Ooobie on Everything

Regime change here, regime change there

The Republicans are back in control of Congress and the war drums are louder already. The US has opted for in-your-face regime change in Syria, largely dropping the fig-leaf of an anti-ISIS “air campaign” and openly recruiting for fighters to take down the legal Assad government. We always knew the ISIS crap was just that. ISIS was the Obama Administration’s Osama bin Laden, our creation, and we aren’t even trying that hard to defeat them in Syria and Iraq. America only wants that military opening it needed to contrive some reason to get on with the damned “air campaign.” I was pretty convinced that was the game after the US had to be dragged away, kicking and screaming, from a bombing war against Syria over chemical weapons even when Syria conceded the terms. The US was never satisfied, and always warning that bombing might be necessary. Now it’s marauding inside Syria without so much as a “may I?” to the Syrian government, able to ship weapons around at will, able to arm a bigger proxy army against Assad. It is all utterly disgusting. Why is it that everybody can see what is going on in this country, and so few care? Don’t Americans realize what they look like more and more abroad? A brute with a big military machine.

I’d really like to know all the ins and outs of this US obsession with a man (it is always one man, never a people or country) that Hillary Clinton had declared okey-doke not long before she put out the contract on him. Of course Saudi Arabia has its oily paws in there, and so does Turkey with its own time-bombs ticking in the form of ethnic rebellion. But what is in it for America? I hesitate to say O – I – L but I bet most people don’t.

Okay, so the Mideast is on fire and getting worse, as the US promises air campaigns to the left and to the right to stop the flames. But in Europe, things are if anything worse. True, nobody is beheading anybody, but the re-armament of Russia is well underway on all fronts. The US, EU and NATO are digging themselves ever deeper into the business of west Ukraine in the hopes of capturing pro-Russian east Ukraine and its riches and its delicious proximity to Russia itself. In response, Russia has ever more overtly sent in its military equipment and personnel to support the east Ukrainian separatists. The West itself precipitated these radical developments in Ukraine by making existential threats against Moscow. Ukraine should never have been included by NATO as expansion territory, not even as a Partner for Peace, aka Junior NATO. Russia’s top officials have now openly warned America that if the US moves to provide lethal weapons to west Ukraine it will be a game-changer. It stands ready to do more, including moving in missiles (I would guess) and elements of the Army itself. If it does so, it will take everything it needs as it moves, including roads, bridges and airports.

Russia has also moved to more active engagement with Georgia’s two separatist regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The two regions broke away from Tbilisi in the early 1990s with some Russian help and have existed as independent entities under Russian protection since then. A Georgian effort to recapture one of these regions by force in a rather pitiful “blitzkrieg” sent a spike through international nerves in 2008, when Russia struck back, sent the Georgian Army running, and officially recognized the independence of both regions. Annexation by Russia may now be the only safe haven now for these two national groups.

Russia’s responses to NATO policies and actions is absolutely logical, they were predictable, and they were predicted. And to what end? Why is the US seeking constant eastward expansion toward Russian borders, knowing from a simple reading of history that this is the trigger for war? Now Henry Kissinger, one of America’s greatest diplomats, has given an interview to a German newspaper in which he laments the West’s actions in Ukraine and its failure to recognize the peril of trying to expand into an area of extraordinary Russian interests and historical importance. Kissinger suggested that Ukraine should be removed from NATO’s ambit entirely. On trade, that is another matter and Ukraine should be free to trade with whom it chooses.

Again, to whose benefit all of this confrontation and permanent warfare? Weapons manufacturers? NGOs distributing disaster relief? International bureaucracies? Deep pockets? A fellow blogger points out that there are oil interests in eastern Ukraine now that science has shown us how to suck up every ounce of oil within the earth through fracking (and remember that Ukraine has a part claim on the Black Sea resources, too). He suggests that perhaps groups led by such people as Joe Biden’s son might have an interest in a military solution that secured east Ukraine’s natural resources for international sharing. One thing is for sure: it is not happening to make you and me safer, or to bring democracy to a kleptocracy. There are money interests there, under all the pony poop.


Gruber the Goober and Other Things

More observations on the latest news.

First we have the case of the insufferably smug Jonathan Gruber. I bet Gruber was the butt of a lot of jokes when he was a kid. No doubt the nerd thought to himself, “I’m smarter than they are! Just wait!” And he sure paid back every bully who ever lived and all the bystanders, too. But here is the thing: Gruber is not actually as brilliant as he thinks he is. And here is the evidence: would a strategic, brilliant thinker have carried off a shameful act of treachery against the American people and then boasted about it openly and often? Wouldn’t a bright fellow have thought, uh-oh, if people know what a slime-bucket I am and realize I connived to cost them hundreds of dollars a month in unnecessary health coverage so as to carry out a Marxist agenda for re-distributing wealth, somebody might have a grudge against me? I think its always a good rule of thumb that if you can’t be honest and decent, at least don’t brag about being deceitful, self-centered and treacherous. Our new Congress claims it is going to look into this and make sure the American public hears the facts, as the state media over at such places as NBC don’t think we dummies need to know a thing. I hope the Congress acts. We need to document this government’s abuse of Constitutional rights for all future generations.

