Category Archives: Foreign Affairs

More Guns, Less Boko Haram

When the rest of the world is only offering you a Twitter hashtag in support, you some times have to take firm action to protect  yourself:

BAUCHI, Nigeria — Villagers in an area of Nigeria where Boko Haram operates have killed and detained scores of the extremist Islamic militants who were suspected of planning a fresh attack, the residents and a security official said.

Locals in Nigeria’s northern states have been forming vigilante groups in various areas to resist the militant group who have held more than 270 schoolgirls captive since last month.

In Kalabalge, a village about 250 kilometers (155 miles) from the Borno state capital of Maiduguri, residents said they were taking matters into their own hands because the Nigerian military is not doing enough to stem Boko Haram attacks.

On Tuesday morning, after learning about an impending attack by militants, locals ambushed two trucks with a gunmen, a security official told The Associated Press. At least 10 militants were detained, and scores were killed, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to give interviews to journalists. It was not immediately clear where the detainees were being held…

I have a friend who is from Nigeria and upon a time we were discussing his home country – which even though he has become an American, he still loves very much and he has a lot of family still living there. After a while, I asked him why the people of south Nigeria put up with it?  Why not just kick the mostly-Muslim north out of the country and have done with it? Nigeria is pretty evenly divided north and south, after all – and the guys who are causing all the ruckus are mostly from the north. Get rid of them, get rid of a large part of the problem.  My friend told me that after the Brits cleared out, the people of the south went to school and learned how to make and build – the people of the north joined the army and learned how to oppress and steal, and they won’t let the south out because the south has the oil.  If the south leaves, the north will have nothing to steal and no one to oppress.  And, so, rather stuck.

It occurred to me after that conversation that the solution, if we want to help Nigeria, is to figure out a way to arm Nigerian militias for local defense in the south. Help the people there just defend themselves and maybe either the north will go away, or will at least become a bit more respectful of the people of the south and won’t steal so often, nor kidnap little girls.  This action by the “vigilantes” (as they are described in the MSM article) is the way to go – and we should offer SEALs and other expert trainers to the Nigerian communities along with sufficient arms and ammunition.  Do that, and over a rather short period of time, the problem there will be resolved, one way or the other.

A Retired Admiral’s Take on Benghazi

The following is a letter that was re-printed in a military newsletter I get from a retired navy admiral to Bill O’Reilly regarding the entire Benghazi affair.  I originally posted this at the end of the recent Benghazi thread.

Mr. O’Reilly,

I am mad as hell because the truth about how combatant commanders and the department of state can and should protect embassies is not being clearly explained. The fact is that there are policies, precedent, resources and procedures that could and should have prevented the embassy in Benghazi from coming under attack, or defended it if it did come under attack, or vacated it if the threat was too high. The ongoing discussion on your show and elsewhere that centers on the video and subsequent cover up is necessary as is the discussion about whether or not we should have responded during the attack. But those discussions have not brought to light the fact that none of this should have happened in the first place.

Fact: The combatant commanders, in this case AFRICOM, have access to our national inventory of intelligence community resources as well as international resources in order to thoroughly understand the risks and threats in any part of their Area of Responsibility (AOR). The complete picture of what was happening in Libya should have been known by AFRICOM leaders and this should have been briefed up the chain daily.

Fact: The first two cornerstones of AFRICOM’s mission are (1) Deter and defeat transnational threats posed by al-Qa’ida and other extremist organizations and (2) Protect U.S. security interests by ensuring the safety of Americans and American interests from transnational threats… In other words it is the mission of AFRICOM to prevent exactly what happened at the embassy in Benghazi.

Fact: The policy is for AFRICOM leaders to work in-conjunction with the state department’s Regional Security Officer (RSO) to establish the threat and then work with the Joint Staff and inter-agency to quickly provide plans and resources to deny that threat.

Fact: There are units specifically designed to bolster security in embassies. The USMC has three companies of Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams (FAST) and one of these companies (or units from it) could have been deployed to FASTEUR in Rota, Spain, as the risk materialized. Each company has six platoons of 50 men each.

