In 2009, $330 billion was cut from future procurement programs and, in 2010, another $78 billion was sliced from the Pentagon’s budget. Add these to Obama’s new $400 billion in proposed cuts, and overall reductions to defense spending will surpass $800 billion—with perhaps even more cuts to come. Combined with the “procurement holiday” of the Clinton years and the “hollow growth” of the Bush years,[1] when it comes to military modernization the Pentagon already finds itself in a deep hole. New cuts will create an even deeper hole.

Other factors will exacerbate the effect of Obama’s $400 billion in defense cuts. First, estimated long-term defense “savings” are premised, in part, on the Obama administration’s assumptions about a total withdrawal from Iraq, a greatly reduced role in Afghanistan by 2014, and the absence of unforeseen crises and contingencies in the future.[2] Second, estimates of future defense spending requirements assume annual inflation will grow at just 2 percent, a rate that is wildly optimistic and in contradiction to the long-term tendency of defense inflation to outpace civilian inflation.[3] Third, without significant reform, costs for military health care—which already represent 9 percent of Pentagon spending—are on course to double by 2030.[4] And fourth, even before the administration began making cuts to national security spending, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had already predicted that the Pentagon’s research and procurement accounts would fall to just 28 percent of total defense spending.[5]

Myth: Iraq and Afghanistan withdrawals will alleviate the military’s manpower problems and allow the armed forces to control personnel spending.
Fact: As recent U.S. military commitments outside of Afghanistan and Iraq have shown, the pace of operations is likely to remain high. President Obama has maintained every foreign policy commitment set by his predecessors and added to the military’s missions. The President surged forces twice in Afghanistan, started a new operation in Libya, sent troops to Japan and Haiti for disaster relief operations, and kept 1,200 National Guard troops at America’s southwest border.

The demand for military personnel may not decline.

The future posture and operational tempo of U.S. forces abroad are far from certain. In Iraq, current administration policy and defense planning are premised on a complete withdrawal by the end of 2011. That could quickly change, however. The government in Baghdad has indicated openness to a continuing American military presence after 2011. Indeed, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently urged the Iraqis to consider allowing at least 10,000 U.S. troops to remain.

In Afghanistan, Secretary Panetta has noted that, even after the “surge” drawdown scheduled to run through 2012, 70,000 U.S. troops will remain. While Afghan security forces are scheduled to “take the lead” in security missions after 2014, it is likely that a significant U.S. military presence in the country will still be required. To be sure, it would not be responsible to base future U.S. planning in Afghanistan on the assumption of continued large-scale NATO assistance. At minimum, the United States should be prepared to retain brigade-sized forces in Kabul and in all the current NATO regional commands, including a larger presence in the Pashtun south and east, while continuing efforts to build Afghan military capability. For such objectives, an estimate of 40,000 troops in Afghanistan past 2014 is conservative.

Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan would represent only a part of U.S. posture in the greater Middle East—a historically unstable region now in the throes of a further transition and facing the prospect of an accelerated regional nuclear arms race sparked by Iran. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have attempted to reposture and redeploy U.S. forces to the Pacific, though the efforts have been slowed due to wartime needs, limited construction funds, and political uncertainties.

Importantly, recent history tells us to expect the unexpected. The last four U.S. presidents—two Republicans, two Democrats—have each sent America’s military into harm’s way for wars that were not anticipated.

Even if the U.S. military quickly clarifies its operational picture, it still will face, in addition to the rapid rise in health and benefits costs, expected increases in military pay. According to a Congressional Budget Office analysis, costs for base military pay will likely rise by $5 billion more than planned in the next five years.[6] “Two of the big places the money is, is in pay and benefits,” lamented Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[7]

In sum, the size and disposition of today’s forces do not account for likely realities and unforeseen contingencies, and the military’s personnel accounts will continue to consume an increasing share of the Pentagon budget. Cuts to the military’s top-line budget will exacerbate all these troubles.

Myth: U.S. armed forces will continue to enjoy a technological advantage over any and all adversaries.
Fact: The Pentagon has nearly skipped a generation of modernization programs while, at the same time, failing to “transform” U.S. forces for the future. The defense budget growth of the past decade was largely on consumables related to current operations. All of the defense cuts over the past two years mortgaged the future to pay for the present.

Today America’s military flies the same basic planes (e.g., F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 fighters; B-52, B-1 and B-2 bombers and a variety of support aircraft), sails the same basic ships (e.g., Trident ballistic missile and Los Angeles-class attack submarines, Aegis-equipped destroyers and cruisers, Nimitz-class aircraft carriers), and employs the same basic ground systems (e.g., Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, Black Hawk and Apache helicopters) that it did at the end of the Cold War. The White House and Congress prematurely terminated, or never brought to production, follow-on systems such as the F-22 fighter, the Seawolf-class sub, or the Comanche helicopter. As a result, tens of billions have been invested on development with little fielded reward.

The F-35 fighter remains the sole major pillar of post-Cold War procurement—yet even that has been whittled away and now stands in danger. In his final day at the Pentagon, Secretary Gates said that purchases of F-35 fighters “might be cut back as part of the Pentagon’s new budget review.”[8] Indeed, he had already placed the Marine Corps’ variant of the F-35 on a two-year “probation.”[9] At the same time, while the Air Force has reduced its total F-35 procurement plans to about 1,700 aircraft, it has also identified a fighter shortfall of about 800 aircraft. The Air Force thus finds itself forced to extend the life of its existing F-15 and F-16 fleets. The Navy is in the same boat, and is extending its buy of F-18s fighters.[10] Even these efforts to maintain an aging legacy fleet and buy additional fourth-generation tactical fighters are at risk due to budget cuts already underway.

No doubt, supposedly transformational systems like remotely-piloted vehicles have made immense contributions to the irregular warfare efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. That said, the original vision of a new regime of high-technology conventional systems to offset Chinese military modernization has yet to be realized. The so-called “Next Generation Bomber,” the symbol of the defense transformation program, was originally planned for 2018 production, but then that date slipped with the 2010 budget cuts. Indeed, the project was directed to “close up shop” and has been subsumed in a broader long-range strike effort and a new program office created within the Air Force.[11]

This dilemma—shortfalls of modernization and failures of transformation—plagues all of the military services. The looming budget cuts will diminish the number of current procurements like the F-35 fighter, while also delaying the day when more revolutionary capabilities will be developed and fielded.

Myth: Even if the future force is smaller, it will be well prepared for future crises and contingencies.
Fact: The U.S. military is on an almost-inevitable—and unsustainable—path toward a 21st-century form of “hollowness” that will leave it less prepared for unforeseen crises and contingencies in the future.

The long-term geopolitical trends reflect protracted and persistent irregular wars in the Middle East, nuclear proliferation in unstable regions, and a rising China that continues to modernize its military with the aim of undermining American dominance in the Asia-Pacific theater. In contrast, the military has struggled to recapitalize our own forces, has fought two major wars with only incremental increases in manpower, is beset with rising personnel costs, and faces the prospect of rising operational and maintenance costs as it operates aging and worn-out systems.

The Defense Department and Congress have worked hard to ensure that troops sent into harm’s way are well prepared and equipped; however, the military’s superb performance on the battlefield masks the true state of overall readiness.[12] There is not a service—Reserves and National Guard included—which has not reported serious readiness shortfalls in the past few years. As an example, over half the Navy’s deployed aircraft is not ready for combat.

It is also important to consider the state of non-deployed U.S. forces, the country’s strategic reserve. Here the contrasts are increasingly stark. For example, the recent congressional testimony of Marine Lt. Gen. Frank Panter provides insight into the large-scale problem that all services face: “We continue to globally source equipment for Afghanistan and to meet other equipment requirements as we rapidly respond to emerging threats in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe.”

In other words, the Marines are stripping equipment from units across the world to sustain those in the fight. Panter added: “The supply rating of units at home station hovers around 65 percent.” The Marines also discovered that their basic tables of organization and equipment were too small—that is, they didn’t have enough equipment to begin with before a decade of combat operations had ensued.

The result, combined with the fact that those in ground combat units are the most frequently deployed Marines and soldiers, is “a reduced ability of equipment to outfit and train our non-deployed units.”[13] As the Corps scrapes the global barrel to outfit units now fighting, those units recovering or preparing for deployment are unable to conduct sustainment training and must accept a risky, just-enough approach to high-end training immediately before going to war. The long-term effect of just-in-time readiness is therefore a growing bill just for “reset”—that is, the cost of restoring the Marines’ gear to its pre-war condition that puts aside the costs of it for the future. Indeed, the Marines now estimate their reset costs at $10.6 billion, of which about $5 billion remains unfunded.

While no comprehensive analysis for long-term readiness has been undertaken, the rough overall pattern is apparent: the future of American national security is being mortgaged to fight today’s wars and reduce the deficit by an insignificant amount. As a result, America’s armed forces, which have been stretched thin for nearly a decade, will likely be asked in the years ahead to do the same or more with even less if defense spending is cut once again.

The Defending Defense Project is a joint effort of the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Foreign Policy Initiative to promote a sound understanding of the U.S. defense budget and the resource requirements to sustain America’s preeminent military position. To learn more about the effort, contact Mackenzie Eaglen (, Robert Zarate ( or Richard Cleary (

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 09, 2011, 12:28:10 PM
 :cry: :cry: :cry:
Title: WSJ: Did the US overreact to 911?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 09, 2011, 07:24:37 PM
Editor's Note: We asked a group of leading national security thinkers to respond to the question: Did the United States overreact to the 9/11 attacks? Here are their answers:

We Had to Address State Sponsors of Terror
We Can't Reform the Arab World
Afghanistan Should Have Been the Focus
Resilience vs. Revenge
Right Cause, Wrong Response
Even Obama Embraces Drones
Islamist Extremists Are Losing
..We Had to Address State Sponsors of Terror
By Paul Wolfowitz

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese-Americans were put in concentration camps. That there was no comparable overreaction after 9/11, and that we have been able to preserve a free and open society, owes much to the fact that for 10 years there has been no repetition of those terrible attacks.

Preventing further attacks required the U.S. to drop its law-enforcement approach to terrorism and recognize that we were at war. Consider the difference between Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—the mastermind of 9/11 who told us much of what we now know about al Qaeda—and his nephew Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center who can't be questioned (even most courteously) without his lawyer present and has told us nothing of significance. Or consider the difference between the ineffective retaliatory bombing of Afghanistan in 1998 and the 2001 response that brought down the Taliban regime.

Enlarge Image

The Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001
.We went to war with Germany in 1941 not because it had attacked Pearl Harbor but because it was dangerous. After 9/11, we had to do more to deal with state sponsors of terrorism than simply place them on a prohibited list, especially if they had connections to biological, chemical or nuclear weapons. Saddam Hussein—who was defying numerous United Nations resolutions and was the only head of a government to praise 9/11, warning that Americans should "suffer" so they will "find the right path"—presented such a danger.

That we made mistakes in Afghanistan and Iraq does not prove that we overreacted. (Costly mistakes were also made in World War II: sending poorly prepared troops to North Africa, failing to plan for the hedgerows beyond the beaches at Normandy, failing to anticipate the German counterattack in Belgium.) The real question is whether a significantly different response would have produced a better result.