Then there are foreign affairs where there are some really interesting developments on several fronts. Let’s start with Syria, where the US has now thrown all pretense aside and is behaving in true bully fashion. As we are currently flailing on the ISIS front — and flailing could be too soft a word after the latest beheading of a well-meaning but misguided American. I don’t know if they are right, but the Iraqi Kurds fighting ISIS in Syria claim the jihadists have an army of 200,000 fighters from everywhere. Of course they are guessing, but about these vermin crawling in from every side they are right. The US is judged to be under-reacting with its leisurely pace of bombing, but I think the reality is there is nothing to bomb. Only human beings, and even if some of them are evil, some of them are just human beings. I don’t understand people who think day/night, 24/7  bombing runs are the solution. I’m afraid all our up-ending and mischief-making in the Middle East is coming home to roost (and poop) right on our heads. Everybody is out to kill everybody else, and us above all. We must more and more often resort to force, because we can’t choose between what is vital (checking ISIS is) and what is not (overthrowing Assad). Our alliances are increasingly confounded and twisting and intertwined. We are responsible for the security of so many countries today it could only appeal to a One Worlder hoping to be the Vanguard and not the down-trodden.

Now even the once-sensible Gen. Dempsey is suggesting that the US (flopping on the ISIS front) should turn its sights on Damascus and its legally elected president, Bashar al-Assad. For the moment, open, in-your-face regime change is on the front burner, defeating the jihadists rampaging and murdering is somewhere back there, but not necessarily in second place of importance. Turkey is on fire, the Kurds want to dismember Syria and make their own country out of part of it, other countries in the region are increasingly imperiled, and all the US is doing is throwing money down the drain with a sort of dilettantish bombing campaign. As for dismembering Syria — the kind of partitioning and regime change that was good for Serbia under NATO’s heel, but not good for Ukraine under Russia’s heel — you can take this to the bank: the US is actively encouraging the Kurds to believe that if this works out and they can oust Assad the US will make sure they get a big chunk of Syria for their very own homeland. All they have to do is fight off the Jihad. What a coup! Think about all the upsides for the US: Assad, the man we could do business with only a few short years ago per Hillary Clinton, would be gone and probably murdered in some shameful fashion by our proxies; our friends would now suddenly be the government; Turkey would be rid of the troublesome Kurds; Syrians would be punished for being recalcitrant and supporting Assad when told not to; and best of all, Russia, the patron saint of Syria, will be shown up! In fact I’d guess that showing up Russia is probably our number one foreign policy goal these days.

Which brings me to all things Ukraine. Russia has decided to emulate NATO boldness in Syria and elsewhere with its own boldness in what it considers part of the Russian homeland, eastern Ukraine. It is pretty openly moving in the heavy weapons and tanks to hold the territory its proxies now control in eastern Ukraine,maybe taking some more before it allows a line to be drawn, while NATO arms and trains up its proxies in western Ukraine. Simultaneously, Russia has made a move to forever partition Georgia (a la Serbia) by formally recognizing the independence of Georgia’s two separatist regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. There is some expectation that Russia will then offer to take those territories into safe waters by bringing them into the Russian Federation as autonomous republics, perhaps South Ossetia uniting with North Ossetia to form one entity. This also buffers them against international retaliation. There still remains Moldova and I haven’t heard anything from that quarter. On the other hand, it would not surprise me to see Russia move to fortify its position in the Transdnestr. All of this enrages NATO and especially its easternmost parties and “partners.” The US just used the occasion of the G-20 to castigate Russia for doing the same kinds of things the US is doing at this very moment elsewhere (and in Ukraine, too).

Henry Kissinger just gave an interview in Der Spiegel. He lamented that the West had made a terrible blunder in Ukraine when it pushed so hard to get an exclusive position shutting out Russia, and that it was time for the EU/US to simply admit they had gone down the wrong path. Kissinger thought the western parties ought to have included Russia as an equal player in settling issues. He didn’t condone Russia’s extreme response, but he thought it was predictable. George Kennan, God rest his soul, made opposition to NATO expansion his last cause because he thought it was a grave error that would lead to global war again. And here we are, face to face in Ukraine, and not because Russia has expanded.

Then there is China, where President Obama was treated to the fly-by of drones built on the basis of technology stolen from the US.  Having watched Obama give America the finger so many times, it was kind of fun  to watch him get it back.



A Big Hooray and I Really Mean It

I refused to turn on the television yesterday, not even via internet. All the talking heads had made it seem as if it was not only close, but the momentum was on the Dem side. More teeth-gnashing was not on my list of things to do, so I skipped it all.

Boy, am I sorry today. Now I wish I had watched every minute of the returns. I am relishing the idea of the geniuses of the infallible Democrat Machine making up excuses and gnashing their own teeth. I love that the arrogant, insufferably empty and vain Obama was shown to be just as empty and useless as he is.

What goes around, comes around. Politics is a pendulum. I have said from time to time over the past year that I felt the pendulum, having gone as far left as it could in six years, was swinging to the right. Sometimes I lost faith in the American voters’ ability to act on their own beyond the influence of Big Politics and Big Money. I mostly despaired. But now I am a little bit more chipper. As a doctor and friend said today, this was an incredibly important step in addressing the mess the Democrats left. Yes, it certainly is.

I want to send hugs and kisses to all those GOP campaign volunteers who manned the phones and knocked annoyingly on doors and drove cars and handed out literature and waved posters. They made the difference, as did every one of us who voted a straight Republican ticket despite all our resentment and frustration. In the end, there was never a real choice, and we took the only rational one.