Fact: In July 2003 when I was the J3 at European command (AFRICOM had not been created yet) we had a similar situation develop in Liberia whereby two warring factions were threatening the embassy in Monrovia. The EUCOM team began planning for embassy support PRIOR to Ambassador Blaney’s request. When he did ask for help, we responded immediately, worked with his staff and received SECDEF approval to deploy a single FAST team platoon from Rota to the embassy to provide security. We worked with the Joint Staff and created the mission and structure for Joint Task Force Liberia, an anti-terrorism force based upon USS Iwo Jima and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

Fact: Elements from the MEU arrived and relieved the FAST platoon. The warring parties signed a cease fire, the embassy in Monrovia was secured, no Americans were hurt.

So, the questions are:

1. What was the assessed level of threat in Libya prior to the September attack?

2. If it was not considered high then what were the intelligence failures that lead to that wrong conclusion?

3. If the threat was considered high then why wasn’t a FAST team or other resource deployed?

4. What did Ambassador Stephen’s see as his threat and what did he ask for? If he asked for help and was not provided it, that is inconceivable to me. My two bosses at EUCOM, General Chuck Wald (USAF) and General James L. Jones (USMC) would have bent over backwards to provide anything the ambassador asked for and more. They would have leaned on the Joint Staff to provide the authority to deploy and, in fact, during the Liberian situation described above, they were pushing me every day to provide solutions for the Joint Staff to approve. And should anyone forget, this was July of 2003. We were already in Afghanistan and had invaded Iraq just four months before. We were busy but not preoccupied.

Very Respectfully,
Hamlin Tallent
RADM, USN, retired

The admiral raises a lot of good points.  I guess we’ll see where this goes.  At least the right guy is chairing the select committee.  If Congressman Goudy doesn’t have the cajones to get to the whole truth in this matter, then I doubt that anyone can.

 

 

 

Quick, While the LIVs Are Distracted…..

While the LIV’s focus is on obamacare, Putin, Gwenyth Paltro’s split, the missing flight and other nonsense, CIA’s Libyan station chief put’s to rest that the Obama administration’s talking point that the whole thing started as a protest.

The chief stated at hearings there was no protest and a result of terrorist attacks on the embassy.

What difference does it make at this point in time? -thanks Hillary.

http://p.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/31/cia-ignored-station-chief-in-libya-when-creating-t/

UPDATE:

While the LIVs are distracted Democrats scramble for damage control. Pro Gun Control Democrat State Senator Leland Yee Arrested for GUN TRAFFICKING among other corrupt acts, for campaign contributions.

Charges include:

  • Clandestine meetings with an undercover agent to secure as much as $2 million in high-power weaponry in exchange for payments to Yee and his political campaign. In one of those meetings, Yee assures the agent, who holds himself out to be East Coast Mafia, “Do I think we can make some money? I think we can make some money.”
  • Deals with an agent posing as an Atlanta businessman backing a fictitious software company called Well-Tech, seeking Yee’s help, including an attempt to secure a contract with the state Department of Public Health in exchange for a $10,000 check for the secretary of state campaign,
  • Offering to help an agent posing as an Arizona medical marijuana industry insider looking to expand into California. Yee, again in exchange for campaign contributions, introduced the undercover agent to unidentified legislators and promised political support, particularly if elected to statewide office.
  • An agreement, at the urging of the undercover agent through Jackson, for Yee to honor the Ghee Kung Tong, the organization of suspected Chinese crime kingpin Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, with a proclamation, despite the senator’s worries about Chow being a “gangster.” Yee signed the proclamation in exchange for a campaign check from the agent.

http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_25453464/leland-yee-corruption-case-state-senator-faces-uphill

Little mention in the media.  Meanwhile, HE STILL GETS PAID WHILE SUSPENDED.  It is interesting to note that his bail was HALF that of the so-called creator of the video that “caused the protests in Benghazi”…. only in California.

Putin Lives in the Real World

By the time Japan ran up the white flag in August of 1945, the United States had produced nearly 61,000 tanks, 285,000 air craft, 147 capital ships, 41,000 cannon and more than 12 million rifles.  Using this material, we had killed or captured more than a million enemy soldiers and dropped well more than two million tons of explosives on Germany and Japan (not counting the atomic bombs) and killed somewhere in the range of two million German and Japanese civilians.  Our enemies were cratered wastelands entirely at our mercy.  Peering up from the rubble, the world drew a very vital lesson:  you don’t want to fight the United States of America.