Would massive strategic bombing of Afghanistan—the 1998 response on a larger scale—been enough to defeat al Qaeda? Would the failing sanctions against Iraq not have collapsed and left us today with a Saddam Hussein committed, as he told his FBI interrogator, "to reconstitute his entire WMD program"—chemical, biological and even nuclear? What about the Libyan WMDs that Moammar Gadhafi gave up after he saw Saddam's fate?

Unfortunately, after it turned out we had been wrong about the existence of WMD stockpiles in Iraq, some accused President Bush of having overreacted or, even worse, of having lied. Others charged that our overreaction "gave democracy a bad name." Nonsense. Tens of thousands of Arabs today are risking their lives in Syria and elsewhere, not for bin Laden's dream of a heavenly paradise but for freedom and democracy.

Mr. Wolfowitz, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, served as deputy U.S. secretary of defense from 2001-05.

Back to Top
.We Can't Reform the Arab World
By Mark Helprin

When this war was brought to us, deliberations should have centered upon the aims and execution of our response. Instead, we debated its justice, and thus "whether or not" rather than "how best." The question here at issue echoes this, as if to inquire about the power of a shot rather than if it has hit its target. The answer is that in the absence of strategic clarity we have lurched from one extreme to another.

We underreacted in failing to declare war and put the nation on a war footing, and thus overreacted in trumpeting hollow resolution. We underreacted in attempting quickly to subdue and pacify, with fewer than 200,000 soldiers, 50 million famously recalcitrant people in notoriously difficult terrain halfway around the world. We are left with 10,000 American dead here and abroad, a bitterly divided polity, a broken alliance structure, emboldened rivals abroad, and two fractious nations hostile to American interests with little changed from what they were before.

We overreacted by attempting to revolutionize the political culture—and therefore the religious laws with which it is inextricably bound—of a billion people who exist as if in another age. The "Arab Spring" is less a confirmation of this illusion than its continuance. If you think not, just wait.

We underreacted when we allowed our military capacities other than counterinsurgency to atrophy while China strains for military parity—something that the architects of our national security a decade ago thought laughable, now deny, and soon will hopelessly admit.

Rather than embarking upon the reformation of the Arab world, we should have fully geared up, sacrificed for, and resolved upon war. Then struck hard and brought down the regimes sheltering our enemies, set up strongmen, charged them with extirpating terrorists, and withdrawn from their midst to hover north of Riyadh in the network of bases the Saudis have built within striking distance of Baghdad and Damascus. There we might have watched our new clients do the work that since 9/11 we have only partially accomplished, and at a cost in lives, treasure, and heartbreak far greater than necessary.

Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is the author of, among other works, "Winter's Tale" (Harcourt, 1983) and "A Soldier of the Great War" (Harcourt, 1992).

Back to Top
.Afghanistan Should Have Been the Focus
By Robert C. McFarlane

The 9/11 attacks gave evidence of a well-financed, operationally capable organization committed to waging unrestricted war on Americans. It was imperative that our response eliminate those who planned the attack and destroy their capability to carry on. Yet our understandable haste in launching that counterattack on al Qaeda and its Taliban hosts foreclosed thorough analysis of at least two fundamental matters:

First, the enormous complexity, time and resources involved in forging a functional government, let alone an effective security system, in a diverse alien culture. And second, the latent tensions and instability that had been brewing for over a decade in Pakistan, the key ally on whom we would have to rely for logistic and intelligence support.

Related Video
 Editorial page editor Paul Gigot and deputy editorial page editor Dan Henninger reflect on 9/11.
..More deliberate consideration of such factors could have limited our mission to the destruction of al Qaeda and the formation of a coalition government in Afghanistan (that alone a daunting challenge). It also could have foreclosed consideration of launching a second concurrent war in Iraq, where similar challenges were bound to emerge. Iraq posed no threat to us: The decision to invade it was inspired by quixotic zeal and towering hubris—the belief that we could easily establish there a functioning and prosperous democracy as a model to be adopted throughout the Muslim world.

However ill-conceived politically, the war in Iraq has been executed extremely well militarily. After eight and a half years, we have helped the Iraqis dislodge a tyrant and take the first steps toward a pluralistic, accountable future. In short, much of that original purpose could well be achieved in the years ahead—if we don't forfeit the potential gains out of fatigue and overreach.

The U.S. has also made gains in its national security institutions, notably in special operations and intelligence. Given the relationship of these capabilities to the threats we will continue to face—plus our nation's fiscal realities—the impending restructuring of our military is beginning to take shape.

Mr. McFarlane, who served as President Reagan's national security adviser, is a senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Back to Top
.Resilience vs. Revenge
By Anne-Marie Slaughter

It is possible to ask whether we overreacted to 9/11 only because of the hard and steady work of countless state, municipal and federal counterterrorism officials who have succeeded in preventing its repeat, or something even worse. After a decade without any such attacks (albeit with some near misses), and increasingly frequent and invasive security procedures permeating our daily lives, the costs of our reaction may be more immediately evident than the benefits. But another attack would change that calculus overnight.

One way in which Americans have overreacted, however, is emotionally—by assuming, as we so often do, that our experience of terrorism was qualitatively different from the experience of Europeans, Indonesians, Indians, Africans and others. We have since watched and admired the courage and determination of the British after coordinated attacks on subways and buses in July 2005, and of the Indians after the 10 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks in Mumbai in November 2008.

The world likewise watched the many acts of bravery and heroism on 9/11, from firefighters and police to the group of passengers who rushed the cockpit on United Flight 93. But as a society we were unable to resume business as usual in the way that the British and Indians and many others have done. Because the sensation of vulnerability to violent attack on American soil was so new to us, we gave the terrorists the satisfaction of knowing that they had changed our lives dramatically.

The lesson here is the power of resilience over revenge. As emotionally satisfying as the killing of Osama bin Laden and the attacks on other al Qaeda leaders are, in the long run they are a less effective response to terrorism than enhancing the resilience of our infrastructure, our economy and our people. If we are prepared for an attack and can return to normal as quickly as possible. even while grieving—with our planes flying, our markets open, and our heads high—we can diminish the impact and hence the value of that attack in the first place.

Ms. Slaughter, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, served as the director of Policy Planning at the State Department from 2009-11.

Back to Top
.Right Cause, Wrong Response
By Zbigniew Brzezinski

It was natural that the brutal murder of 2,700 Americans would provoke not only public outrage but precipitate a very strong national response. Unfortunately, that response lacked strategic coherence and political wisdom. A vaguely generalized global war on jihadist terror made it easier for the terrorists to portray America as hostile to all of Islam, while the U.S. military response eventually devolved into two separate campaigns.

At the time, I strongly supported the decision to go into Afghanistan in order to wipe out the culprits and to overthrow the regime that sheltered them. But I also urged, both in a high-level meeting and in a note to the secretary of defense, that we shouldn't repeat the mistake made by the Soviets, who became bogged down in an ideologically driven effort to remake Afghanistan by force of arms.

I also argued in this newspaper shortly after 9/11 that the U.S. should focus on the political dimension of the terrorist challenge, seeking to isolate the terrorists by gaining the support of Arab governments through broader regional cooperation.

The Bush administration didn't heed these warnings. Making matters worse, it then downgraded the military effort in Afghanistan with the largely solitary U.S. invasion of Iraq, which was undertaken without the political benefit of Arab allies that the U.S. enjoyed back in 1991. The U.S. government sought support for that additional war through top-level demagogy about the potential "mushroom cloud," and by claims of biological agents allegedly secreted in mobile trailers. Neither such nuclear nor biological weapons turned out to have existed. The resulting damage to U.S. credibility handicaps American diplomacy to this day, especially in regard to Iran.

At home, meanwhile, acts of prejudice against American Muslims became more frequent, while abroad anti-American sentiments in Muslim countries became more widespread. Ten years after 9/11, the future of Afghanistan is still in doubt, Iran is increasingly influential in Iraq, and U.S. influence in the Middle East is at its lowest point since America's major entry into the region after World War II.

The cause was right; the response was inept.

Mr. Brzezinski was national security adviser in the Carter administration.

Back to Top
.Even Obama Embraces Drones
By Leon Wieseltier

We responded to the atrocities of September 11 with a mess of reactions. Some of them were excessive, some of them were not.

The excess was Iraq. If our leaders launched that war because they were certain that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, then their incompetence was historically scandalous. If they launched it as a "demonstration war," to frighten enemies who might be emboldened by the terrorist triumph on September 11 to attack us again, then they failed: The war opened a new anti-American front for al Qaeda in the Middle East.

I was deceived in my support of the Iraq war, but I rejoice in the dictator's destruction, and in the stirrings of Iraqi democracy despite the best efforts of Islamists and Iranians to thwart it. Good outcomes may come of bad origins.

Yet our other military responses to September 11 seem to me justified. I have no difficulty with the "war on terrorism," as a concept or a policy. We appear to have almost completely decimated al Qaeda, or at least Osama bin Laden's main branch of it. President Obama's relentless drone campaign against terrorist havens in Pakistan, and his somewhat surprising willingness to use covert operations as an instrument in that struggle, stands as one of his few accomplishments in foreign policy.

I believe in ferocity in self-defense; in intelligent ferocity. Now new formations of al Qaeda have been established in southern Arabia and eastern Africa—this is not surprising: jihadist culture is not primarily a response to our responses—and we must confront them, too.

As a corollary of our proper retaliation against al Qaeda, moreover, we emancipated Afghanistan from a primitive theocratic tyranny. But the president's current plan in Afghanistan seems incoherent to me, and I have given up on Afghanistan's willingness to fight for itself. We have worked at it for 10 years, but there is no Afghan Spring. From the standpoint of counterterrorism, the Af-Pak problem is more Pak than Af.

And I have one other anxiety: that we will overreact to our "overreaction." If we conclude, as we are everywhere counseled to do, that the time has come for the United States to recede from the forefront of history, we will compromise and injure ourselves, and our allies, and all freedom-seeking people around the world.

Mr. Wieseltier is literary editor of the New Republic.

Back to Top
.Islamist Extremists Are Losing
By Joe Lieberman

It has become fashionable to characterize the American response to the attacks of 9/11 as an overreaction, but this view is profoundly mistaken. The U.S. response to the attacks, and to the broader challenge of Islamist extremism, has been necessary and justified. We were right to recognize that 9/11, made us a "nation at war" with an enemy that is real, evil and violent, and we were right to put this conflict at the top of our national security agenda. Had we not done so, it is likely we would not have the luxury today of debating whether we overreacted.

That we have gone a decade without another major terrorist strike on American soil hasn't been for lack of trying by our enemies. Our increased security has required bipartisan determination across two presidencies, far-reaching reforms to our homeland security institutions, and difficult, dangerous work by countless heroic individuals around the world. We have taken the offensive overseas with focus and ferocity our enemies did not expect, building the most capable and lethal counterterrorism forces in human history. The result is that violent Islamist extremists have achieved no significant victories in the last decade.