I want to thank Florida voters for giving Charlie Christ a pass. (And hats off to Jeb Bush for being willing, like his mother, to say it like it is when it came to Crist. I am sure it helped. I am richly enjoying that Crist has now lost state-level elections as a Republican, an Independent, and a Democrat. There’s only the Communist Party of the USA left for Charlie!

Now — let’s see how the GOP handles success. We are watching…


The Ghost of NATO Past

I am reprinting an opinion piece I wrote in 2001 on the subject of NATO expansion. This was at the opening stages in what today has become NATO’s headlong hurtle toward Russia’s very borders. The op-ed was published in the English-language independent newspaper The Moscow Times. Because of a discussion group I’m in, I looked up this old piece and found that it was pretty close to the mark.


Counting the Cost of NATO Expansion

April 2001 by Norma Brown

In recent weeks, The Moscow Times has printed two opinion pieces by Americans urging the further expansion of NATO to include the former Soviet republics in the Baltic region. The authors would have us believe that such expansion is inevitable, that it is somehow in Russia’s greater interests, and that Russia should cease its hopeless efforts to block it. Most recently, Michael McFaul of the Carnegie Endowment advised that Russia would be better off by “demonstrating that Russia is too strong and self-confident to worry about the ascension of the tiny Baltic States to the NATO alliance.” Such advice is sophistry. The arguments of the pro-expansionists are ludicrous against the backdrop of NATO’s strategic concept and the reality of what has happened in the wake of its thus-far limited expansion.

NATO’s first “new strategic concept” of November 1991 was a far cry from its previous cautious and highly defined doctrine, but it nonetheless retained some element of restraint in recognition of the fact that the Soviet Union still existed. After the Soviet collapse, however, NATO began to shift toward a more assertive posture, issuing warnings to Russia on its behavior toward former Soviet states and the countries of Central Europe.

The logical culmination of NATO’s emerging policy, as embodied in documents issued between November 1991 and April 1999, was NATO’s revised strategic concept. This was an aggressive and preemptive doctrine that provided justification for the bombing of Yugoslavia and will justify similar responses to any situation deemed by NATO to be directly or indirectly “threatening” in the future. The 1999 revised strategic concept set forth an extremely vague rationale for NATO action — military or otherwise — in an undefined territorial area (“in and around the Euro-Atlantic area” and “at the periphery of the Alliance”) and in response to a range of situations that could and almost certainly would involve strictly internal issues of non-member countries.

Among the stated risks to NATO security that would serve as potential triggers for NATO action are “territorial disputes, inadequate or failed efforts at reform, the abuse of human rights, and the dissolution of states,” as well as “organized crime” and “the uncontrolled movement of large numbers of people, particularly as a consequence of armed conflicts.” NATO also identifies as a risk to its security states on NATO’s periphery that sell or acquire or attempt to acquire nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and delivery means. Last, but hardly least from Russia’s perspective, NATO states in its 1999 strategic concept that there is potential for the reemergence of “large-scale conventional aggression against the Alliance.” This is as close as the strategic concept comes to naming names without actually naming names.

The merits of NATO’s intervention in Kosovo have been and will long continue to be a subject of considerable controversy. What cannot be denied is that the effort to attain a quick and bloodless (for NATO combatants) solution to a centuries-old problem has not achieved the Alliance’s stated goals. There is not and has never been a long-term strategy for preserving territorial integrity while protecting the rights of minorities. Kosovo is not a multi-ethnic society. Repression previously directed by Serbian authorities against ethnic Albanians now is directed by the criminal KLA against ethnic Serbs, Roma and politically irritating ethnic Albanians. On the bright side for NATO members, ethnic Serbs and others fleeing repression in Kosovo are by and large heading for Serbia proper rather than for Western Europe. In this sense, the bombing of Yugoslavia may be considered by some NATO members as a success.

Most recently, we have witnessed a cynical “movement” of ethnic Albanians, armed from Kosovo, against the legitimate authorities in Macedonia. In that event, we were also treated to the spectacle of NATO — which created the monster — feverishly attempting to turn a blind eye to the dispute. Instead of joining forces with the Macedonian government to put down the terrorists, NATO and the EU urged the Macedonian authorities to come to a “political settlement” with those who took up arms against it in pursuit of Greater Albania. We thus see that NATO is very good at military adventures, especially against essentially defenseless “opponents,” but pitifully incompetent when it comes to avoiding the negative political consequences of its military actions — of which it was repeatedly warned in advance from many quarters. Despite this vivid and fresh history, we are still to believe that adding more countries to NATO to help out in future ill-conceived military adventures will add to stability on the continent (and no doubt on other continents, as well).

Russia is right to consider further NATO expansion against this background. In the conflict against Kosovo, Russia was “protected” from the folly of disagreeing with NATO actions by having Hungary and Bulgaria (a non-NATO member, but a NATO “partner”) collaborate in blocking Russian efforts to provide assistance to Belgrade. Now many are keen to invite Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into the NATO fold, which would mean moving NATO infrastructure up to Russian borders and putting Russia squarely in the area of “the periphery of the Alliance” — where NATO actions in response to that vast array of potentially destabilizing events would be justified by the Alliance’s strategic concept. Indeed, with regard to Kaliningrad, it would put non-member Russia within NATO territory. It is in this context that we should judge arguments that the inclusion of the “tiny Baltic States” — and no doubt everybody else in the former Warsaw Pact except Russia — is in Russia’s interests.