This lesson was tested, of course.  First in Korea – where potential enemies learned that you could draw the United States into a war and not suffer complete destruction – but you had to be willing to absorb immense casualties at the hands of American forces disposing of more firepower than anyone could possibly imagine (in return for the privilege of killing at bit more than 33,000 Americans, the North Koreans and Chinese exchanged at least 400,000 military deaths and 1.5 million civilian deaths).  It was re-tested in Vietnam and finally confirmed – as long as you were willing to lose your people at a fantastic rate, eventually the Americans will get tired and leave, as long as the United States, itself, wasn’t at risk.  But, still,  those piles of smoking rubble in Germany and Japan kept the world entirely unwilling to tangle with the United States in a fight to the death.  And, so, no general wars since 1945.

But such a state of affairs only lasts as long as the world is convinced that fighting the United States is something to take into consideration.  Small scale = can be done, at enormous cost.  Large scale = national suicide.  But what if it comes to pass that you don’t have to worry either about large scale or small scale war with the United States?  Then you get the invasion of Crimea.

The problem Obama has – and its common throughout the leadership elite  of the Western World – is that they have convinced themselves that it wasn’t American power which kept the peace.  Indeed, they have convinced themselves that more than anything else, American power has been the threat to peace (and they use things like Korea, Vietnam and Iraq as proof – never mind that in none of these cases did the United States just blindly go in for aggressive action…right or wrong, in all of these cases a threat was perceived prior to American action). To an Obama, the world is kept at peace by international law; by the United Nations; by NGO’s; by conferences at swank, European resorts.  Everyone agrees to be nice – and see how well it works!  But, here’s the thing, it only worked because at the back of it all were the smoking piles of rubble in Germany and Japan circa 1945 and a worry that really challenging the post-war settlement would mean a new World War with the United States.  But Obama and his like don’t see it like that.  Putin, however, does.

With the decline of American power and the global perception that the United States simply lacks the grit to carry out a long, grinding fight to a victorious finish we have returned to the world of 1938 – precisely when the world held American power at a discount figuring that we probably wouldn’t fight, to begin with, and that if we did, we wouldn’t stick it out (it really cannot be stressed enough that the leaders of both Germany and Japan figured the American people simply lacked guts…that we were too soft to fight it out like men in desperate battle).  Putin isn’t doing anything but living in the real world – and the real world of 2014 is the international anarchy of 1914, prior to the application of overwhelming American power to the globe 1941-45.  In this real world, you grab what you think you can get away with – you know you won’t have to fight even a small, expensive (but ultimately victorious) war against an America which just gets tired and neither will you risk a World War which would bring all of America’s might to bear until your country is reduced to a pile of smoking rubble.

It is an open question as to whether this will work out badly for the world – we simply don’t know.  Perhaps if we hadn’t intervened in World War One things would have been better in the long run?  Maybe if we had dodged the World War Two bullet then having the Japanese Empire run Asia would not be as bad as China attempting to run Asia?  A revived Russian Empire might put a definite check on Turkish and Iranian ambitions, after all.  But while we don’t know how this will come out, there’s no sense getting mad a Putin or acting like he’s not behaving rationally.  He’s doing what he thinks is best – that we think it wrong is immaterial.  Unless we want to declare war on Russia, there’s not much we can do, after all.

But here is the risk – without fear of America’s overwhelming power (and it still is overwhelming – it still could take on, for instance, Russia and China at the same time and beat them into the ground), things could get a bit dangerous out in the world.  It could be that as nations take the lid off and start competing for territory, resources and prestige that one or more of them decides to challenge us directly, thinking that we can be cowed – or, if not cowed, then easily beaten.  It would be much better, I think, that once having won overwhelming global dominance that we had maintained it – we have let the scepter slip from our hands, however, and there’s no getting it back without war.  The world is now at genuine risk of World War Three.

This is not just Obama’s fault – though he has put the final touches on it.  This stretches back to the immediate post-WWII era, when we didn’t firmly put Russia in her place…and when we failed to pick up the real challenge in Korea and take out China and Russia.  It is the result of thinking that the world is governed by something other than force; that sweet reasonableness and treaties make the world safe.  They don’t.  Power and the willingness to apply it is what makes the world safe – or, as safe as it can be.  Putin is living in the real world.  So is China.  So is Iran.  The sooner we join them there the sooner we can start to rationally think about what we want – and where we’ll draw a line and tell them, “thus far and no further”.

