Tag Archives: Syria

Bully! A Splendid Little War

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So The Donald has sent in the cruise missiles in response to the Syrian sarin gas assault on its own people.

Sending 59 cruise missiles with conventional warheads and then sitting down to dinner with the Chinese President pretty much establishes Trump as a “tough guy”. But will he be smart enough to leave it at that?

In a very real sense, Trump has redrawn the “red line” which Obama and Kerry allowed to fade to palest pink. Served notice that “there is a new Sheriff in town” to quote an awful lot of pro-Trump blogs. Which, I suspect, most international players had already noticed.

The question is whether Trump is able to enjoy an American casualty free battle and move on to the next thing on his agenda. Obama demonstrated in Libya that regime change may, or may not, be for the better. Generally, it seems to be a bad idea in the Middle East simply because the next regime may be worse than the one you “changed”. During the campaign, Trump seemed to get that. Does he now?

Assad needs to go. Murderous barbarian and all. However, he needs to go when there is some idea of a better thing to replace him. That might be a new regime or it might be the carve up of both Syria and Iraq and the end of the Sykes-Picot travesty which has haunted the Middle East for nearly a hundred years.

Regime change could be accomplished with a lot of money, a few Russian Spetsnaz and a dozen bullets. But what then?

Unwinding Sykes-Picot is a much larger and, strategically, more intelligent enterprise. Defeat ISIS and then carve out the Sunni, Kurd and Shia enclaves being sensitive to the worries of the Turks and the position of the minorities. That is the work of a negotiator and a statesman. And it is something which will involve Putin as well as Trump. No bad thing that.

Right at the moment, Russia is hanging on by a thread. Demographically, economically it is in huge trouble. For Putin to survive he needs to seem indispensable. Trump can give him that. Putin can give Trump essentially nothing. Other than his nukes and his special forces, he is the Tsar of a gradually dying nation and only massive help from America can really save him. Monkeys can climb a very long way up trees, it is the getting down part which is tricky.

Syria offers Putin the opportunity to act as and be seen as a statesman.  With Trump’s help, he can open the book on Sykes-Picot and facilitate the reformation of Syria and Iraq into a loose confederation of ethnically and religiously homogenous statelets. Between the Americans and the Russians, all of the factions can be brought to the table and, with luck, disarmed and sent on their way. None of the resulting states will be heard of again for generations.

Trump has played the first card of a strategy which will likely take a few years to play out. By being willing to punish actions which are against all agreed-upon international norms Trump makes it clear that hard power is a real thing for America again.

Trump knew the world was watching and he gave them a show. Now we’ll see what he does with the attention.

 

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Peace through Strength

Our Russian friends have a funny idea about how to conduct a war: they go and bomb and then dig out the people who are their declared enemies. They support their friends. They are not so much winning in Syria as not losing.

America has a rather vast response capacity. Tomorrow morning President Obama could let lose his heavy bombers and flatten, with a week, every known rallying point of ISIS, all of its oil resources and it’s so called capital.

Obama could send in the attack helios and the AC-130s and kill every formation of ISIS on the ground.

Obama could deploy the several thousand special forces personel at his command and shoot up ISIS at a granular level.

Russia does a lot with, relatively speaking, very little. But what Russia has is a strategic vision. It may be brutal. It may accept civilian casualties. But it gets the job done for Russia.

Tolstoy wrote a little less than a dozen chapters at the end of War and Peace on the philosophy of war. He made the point that the will of an Army and it’s commanders turns destiny in its direction. But without that will nothing occurs. All is chaos.

Pugin, outgunned, knows this. He cannot defeat America, but he can defeat America’s pathetic proxies. Hell, he has them shooting each other. Putin understood Tolstoy… I suspect Obama skipped the last few chapters.

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IS to ISN’T

If ever there was an opportunity to set Islamic terror back a couple of decades that opportunity is now in the wastelands of Syria and Iraq. 

The Islamic State is estimated to have 15,000 fighters out there beheading and crucifying and raping assorted minorities and lots of other Muslims.  They have a few ranks and APCs plus a fair bit of heavy weaponry and lots of cash. (Though given the intelligence failures of the current American regime it would be wise to double those estimates.) 

A division of Marines and serious air strikes – think cluster bomb more than precision munitions  get will stop IS and then Saudi financed Egyptians and Pakistani infantry can go in and kill them.  Not capture,  not take as prisoners,  kill. The actual killing needs to be done by their fellow Muslims and it needs to be done pretty much immediately. 

Soft power has been proven bullshit.  Time to let Is know what happens to bullies. 

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Crunch

The crunch and clangs you are hearing is the sound of the car wreck which passes for American foreign policy at the moment.