NATO has already demonstrated its readiness to use its power and resources in pursuit of self-serving, short-term goals without any sort of long-term policy or vision. It has demonstrated a blithe lack of concern about using force unilaterally and in defiance of international law. Is there thus any serious reason to believe that advancing NATO to Russia’s doorstep — that is to say, up against a country that NATO’s own strategic concept has set out as a potential future enemy — would heighten European security? Is this a step that Russia should regard as helpful to its own security? Is the prospect of the Baltic and Central European states collaborating to block Russian defense of its vital interests in the face of NATO “crisis response” one that Russia should embrace? In the case of NATO’s bombardment of Yugoslavia, the only negative fallout was the expansion of armed separatist action to Macedonia. In the case of Russia, the results of miscalculation carry much graver risks.

Russia should not abandon its efforts to persuade the more rational Europeans and Americans that further expansion of NATO is not in anybody’s interests. What is needed today is a new European-Atlantic security system that recognizes Russia’s right to be fully engaged as an equal partner. It is inarguably in the interest of Europeans and Americans to forge a genuine partnership with Russia that will avoid the creation of an artificial enemy. A bigger NATO is simply a bigger threat to both European and global security.

The Good News and the Bad News

The good news is that here we are, at a point that seemed impossibly far away two years ago, on the verge of breaking the Democrats’ ungodly control of our political power. We’re not sure of course, because the dead are voting in unprecedentedly high numbers this election, along with half of Central America. The GOP is working hard because it is either win or evanesce. I have so many things on the wish list of things for the GOP to do, but one of them should certainly be legislation to mandate a national identity card, like a Social Security card but better, for US citizens. No ID, no citizenship rights at the voting booth.  I would also like to see a full court press to get a Benghazi Special Prosecutor and one for the IRS, as well. The GOP has to start rooting out the politicization of our civil service or we’re headed to become a banana republic with heavy doses of repression. Of course we know in our hearts that the GOP is going to plow ahead with amnesty, because that is what US business wants and the heck with the rest of us. In any case, there are going to be real fights in the next two years and our Congress had best be prepared to fight hard. The Dems will try to use their remaining lever of power, the Presidency, to push through all kinds of initiatives that they want in place to help them get back in control.  I think that if the Republicans continue business as usual and just give us more of the same and some face lift, there will be problems in the Republican Party and worse than before.

The bad news is the foreign policy arena, where things remain as scary as ever. The US has been bombing part of Syria where there are practically no targets that aren’t already rubble, and the Brits and Canadians have each dropped a bomb or two, as well. Not much to show for all the drama and the vows to get ISIS. Turkey caved to US pressures, sort of, and is allowing Iraqi Kurds to pass through its land into Syria to fight ISIS. I’ve mentioned before that the Kurds are a powder-keg all by themselves. Spread across Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria, these clans would like to reunite taking all of the land they are sitting on. The Kurds have fought the Turks on this issue. Now Turkey is forced into colluding in an operation against Turkey’s old friends ISIS, giving the Kurds a chance to hone their military skills and get ginned up for action back home. Turkey wants instead to depose foe Bashar al Assad in Damascus rather than piss around with ISIS, but first things first. Here is a snippet from an Israeli newspaper that gives you a sense of Turkey’s exasperation:

“The U.S. is too focused on Kobani and isn’t paying enough attention to other places,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Monday. He also disclosed that some of the weapons provided to the rebels in the Kurdish town had fallen to Islamic State while others had been seized by fighters of the Kurdish Union Party, which is working with the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK, which is listed internationally as a terror group.

Here is another excerpt, this one from the Wall Street Journal, on recent setbacks:

Fighters from al Qaeda’s Syrian branch have advanced along a northern area bordering Turkey after driving out several moderate factions from longtime strongholds, rebels said, complicating the U.S. effort to recruit and train the Syrian opposition battling Islamic State and trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

The weekend advance by Jabhat al-Nusra into territory that since 2012 has been the base for Syria’s most Western-friendly rebels dealt another blow to the country’s moderate opposition groups, including the main faction backed and armed by the U.S.

These rebels have for months lost ground in their two-pronged war—to Syrian government forces and to extremists from the group calling itself Islamic State, which parted ways with al-Nusra last year. Panicked and besieged by al-Nusra, some moderate fighters switched sides to al-Nusra this weekend as their towns fell.

Al-Nusra fighters on Monday amassed at a town in Idlib province, Sarmada, four miles from a gate on Turkey’s border, local rebels said, in what could be a move to grab the border crossing, Bab al-Hawa. Over the weekend, al-Nusra seized villages—along with weaponry, ammunition and armored vehicles—in Idlib’s mountainous Jabal Zawiya area.

The success of the overseas operations of these jihadists is why I continue to support putting more of our effort into securing our borders and our own homeland rather than trying to stem the disease in other peoples’ countries. We’re not winning. The only way we could win is if all the non-jihadists took up guns and other weapons and murdered the marauders. Don’t hold your breath.

In Ukraine, both western Ukraine and eastern Ukraine have held elections. No surprise that the sitting President Poroshenko won handily in the west and in the east the incumbents were returned as well. The fighting is sporadic as the two sides jockey over objectives they want to seize before international meddlers leave them each frozen where they are. The one interesting and new development is that Ukraine’s Deputy Energy Minister told reporters that Kiev was ready to buy coal from the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics because it was the cheapest fuel they can get. Of course doing so — buying through the “government authorities” of those two places would serve as recognition of their legitimacy. Big problem for Poroshenko and my instinct is that the Deputy Minister will lose his job shortly for mentioning the deal publicly. Meanwhile Poroshenko, having no practical steps he can reasonably take, is mulling over overturning legislation that gave certain autonomous rights to the rebel provinces.