What is Diplomacy?

There have been several attempts at defining this.  Webster has it as “the work of maintaining good relations between the governments of different countries”, but that is a lot of nonsense.  You don’t need good relations between governments – in fact, good relations can some times hamper diplomacy (ties of sentiment are deadly when dealing with intra-governmental issues).  Will Rogers came closer when he said, “diplomacy is the art of saying ‘nice doggy’ until you can find a rock”.  But that isn’t quite right, either – because the purpose of diplomacy is to not have to use the rock.  But, make no mistake about it, the rock must be part of the equation.

I’ll say that diplomacy is the art of adjusting competing claims between actors of relatively equal power with war as the punishment for diplomatic failure.

It has to be between entities of roughly equal power or it isn’t diplomacy – it is either the stronger imposing its will on the weaker, or the stronger being generous to the weaker for whatever reason.  Only between equals can there be diplomacy – two equals (or two groups who are roughly equal) can sit down at the table and try to adjust their differences, all the while with the knowledge that failure to come to agreement means war – and being as it would be a war between roughly equal powers, no one on either side could be entirely sure of the result, and so the incentive is strongly in favor of coming to a deal.  Unless, that is, one side is determined upon war no matter what.  In such a case, diplomacy also cannot happen – because if one side is determined upon war no matter what and the other side is determined on peace no matter what, then the aggressive side is the stronger and will impose its will on the weaker…and, once again, you don’t have diplomacy.  Let’s look at some examples to illustrate my definition:

1.  It is said that we negotiated a treaty with Panama in 1903 in order to build the canal.  We did nothing of the kind.  We told Panama what we wanted and bade them sign on the dotted line or we wouldn’t build the canal, which is the only reason for Panama to exist.  This was the stronger imposing its will on the weaker.  Not diplomacy.

2.  It is said we negotiated a security treaty with Japan in 1951.  We did nothing of the kind.  Because Japan occupies a strategically vital area in the Asia-Pacific, we promised to protect Japan in return for obtaining certain privileges for our military forces in Japan.  It was a good move by us because Japan is a useful ally to have – but the security of the United States does not in any way depend upon the existence of Japan, and its not like a Japanese army would ever arrive in the United States to help defend us against foreign aggression. This was the stronger being generous to the weaker. Not diplomacy.

3.  When Chamberlain, Hitler, Daladier and Mussolini gathered in Munich in 1938, three of the four were determined to have peace at any price, one of them was determined upon war no matter what.  That it wound up with an agreement rather than war was because of the rather startling amount of surrender that Chamberlain and Daladier agreed to – they eventually decided that Hitler should get the spoils of war without war (keep in mind, that if they hadn’t agreed, Hitler would have gone to war in 1938 rather than waiting until 1939).  This was rather unique in human history (to that point, at least) but it still illustrates the point:  with one side willing war no matter what and the other willing peace no matter what, the warlike side becomes immediately the stronger and imposes its will upon the weaker.  Not diplomacy.

4.  When the USSR challenged the United States by putting nuclear missiles in Cuba, both affected parties were roughly equal in power and both sides were equally determined to avoid war.  Negotiations were tense and many fears were raised, but the fact of the matter is that as both were equally strong and no one was willing war, a deal was bound to happen unless some horrific accident took place.  The basics of the deal eventually agreed to were Russian nukes out of Cuba, American nukes out of Turkey.  That is diplomacy.

Now, why bring all this up?  Because as we have gone through the Ukraine crisis, no one is understanding that among all the varied things going on, diplomacy isn’t one of them.  Diplomacy will never be one of them – it can’t be as there aren’t two equal sides involved her.  Oh, to be sure, the power of the United States, alone, is enough to fight and defeat Russia…and the combined power of just Germany and France could probably make short work of Putin’s burgeoning empire.  But no one who dislikes Putin’s actions is putting on the table anything like the force necessary to give Putin pause and make him want to turn to diplomacy…which would, once again, be an adjustment of interests between equal powers and war as the price of failure.  It is my belief that Putin does not desire war – not with us, not with the European Union, not with anyone.  If there were power to match his power, he would climb down and negotiate a diplomatic settlement.  Such a settlement would, of course, have to grant Russia some of her desires – that is the thing about diplomacy: it is never a matter of anyone getting all they want.  It is a deal between equals and each gives a bit, because they don’t want a war which would be more costly than whatever it is they have to surrender to reach a deal.  But with a complete vacuum of power opposite Russia, there is no need for Russia to fear war, and thus no reason to use diplomacy.  Might as well grab all you can while the getting is good.