Russia is not keen at this stage for a binding U.N. Security Council resolution that would provide a framework to control Syria’s chemical weapons’ stocks, France’s foreign minister said after talks with his Russian counterpart on Tuesday. reuters

There was never much chance that Syria and Russia would actually act to sequester the chemical weapons. In the middle of a civil war it is not all that terrifically easy to deal with the logistics leave aside the politics.

However, faced with certain defeat in the House and a good chance of defeat in the Senate and the American people 3 or 4 to 1 against the idy, biddy, no really, really small, attack on Syria, Obama needed a way out. Putin threw a lead life buoy and the very dim Obama and the even dumber Kerry grabbed it. (The laughter echoing through the halls of the Kremlin can be heard in Damascus.)

Hitting Syria, or, more accurately blowing a raspberry in its general direction, was not the credibility piece here. Everyone knows that the US has awesome raspberry blowing capacity. The credibility was all about the President’s ability to deal with a complicated international situation. While the Court Press will hail the Russian “deal” as proof Obama can wield the power of his office for a peaceful outcome, anyone paying attention will know just how badly he and his team have done.

The audience here is not the Washington tounge bathing media nor, in fact, the American people: rather it is the Iranian, North Korean, Syrian, Russian, Israeli, Egyptian and world strategic elite. People whose job it is to assess the resolve of the American President.

I rather suspect that, no matter what the Big Zero and his spinners say tonight, the universal verdict will be:

Pwned

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Someone is playing checkers

Syria to give up control of chemical weapons.

Do they even play checkers in Russia?

Do the Big 0 and Big, Dumb, John even know how to play checkers?

Sadly, America has been completely outplayed. Kerry should resign citing his own inability to do the job of Secretary of State.

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Credibility

The Big Zero is rolling out a few Generals and the Senate Intelligence Committee released some awful video about what gas does to people.

At the Childrens Table, Andrew Coyne asks “If not now, when?” and the Lying Jackal has found a moral crusade.

As Conrad Black points out,

Until recently, it would have been unimaginable to conceive of John Kerry as the strongman of the National Security Council. This is the man who attended political catechism classes from the North Vietnamese to memorize and repeat their accusations against his country of war crimes in Indochina, and, inter alia, ran for president in 2004 asserting that while he had voted to invade Iraq in 2003, he was not implicated in that decision because he did not vote to fund the invasion once underway. the new york sun

The rationale for a “strike” on Syria has gone from “punishing” Assad for his use of chemical weapons to propping up an incredibly lame President because he is the only President the poor Americans have. At least the latter makes some strategic sense.

Realists recognize Syria for the murderous sideshow it really is.

It is also a potential opportunity to brush back Iran and, more or less, destroy Hezbollah.

Michael Ledeen pointed out some time ago that the road to Damascus starts in Tehran. And that may very well be where a strategically effective strike should take place.

There is hard evidence that Hezbollah is aiding Assad. There is evidence that Iranian Revolutionary Guards are aiding Assad. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the intelligence agencies of the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and all the rest, have a pretty good idea as to where Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guards are headquartered.

Rather than a pointless exercise in Tomahawk throwing at empty buildings, it might be a good idea to send a few special forces people and some drones to clear these vipers’ nests. But, for God’s sake, don’t announce it. (And, for good measure, the same death from above could do the elements of Al Quada and the Chetcheyns no end of good. I am sure Mr. Putin would be delighted to help with the Chetcheyns.)

A good rule here is that you can’t go wrong killing thugs on either side. And you keep killing them. And you shut up about it.

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A Serious America

Mr. Putin is making fun of Obama at the G-20. Which is pretty rich for the leader of a has been superpower but, hey, it is a target rich environment.

The problem America faces goes well beyond the Big Zero and the clowns in his Cabinet and on his National Security Council; it is that America does not understand the Machiavellian view that a Prince is better feared than loved.

Most of the time there is no particular reason for the US to become embroiled in minor overseas disputes no matter how morally repellent the participants. So long as no critical American interest is at stake, and there almost never is, America can sit on the sidelines. However, when intervention is in the American interest, there is little point in pussyfooting around.

A limited, invariably “surgical”, no boots on the ground, no collateral damage, shot across the bow is as useless as it is cliched. Nuance and proportionality are the legacy of losers. Worse, they are a strategically boneheaded waste of time.

If America is going to engage its enemies need to know that the force will be overwhelming and utterly disproportionate. The head of the offending state needs to know that he will be hunted down and killed. The leading generals and regime supporters should know that they will suffer the same fate unless they immediately disavow the regime. Outside forces need to know that they will be accountable for their actions and that interference will be regime lethal.

There should be no question of international legitimacy. No UN sanctimony. Just raw, deadly power applied for as long as it takes to accomplish the American objective.