I have a feeling the next two years are going to be pretty tumultuous. The rest of the world sees Obama the Lame as Obama the Lame Duck, and like the Democrats in Washington will be hurtling forward to get what they can while the World’s Biggest Wuss is still sitting in the White House.


The Tangled Web We Weave

I’ve been trying to concentrate on the upcoming mid-terms, but it’s like love lost: once gone, never re-captured. I just can’t get into it. That is because I have no credible reason to believe that anything hugely bad done under Obama will be destroyed by the GOP, and that means more of same. You see where that got us. No, what will be will be, as Doris Day used to say. Maybe when things go so far beyond the acceptable in this country it will ignite something else, and then we’ll see.

It’s the foreign policy screen that has me rapt. I just read an article saying that Kobani, that tiny Nowheresville on the outskirts of both Turkey and Syria, is being swarmed by the ISIS death beetles. Then it says that the US military sees a rich array of targets of opportunity in this situation.

I can’t help it, I  keep thinking that the foreign policy inanity and incompetence and ignorance I’m seeing and the fall-out it is provoking have inured me to any further shocks, but I’m always wrong. Kobani is a strategic town in the ISIS-led Neo-Caliphate’s effort to take over the world. It is an important battle site because the turbaned fanatics are attacking ethnic Kurds, who are running to Turkey. In Turkey there are age-old tensions between the Turks and Kurds aggravated by Kurdish separatist sentiment. There are armed Kurdish rebels who have fought the Turkish government. At present, the Kobani Kurds are fighting off ISIS valiantly but they are losing. On the Turkish side, enraged ethnic Kurds are flocking to the border to help their brethren in Kobani, but they are being beaten back by the Turkish military and that could spark more problems inside Turkey. The US sits doing nothing because it insists (and rightly so) that Turkey take out ISIS at Kobani with ground troops. Then the US could give air support. But Turkey won’t attack ISIS. Why? For the same reason that it won’t let the Kurds go to Kobani’s defense — because Turkey hates Syria’s Assad worse than it hates ISIS, at least for the moment. Turkey insists that if the US wants Turkey’s action in Kobani, the US has to agree to go after and unseat Assad. Turkey wouldn’t profit if its own ethnic Kurds went and did the job for the US, depriving Ankara of its leverage. Turkey also doesn’t want to give the Kurds, some of them ex-guerrillas, the chance to hone their military skills or develop a special relationship with the USG.

croc_editedIt seems there hasn’t been a deal, because everybody is just watching this disaster unfold. I’m sure behind the scenes there are many screaming matches at the moment. Some want Obama to okay commitment to regime change in Damascus in exchange for Turkey’s action on the ground at Kobani. The pressure is high. The McCains of both left and right are yammering about the need to remove Assad. Others sense what a quagmire this all is promising to become and worry about Obama’s Peace Prize and how Obama can’t afford to ruin his image. Where are we currently? Nowhere good. ISIS is all over Kobani. The civilized world’s common enemy is winning against America and its power. Even a loss after such a glorious battle doesn’t diminish their success. To the ordinary person, it seems the US comes out looking weaker than ever, despite our endless bombing runs. It looks like this is just driving more and more high-hormone teenagers into the fight. It’s like blood in the water.

Okay, but granting that this is so, think about this: the USG has looked at the situation and finds that it is not a disaster! This is because now US bombers can swoop practically from outer space and drop ordnance killing all kinds of targets (we always call them targets instead of verminous bastards or in the case of the innocent victims, human beings) and they are concentrated. It is likely that quite a few ISIS victims are going to die under our bombs along with their tormenters. I guess it’s a more merciful death than what was waiting for them. But from our perspective, what difference does it make if we kill a bunch of ISIS guerrillas? In fact, what difference does it make if ISIS loses control of Kobani? They will be promptly replaced and pop up elsewhere, maybe in Europe. And they will simply wait until the defenders abandon Kobani, as we will, and then re-swarm and take even uglier vengeance there. On the other hand, if we lose Kobani because the Kurds can’t do the job, I don’t see a good bombing environment as a big counterbalance to that central fact. And if we arm the Kurds and send them in, we are probably setting up Turkey for major destabilizing domestic developments somewhere down the road. You can see why it’s so difficult to make sound policy — every step we take or don’t take has a counter-effect on another one of our alliances or goals. This is another example of how America’s proliferating commitments are entangling us hopelessly and greatly complicating decision-making.

Assad might well have been ready to send in his Army to fight ISIS with US collaboration, but we couldn’t ask Assad because the USG wants to have another go at regime change in Syria. Like Turkey, we seem to see Assad as a scarier foe than ISIS, and this is why the US is manning up and arming its own military force in Syria to act as our proxy in an overthrow. Isn’t it crazy — wouldn’t you think, given the convergence of interests, that the US would have agreed with Turkey’s proposal and then both goals would be met — overthrow and blows against ISIS. But no. And yet there are rumors that the US is going to declare a no-fly zone in the airspace over Syria, including northern Syria where Assad and the government are. ISIS, supposedly the chief focus of our actions, has no air force. They have captured three Syrian Air Force antique aircraft that are visually known to the US which they hope to send on a suicide mission to some not too-distant spot loaded with chemical weapons taken from ISIS-controlled areas of Iraq quite recently. (I won’t get into that can of worms here.) Unlikely the suicide missions would ever get off the ground loaded before being vaporized, so why this no-fly zone? That sounds and smells really stinky to me and to many others, including Syria’s ally Russia, which supplies Damascus all its defense equipment.