All the huffing and puffing of Obama, Kerry and the collective world won’t do anything.  To be sure, Putin might graciously agree to eventually sign something which will be hailed as a diplomatic settlement, but you can rest assured – unless there comes along a credible threat of war against Russia – that whatever settlement is agreed to will be entirely in accordance with Putin’s view of Russia’s interests.  In other words, he’ll merely take what he wants at the moment, leave an option to grab what he hasn’t got and attend an international conference to ratify what he’s done.  It’ll be a nice meal and pictures taken and his own press back home will laud him (or else!) as the greatest Russian in a century, etc.

Now that I’ve said all that, what do I think we should do?  Normally, I would advocate a vigorous American response to this but given our current condition and our current President, I’m saying that surrender isn’t so bad.  To be sure, its bad for the people who will come under Putin’s embrace, but I’m not so sure how a half-hearted and incompetently conducted military campaign leading to eventual American failure would help – and, of course, such a thing would actually harm.  As under Obama we are bound to have nothing but the aforementioned half-hearted, etc, I figure we just cut to the chase and make the best of a bad situation.  We can start to repair this in 2017 – hopefully under leadership which isn’t quite as bad as Obama’s.  It is a sad and distressing position for America to be in, but we have no one to blame but ourselves – we might be able to assign our 2008 vote to well-intentioned folly, but our 2012 vote was a gigantic mistake with sufficient facts clearly known.  Now we just have to pay the price for it.

Is Latvia Next?

A bit worrisome:

Last week, I warned that the next step for Russia after seizing the Crimea over the status of ethnic Russians would take place in the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia. All it would take, I argued, would be for Moscow to foment unrest in those ethnic-Russian communities, antagonize the governments in both states, and then insist that Russia had to intervene to protect them. More than a quarter of the population in both countries consist of ethnic Russians, while in Ukraine it only came to 18%.

Now it looks like Moscow will skip over the unrest pretext and demand the right to act as economic protector  in Latvia…

Russia is claiming – probably correctly, to a certain extent – that ethnic Russians in Latvia (as well as in Lithuania and Estonia) are not well treated.  Given the absolutely cruel and brutal treatment the Baltic people suffered at the hands of Russians under the USSR, this is no surprise, at all.

All three nations are NATO allies and members of the European Union – if Russia challenges the independence of these three, small nations, then it is our bound duty to defend them, even up to war.  We’ll see how this plays out – but our weakness (and the military impotence of the European Union) is encouraging Russia to get aggressive.  Of course, this new pressure on the Baltic front just might be a blind…Russia will, as part of a “deal” officially back down on the Baltic States in return for our backing down even further on Ukraine.  We’ll see.

Why Did Putin Do It? Because He Thinks He’ll Win

Later this year, on the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, I’m going to be writing an article about how I view that war – but I’ll give one spoiler right now:  the reason the war started, ultimately, was because the Germans thought they could win it.  That is why all wars start – one sides thinks they’ll win.  And not only thinks they’ll win, but thinks they’ll win in a walk over.  Wars aren’t started by people who are resigned to a difficult task with a doubtful outcome – wars are started by people who think they’ve got it sewn.

And Putin has sent troops in to Ukraine because he thinks he’ll win – and win rather easily.  Whether or not he’ll try to take over the whole country instead of the heavily-Russian eastern part remains to be seen.  But if Putin thinks he can grab the whole of Ukraine in an easy war, he’ll do it.  Now, why should Putin think that?