Have we made mistakes since 9/11? Of course—just as every nation always has in war. But as we look back over the past 10 years, a lot more went right than wrong.

Among the lessons of the past decade is that we still live in a dangerous and unpredictable world. Despite the gains we have made, current geopolitical realities do not justify either a sense of complacency or closure about the world-wide war we are in. Our nation will face surprises again. In order to stay safe at home, the U.S. must remain engaged abroad, and—despite budgetary pressures—make the necessary investments to keep our military and other instruments of national power strong.

In addition, contrary to the current national pessimism, America has demonstrated since 9/11 that we remain a remarkably strong and resilient country, with people who are capable of bravery, ingenuity and resolve. When we pull together, we are able to achieve things no other country in the world can—and the best example of this is the new "greatest generation" who have chosen to serve our country in uniform during this past decade.

We do not know how long this conflict will last, but we can be certain of how it will end—in the triumph of our values, with the ideology of Islamist extremism joining fascism and communism on the ash heap of history.

Mr. Lieberman is an Independent Democratic senator from Connecticut.

Title: Stratfor: Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) & Security Guarantees n Central Europe
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 10, 2011, 07:52:27 AM

In the last few days I have made some snarky comments about Baraq's policies concerning BMD in Central Europe and Turkey.  Some informatin new to me is contained in the following.

Ballistic Missile Defense and Security Guarantees in Central Europe

Romanian President Traian Basescu announced Thursday that he plans to sign an agreement with the United States committing Washington to deploy ballistic missile defense (BMD) interceptors and American troops on Romanian soil. Basescu laid out both the number of U.S troops who would be deployed – 200 – and the specific interceptor — the RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM3). A land-based launcher for this successful sea-based interceptor is still in development, and while the newest version of the SM3 failed in its first test Thursday, the sea-based Aegis SM3 system has proven the most capable of U.S. BMD systems.

“For Warsaw and Prague, the BMD installations have nothing at all to do with ballistic missiles and everything to do with the American security guarantee.”
The Romanian president’s announcement cements Romania’s segment of the U.S. “European phased adaptive approach” — Washington’s replacement for the previous BMD scheme pursued under the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush. The previous plan envisioned a version of the interceptors already operational in Alaska and California (though with a questionable track record) and their concrete silos in Poland, while an X-band radar installation would have been placed in the Czech Republic. Warsaw and especially Prague had high hopes for the Bush-era plan and still remain frustrated with its 2009 cancellation.

Their hopes had little to do with the threat of ballistic missiles — and certainly nothing to do with the threat of Iranian ballistic missiles that Washington used to justify the system in the first place. Tehran and its crude stockpile of missiles could not be farther from Central European minds. What countries like Poland and the Czech Republic seek is a long-term U.S. military personnel presence, and Washington’s consequent imperative to defend them. For Warsaw and Prague, in other words, the BMD installations have nothing at all to do with ballistic missiles and everything to do with the American security guarantee.

The withdrawal of the previous scheme, under pressure from a resurgent Russia, was precisely what the Central Europeans feared and why they desired fixed American military installations. Washington’s broken commitment has already cost it a measure of credibility, in terms of its allies’ perceptions, in the durability of the American security guarantee. This U.S. credibility question has played no small part in the emergence of the proposal for a Visegrad battlegroup independent of NATO and the United States.

The perception of the U.S. security guarantee is precisely what remains at stake with this new phased adaptive approach. However, it is not clear that all parties view the approach in the same way. If the credibility of the American security guarantee is in question, it is partly because of the lessons Washington took from the failure to place fixed installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. The United States learned that flexibility and redundancy are desirable in any deal. With the immense political pressure from the Kremlin on potential host countries and populations, as well as on more pressing American interests elsewhere in the world, expanding the range of options is certainly preferable. Consequently, while the United States has laid out a coherent scheme for the phased adaptive approach, improvements in weapons technology have allowed the inclusion of more mobile and dispersed components. Washington has also created a degree of ambiguity by waiting to formally sign specific deals.

This equivocation strengthens the plans to deploy a viable BMD system in Europe to defend the continental United States against an Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (a weapon that does not yet exist). However, the consequence is a dimmed perception of American reliability among allies from Estonia to Romania, who are desperately seeking a firm, unambiguous demonstration of America’s commitment. To these allies, a U.S. demonstration of support is most important not when it is politically convenient, but when it is politically difficult.

This predicament is not lost on Russia. Both Moscow and Beijing have been refining their positions in order to make firm, unambiguous demonstrations of American commitment as politically inconvenient and difficult as possible. The issue was discussed Wednesday between Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and the U.S. Defense attache in Moscow.

For Moscow, the problem of BMD is twofold. Details aside, Washington is flirting with the Central Europeans who, unlike their Western brethren, are highly concerned about Russia’s military capabilities. A significantly more aggressive U.S. BMD stance would greatly challenge Moscow. Longer-term, as Russia’s population declines, it will come to rely increasingly on its nuclear arsenal to guarantee its sovereignty, security and territorial integrity. Therefore, no matter what assurances Moscow gleans from Washington concerning the current European scheme, the inexorable improvement in American BMD technology will increasingly challenge those promises.

Title: US-Turkey-Russia-Iran
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 13, 2011, 10:55:06 AM
Not really fitting in any other thread, I put it here:

Russia and Iran appear to be working together to counterbalance an apparently strengthening strategic relationship between the United States and Turkey — something neither Moscow nor Tehran wants. Though the relationship between Russia and Iran largely is one of convenience and not of mutual trust, the two powers appear to be boosting their nuclear cooperation and energy ties as leverage against a U.S.-Turkish alliance.

After numerous delays, the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant was officially launched in Iran on Sept. 12 at an inauguration ceremony attended by Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy firm. On the same day, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Fereidoun Abbasi, told Press TV that Iran and Russia will cooperate on future nuclear projects beyond Bushehr – a claim that was later confirmed by Russia. Also on Sept. 12, Russia announced that its natural gas firm Gazprom, despite having previously withdrawn from a project, ostensibly out of respect for international sanctions on Iran, might take part in developing Iran’s Azar oil field and would let Iran know its decision within the month.

Russia and Iran intend with this set of developments to signal to the United States that, despite some recent rough patches, ties between the two are stronger than ever. The events of Sept. 12 stand in stark contrast to what took place less than two weeks ago, when Iran threatened to sue Russia over Moscow’s failure to deliver the S-300 strategic air defense system, complained about  delays in the Bushehr project and banned Gazprom from participating in the Azar project.

Of course, much of the cooperation displayed on Sept. 12 is still limited to political atmospherics: Iran remains wholly dependent on Russian staff and expertise to actually run Bushehr (not to mention any other projects that are proposed down the line), while Gazprom is unlikely to have the technical expertise to develop the Azar field on its own. Moreover, Russia is still holding back from more controversial maneuvers involving Iran, such as the potential sale of the S-300 air defense system.

A Convenient Relationship

The relationship between Russia and Iran is primarily one of convenience. Though Russia is not particularly interested in seeing a robust Iran that could end up posing a threat to Moscow, it regularly uses its relations with Iran as leverage against the West. Iran, meanwhile, sees Russia as its only major external patron, albeit one that it can never entirely trust to provide substantive support against outside threats.

Russia, during preparations for negotiations with the United States on the boundaries of a U.S.-led security framework in Europe, has looked to use Iran as leverage. The major concern during the U.S.-Russian dialogue is ballistic missile defense (BMD), which the United States declares is intended to defend against threats like Iran but is using to extend security commitments in Central Europe, with the strategic aim of containing Russia. Selectively amplifying the Iran threat is one of several ways Moscow intends to enhance its clout when it comes to the negotiating table with Washington and its allies in Central Europe.

But Iran was not necessarily ready to play along right away. Though Iran typically avoids actions that give the impression its external support is waning, Tehran made an exception when airing its grievances against Moscow in recent weeks. This is likely a reflection of Iran’s more confident position in the region, owed in large part to its strong status in Iraq and the low current potential for American or Israeli strikes against it. The less Iran feels vulnerable to external threats, the more open it can be about its distrust toward Russia.

The U.S.-Turkish Alignment

However, Iran is by no means free of worries, especially when it comes to its increasingly competitive relationship with Turkey. Iran is trying to counter a growing U.S.-Turkish alignment, which in turn is aimed against a perceived increase in the threat posed by Iran. Events in Syria and Iraq are already pushing Turkey (albeit subtly) into a more confrontational stance against Iran. Tehran appears to be using the common threat of Kurdish militancy as a foundation to maintain some level of cooperation with Ankara, but the strain in Turkish-Iranian ties will become increasingly difficult to conceal with time.

Turkey may also be a growing concern for Russia because of its potential role in the United States’ BMD strategy. Of great concern to both Iran and Russia is the potential for a stronger alignment of interests, between the United States and Turkey, and against Iran and Russia. BMD encapsulates this dynamic, which was on view when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Sept. 4 that Turkey was officially committed to hosting the X-band radar portion of the United States’ planned BMD system. Though Turkey tried to downplay the decision by claiming BMD was not directed at any of its neighbors in particular, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Turkey on Sept. 9 against allowing “enemies” to set up missile shields against Iran.

Russia also likely took note of this announcement as it seeks to keep its relations with Turkey on an even keel and prevent the further expansion of Washington’s BMD plans. In the current negotiations with Washington over BMD, Russia even explicitly said that if talks do not go well, Russian envoy to NATO Dmitri Rogozin would go to Iran to discuss the security situation regarding the United States’ BMD plans. This warning could allude to Russia’s threat to deliver S-300 strategic defense systems to Iran. Russia, though, will likely show a great deal of restraint when it comes to the actual delivery of those systems. Right now, Moscow is more focused on simply airing the Iranian threat.

Russia and Iran therefore both have incentive to put their cooperation on display. Iran, as it asserts itself in the region and deals with strains in its relationship with Turkey, wants to show it retains strong international backers. Moscow knows that Iran is the lever it can pull if BMD negotiations with the United States go awry. Meanwhile, Tehran shares with Moscow a concern about the strengthening relationship between the United States and Turkey. While Iran and Russia may typically share a simple relationship of convenience, they appear to be warming up to each other now.

Read more: Russia and Iran Improve Relations as U.S.-Turkish Alignment Grows | STRATFOR
Title: Jews Send A Policy Message To Obama
Post by: prentice crawford on September 14, 2011, 04:07:41 AM
 What goes around comes around; Obama's treatment of Israel in the policy arena begins to bite him on the butt. 8-)

  Op-Ed: Jewish Vote Key To Weiner’s Seat – And Swing States Too
(Monday, June 13th, 2011)
[By Yossi Gestetner]

Reports and analysis in recent days suggest that it would be a long-shot for Republicans to win Anthony Weiner’s House seat; New York’s 9′Th Congressional District which covers sections of Queens and Brooklyn.

Well, if Republicans do not reach out directly to some voters in the district addressing the issues they care most, then indeed it is a long shot for Republicans to win that seat. If Republicans fail to reach out directly to the mass amount of Jewish voters in Weiner’s district – as Republican Jane Corwin of NY 26 failed to do in a district that has enough Jewish votes to flip the outcome of the just held special election – then indeed, winning NY-9 would be a long shot.