It appears to me the US strategy goes like this: illegally arm and train proxies to fight against Assad domestically (check); get legislation authorizing a virtual US military take-over of the rag-tag army under the guise of fighting ISIS (check); as soon as there is a lull in the ISIS fighting, turn the rebels against Damascus by unleashing them throughout the country (soon come); begin bombing Damascus in support of our proxy army on grounds that Damascus is responding brutally to popular discontent (time to be determined). After that, insure that the Russian military is replaced by the US military, thus opening a huge new military hardware and technology market.

There are, of course, many things that can intervene to change a situation. Perhaps the ISIS fight will become so serious in Europe that nobody will support the insane overthrow of the last secular Arab leadership outside of the Egyption Army. Perhaps the US will have so many problems elsewhere and at home that it cannot afford a feckless fight against Assad. Or perhaps a change in the USG will bring in a hawkish president who decides that the US military really can control the world. I hardly know which scenario is scariest.



Hill’s Shills

clintoniraqI haven’t written for some time now. I’ve been mesmerized by the wreckage of our foreign policy ineptitude, in which, as we all know, Hillary Clinton played a huge role as Secretary of State. She was Joan of Arc for the export of US democracy around the world, the beacon of liberty. It was in this spirit that she pushed hard for a war against Qaddafi (although we never call things like bombing war anymore) and then publicly gloated when the man was shot on his knees as well as reportedly sodomized with a weapon. This is the woman who would be President. It isn’t a pretty picture.

pickeringtwo_editedI guess we all have become used by now to the spectacle of career US officials such as Ambassador Thomas Pickering running interference for Hillary Clinton. In case you forgot, Pickering was in charge of the Accountability Review Panel that scoured the events of Benghazi in order to assign blame for the disaster. Alas, he wasn’t really able to pin that down very well, and he sure wasn’t able to find any link at all to the Big Gun at State, Mrs. Clinton. In fact, Pickering was convinced a priori of Mrs. Clinton’s non-responsibility, to the extent that he didn’t bother to chat with the lovely lady about her role in things. Some of us wonder how stupid he thinks the rest of us are, and believe me, State is filled with people who think they are smarter than almost anybody but a European. Pickering didn’t think it was necessary to inquire too deeply into her own actions that led up to this and her actions on the night of the disaster. Did she do anything other than sit on her ample ass and listen and watch to what was happening? Did what she had seen not seem at odds with her public statements that this was linked to that stupid (but convenient) video snippet that supposedly triggered spontaneous rioting? Mr. Pickering is one of those who is dreaming of being Mr. Secretary of State if dear Hill is elected. She owes him BIG TIME for that one. The man threw away all his credibility by trying to cover up Mrs. Clinton’s responsibility for what happened in Benghazi, and I’m afraid he is going to be disappointed at not being Secretary of State.

Let’s move on to another US Ambassador, a career official, Ambassador Christopher Hill. He has just published an article in Politico, the TASS of the Clinton campaign, in which he blames Obama for the debacle in the Middle East. The lead photo he used alerted me to what was up. It was a picture of a beaming Hillary Clinton with the  Ambassador at her side by the aircraft that had delivered her to Iraq like manna from heaven. His first paragraph was enough for me. It started by recounting how Clinton went to Iraq and how the Iraqis loved her, were in raptures with her, she immediately bonded with every single human being in the room. I guess Amb. Hill thought the world under Hillary’s guidance would be sunshine and roses, warring factions would kiss and make up and then BOOM. Here, let the Ambassador tell you for himself: Exhilarated and grateful, I stood on the edge of the landing zone in a line with a few other embassy personnel, all of us waving farewell to our secretary with the expectation she would be back soon. Obama replaced her in that position with (gasp) the Vice President. Well, I guess Hill shares the common view of Biden as a blundering blithering idiot, but his insinuation is that, if only it had been Hillary, everything would have worked out just fine.

Yes, she might have begun by disarming the US Embassy security force, Amb. Hill.

090315_chrishill_kady_editedHill is another fawning candidate for Secretary of State or perhaps the number two spot. His maneuver with this article was transparently an attempt to distance the miraculous Hillary Clinton from the disastrous decision-making in foreign policy while she was Secretary of State by pinning it on Obama and the White House advisors. This is the “if only” school of campaigning — if only Hillary had been president, none of this would have happened. She is tougher than ISIS and Assad put together. If you think NATO was prone to bombing under Obama, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. By the way, the cavalcade of stars coming out of State Department is no surprise. She had it under her control for four years, during which she wasted no time recruiting for her campaign machine. An acquaintance from State, a currently serving Ambassador, told my husband she is working for the Hillary campaign. For quite a while we got phone calls under her name, but they were obviously robo-calls (never a message left). Expect this team to be dedicated to whitewashing Hillary Clinton’s lusterless tenure as SecState. (And by the way, what happened to the Hatch Act that prohibited USG employees from active support of political candidates?)

panetta_editedNow we have Leon Panetta. If wimpy guys like Hill don’t convince you that Hillary Clinton is a Strong Leader, here’s the guy who was Secretary of Defense. And what do you think his message is? That Obama is such a stinker, he screwed up everything! Alone! Panetta was much smarter than Obama and disagreed with almost everything Obama was in favor of. He did not say in so many words that “my friend Hillary would be much stronger as President than Obama ever was or will be,” but we get it Leon. He’s another Clinton I lapdog, and he remains true to his brand. Expect more of the same from him in coming months.  Leon’s getting on in years so perhaps he doesn’t want a government spot, but perhaps just a lucrative government-connected boondoggle.

