SOTU/Iranian Hostage Crisis Open Thread

Wonder if this will put a damper on Obama claiming success in the Iran deal during the State of the Union?

Iranian military forces seized two U.S. Navy boats Tuesday and are holding them in custody on Iran’s Farsi Island in the middle of the Persian Gulf, senior U.S. officials told NBC News.

Officials said it’s unclear whether the 10 American sailors who were aboard one of the small riverine boats had strayed into Iranian territorial waters before they were captured.

The officials said the Americans were on a training mission around noon ET when their boat experienced mechanical difficulty and drifted into Iranian-claimed waters and were seized by Iranian Coast guard.

Iran is claiming they were in Iran’s waters – naturally, our government is appearing to go along with this claim. Even if true, the proper response from a civilized power is to just warn them off, not seize them. This could, of course, just be one of those things that happen – but it could also be Iran seeing just how far they can go. They are already routinely insulting us and challenging us and seeing that Obama is willing to put up with anything rather than put his “legacy” deal with Iran in jeopardy. This just might be more in that game – and if it is, then expect some very aggressive Iranian action in the area soon…if we back down on this, Iran’s government will pretty much know for certain that Obama will not, under any circumstances, take on Iran.

Perhaps Obama should set up an empty chair for our national honor…

Clash of the Titans

So this Iran-Saudi Arabia thing could get interesting if not outright dangerous. This tribal battle has two deadly Muslim components; Arab/Persian and Sunni/Shia, and both countries have the power to either devastate and/or rearrange the entire Middle East. While Saudi Arabia is not the most ideal ally, they are still an ally and they believe we have completely abandoned them. Iran has already broken the “unsigned” agreement, which Obama is so proud of and apparently unwilling to enforce. Obama drew a red line in Syria that he was unwilling to enforce. Obama allowed Putin to take Crimea and invade Ukraine. And Obama is allowing the Chinese to choke off trade routes. Saudi Arabia is not the only ally to think that we have abandoned them, and they have good reason. A.B. Stoddard said it well when she stated that all the world powers know that this is Obama’s last year and they consider it to be open season. I think she’s right and that’s frightening. I think we could see some bad players making a lot of bad moves over the next year. Question is; does that bolster Trump even more? And how does Hillary handle it? More gun control? Your thoughts.

Weekend Open Thread – Gross Negligence Version

Democrats are desperately trying to paint Hillary’s server debacle as simply a partisan attack with no “there there” following Kevin McCarthy’s comment, but the FBI has another term for it – Gross Negligence, which carries a possible ten year sentence and there is no doubt that she is guilty:

Under 18 USC 793 subsection F, the information does not have to be classified to count as a violation. The intelligence source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity citing the sensitivity of the ongoing probe, said the subsection requires the “lawful possession” of national defense information by a security clearance holder who “through gross negligence,” such as the use of an unsecure computer network, permits the material to be removed or abstracted from its proper, secure location.

Through deleting emails after being notified to turn over her server, to allowing her attorney, without security clearance, to have a flash drive of those sensitive emails, Hillary has violated federal law through those two actions alone. But I think what Hillary is really trying to cover up more than anything else is her communiqué with long time friend Sydney Blumenthal who was on the ground in Libya and allegedly encouraging Hillary to push Obama to move forward and depose Gaddafi. Why? Sydney felt that he could financially benefit from working with the new government in Libya, and if proven to be true, this would be the greatest scandal in American history. At the very least, Hillary helped depose a foreign leader who posed no imminent threat and left the country in complete shambles and a vacuum of which was filled by jihadists. Judgement like that is a complete disqualifier for POTUS.

On another disturbing note, the weakness of Obama continues to make life miserable for people around the world and he could care less. Obama’s indifference to the full out assault on Israeli’s by emboldened Palestinians is shameful and lays to rest the question of whose side Obama is really on. There is no question that through his actions, Obama has turned his back on Israel and has abandoned the long established relationship we have with the Middle East’s only democracy.

These are interesting times and decent civilized people had better wake up, pay attention, and do what is needed to defeat the current assault on democracy, personal freedom, common sense, and civility. And the greatest threat resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Turns Out We Can’t Beat the Russians

Anyone thinking that Obama might find his backbone and actually stand up to Putin’s imperialism better think again:

“Our question was: Would NATO be able to defend those countries {the Baltic states}?” Ochmanek recalls.