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 Main stream political consultants go with the long-standing belief that “Jews Vote for Democrats,” and as such, campaigns don’t bother reaching out to this community in an effective way. Indeed, if one looks at overall Jewish voting patterns in the USA, the above quote holds true. But in many recent elections, Orthodox Jewish and Hasidic voters in New York and elsewhere (masses of them residing in Weiner’s district), have taken a pattern of their own: In some cases, 70% of them vote Republican on State-wide and Federal-level seats!

Senator John McCain in 2008 and Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey a year later are two most notable examples of Republican candidates who won large percentages of the Orthodox Jewish and Hasidic Vote. In New York’s Assembly District 48 – the Orthodox/Hasidic stronghold of Borough Park, Brooklyn – Republican Gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino with all his failings won a similar amount of votes than the incumbent Jewish NY Senator Charles Schumer who ran against an unknown, non-campaigner Jay Townsend. In that AD, Paladino came in considerably weaker than other State-wide Republican candidates who actively sought the Jewish Vote: Don Donovan for Attorney General and Joe DioGuardi for U.S. Senate (I worked for the latter during the Primary and the General elections).

It is not a done deal that Orthodox and Hasidic Jews will vote to the Right in State-wide or Federal elections. A Federal-level incumbent such as Weiner, who receives on average a total of 67,000 votes in off year elections, may retain in his district a larger percent of the Jewish Vote than other candidates. However, many Jewish voters, thinking that the Democrat will ‘anyway win,’ don’t participate in the election. This presents a large pool of untapped voters that Republicans can try and reach, in addition to chip away at a large number of current Jewish Weiner’s voters for the following reason:

Orthodox Jewish and Hasidic voters are extremely tuned in to the political discourse of this country. This holds especially true by those who are age 18 through 35. Many if not most of them grew up in immigrant households who voted Democrat in order to support politicians that hand out social programs, but these 18-35′ers see that the Democrats’ agenda has failed to provide them or their parents a reputable and independent living. In addition, it is a Democrat – New York Governor Cuomo – who is cutting social programs, which in turns shows to the Jewish Communality that relying on Government is not a sustainable thing.

These voters – many still in need of Government Assistance due to the system being rigged against those who try growing on their own, such as my self – want the pro-growth, pro-business, pro-family, pro-strong defense agenda of the Conservative Republicans. As a result, Orthodox Jewish and Hasidic voters flock to Republicans, and many more are fans of Conservative Talk Show Hosts.

Jewish voters in America – of all stripes – have more on their mind than just Israel, Israel and Israel. While being pro-Israel is important to many Jews, these communities have concerns that are closer to home and closer to their pocket than Israel. In fact, the history of Democrats being weak on foreign relations and defense is a minus to Israel, yet Jews still vote for Democrats. Why? Because other issues obviously matter more. As such, Republicans who want the support of Jewish voters should address issues beyond a focus on Israel. By doing so, Republican candidates – specially candidates in swing states where a mere 5,000 Jewish voters can swing the election – will find an ever-growing community that is welcome to these ideas and ready to vote Republican in larger numbers.

Yossi Gestetner is a New York-Based PR Consultant in the Orthodox Jewish/Hasidic Communities. He can be reached

----------------and the vote is in--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  Turner dispatches David Weprin, dealing embarrassing blow to President Obama, DemocratsArticleComments (56)ShareBob Turner dispatches David Weprin, dealing embarrassing blow to President Obama, Democrats
BY Lisa Colangelo, Alison Gendar and Jonathan Lemire

Originally Published:Wednesday, September 14th 2011, 12:09 AM
Updated: Wednesday, September 14th 2011, 3:22 AM

Jefferson Siegel for NewsBob Turner and wife Peggy celebrate Tuesday night's victory over David Weprin (below).  
Aaron Showalter for NewsTake our PollTurner beats Weprin
Do you blame President Obama for David Weprin's loss to Bob Turner?

      Yes. Weprin's defeat is an indictment of Obama's economic policies.
 No. Weprin did a bad job on the campaign trail.
 Not sure, but redistricting may eliminate the seat next year anyway.

 Related NewsHammond: In NY-9, voters are the losersFrantic last-minute rallying for Weiner seatWeiner seat winner may be redistricting loser Dems call in Bubba to boost WeprinWinner of Weiner seat could lose districtEditorials: Dance of the duds
Republican Bob Turner scored a shocking victory late Tuesday night to capture disgraced ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner's congressional seat - and delivered what many political pros say is a stinging rebuke of President Obama.

Turner was named the winner by The Associated Press just before midnight. By the end of the night, the GOPer was ahead 54% to 46% - with about 86% of the Brooklyn-Queens district reporting.

His Democratic opponent, David Weprin, refused to concede, claiming there were many votes - including absentee ballots - still to be counted in a race that became a massive embarrassment for the Democratic Party.


The contest garnered national attention as partisan operatives and pundits cast it as a referendum on the increasingly unpopular Obama - who won the district with 55% of the vote in 2008.

"We've been asked by people of this district to send a message to Washington and I hope they hear it loud and clear," said Turner to a joyous crowd of supporters moments after he was declared the winner.

Turner, who deemed himself a "citizen candidate," said the election delivered a verdict that the American people were "unhappy" with the direction of the country.

"This message will resound for a whole year," said Turner, eyeing the 2012 elections. "We've lit one candle today and it'll be a bonfire."

The national GOP was downright giddy. "Even in the heart of New York City, in a traditionally liberal district, voters have turned on the President and his Congressional allies," party boss Reince Priebus said.

Turner, however, may not have long to enjoy his victory - the district may be phased out of existence next year as part of census-mandated congressional redistricting.

The seat opened up when Weiner resigned in disgrace in June amid a sexting scandal that made him a national punchline.

He served seven terms - and most insiders initially expected the Democrats would easily hold the seat.

When Gov. Cuomo called for a special election instead of a primary, the Queens Democratic party - led by Rep. Joe Crowley - tapped Weprin, an assemblyman who previously was a city councilman.

He was challenged by Turner, a cable executive who helped create the Jerry Springer show. He had a solid showing in a 2010 loss to Weiner.

Turner pulled ahead in several pre-election polls in a district where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans - and where the GOP has not won in nearly a century.

The national Democratic Party, nervous about a humiliating defeat, pumped in last-minute cash to prop up a Weprin campaign that had been riddled with gaffes.

Weprin's poll numbers turned south after he had no clue about the size of the national debt during a meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board.

Weprin guessed $4 trillion - about $10 trillion off - and immediately handed Turner a cudgel, which the GOPer wielded to bash Weprin as out of touch on an issue that has consumed Washington all summer.

Another turning point came when former mayor Ed Koch crossed party lines and supported Turner to protest Obama's policies toward Israel - a move that seemed to resonate in the heavily-Jewish district.

Weiner voted for Weprin early Tuesday and, when asked if he thought it would be his fault if Turner won, the former Congressman told Reuters, "It is always bad when a district goes Republican. All 435 should be Democrat."

Title: Baraq's dilema
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 20, 2011, 04:02:48 AM
As usual, Stratfor's grasp of economics is rather specious and glib, but as usual, the comments on geopolitics are not.

Obama's Dilemma: U.S. Foreign Policy and Electoral Realities
September 20, 2011

By George Friedman

STRATFOR does not normally involve itself in domestic American politics. Our focus is on international affairs, and American politics, like politics everywhere, is a passionate business. The vilification from all sides that follows any mention we make of American politics is both inevitable and unpleasant. Nevertheless, it’s our job to chronicle the unfolding of the international system, and the fact that the United States is moving deeply into an election cycle will affect American international behavior and therefore the international system.

The United States remains the center of gravity of the international system. The sheer size of its economy (regardless of its growth rate) and the power of its military (regardless of its current problems) make the United States unique. Even more important, no single leader of the world is as significant, for good or bad, as the American president. That makes the American presidency, in its broadest sense, a matter that cannot be ignored in studying the international system.

The American system was designed to be a phased process. By separating the selection of the legislature from the selection of the president, the founders created a system that did not allow for sudden shifts in personnel. Unlike parliamentary systems, in which the legislature and the leadership are intimately linked, the institutional and temporal uncoupling of the system in the United States was intended to control the passing passions by leaving about two-thirds of the U.S. Senate unchanged even in a presidential election year, which always coincides with the election of the House of Representatives. Coupled with senatorial rules, this makes it difficult for the president to govern on domestic affairs. Changes in the ideological tenor of the system are years in coming, and when they come they stay a long time. Mostly, however, the system is in gridlock. Thomas Jefferson said that a government that governs least is the best. The United States has a vast government that rests on a system in which significant change is not impossible but which demands a level of consensus over a period of time that rarely exists.

This is particularly true in domestic politics, where the complexity is compounded by the uncertainty of the legislative branch. Consider that the healthcare legislation passed through major compromise is still in doubt, pending court rulings that thus far have been contradictory. All of this would have delighted the founders if not the constantly trapped presidents, who frequently shrug off their limits in the domestic arena in favor of action in the international realm, where their freedom to maneuver is much greater, as the founders intended.

The Burden of the Past

The point of this is that all U.S. presidents live within the framework in which Barack Obama is now operating. First, no president begins with a clean slate. All begin with the unfinished work of the prior administration. Thus, George W. Bush began his presidency with an al Qaeda whose planning and implementation for 9/11 was already well under way. Some of the al Qaeda operatives who would die in the attack were already in the country. So, like all of his predecessors, Obama assumed the presidency with his agenda already laid out.

Obama had a unique set of problems. The first was his agenda, which focused on ending the Iraq war and reversing social policies in place since Ronald Reagan became president in 1981. By the time Obama entered office, the process of withdrawal from Iraq was under way, which gave him the option of shifting the terminal date. The historic reversal that he wanted to execute, starting with healthcare reform, confronted the realities of September 2008 and the American financial crisis. His Iraq policy was in place by Inauguration Day while his social programs were colliding with the financial crisis.

Obama’s campaign was about more than particular policies. He ran on a platform that famously promised change and hope. His tremendous political achievement was in framing those concepts in such a way that they were interpreted by voters to mean precisely what they wanted them to mean without committing Obama to specific policies. To the anti-war faction it meant that the wars would end. To those concerned about unilateralism it meant that unilateralism would be replaced by multilateralism. To those worried about growing inequality it meant that he would end inequality. To those concerned about industrial jobs going overseas it meant that those jobs would stay in the United States. To those who hated Guantanamo it meant that Guantanamo would be closed.

Obama created a coalition whose expectations of what Obama would do were shaped by them and projected on Obama. In fact, Obama never quite said what his supporters thought he said. His supporters thought they heard that he was anti-war. He never said that. He simply said that he opposed Iraq and thought Afghanistan should be waged. His strategy was to allow his followers to believe what they wanted so long as they voted for him, and they obliged. Now, this is not unique to Obama. It is how presidents get elected. What was unique was how well he did it and the problems it caused once he became president.