Get used to it. Hillary’s bandwagon was lined up long ago, and she poached within the USG to find her team. It is just one more example of how the USG has become aligned with one party and in doing so has politicized the civil service function. This deserves defeating.



WWIII: Middle Eastern and North African Front

WWIII_dummies_0Here we go. With the European front simmering, even giving off smoke there in Ukraine, the US president has taken his courage in his hands and capitulated to opinion polls. He is going to cut back to manageable size the jihad war against anybody civilized by bombing the jihad capital in land captured from Syria with weapons captured from US-supplied friends via third parties in order to overthrow Syria’s government by force.

Syrian President Assad is wildly enthusiastic about wiping out the guys who once fought with US support. He won’t hold a grudge as long as the US wipes out the monster it created. Unfortunately, the US isn’t interested in asking for approval from somebody it is still planning to mow down just as soon as it takes out ISIS/ISIL/etc etc. The USG has decided instead to thumb our noses at such arcane principles as national sovereignty and territorial integrity and bomb where and when and how and how often we like, whether in Syria without any authorization or in Iraq with the collaboration of the government.  Here’s what a State Department spokesmen said with just the right tone of contempt: the U.S. “did not request the regime’s permission” and had warned the Syrian government “not to engage U.S. aircraft.”

Meanwhile, back in LaLa Land USA, we see stories beginning to leak that try hard to convince us this isn’t about the US violating international law yet again, but about a handful of duplicitous Middle East countries doing it along with the US. These analyses tell us that it is vitally important that people not think this is just the US throwing its military prowess around or trying to claim that whatever the US wants gives it a pass on international law. The world must believe the US is doing this solely in defense of its vital national interests and those of everybody else and so international law doesn’t apply. It’s an exception like the war against Serbia.

And it is important that everybody see that this is a team effort, from each according to his abilities, which necessitates that the US do everything. The first bit of obfuscation came in a WSJ piece about how Arab pilots participated in the bombing, flying by the side of US jet fighters. I wonder if they dropped anything or were there as observers and a beard. There were a whole five Arab countries involved, not just the courageous Saudis, who are also by the way supporting the jihadists. Turkey has already made clear, along with NATO as an organization, that they have nothing to do with bombing in Syria. Whew. That let’s both of them off the hook despite the consistent and not insignificant assistance they have given to unseat Assad over the past couple of years. I’m glad to know these countries recognize international law.

Everybody is bracing for the backlash now, knowing that what happens in Syria or Iraq is going to take back seat to what is coming in our various civilized nations, where war is supposed to happen someplace else. The US and the EU are incredibly vulnerable because of the open door immigration policies both have followed and the resulting influx of Moslems who share about zero of Europe or America’s (remaining) ethics. There have been obvious terror test runs in America and in Europe, efforts to penetrate to the heart of our “civilization” — our clean running water, our constant electricity, our computers that allow the authorities to communicate. Those would be the infrastructure part, but the fun part for these lunatics will be making sacrifices of Americans, in their own heartland, in full public view — and the more pitiful the target, the more joy they will derive. An old lady? An infant? All the better. Taking a train trip? I’d think twice. Flying? Not this year. Crossing a bridge? Can you swim?

Setting aside all the crap that is currently flying our way, the US has now set in concrete the right of any nation to take unilateral military action to preserve their perceived vital national security, even if it is in another country half-way around the world. So I would venture to say that the world, preoccupied with the drama in the Middle East, will only notice the annexation by Russia of eastern Ukraine de facto. And by then it will far too late for the US to speak of respect for borders or sovereignty — there is no going back. We have left too significant a chain of evidence demonstrating US support for “might makes right” to claim that nobody else can rally to that flag.

I didn’t even mention the Eastern front this time (or Western if you’re in California).

Some thoughts on neutrality

bear_and_eagleIn earlier posts I have mentioned in passing how undervalued neutrality has become in the past twenty years. Young people in the United States, who are hard pressed to name a single member of the US administration, probably don’t have any idea what neutrality even means. Within the United States the idea of neutrality is also out of style. The ethic is not “free thought is the cradle of ingenuity,” but “he who is not with us is against us.” The same ethos rules in both US domestic and foreign policy.