Well, first off, Ukraine is militarily not all that strong – a lot of their equipment is antiquated Soviet equipment (though upgraded a bit over the years), their armed forces are relatively small compared to Russia’s and, of course, a large minority of Ukrainians are Russians – not inclined to fight against the Russian army, even if not entirely favorable to coming under Russian rule. Furthermore, and probably decisively, Putin does not fear any serious response from anyone.  NATO?  Toothless.  EU?  Blind and toothless.  United States?  Distant and ruled over by fools who don’t understand how the world works.  The harshest thing on the table so far is that we’ll kick them out of the G-8.  Big whoop.  Like Putin will care too much about that – and like he won’t be invited back in a few years from now when tempers have cooled.

The only thing which would have stopped Putin is either a militarily powerful Ukraine or a United States not only powerful, but clearly willing to make Putin’s life miserable for years over the matter.  Neither being forthcoming, Putin moved.  Whether or not there will be some “deal” to smooth things over or whether it will go all the way to annexation by Russia remains to be seen – but Putin has just shown that he is in charge in that area of the world.  Ukraine knows that they can only go so far in offending Russia while other nations on Russia’s borders (especially the Baltic States) have been clearly warned that being tight with the west only offends Putin, while the west will do nothing concrete to oppose an offended Russia.

The worse problem is that the cat is really out of the bag, now.  Every two-bit tyrant out there who wants to grab himself a bit of geo-political territory knows that now is the time to start grabbing – with the United States effectively out of the picture as long as Democrats are in charge, the sky is the limit.

And, Meanwhile, the World Burns Down

We’ve got stories that Venezuela’s government is importing Cuban mercenaries to suppress revolution while the President of Ukraine has fled Kiev.  Elsewhere, Syria is still a blood bath, the Taliban are poised to return to power in Afghanistan five minutes after we leave and the war clouds continue to grow in the Asia-Pacific theater.

Just when do we start to get some of that “smart diplomacy” that Obama promised?

Here’s the thing – if you ever wondered what would happen if American power were removed from the scene, here ya go.  This is what a post-American world looks like.  To put it bluntly, as the smoke cleared over the radioactive rubble of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world became peaceful only in so far as America prevented war.  Through nearly four years of global battle and at high cost in blood and treasure, the United States emerged in 1945 as both the arbiter of the world and its guarantor of peace.  All the UN organizations; all the international talk-shops; all the treaties and discussions and agreements and alliances – all were completely pointless except that the United States stood behind them.  No one on this earth then (or even now, actually) wanted to ever fight us, again, in a general war.  Small wars on the side could be managed, but no one ever wanted to re-awaken the Sleeping Giant.  To do so was national suicide.  As long as our power was there as a standing threat, everything could be kept under control.

Take America out of the equation and very quickly everything would fall apart.

And so it has, because we are out of the equation.  While our power is intact, the President of the United States refuses to use it and the world knows he will not.  This is because Obama – that child of modern American indoctrination dressed up as education – believes absolutely that the problems the world has had since 1945 were caused by us, rather than kept from getting out of hand by us.  Obama was told in school that if there was a war or oppression some where, then it was because the United States did it – he never learned that the war or oppression was kept from becoming completely horrific simply because we were there, and at will could utterly destroy whomever was making war or causing oppression.  The world now knows that no matter what anyone does, Obama simply will not do anything about it – and so it just goes from bad to worse out there.  Believe it or not, people can be downright evil – they don’t have to be forced to be evil by a clever CIA plot.  I know this will simply stagger our liberals, but its just one of those hard facts of life.

The world is in more danger of a long, general war than at any time since the 1930’s.  We’ll see how it comes out.  Hopefully we can keep out of any war until at least January 20th, 2017 because more fearful than Obama refusing to use American power would be having that man use American power…it would be like giving a machine gun to a drunk.  We’ll have to rebuild all this after Obama is gone – pray it doesn’t take another world war to do it.