The results were dispiriting. Given the recent reductions in the defense budgets of NATO member countries and American pullback from the region, Ochmanek says the blue team was outnumbered 2-to-1 in terms of manpower, even if all the U.S. and NATO troops stationed in Europe were dispatched to the Baltics — including the 82nd Airborne, which is supposed to be ready to go on 24 hours’ notice and is based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“We just don’t have those forces in Europe,” Ochmanek explains. Then there’s the fact that the Russians have the world’s best surface-to-air missiles and are not afraid to use heavy artillery.

After eight hours of gaming out various scenarios, the blue team went home depressed. “The conclusion,” Ochmanek says, “was that we are unable to defend the Baltics.”

The active Russian Army is stated at 395,000 – Poland, the closest nation with a large military force has 120,000 troops. Germany, next closest, has just under 61,000. The French army, a little further off, has 115,000. That works out to 99,000 less than the Russian army, when you combine them all together. Small wonder that even with the US Army in Europe augmented by the 82nd Airborne that we can’t get the job done – and this probably supposes that we could get the French and Germans to go along (getting the Poles to go along wouldn’t be difficult).

The thing about an army is that you just never know when you’re going to need one – which is why you’re supposed to keep a top-notch one in being at all times, even when it doesn’t seem particularly necessary. For decades now the Europeans have continually reduced the size of their military force – they got it into their heads that there would never be another major European war. Now we’ve got the Russian bear trying to rebuild the Russian Empire and no one has an army in being capable of stopping the Russians. The only way to actually stop Putin if, say, he decided to occupy Estonia is to declare war on Russia, build up a massive army, and then invade. This is not something which is going to recommend itself to European and American politicians.

Welcome back to the real world, folks. We’re in quite a pickle, right now. Not only does no one respect of fear us, but we simply do not have the military power to make anyone respect or fear us. On the other hand, our military is now almost perfectly politically correct – with only a few Marines still to be forced into line. Great, huh?

McConnell Finding a Little Backbone?

Thanks to the Corker Bill, there was really no way for the GOP to stop Obama’s Iran deal – but we should be able to at least get a disapproval to Obama’s desk and force him to veto it…so far, the Senate GOP under McConnell has failed to do this (because Democrats, when push comes to shove, are always Democrats first and last – party loyalty comes before common sense); but now he’s got a plan:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to force Democrats to walk the line on the Iran nuclear agreement, teeing up a vote on a contentious amendment on the deal.

The Republican leader scheduled a procedural vote on an amendment that would block President Obama from lifting sanctions against Iran under the nuclear deal until Iran publicly supports Israel and releases Americans currently held in Iranian prisons…

Among the many glaring errors of the Iran deal is our failure to obtain release for Americans held by Iran. I think I read somewhere that Kerry claimed he brought them up again and again – but I simply don’t believe it; it is a no-brainer and a no-cost concession from Iran. Obama and Kerry were giving them the world on a platter and I’m sure if we had pressed the matter, they would have given the Americans up. That they haven’t tells me that either we never asked, or we asked only once and the Iranians refused, and Obama/Kerry let the matter drop because they were that fearful of derailing the deal.

At any rate, it is good political theater to force the Democrats to vote on something like this – of course, it would have been better political theater if we had forced Obama to submit the deal like a normal treaty and watched it go down in flames.

Syria, Refugees and What to Do

I’m betting that everyone has seen the heart-breaking pictures of that little boy who washed up dead on the beach in Turkey – that picture plus the scenes of tens of thousands of people flooding into Europe has caught the attention of the world. This is because our modern world isn’t a place of thought and knowledge, but of emotions and impressions…and the picture of a dead child gives us an emotional impression…and demands that we “do something” get us off the hook, oddly enough, from having to actually do something (if we make a demand, in the modern mind, that is equivalent to action). But we do need to actually think about this – and then we really need to do something.

The refugee crisis is the result of the failure of the nations of the Middle East. No one went in there and made these people start fighting like mad. This was a conscious choice of the people there – no, not all of them, but enough of them to matter (and even those who didn’t want this also, in a sense, choose it – because they didn’t fight against the mad men, and each insane fighter has to have two or three non-fighters to support him in his efforts). This isn’t the legacy of Imperialism; this isn’t the result of Israel existing; this isn’t because we fought in Iraq – this is because of the people there deciding, all on their own, upon a course of action. The people of the Middle East failed, not the United States; not Europe, not the world.