It must first be remembered that, contrary to the excitement of the time and faulty memories today, Obama did not win an overwhelming victory. About 47 percent of the public voted for someone other than Obama. It was certainly a solid victory, but it was neither a landslide nor a mandate for his programs. But the excitement generated by his victory created the sense of victory that his numbers didn’t support.

Another problem was that he had no programmatic preparation for the reality he faced. September 2008 changed everything in the sense that it created financial and economic realities that ran counter to the policies he envisioned. He shaped those policies during the primaries and after the convention, and they were based on assumptions that were no longer true after September 2008. Indeed, it could be argued that he was elected because of September 2008. Prior to the meltdown, John McCain had a small lead over Obama, who took over the lead only after the meltdown. Given that the crisis emerged on the Republicans’ watch, this made perfect sense. But shifting policy priorities was hard because of political commitments and inertia and perhaps because the extremities of the crisis were not fully appreciated.

Obama’s economic policies did not differ wildly from Bush’s — indeed, many of the key figures had served in the Federal Reserve and elsewhere during the Bush administration. The Bush administration’s solution was to print and insert money into financial institutions in order to stabilize the system. By the time Obama came into power, it was clear to his team that the amount of inserted money was insufficient and had to be increased. In addition, in order to sustain the economy, the policy that had been in place during the Bush years of maintaining low interest rates through monetary easing was extended and intensified. To a great extent, the Obama years have been the Bush years extended to their logical conclusion. Whether Bush would have gone for the stimulus package is not clear, but it is conceivable that he would have.

Obama essentially pursued the Bush strategy of stabilizing the banks in the belief that a stable banking system was indispensible and would in itself stimulate the economy by creating liquidity. Whether it did or it didn’t, the strategy created the beginnings of Obama’s political problem. He drew substantial support from populists on the left and suspicion from populists on the right. The latter, already hostile to Bush’s policies, coalesced into the Tea Party. But this was not Obama’s biggest problem. It was that his policies, which both seemed to favor the financial elite and were at odds with what Democratic populists believed the president stood for, weakened his support from the left. The division between what he actually said and what his supporters thought they heard him say began to widen. While the healthcare battle solidified his opposition among those who would oppose him anyway, his continuing response to the financial crisis both solidified opposition among Republicans and weakened support among Democrats.

A Foreign Policy Problem

This was coupled with his foreign policy problem. Among Democrats, the anti-war faction was a significant bloc. Most Democrats did not support Obama with anti-war reasons as their primary motivator, but enough did make this the priority issue that he could not win if he lost this bloc. This bloc believed two things. The first was that the war in Iraq was unjustified and harmful and the second was that it emerged from an administration that was singularly insensitive to the world at large and to the European alliance in particular. They supported Obama because they assumed not only that he would end wars — as well as stop torture and imprisonment without trial — but that he would also re-found American foreign policy on new principles.

Obama’s decision to dramatically increase forces in Afghanistan while merely modifying the Bush administration’s timeline for withdrawing from Iraq caused unease within the Democratic Party. But two steps that Bush took held his position. First, one of the first things Obama did after he became president was to reach out to the Europeans. It was expected that this would increase European support for U.S. foreign policy. The Europeans, of course, were enthusiastic about Obama, as the Noble Peace Prize showed. But while Obama believed that his willingness to listen to the Europeans meant they would be forthcoming with help, the Europeans believed that Obama would understand them better and not ask for help.

The relationship was no better under Obama than under Bush. It wasn’t personality or ideology that mattered. It was simply that Germany, as the prime example, had different interests than the United States. This was compounded by the differing views and approaches to the global financial crisis. Whereas the Americans were still interested in Afghanistan, the Europeans considered Afghanistan a much lower priority than the financial crisis. Thus, U.S.-European relations remained frozen.

Then Obama made his speech to the Islamic world in Cairo, where his supporters heard him trying to make amends for Bush’s actions and where many Muslims heard an unwillingness to break with Israel or end the wars. His supporters heard conciliation, the Islamic world heard inflexibility.

The European response to Obama the president as opposed to Obama the candidate running against George Bush slowly reverberated among his supporters. Not only had he failed to end the wars, he doubled down and surged forces into Afghanistan. And the continued hostility toward the United States from the Islamic world reverberated among those on the Democratic left who were concerned with such matters. Add to that the failure to close Guantanamo and a range of other issues concerning the war on terror and support for Obama crumbled.

A Domestic Policy Focus

His primary victory, health-care reform, was the foundation of an edifice that was never built. Indeed, the reform bill is caught in the courts, and its future is as uncertain as it was when the bill was caught in Congress. The Republicans, as expected, agree on nothing other than Obama’s defeat. The Democrats will support him; the question is how enthusiastic that support will be.

Obama’s support now stands at 41 percent. The failure point for a president’s second term lurks around 35 percent. It is hard to come back from there. Obama is not there yet. The loss of another six points would come from his Democratic base (which is why 35 is the failure point; when you lose a chunk of your own base, you are in deep trouble). At this point, however, the president is far less interested in foreign policy than he is in holding his base together and retaking the middle. He did not win by a large enough margin to be able to lose any of his core constituencies. He may hope that his Republican challenger will alienate the center, but he can’t count on that. He has to capture his center and hold his left.

That means he must first focus on domestic policy. That is where the public is focused. Even the Afghan war and the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq are not touching nerves in the center. His problem is twofold. First, it is not clear that he can get anything past Congress. He can then argue that this is Congress’ fault, but the Republicans can run against Congress as well. Second, it is not clear what he would propose. The Republican right can’t be redeemed, but what can Obama propose that will please the Democratic core and hold the center? The Democratic core wants taxes. The center doesn’t oppose taxes (it is merely uneasy about them), but it is extremely sensitive about having the taxes eaten up by new spending — something the Democratic left supports. Obama is trapped between two groups he must have that view the world differently enough that bridging the gap is impossible.

The founders gave the United States a government that, no matter how large it gets, can’t act on domestic policy without a powerful consensus. Today there is none, and therefore there can’t be action. Foreign policy isn’t currently resonating with the American public, so any daring initiatives in that arena will likely fail to achieve the desired domestic political end. Obama has to hold together a coalition that is inherently fragmented by many different understandings of what his presidency is about. This coalition has weakened substantially. Obama’s attention must be on holding it together. He cannot resurrect the foreign policy part of it at this point. He must bet on the fact that the coalition has nowhere else to go. What he must focus on is domestic policy crafted to hold his base and center together long enough to win the election.

The world, therefore, is facing at least 14 months with the United States being at best reactive and at worse non-responsive to events. Obama has never been a foreign policy president; events and proclivity (I suspect) have always drawn him to domestic matters. But between now and the election, the political configuration of the United States and the dynamics of his presidency will force him away from foreign policy.

This at a time when the Persian Gulf is coming to terms with the  U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the power of Iran, when  Palestinians and Israelis are facing another crisis over U.N. recognition, when the future of Europe is unknown, when North Africa is unstable and Syria is in crisis and when U.S. forces continue to fight in Afghanistan. All of this creates opportunities for countries to build realities that may not be in the best interests of the United States in the long run. There is a period of at least 14 months for regional powers to act with confidence without being too concerned about the United States.

The point of this analysis is to try to show the dynamics that have led the United States to this position, and to sketch the international landscape in broad strokes. The U.S. president will not be deeply engaged in the world for more than a year. Thus, he will have to cope with events pressed on him. He may undertake initiatives, such as trying to revive the Middle East peace process, but such moves would have large political components that would make it difficult to cope with realities on the ground. The rest of the world knows this, of course. The question is whether and how they take advantage of it.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy, Baraq's dilemma
Post by: DougMacG on September 20, 2011, 08:45:07 AM
A good, neutral summary of the Obama years, interesting points throughout.  

Friedman writes, "it could be argued that [Obama] was elected because of September 2008. Prior to the meltdown, John McCain had a small lead over Obama, who took over the lead only after the meltdown. Given that the crisis emerged on the Republicans’ watch, this made perfect sense."  This isn't quite right.  The 2008 election was the Dems to lose all the way through.  McCain enjoyed a Palin euphoria at the very start of September (anyone remember that?) that solidified his shaky base and intrigued others but wore off quickly.  The general accumulated hatred toward Bush extended to McCain and then McCain was front and center displaying his lack of economic knowledge and competence during the crisis.  A lot like Obama Sept 2011, McCain was calling for a cancellation of a debate for a crisis that he had no insights on or plan any different or better than anyone else's.  The right answer economically in that election was clearly not a sharp left turn; it was just that there was no sharp turn in any other direction available.  

Friedman writes of the anti-war left, but in fact that has turned out to be the anti-Bush/Republican war left.  They have been amazingly silent and tolerant of what in large part has been the continuation of the Bush foreign policy in the major conflicts.  Can anyone imagine what the uproar to the Libya conflict would have been under a Republican.  And it is not only the left who has war fatigue 10 years into this, really more like 20 in the case of Iraq.  

The beginning of the toppling of Saddam proved to other tyrants that the U.S. could take decisive, surgical, successful actions against them as well.  The reality of these drawn out conflicts now with low support is that we are actually less capable today of bold, decisive action.

If Obama's hands are politically tied on foreign policy for 14 months (in Friedman's analysis), all major regional players, rivals and enemies across the globe know it.  That does not bode well for events overseas in that time. The key issues and circumstances that will dominate the next election are not all known yet.  There are always surprises and as he correctly points out, facts on the ground here are encouraging new surprises there.
Title: Stratfor: From the Med. to the Hindu Kush
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 18, 2011, 10:12:50 AM
From the Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush: Rethinking the Region
October 17, 2011


By George Friedman
The territory between the Mediterranean and the Hindu Kush has been the main arena for the U.S. intervention that followed the 9/11 attacks. Obviously, the United States had been engaged in this area in previous years, but 9/11 redefined it as the prime region in which it confronted jihadists. That struggle has had many phases, and it appears to have entered a new one over the past few weeks.
Some parts of this shift were expected. STRATFOR had anticipated tensions between Iran and its neighboring countries to rise as the U.S. withdrew from Iraq and Iran became more assertive. And we expected U.S.-Pakistani relations to reach a crisis before viable negotiations with the Afghan Taliban were made possible.