The Collapse of the Middle East

Yes, I know it has been going on for some time, but I don’t think most people are fully aware of just how bad it is – Spengler writes about Turkey’s problems:

…Turkey is a mediocre economy at best with a poorly educated workforce, no high-tech capacity, and shrinking markets in depressed Europe and the unstable Arab world. Its future might well be as an economic tributary of China, as the “New Silk Road” extends high-speed rail lines to the Bosporus…

…The whole notion was flawed from top to bottom. Turkey was not in line to become an economic power of any kind: it lacked the people and skills to do anything better than medium-tech manufacturing. Its Islamists never were democrats. Worst of all, its demographics are as bad as Europe’s. Ethnic Turks have a fertility rate close to 1.5 children per family, while the Kurdish minority is having 4 children per family. Within a generation half of Turkey’s young men will come from families where Kurdish is the first language…

Spengler also notes that corruption is a big problem and, of course, that Turkey is honey-combed with bad debt, now coming due with little chance the Turks can pay.   Iran has the same sort of problem – declining birth rate, low-skilled labor force, corrupt, bad debt…its why they were so eager to cut a deal with Kerry in return for easing the sanctions: Iran’s economy teeters on the edge of complete collapse and the deal frees up money for the mullahs (and, of course, the Iranians were doubly delighted to do it as, having taken the measure of Obama, they knew that they could get the sanctions eased and still just go on sponsoring terrorism and making nukes).  So, add Turkey to Iran to Syria to Egypt to Libya to Sudan as failed States…and look warily at the corrupt monarchies of the Arabian peninsula which keep themselves alive only so long as the oil keeps flowing and they can bribe people to silence.  Meanwhile, Islamism continues to spread and even in Afghanistan – with American troops still there – the Afghan government works out how to implement laws allowing for the stoning to death of adulterers.

So, what of it?  What can we do about it?  Not much.  Suffice it to say that at some point, this mess will draw us back in militarily, but for now there is not much we can do.  First and foremost, because Barack Obama is President of the United States.  The level of ignorance of facts and unwillingness to face the truth about the Middle East entirely cripples any efforts made by the Obama Administration – and if we did get sucked in to active military operations, it is certain that the lack of courage and military knowledge of the Obama Administration would ensure an American defeat.  All we can do is watch in fascinated horror while this goes on.

In the longer term, when we hopefully have better leadership, when we are forced to again fight in that area, it is to be hoped that we will do so with a clear eye to the harsh realities.  For whatever reason, Islamic peoples are simply incapable, as such, of building and maintaining a civilization.  They can take over from others (as they did when they first conquered such areas as Turkey, Syria and Egypt), but they cannot maintain or build on their own.  There is something in Muslim theology which prevents rationality – which prevents a Muslim government from really exercising democracy, from really allowing people to be independent, from really allowing minorities to have rights.  When we have to go back in, our policies must be governed in this light.

To be sure, I don’t want us to have to govern large, Muslim populations – whatever else may be said about them, Muslims dislike intensely any foreign domination.  So, no attempt at nation building.  But when the next war in the Middle East comes to our door, we must ensure that at the end of it, we are firmly protected against the violent acts of Islamist extremists and that the minority peoples of the area are afforded independence from Muslim rule – or even from a Muslim minority within their territories.  This will require a significant reworking of the map of the Middle East.  As I’ve pointed out in the past, new nations will have to be created where non-Muslim minorities can live in peace and independence – in places like Lebanon, parts of Syria, parts of Iraq, parts of Egypt, land must be carved out so that non-Muslims can be safe, with the additional benefit of locking the Muslim nations, themselves, in to positions from which they cannot by offensive action influence the course of world events.

We all of us – right and left – have been living in a bit of a dream world as regards policy towards the Middle East.  It is time we woke up to reality and acted accordingly.

Making a Deal With Iran

It is hard to say what the real goal here is – it is clear that no matter what Iran does, while Obama is President we won’t go to war to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.  Come what may, no amount of non-military pressure on Iran will succeed in convincing the Iranian government to give up their nuclear ambitions.  Given this, why make a deal, at all?  What is it that impels Obama and Kerry to seek a deal?

By making any sort of deal, all we do is increase Iranian legitimacy in the eyes of the world, alienate Israel and lower our prestige among both friends and enemies – the world will see that, in the event, we daren’t attack Iran…that we are, in some sense, afraid of them.  The Gulf States will either make the best deal they can with Iran, while Saudi Arabia and Turkey obtain nuclear weapons of their own to counter the Iranian force.  Can it be that Obama and Kerry, ignorant academics that they are, simply believe that a deal is better than a non-deal?  That the results don’t matter so much as the process, itself?

And here’s the bad news – an Iranian nuclear force is an existential threat to the life of Israel…just how long will the Israeli government hold off from saving themselves from extermination?