I’m thinking about this subject because just recently I picked up a long-lapsed correspondence with some Georgian friends (Tbilisi, not Atlanta) and since we last had a discussion, my views and theirs have spun off into opposite corners of the universe. Here’s a little background: in 1993 Georgia was a disaster zone like the rest of the former Soviet Union. Despite the suffering of that period, the Georgians were glad to be free of communism and Russian dominion. (Not that those views were shared by everybody, by any means –in Gori they still adored Stalin.) It was a new world, but a scary one. Georgians were at war with the Abkhazians and the South Ossetians, who were supported by Russia in their determination to break away from the dominant people in the country, the Georgians. Even under the very able and brilliant Eduard Shevardnadze, the government was very weak and the country had negligible capacity to defend itself. And at that time you were more likely to bump into somebody who argued that Georgia could never change its geography, so it had to get along with Russia, than somebody who said “let’s join NATO and shake our fist in Russia’s face.” In fact countries like Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO was not even on the distant horizon as far as the US and western Europe were concerned. The USG was in the midst of a major courtship of the usefully weak if sly Yeltsin and was fawningly solicitous. What the Clinton Administration and its architect of US-Russian policy at the time, Strobe Talbott, did not want was anything gumming up the works. And in this spirit they chose not to beard Russia about even so serious a matter as the Chechens fighting brutally against mostly Georgian civilians in Abkhazia, not even to warn the Russians that what goes around comes around and they might want to think twice.

Cut to today: NATO is belly to belly with Russia and trying to inch around that country’s southern flank; NATO is rattling its sabers at Russia and warning it not to “meddle” in Ukraine and to leave Georgia alone, while the US and EU role in the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s legal government or the disastrous effort by Georgia’s army to retake South Ossetia in 2008 are studiously swept under the rug. Today NATO’s chief tells the world that Russia is NATO’s enemy. This is one hundred and eighty degrees from where we were twenty years ago. But what really happened over those past twenty years?

russia_wants_war_look_how_closely_they_put_country_to_our_military_basesFirst of all, the big give-away in Russia to western financial interests stopped. Second, the Russians began to regroup and regain their national identity. Third — NATO and not Russia expanded the territory it controls by nearly doubling its membership and bringing itself to a point where if Russia wants to walk out its door NATO is there with a missile at its face. At no point did NATO say, is this wise? At no point did NATO ask does this make all of us safer or more insecure? Because of course, that was the only responsible way to consider requests for membership. Worse, with every east European country admitted to NATO, the organization’s Russophobic index shot up. Today I would assess NATO to be permeated with this skewed view of international affairs, as seen by countries who have been quarreling with Russia (and sometimes invading it) for centuries. Today you could erase the names and listen to the rhetoric, and I’m afraid it would be NATO sounding like expansionist ideologues, not Russia.

atlas2h3But Russia is not the weakling it was back in the 1990s. It is flexing its muscles, testing its systems, working out the most critical kinks, and armoring up in every sense. If America can’t admit it, Russia and the other big players have recognized, accepted and are acting on the basis that the unipolar world is dead. Russia has drawn its own red line, prepared to fight any further NATO encroachment in the former Soviet space.  If NATO were to eliminate the requirement that new members bring along no unresolved territorial disputes, or create a special “NATO protectorate” category, NATO security would not be increased with the additions. Because of course any fight a member state has with Russia is a fight everybody in NATO is forced to have with Russia. And the practical effect would be that NATO might take western Moldova, but Russia would take Transdnestr; NATO might get Tbilisi, but Russia would get Sukhumi and Vladikavkaz. NATO might get Kiev, but Russia gets Donbas.

So, back to the virtues of neutrality.

In the past twenty years the US ruled supreme. If it wanted to do something, or invade somewhere, or bomb some place, it was a breeze to do so. There was no opposition. This, I am convinced, lured the US into undertaking far too many such adventures that were finished pretty quickly, but settled nothing and even worsened the situation. In a new multi-polar world, each player must move with great caution and forethought. No power can act “without a strategy” because the costs would be far too high if they fail or stall. There are big powers waiting to take advantage of fumbles. Powers can’t resort to force because they are checked on too many fronts and everybody knows war is likely to go nuclear with more than one nuclear power involved. What remains is a return to the art of diplomacy and negotiation and espionage, but in a far less stable environment than existed in the Cold War. We will have to be quick and smart to keep at least some of our advantages.

In a multi-polar world there are multiple potential flash points, as well. The closer two or more of the powers are to one another, the easier it will be for an unanticipated incident to spiral into major confrontation. This is a potential danger Russia faces with China, with which country Russia now enjoys improving relations. But in the west and south, where Russia would welcome some breathing room, it now is standing off against NATO — with whom relations could not be worse short of war. What that means is, as with China, the smallest spark can become a flame and there is no fire-break in between.

The solution is compromise. Russia says not an inch farther. NATO says you can’t tell these people what to do. We have the material for a massive explosion. But here is a solution. Negotiate an international treaty guaranteeing the neutrality of all the remaining former Soviet states not members of NATO. Give them special supervisory regimes to give teeth to the status. Then allow those states to associate otherwise with whom they like, trade how they please, and do anything that does not constitute a credible threat to anybody else. Some of those states, like Ukraine, will complain that this is unfair — NATO took everybody else, why not us? But for NATO to swallow Ukraine would be like swallowing a lighted stick of dynamite. It would not enhance anybody’s security, not even the Ukrainians’. It is all about providing security in the end. These countries want security, and the big nations can give it to them.

Breakingthechainthatbindsuslarger_zps3889e159And here is another thought: an alliance is only as strong as its weakest link; that has always been the case with NATO, and in reality NATO defense relied on less than a third of its original members to do the job, because the others would never last. Today that situation is much worse, because the same third is still carrying the load for a membership nearly doubled. Everybody wants the US to do the dying for them — which is why they want our soldiers deployed to Russia’s borders. That’s their guarantee that we’ll fight the bigger war for them. I don’t know about you, but I’m not keen to go to war even over Poland. But Ukraine? I don’t think so. And Ukraine needs to ponder that, too.