(Click here to enlarge image)

However, other events frankly surprised us. We had expected Hamas to respond to events in Egypt and to  the Palestine National Authority’s search for legitimacy through pursuit of U.N. recognition by trying to create a massive crisis with Israel, reasoning that the creation of such a crisis would strengthen anti-government forces in Egypt, increasing the chances for creating a new regime that would end the blockade of Gaza and suspend the peace treaty with Israel. We also thought that intense rocket fire into Israel would force Fatah to support an intifada or be marginalized by Hamas. Here we were clearly wrong; Hamas moved instead to reach a deal for the exchange of captive Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, which has reduced Israeli-Hamas tensions.
Our error was rooted in our failure to understand how the increased Iranian-Arab tensions would limit Hamas’ room to maneuver. We also missed the fact that given the weakness of the opposition forces in Egypt — something we had written about extensively — Hamas would not see an opportunity to reshape Egyptian policies. The main forces in the region, particularly the failure of the Arab Spring in Egypt and the intensification of Iran’s rise, obviated our logic on Hamas. Shalit’s release, in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, marks a new stage in Israeli-Hamas relations. Let’s consider how this is related to Iran and Pakistan.
The Iranian Game
The Iranians tested their strength in Bahrain, where Shiites rose up against their Sunni rulers with at least some degree of Iranian support. Saudi Arabia, linked by a causeway to Bahrain, perceived this as a test of its resolve, intervening with military force to  suppress the demonstrators and block the Iranians. To Iran, Bahrain was simply a probe; the Saudi response did not represent a major reversal in Iranian fortunes.
The main game for Iran is in Iraq, where the  U.S. withdrawal is reaching its final phase. Some troops may be left in Iraqi Kurdistan, but they will not be sufficient to shape events in Iraq. The Iranians will not be in control of Iraq, but they have sufficient allies, both in the government and in outside groups, that they will be able to block policies they oppose, either through the Iraqi political system or through disruption. They will not govern, but no one will be able to govern in direct opposition to them.
In Iraq, Iran sees an opportunity to extend its influence westward. Syria is allied with Iran, and it in turn jointly supports Hezbollah in Lebanon. The prospect of a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq opened the door to a sphere of Iranian influence running along the southern Turkish border and along the northern border of Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi View
The origins of the uprising against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad are murky. It emerged during the general instability of the Arab Spring, but it took a different course. The al Assad regime did not collapse, al Assad was not replaced with another supporter of the regime, as happened in Egypt, and the opposition failed to simply disintegrate. In our view the opposition was never as powerful as the Western media portrayed it, nor was the al Assad regime as weak. It has held on far longer than others expected and shows no inclination of capitulating. For one thing, the existence of bodies such as The International Criminal Court leave al Assad nowhere to go if he stepped down, making a negotiated exit difficult. For another, al Assad does not see himself as needing to step down.
Two governments have emerged as particularly hostile to al Assad: the Saudi government and the Turkish government. The Turks attempted to negotiate a solution in Syria and were rebuffed by Assad. It is not clear the extent to which these governments see Syria simply as an isolated problem along their border or as part of a generalized Iranian threat. But it is clear that the Saudis are extremely sensitive to the Iranian threat and see the fall of the al Assad regime as essential for limiting the Iranians.
In this context, the last thing that the Saudis want to see is conflict with Israel. A war in Gaza would have given the al Assad regime an opportunity to engage with Israel, at least through Hezbollah, and portray opponents to the regime as undermining the struggle against the Israelis. This would have allowed al Assad to solicit Iranian help against Israel and, not incidentally, to help sustain his regime.
It was not clear that Saudi support for Syrian Sunnis would be enough to force the al Assad regime to collapse, but it is clear that a war with Israel would have made it much more difficult to bring it down. Whether Hamas was inclined toward another round of fighting with Israel is unclear. What is clear is that the Saudis, seeing themselves as caught in a struggle with Iran, were not going to hand the Iranians an excuse to get more involved than they were. They reined in any appetite Hamas may have had for war.
Hamas and Egypt
Hamas also saw its hopes in Egypt dissolving. From its point of view, instability in Egypt opened the door for regime change. For an extended period of time, it seemed possible that the first phase of unrest would be followed either by elections that Islamists might win or another wave of unrest that would actually topple the regime. It became clear months ago that the opposition to the Egyptian regime was too divided to replace it. But it was last week that the  power of the regime became manifest.
The Oct. 9 Coptic demonstration that turned violent and resulted in sectarian clashes with Muslims gave the government the opportunity to demonstrate its resolve and capabilities without directly engaging Islamist groups. The regime acted brutally and efficiently to crush the demonstrations and, just as important, did so with some Islamist elements that took to the streets beating Copts. The streets belonged to the military and to the Islamist mobs, fighting on the same side.
One of the things Hamas had to swallow was the fact that it was the Egyptian government that was instrumental in negotiating the prisoner exchange. Normally, Islamists would have opposed even the process of negotiation, let alone its success. But given what had happened a week before, the Islamists were content not to make an issue of the Egyptian government’s deal-making. Nor would the Saudis underwrite Egyptian unrest as they would Syrian unrest. Egypt, the largest Arab country and one that has never been on good terms with Iran, was one place where the Saudis did not want to see chaos, especially with an increasingly powerful Iran and unrest in Syria stalled.
Washington Sides with Riyadh
In the midst of all this, the United States announced the arrest of a man who allegedly was attempting, on behalf of Iran, to hire a Mexican to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States. There was serious discussion of the significance of this alleged plot, and based on the evidence released, it was not particularly impressive.
Nevertheless — and this is the important part — the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama decided that this was an intolerable event that required more aggressive measures against Iran. The Saudis have been asking the United States for some public action against Iran both to relieve the pressure on Riyadh and to make it clear that the United States was committed to confronting Iran alongside the Saudis. There may well be more evidence in the alleged assassination plot that makes it more serious than it appeared, but what is clear is that the United States intended to use the plot to increase pressure on Iran — psychologically at least — beyond the fairly desultory approach it had been taking. The administration even threw the nuclear question back on the table, a subject on which everyone had been lackadaisical for a while.
The Saudi nightmare has been that the United States would choose to reach an understanding with Iran as a way to create a stable order in the region and guarantee the flow of oil. We have discussed this possibility in the past, pointing out that the American interest in protecting Saudi Arabia is not absolute and that the United States might choose to deal with the Iranians, neither regime being particularly attractive to the United States and history never being a guide to what Washington might do next.
The Saudis were obviously delighted with the U.S. rhetorical response to the alleged assassination plot. It not only assuaged the Saudis’ feeling of isolation but also seemed to close the door on side deals. At the same time, the United States likely was concerned with the possibility of Saudi Arabia trying to arrange its own deal with Iran before Washington made a move. With this action, the United States joined itself at the hip with the Saudis in an anti-Iranian coalition.
The Israelis had nothing to complain about either. They do not want the Syrian regime to fall, preferring the al Assad regime they know to an unknown Sunni — and potentially Islamist — regime. Saudi support for the Syrian opposition bothers the Israelis, but it’s unlikely to work. A Turkish military intervention bothers them more. But, in the end, Iran is what worries them the most, and any sign that the Obama administration is reacting negatively to the Iranians, whatever the motives (and even if there is no clear motive), makes them happy. They want a deal on Shalit, but even if the price was high, this was not the time to get the United States focused on them rather than the Iranians. The Israelis might be prepared to go further in negotiations with Hamas if the United States focuses on Iran. And Hamas will go further with Israel if the Saudis tell them to, which is a price they will happily pay for a focus on Iran.
The U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan
For the United States, there is another dimension to the Iran focus: Pakistan. The Pakistani view of the United States, as expressed by many prominent Pakistanis, is that the United States has lost the war against the Afghan Taliban. That means that any negotiations that take place will simply be about how the United States, in their words, will “retreat,” rather than about Pakistani guarantees for support against jihadists coupled with a U.S. withdrawal process. If the Pakistanis are right, and the United States has been defeated, then obviously, their negotiating position is correct.
For there to be any progress in talks with the  Taliban and Pakistan, the United States must demonstrate that it has not been defeated. To be more precise, it must demonstrate that while it might not satisfy its conditions for victory (defined as the creation of a democratic Afghanistan), the United States is prepared to indefinitely conduct operations against jihadists, including unmanned aerial vehicle and special operations strikes in Pakistan, and that it might move into an even closer relationship with India if Pakistan resists. There can be no withdrawal unless the Pakistanis understand that there has been no overwhelming domestic political pressure on the U.S. government to withdraw. The paradox here is critical: So long as Pakistan believes the United States must withdraw, it will not provide the support needed to allow it to withdraw. In addition, withdrawal does not mean operations against jihadists nor strategic realignment with India. The United States needs to demonstrate just what risks Pakistan faces when it assumes that the U.S. failure to achieve all its goals means it has been defeated.
The Obama administration’s reaction to the alleged Iranian assassination plot is therefore a vital psychological move against Pakistan. The Pakistani narrative is that the United States is simply incapable of asserting its power in the region. The U.S. answer is that it is not only capable of asserting substantial power in Afghanistan and Pakistan but also that it is not averse to confronting Iran over an attempted assassination in the United States. How serious the plot was, who authorized it in Iran, and so on is not important. If Obama has overreacted it is an overreaction that will cause talk in Islamabad. Obviously this will have to go beyond symbolic gestures but if it does, it changes the dynamic in the region, albeit at the risk of an entanglement with Iran.
Re-evaluating the Region
There are many moving parts. We do not know exactly how far the Obama administration is prepared to take the Iran issue or whether it will evaporate. We do not know if the Assad regime will survive or what Turkey and Saudi Arabia will do about it. We do not know whether, in the end, the Egyptian regime will survive. We do not know whether the Pakistanis will understand the message being sent them.
What we do know is this: The crisis over Iran that we expected by the end of the year is here. It affects calculations from Cairo to Islamabad. It changes other equations, including the Hamas-Israeli dynamic. It is a crisis everyone expected but no one quite knows how to play. The United States does not have a roadmap, and neither do the Iranians. But this is a historic opportunity for Iran and a fundamental challenge to the Saudis. The United States has put some chips on the table, but not any big ones. But the fact that Obama did use rhetoric more intense than he usually does is significant in itself.
All of this does not give us a final answer on the dynamics of the region and their interconnections, but it does give us a platform to begin re-evaluating the regional process.
Title: Some mini-reflections
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 22, 2011, 06:13:30 AM
Well, we're out.

Not that the candidates with the Republican nomination will have much to say, but I am with Krauthammer in his comments last night on the Bret Baier Report:  This is not a good thing.  Team Baraq had various opportunities to get negotiations going in a timely manner and achieve our military's desired end of keeping some 25,000 troops there-- which would have been a very useful thing viz Iran- but instead communicated to all concerned no real desire to stay and so an insufficient numbers of Iraqi players wanted to take the chance of standing up in favor of us staying.

Opposition to going into Iraq was a reasonable position to take, but once we were in, ranks should have closed in support of success ESPECIALLY with the success of The Surge-- a success Baraq has had tremendous ego difficulty in admitting, let alone celebrating.   

Instead Candidate Clinton and Candidate Baraq competed to declare who would get us out faster.  Various Iraqi players took note and acted accordingly-- not unlike what is happening in Afpakia right now.

As noted in the Middle East FUBAR thread in the last couple of days, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and other players are drawing similar conclusions.   Who in the Republican campaign is articulating anything that prevents Baraq from claiming all this as success?   No one.  Who in the Republican campaign is saying anything about Libya that would not or does sound churlish or opportunistic?  Prediction:  No one will point out that Kadaffy may well have had nukes by now but for his being intimidated into coughing up his nuke program by Bush's Iraq campaign.

I repeat a point I have made previously.  No Republican is addressing the fundamental issues of foreign affairs; of what the guiding concepts should be as we return to a multi-polar world.  No one is addressing the implications of the (unconstitutional?) budget "super committee" and its looming failure to come up with something and the resulting additional $500 Billion in military cuts on top of the cuts ($400B?) already in the pipeline.