The point being that the use of American power should shock and awe and appall – and the American President and Congress should accept the consequences of its use.

As long as America is unwilling to “go Roman” in defence of its interests it is actually encouraging the rest of the world to believe that America is an overarmed push over.

No nation, particularly America, should ever go to war lightly. War is, and should be, terrible. But no leader should ever ask his nation to go to war half heartedly. No leader should ever ask his people to fight for vague purpose. And no leader should ever go to war unless the full range of his nations’ power can and will be concentrated on securing clear war objectives.

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Er, American Spring II

As Sir Nigel Sheinwald, our former ambassador to the US, told me: “Globalisation makes governments look small because they are incapable of controlling huge global processes. And the vast amounts of online information mean that people are sceptical of what governments tell them and check up on it instantly. Social media allows campaigns to be mounted at the drop of a hat. Traditional means of political organisation and mobilisation of opinion have been overtaken.” telegraph

If this blog has a theme it is a profound scepticism about government and politicians. At the moment, the Big Zero is being embarrassed at the G-20. Soon he will fly back to the US and, apparently, address a sceptical nation on why they should follow him into a “not a war” about “not a red line” for which neither he nor the dimwits in his administration can make a convincing case. His leadership is of so little consequence that there is a good chance a Syria resolution will not be brought in the House of Representatives because it would almost certainly lose.

And that is because Congressmen are hearing from their electors and those electors are not in favour of this “not a war” over this “not a red line” lead by this dismal failure of a President.

While this is being spun as a repudiation of Bush, the fact is he was able to gain the support of Congress for both Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama can’t.

This inability to lead now matters. Massive, instant, electronic response from individual citizens changes how politicians can do business. Gone are the days where agreements could be stitched up before the citizens had time to find out what was going on.

If Obama is defeated on his bully little war there is every chance that an empowered citizenry will begin to look sceptically at the other cozy deals the “leadership” in Washington is hatching.

The political class (in every country) should be afraid, very afraid.

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Syria and the American Spring

I watched a bit of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee hearings on Syria yesterday. Nice to see John McCain and John Kerry so chummy. The poker playing was a bit silly but, with his service, I think McCain can be forgiven a lot.

Much useful chat about objective and collateral damage. But, realistically, the Senators and the Secretaries seemed to be going through the motions. The Big Zero wants his Operation Moral Grandeur and the political establishment seems willing to give it to him.

The only problem seems to be that the American people are pretty universally against the Syrian adventure. Mainstream polls are running 60/40 against. (Drudge is 92/8.)

More importantly, while the Big Zero bobs and weaves as to “objectives” and consequences, there is no serious upwelling of support for bashing Assad. In the run up to the Iraq war, while there was a debate, there were two sides to that debate with proponents – of which I was one – strongly supporting the removal of Hussein.

While the Washington political establishment wheels out the genuinely horrific facts of Assad’s gas use, a large number of Americans are saying, “And this is our problem because?”

The idea of a limited strike – lead by the Big Zero – is unappealing because it will almost certainly do more harm than good. And, listening to the hearings, it was pretty clear that neither the Secretary of State nor the Secretary of Defence could provide much in the way of reassurance.

In fact, they seemed to have trouble coming up with any serious reason why hitting Assad was a good thing other than the idea that somehow it was America’s business to “punish” people who broke international law. (It might well be but only where American interests are directly engaged. A fact not lost on the American public.)

The Senate can be fixed, the House of Representatives is a more responsive lot. When you have to be elected every two years you do not ignore your voters. If the Congressmen are listening they are realizing that there is no groundswell of support, no demand for action. And they will realize that if they go along with the Establishment they are going to be held accountable if Obama’s bully little war goes pear shaped.

There may be a way to punish Assad but I suspect the first casualty will be an out of touch American political Establishment.

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At least Obama

retains the might of France…or, so far I have not seen any indication they are joining the rush to stand down.

Cameron will likely lose the Headboy position, what happens to the Big Zero now that he proposes to attack with no UN Resolution, no Arab League official support, no Anglosphere endorsement?

Well, nothing. His watery pinkish line in the Syrian sand is now not worth the death of a single American cruise missile because, without at least a tiny international fig leaf, the poor idiot will, in the eyes of progressives at least, be a war criminal.

He’s blown this from the day he decided to demand that Assad step down without being willing to get the job done himself.

The anti-American “rest of the world” has to be delighted that a President could be so completely out of his depth; those of us who are resolutely pro-American can only shake our heads at the stupidity of electing this doorknob.

(I suspect the Israelis are more than a little relieved. Fun as it would have been to whack Hezbollah under cover of the fog of war, the ineptness of American and international policy has allowed the accumulation of thousands of missiles in Lebanon and Syria. Those will not be fun but they are not likely to be fired this week.)

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