It is worthwhile to note that the Middle East is not this monolithic entity. To be sure, most of them claim some version of Islam as their theology, but the place is actually made up of the ethnic flotsam and jetsam of 5,000 years of human migration into the Middle East; there are vastly different underlying cultures in the Middle East – just as Europeans have a lot in common but there are vast differences between, say, French and Bulgarian people. The passions within Islam have been held down for most of Islam’s history – invariably by a power which could apply enough force to convince everyone that peace is sweeter than freedom. Up to modern times, it was the Ottoman Turks who held them down; the Turks were briefly succeeded by European empires and then by various strong men. That has ended – and the people there are fighting it out; and there doesn’t seem to be any large force of people who are fighting for an Islam where everyone just goes their own way and lets everyone else just live and let live.

There are three courses of action:

1. Stay out – and that means, also, not allowing the people to come to Europe and the United States.

2. Go in – all the way in, with a massive military force. Pick a side we want to win and then fight until everyone opposed to that side is dead or taken.

3. Go on as we are – maybe a bit of military action; maybe a bit of half-hearted support for people we think might be ok; maybe a bit of diplomacy to try and broker deals between the sides.

The first choice means the war goes on; perhaps to a conclusion, perhaps to mutual exhaustion…but in either case, with plenty of very bad actors still around to cause trouble, including terrorism trouble in the West. The second choice means millions of men and women under arms in the Middle East for years – fighting a cruel war against forces which have no respect for common, human decency. The third choice means the war goes on, the refugees continue to flood into the West and vast amounts of blood and treasure get expended with no end in sight.

Rumors are that Russia is sending troops to bolster Assad’s regime in Syria – if true, then Russia is picking a side. And as brutal as Russia is under Putin, if they can provide enough force to Assad’s regime to beat the regime’s enemies, then peace will come to Syria – the peace of the grave for many, of course, but still peace. While I can’t imagine Putin taking such an action for humanitarian purposes, such an action is humanitarian in its ultimate outcome, if it works. The fighting will eventually cease. Some sort of government will emerge. People will be able to in some manner rebuild their lives. If you don’t like the idea of Assad’s regime surviving then here’s your choice: pick a different side and give it sufficient force to beat Assad’s regime, backed by Russia and Iran (with the attendant risk of war with Russia and Iran over it). Not too pretty a thing, right? But if you want to have a seat at the table when war is going on, then you have to fight – if you decide not to fight, then you are leaving all decisions up to those who will.

Which course do I favor? Either all the way in, or all the way out. Either we decide to fight until we get to impose an American settlement on the Middle East, or we stay out, completely. Half in means you just spend blood and treasure and still don’t get to have much say in how things come out. I don’t want American troops to die – nor to have them kill people – for anything which is unclear and/or indefinite. Whatever we do, we should do it all the way – even if what we decide to do is surrender American influence in the region.

On the Iran Deal, Obama Gets Tough…

With his fellow Americans, of course – not with the Iranians:

President Obama: I realize that resorting to force may be tempting in the face of the rhetoric and behavior that emanates from parts of Iran. It is offensive. It is incendiary. We do take it seriously. But superpowers should not act impulsively in response to talks… Just because Iranian hardliners chant ‘Death to America” does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe. In fact, it’s those hardliners that are more satisfied with the status quo. It’s those hardliners chanting “death to America” who’ve been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican Caucus.

So, there you go – the only people who want to kill the Iran deal are those on the side of the Iranian hardliners! Kerry is also out there warning us against upsetting the Iranian hardliners…and they’ll be mad as wet hens if we don’t do this deal! So mad, I guess, that they’ll start sponsoring terrorism and building up nuclear weapons…

This is getting unreal – the Obama position is that if you don’t want his deal, then you want war. Here’s just a small bit of advice for Obama and Kerry – the alternative to the deal isn’t war, but simply no deal. Status quo. And that means Iran’s government is still hobbled by sanctions and has much fewer resources for sponsoring terrorism and building nuclear weapons.

To me, the whole thing is clearly not about getting Iran to stop being Iran, but about getting sanctions lifted. Obama and Kerry appear to believe that we can befriend Iran’s current government and they’ll work with us for peace and stability in the Middle East…that it will be a peace of the grave for many and the stability of Iranian tyranny doesn’t seem to concern Obama. To Progressives any sort of peace is superior to any sort of war – and if it is a bunch of foreigners living far away who are paying the blood price for our peace, no problem at all.

Of course, we’ll get war, eventually. The thing about helping tyrannical regimes to gain in power and prosperity is that this merely provides them with more sinews for war, as well as convincing them we are a paper tiger which can be defied at will.