Title: WSJ: Eastward Ho!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 24, 2011, 01:46:38 PM
The deluge of commentary following President Barack Obama's announcement that all American troops are leaving Iraq by year's end largely missed the most important strategic implication: The winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan clears the way for the U.S. to shift its focus to Asia and, in particular, China, the part of the world that likely matters most in the long run.

If we're lucky, this shift might even lead to a more sophisticated debate in the 2012 presidential campaign about the U.S. approach to China, which has been pretty sterile so far.

Whatever the merits of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, one of their consequences has been to divert America's gaze from the direction it had been heading—toward the Asia-Pacific region and its gathering economic strength. It would be folly, of course, to think this means Iraq and Afghanistan now can be forgotten; the specter of a potentially nuclear-capable Iran stepping into a vacuum is enough to require continued American involvement.

But there's no doubt that economic pressures alone will produce a shift eastward. On Monday, in fact, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was visiting Asia, asserting that the U.S. now is at "a turning point" that will allow a strategic rebalancing toward Asia.

Similarly, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has in recent days said such a shift is coming. In a speech in New York on the need to use diplomatic power to address America's economic ailments, she declared that in the aftermath of Iraq and Afghanistan, "the world's strategic and economic center of gravity is shifting east, and we are focusing more on the Asia Pacific region."

In a new article in Foreign Policy magazine, she calls for "a substantially increased investment—diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise—in the Asia-Pacific region."

She defined that region to include India and Indonesia, but most of the focus will be on China and its complicated economic relationship with the U.S. It's safe to say that many Americans fear the rising economic power of China, worrying that their country is either losing ground to Chinese industrial might or, worse, becoming subservient to Beijing because of a reliance on Chinese investment to finance America's federal deficits.

Yet one of the opportunities in the coming shift of focus to the east is the chance for America's political leaders—and political candidates—to explain to the citizenry that China is not, in fact, 10 feet tall. China faces considerable economic problems of its own, a recognition of which might at least reduce the atmosphere of economic fear and anxiety that has crept across America.

Indeed, there is emerging a whole new school of China skeptics who think that country's economic potential is being exaggerated and its own problems downplayed. In a commentary distributed last week, Jerry Jasinowski, an economist and former president of the National Association of Manufacturers, declared that "there is growing evidence that China's challenge to U.S. manufacturing has peaked, and its competitive advantage is in decline."

Mr. Jasinowski cited in particular a recent report from the Boston Consulting Group that the cost of producing goods in China is rising as wages, raw materials, real estate and energy all escalate in price there. Meantime, Mr. Jasinowski notes, American manufacturers have become more competitive amidst the painful economic adjustment now under way. Over time, he argued, when the cost of shipping goods from China is taken into account, making and buying American will become more attractive again.

If the competitive playing field is being brought closer to level, one goal of American statecraft is to push harder toward that goal by compelling China to play more by international economic rules. In particular, that means sustained pressure to end manipulation of its currency's value and protecting intellectual property. One of the goals of American diplomats, in fact, is to convince China its own long-term interest lies in a fair international system. "If a big country like China doesn't play to the rules, the global system will be hurt and ultimately so will China, which depends heavily on it," says Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats.

Which leads to the nascent presidential campaign. There already is plenty of China-bashing there, thanks in large measure to Republican hopeful Mitt Romney, who is promising a tougher line against China. He's proposed imposing duties in China in direct retaliation for currency manipulation and intellectual property theft, and last week even won applause at a debate by suggesting that China somehow be compelled to pick up the tab for foreign aid the U.S. now disperses.

But there are other ways to advance American interests, including making common cause with Asian and Latin American nations feeling bullied by the Chinese. Indeed, the best discussion might be about how to better compete with China, not to punish it.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 26, 2011, 08:26:15 AM

This piece is by Thomas Friedman.  That is to say much of it is specious, full of non-sequiturs, and inconvenient facts e.g. the unremittingly destructive, hateful, and sometimes quasi-treasonous opposition and destruction waged by the Dems, Liberals, Progressives, Socialists, and Communists against our success during the Bush administration that mysertiosly  :roll: disappeared once his glibness took office AND perhaps it may stimulate our thinking here.

I continue to think our side is frequently incoherent and often opportunistic.  The damage being done by Baraq et al is historic, yet many of us simply carp.


Who would have predicted it? Barack Obama has turned out to be so much more adept at implementing George W. Bush’s foreign policy than Bush was, but he is less adept at implementing his own. The reasons, though, are obvious.


In his own way, President Obama has brought the country to the right strategy for Bush’s “war on terrorism.” It is a serious, focused combination of global intelligence coordination, targeted killing of known terrorists and limited interventions — like Libya — that leverage popular forces on the ground and allies, as well as a judicious use of U.S. power, so that we keep the costs and risks down. In Libya, Obama saved lives and gave Libyans a chance to build a decent society. What they do with this opportunity is now up to them. I am still wary, but Obama handled his role exceedingly well.

No doubt George Bush and Dick Cheney thought that both Iraq and Afghanistan would be precisely such focused, limited operations. Instead, they each turned out to be like a bad subprime mortgage — a small down payment with a huge balloon five years down the road. They thought they would be able to “flip” the house before the balloon came due. But partly because of their incompetence and lack of planning, it took much longer to flip the house to new owners and the price America paid was huge. Iraq may still have a decent outcome — I hope so, and it would be important — but even if it becomes Switzerland, we overpaid for it.

So let’s be clear: Up to now, as a commander in chief in the war on terrorism, Obama and his national security team have been so much smarter, tougher and cost-efficient in keeping the country safe than the “adults” they replaced. It isn’t even close, which is why the G.O.P.’s elders have such a hard time admitting it.

But while Obama has been deft at implementing Bush’s antiterrorism policy, he has been less successful with his own foreign policy. His Arab-Israeli diplomacy has been a mess. His hopes of engaging Iran foundered on the rocks of, well, Iran. He’s made little effort to pull together a multilateral coalition to buttress the Arab Awakening, in places like Egypt, to handle the postrevolution challenges. His ill-considered decision to double down on Afghanistan could prove fatal. He is in a war of words with Pakistan. His global climate policy is an invisible embarrassment. And the coolly calculating Chinese and Russians, while occasionally throwing him a bone, pursue their interests with scant regard to Obama’s preferences. Why is that?

Here I come to defend Obama not to condemn him.

True, he was naïve about how much his star power, or that of his secretary of state, would get others to swoon in behind us. But Obama’s frustrations in bagging a big, nonmilitary foreign policy achievement are rooted in a much broader structural problem — one that also explains why we have not produced a history-changing secretary of state since the cold war titans Henry Kissinger, George Shultz and James Baker.

The reason: the world has gotten messier and America has lost leverage. When Kissinger was negotiating in the Middle East in the 1970s, he had to persuade just three people to make a deal: an all-powerful Syrian dictator, Hafez al-Assad; an Egyptian pharaoh, Anwar Sadat; and an Israeli prime minister with an overwhelming majority, Golda Meir.

To make history, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, by contrast, need to extract a deal from a crumbling Syrian regime, a crumbled Egyptian regime, a fractious and weak Israeli coalition and a Palestinian movement broken into two parts.

We don’t even bother anymore to negotiate with the flimsy civilian government in Pakistan. We just go right to its military, which only wants to perpetuate the conflict with India — and exploit Afghanistan as a chip in that war — to justify the Pakistani Army’s endless consumption of so many state resources.

Making history through diplomacy “depends on making deals with other governments,” says Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert (and co-author with me on “That Used to Be Us”). “But now, to make such deals, we actually have to build the governments we want to negotiate with — and we can’t do that.” Indeed, in so many hot spots today, we have to do nation-building before we can do diplomacy. So many states propped up by the cold war are failing.

And where states are stronger — like Russia, China and Iran — we have less leverage because leverage is ultimately a function of economic strength. And while many of America’s companies are still strong, our government is mired in debt. When a nation is in debt as deep as we are — with severe defense cuts inevitable — its bark is always bigger than its bite.

The best way for us to gain leverage on Russia and Iran would be with an energy policy that reduced the price and significance of oil. The only way to gain more leverage on China is if we increase our savings and graduation rates — and export more and consume less. That isn’t in the cards.

So, Mama, tell your children not to grow up to be secretary of state or a foreign policy president — not until others have done more nation-building abroad and we’ve done more nation-building at home.

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on October 26, 2011, 08:33:28 AM
Our retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan might look good to the uninformed now, but when the reality of putting 2 wins in the global jihad's pocket sets in....
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 04, 2011, 09:36:29 PM
For some years now, often under the influence of YA, I have been posting here of the incoherence of the US strategy in Afpakia.  Today there are some major entries on today's Afpakia thread, with YA leading the way, as usual.

This is profoundly serious stuff.  Serious wars are made of such things.

Yet where is a coherent conversation from the Republican preidential candidates? (Newt Gingrich excepted).  Instead opportunistic pandering abounds as President Baraq surges out of Afg with a surge that was about half of what the generals wanted.  Likewise Iraq.  And this week we see our words after busting the Iranian assassination plan for Washington revealed as bluster as we refuse to do what would really hit Iran hard, which is to go after its central bank, , , and Al Qaeda flags fly in Libya.

Where is the serious conversation that needs to be had?!?  :x :x :x

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: G M on November 04, 2011, 09:40:32 PM
John Bolton.

Just sayin......

Yet where is a coherent conversation from the Republican preidential candidates?

I'm sure polling has the public focused on the economy and foreign policy way down the list of priorities.
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 04, 2011, 10:14:22 PM
SO WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The nation is in peril of throwing away so very much more than it realizes.  Truth needs to be spoken!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: DougMacG on November 04, 2011, 11:15:27 PM
Pakistan along with the entire middle east is a dangerous place.  I knew that years ago, but more dangerous now, especially the more that you know.  People don't know what to do about it so it is hard to judge the candidates if they did offer plans and ideas.

If Iraq goes to hell on our exit, the lesson is what?  Either that we should have kept a strong presence longer or that we should have left anarchy after deposing Saddam, as with Libya and Egypt now, let them sort it out and take actions again and again in the future.  And same for Afghanistan?

Crafty you have good ideas of how to split Pakistan differently and I have a proposal for Kashmir, but that doesn't mean anyone there would accept our ideas.

"Serious wars are made of such things."   - Yes. The main answer to all this danger we cannot control is to prepare for war, hopefully to avoid war.  Step one is end American weakness at home; most of these Republicans believe at least vaguely in a strong defense.  I would add that any of these nominees will need if elected an American military that does not rely on funding from a returned Pelosi-Reid congress.  

"I'm sure polling has the public focused on the economy and foreign policy way down the list of priorities."

When we think it is all domestic policy, it turns out to be foreign policy or war, and vice versa.  It is very possible that we don't yet know what the most important event or crisis of Obama years will be.

Foreign policy may weigh heavily in the general election debates.  Was the 3am call the one where they decided not to take the Libyan war to congress?  The Republican candidates mostly look readier than Obama did in 2007, but not ready.  We will get more serious after we find out if comparing an anonymous person's height to that of your wife is a deal breaker for Commander in Chief.

"(Newt Gingrich excepted)"  Very strong in the video! That doesn't make his other problems go away, just Murphy's law that he would be strongest on depth and delivery, Perry's economic plan best (JMO) and then the nominee will be one of the others.
Title: This could go under Afghan thread I guess but..
Post by: ccp on November 05, 2011, 07:31:36 AM
It just seems more "apra po" (sp?) here.  I am left wondering which is worse.  Say something disparaging about a gay, a Muslim or the Corrupt Afghan leadership.  Which is more politically incorrect?  I dunno.  Even Fareed Zakaria called the Pakistani shakedown of the US a "protection racket" this weekend.  Pakistani leaders essentially telling us give us your money or if you think our situation is bad now just wait and see how bad it will get.  As noted on the board before me where is the Republican position on this?  Yes as GM implied we need John Bolton.  The only one I can listen to who seems to make sense out of this mess.  Wolfowitz is leading us to God's knows where.  We must stop listening to him that is obvious:

****U.S. General Fired for Verbal Attack on Afghan Leader
By Justin Fishel

July 26: Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a gathering with high ranking Afghan military officials at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan.

A top U.S. general in Afghanistan was fired Friday for making disparaging remarks about Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his government.

Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller, deputy commander of the NATO training mission in Afghanistan, made the remarks in an interview with Politico that was published Thursday.

Fuller told Politico that major players in the Afghan government are "isolated from reality." Fuller reacted angrily to claims from Karzai that Afghanistan would side with Pakistan if it were to go to war with the United States.

Fuller called Karzai's statements "erratic," adding, "Why don't you just poke me in the eye with a needle! You've got to be kidding me … I'm sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion and now you're telling me, 'I don't really care'?"

Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), released a statement Friday saying Fuller was to be relieved of his duties, "effective immediately."

"These unfortunate comments are neither indicative of our current solid relationship with the government of Afghanistan, its leadership, or our joint commitment to prevail here in Afghanistan", Allen said.

"The Afghan people are an honorable people, and comments such as these will not keep us from accomplishing our most critical and shared mission-bringing about a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan."

Pentagon officials who spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity agree that Fuller seemed to go off the rails in the Politico interview, admitting he showed extremely poor judgment. The fish line didn't help his cause:

"You can teach a man how to fish, or you can give them a fish," Fuller said. "We're giving them fish while they're learning, and they want more fish! [They say,] 'I like swordfish, how come you're giving me cod?' Guess what? Cod's on the menu today."

Fuller is not the only loose-lipped general to sink his own ship. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, once the commander of ISAF, was fired by President Obama himself after the Rolling Stone published disparaging remarks he and his staff made about members of the administration.

Read more:****
Title: Re: US Foreign Policy
Post by: DougMacG on November 05, 2011, 11:25:42 AM
I would think that John Bolton will be available to the contenders and to the nominee as natl security adviser, or sec of state or as VP. 

It seems that most of the wisdom in foreign policy today needs to be applied behind the scenes, for example if we are aggressively strengthening our relationship with India while keeping a few billion and a pretend relationship with Pakistan, why should they know more then they need to about that.  If we are working quietly with factions inside Egypt, below the radar would probably be more effective than publicly made demands.  Somehow I doubt though that we are doing much along those lines but a lot comes down to electing the right people here and trusting them to act in our best interests.

The worst parts of Obama's foreign policy came at the beginning when he projected weakness.  America doesn't belong over here and America will soon retreat.  The drone strikes and OBL operation projected strength.  The Libya from behind and from above maneuver probably projects wisdom to some, but we will see.  The withdrawal deadlines from Iraq and Afghanistan project that this administration is shifting into campaign mode over security interests.  Are we saying there is no longer an American security interest in these locations?  If so, why did we stay 3+ years into the new administration and what changed?  Are we saying mission accomplished?  That implication seems to bring with it strings of bad luck.

People were quite war weary at the last election, also by the time the Libya operation began.  Talking tough now like we are going to open a plethora of new war theaters is not going to play well past the hawk segment of the base.  People will I think will prefer a calmness of strength, a restraint in policy that is not coming from weakness, ignorance or fear.

It is hard to believe that with a trillion or so invested and thousands of American lives lost that we aren't able or interested in negotiating permanent bases to allow some future security benefit to come from our effort. 

Was China selling or offering weapons to Kadhafy DURING our war?  If so, what are the consequences to them for that?  (nothing) That was one problem with Huntsman not getting traction with his foreign policy experience, I have yet to meet or read someone who knows if we have a foreign policy toward the world's second largest power or what it is.
Title: Romney on Iranian nukes
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 10, 2011, 11:54:55 AM
The International Atomic Energy Agency's latest report this week makes clear what I and others have been warning about for too long: Iran is making rapid headway toward its goal of obtaining nuclear weapons.

Successive American presidents, including Barack Obama, have declared such an outcome to be unacceptable. But under the Obama administration, rhetoric and policy have been sharply at odds, and we're hurtling toward a major crisis involving nuclear weapons in one of the most politically volatile and economically significant regions of the world.

Things did not have to be this way. To understand how best to proceed from here, we need to review the administration's extraordinary record of failure.

As a candidate for the presidency in 2007, Barack Obama put forward "engagement" with Tehran as a way to solve the nuclear problem, declaring he would meet with Iran's leaders "without preconditions." Whether this approach was rooted in naïveté or in realistic expectations can be debated; I believe it was the former. But whatever calculation lay behind the proposed diplomatic opening, it was predictably rebuffed by the Iranian regime.

After that repudiation, a serious U.S. strategy to block Iran's nuclear ambitions became an urgent necessity. But that is precisely what the administration never provided. Instead, we've been offered a case study in botched diplomacy and its potentially horrific costs.

In his "reset" of relations with Russia, President Obama caved in to Moscow's demands by reneging on a missile-defense agreement with Eastern European allies and agreeing to a New Start Treaty to reduce strategic nuclear weapons while getting virtually nothing in return. If there ever was a possibility of gaining the Kremlin's support for tougher action against Tehran, that unilateral giveaway was the moment. President Obama foreclosed it.

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CloseIIPA/Getty Images
 .Another key juncture came with the emergence of Iran's Green Revolution after the stolen election of 2009. Here—more than a year before the eruption of the Arab Spring—was a spontaneous popular revolt against a regime that has been destabilizing the region, supporting terrorism around the world, killing American soldiers in Iraq, and attacking the U.S. for three decades. Yet President Obama, evidently fearful of jeopardizing any further hope of engagement, proclaimed his intention not to "meddle" as the ayatollahs unleashed a wave of terror against their own society. A proper American policy might or might not have altered the outcome; we will never know. But thanks to this shameful abdication of moral authority, any hope of toppling a vicious regime was lost, perhaps for generations.

In 2010, the administration did finally impose another round of sanctions, which President Obama hailed as a strike "at the heart" of Iran's ability to fund its nuclear programs. But here again we can see a gulf between words and deeds. As the IAEA report makes plain, the heart that we supposedly struck is still pumping just fine. Sanctions clearly failed in their purpose. Iran is on the threshold of becoming a nuclear power.

Recent events have brought White House fecklessness to another low. When Iran was discovered plotting to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador by setting off a bomb in downtown Washington, the administration responded with nothing more than tough talk and an indictment against two low-level Iranian operatives, as if this were merely a common criminal offense rather than an act of international aggression. Demonstrating further irresolution, the administration then floated the idea of sanctioning Iran's central bank, only to quietly withdraw that proposal.

Barack Obama has shredded his own credibility on Iran, conveyed an image of American weakness, and increased the prospect of a cascade of nuclear proliferation in the unstable Middle East.

The United States needs a very different policy.

Si vis pacem, para bellum. That is a Latin phrase, but the ayatollahs will have no trouble understanding its meaning from a Romney administration: If you want peace, prepare for war.

I want peace. And if I am president, I will begin by imposing a new round of far tougher economic sanctions on Iran. I will do this together with the world if we can, unilaterally if we must. I will speak out forcefully on behalf of Iranian dissidents. I will back up American diplomacy with a very real and very credible military option. I will restore the regular presence of aircraft carrier groups in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region simultaneously. I will increase military assistance to Israel and coordination with all of our allies in the region. These actions will send an unequivocal signal to Iran that the United States, acting in concert with allies, will never permit Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.

Only when the ayatollahs no longer have doubts about America's resolve will they abandon their nuclear ambitions.

Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

Title: Stratfor on Iran and related matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 11, 2011, 06:03:01 AM
In the wake of the latest IAEA report on Iran, STRATFOR CEO George Friedman and special guest Robert Kaplan discuss potential threats to world oil supplies from the Persian Gulf, and U.S. President Barack Obama’s limited options.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Related Links
•   Iran’s Nuclear Program and its Nuclear Option
Colin: Few will be surprised by the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran. Its finding that the Tehran regime has computer models that can only be used to develop a nuclear weapon has triggered a new wave of speculation on the prospects of an Israeli strike. But there may be other more pressing concerns as U.S. forces leave Iraq.
Welcome to Agenda with George Friedman, and joining also this week is a special guest — the writer and defense expert Robert Kaplan.
The obvious question as we move to a point where Israeli bombers can fly in clear skies over Iraq, or soon will be able to be, is this “high noon” for Iran?
Robert: Not necessarily, because just the fact that they are moving closer to developing a weapons capacity for their nuclear material does not mean that they can miniaturize, put it on a warhead and send it somewhere. It could be a long way from that. Of course it is a much more acute threat for Israel than it is for the United States. You also have to consider the possibility that so what if Iran has three or four nuclear weapons with no air defense system, relative to what the Americans can do. But what does that mean? Isn’t the 100 nuclear weapons in Pakistan a much greater threat? Or would the Saudis respond by parking Pakistani nuclear weapons in Saudi Arabia, thereby fusing the South Asian and the greater Middle East crisis into one? There are a lot of questions out there and they will continue to play out. But this is nothing particularly new at this point.
Colin: So George, there’s all this talk of an Israeli strike, and we’ve heard it before, is it just rhetoric?
George: We are at a critical point. The critical point is not about nuclear weapons. The critical point is that the U.S. is completing its withdrawal from Iraq. We’ve seen recently the arrests of Sunnis in Iraq by the Maliki government and the Iranians are increasing their power. The balance of power is shifting in the region. The United States and Israel both want the Iranians to pull back and as has happened several times before, they increased the drumbeat of the threat of nuclear weapons in order to create a psychological situation where the Iranians would reconsider their position. The problem that you have here is that the Israelis really don’t have the ability to carry out the kind of strikes we are talking about. They certainly have nuclear weapons if they want to use nuclear weapons on some of the facilities near Tehran. The more interesting question is do they have the ability to carry out the multiday attacks on multiple sites with a relatively small air force? The answer is they may be but they cannot deal with something else. What if the Iranians respond by putting mines in the Straits of Hormuz?
Colin: And this is critical, isn’t it, because 40 percent of the world’s sea-bound oil goes throu