Make a Deal With Assad?

So opines Leslie Gelb over at the Daily Beast – also noting that we’d have to do some sort of deal with Iran, while also keeping Saudi Arabia and Turkey on-side. Which is, well, a rather muddleheaded thing to try because, just as one for-instance, Iran and Saudi Arabia are not going to see eye to eye as long as their respective government’s are in power.

Now, as far as rat-bastards go in the Middle East, Assad is certainly not the worst, though he is pretty darned bad. In choosing what to do in that area, any where we turn we’re going to be dealing with nefarious characters. The question is which nefarious characters do we want to deal with, supposing we want a deal?

You see, we don’t actually have to be deeply involved at the moment in the area. To be sure, leaving it to fester in it’s own nastiness will carry the risk that some of the nastiness will be directed our way – vast numbers of people over there live for the day when they can kill lots of Americans. I’m sure ISIS has already got at least some preliminary plans to hit us – though being tied down in head-chopping, slave-dealing and attempted conquest, they probably can’t spare the time for us at the moment. We can pull back right now – and, in fact, under Obama it is probably better that we do so, given his complete incomprehension of the realities of power politics in the global arena. But even a hard-headed realist can make the argument that a U.S. withdrawal is a good course of action for the moment.

That argument goes like this: the American people don’t want to fight over there right now. The various factions fighting for power and influence all have, at best, grave doubts about us and, at worst, bitter enmity. For a variety of reasons, our post-9/11 campaign in the Middle East has failed and our prestige is at rock bottom in the Middle East. Getting our people out of there takes the immediate pressure off us – and by getting out of there, I mean all of us…troops, aid workers, diplomats, etc. If we really feel the desperate need to keep some sort of U.S. presence in a particular Middle Eastern nation (say, in places like Turkey, Jordan, Egypt), then it should be as small as possible. Essentially, don’t leave many American targets for the Islamists to attack. As we have recently proved, we’ve got enough oil and natural gas here at home so that even a complete collapse of oil production in the area can be endured…we’d be up to $5 a gallon gas, but as we recently paid $4 a gallon, we’d survive (and, of course, no one who attains any power over there is really going to cut off the oil spigot completely). As we are no longer involved, the blame for what happens there will less and less accrue to us and if there is an attack on us from the Middle East, the political will for war will swiftly return to the American body politic.

But we’re going to stay, of course, because inertia in politics is like that – we’ve been there, we are there, and so we’re going to keep on being there. And suppose Obama came down with a case of the ‘flu and had to spend a week in bed and during that time someone slipped him a copy of, say, Churchill’s The World Crisis or Hanson’s The Father of Us All and so Obama finally learned a thing or two about how the world works? We then might be able to proceed to a policy of U.S. engagement which isn’t stupid. And in an engagement policy which isn’t stupid, what is the best course of action?

Quite simply, it is to find a power player who can be purchased by us – and that does indicate Assad more than anyone else. His Iranian allies have not been able to restore his fortunes in Syria and he might be in the market for a new friend who can help out. Of course, he’d have to change his tune on a few things. We can’t expect him to do something enormous like make peace with Israel – but there is much he can do.

First off, no longer allow his territory to be a conduit of aid to the Iran-backed Islamists in Lebanon. Also, no longer keep any of his troops in Lebanon, thus freeing up that nation to be at least neutral in the various conflicts in the region…demilitarized, Jihadist sent packing or into the hereafter. Still a Muslim nation making rote denunciations of Israel and the United States, but no longer a subsidiary of Tehran and Islamism.

Secondly, part of Syria is going to have to become autonomous Christian areas…with Christian militias ostensibly under Syrian command, but really existing to keep Islamists out of Christian territory. It isn’t going to be much territory, but it has to be enough for Christians to live on in peace and security…and as they’ll be set up to lack heavy weapons, they’ll never constitute a threat to the existence of the Syrian government. Think of it as being akin to the Kurdish area of Iraq before everything fell apart in that nation.

Third, he’d have to amnesty those parts of the rebels who are not the full on, head-choppy Islamist fanatics…and incorporate them into his army and offer them a genuine seat at the power table in Syria. Not a full democracy – such is not really possible – but with veto power over government proposals which directly effect their lives. This new Syrian army – no longer being just the personal following of the Assad family – could then, with US air and some ground support (mostly special forces types), probably make short work of the biggest problem in Syria – the ISIS goons. Once the are taken care of, Assad gets U.S. aid to rebuild Syria and lines up with us against Iran in the regional balance of power.

Carried out with vigor and a keen eye to realities, such a policy could bring immense security relief to Israel (we might even be able to get Israel to give back a symbolic portion of the Golan: they can’t give it all back for security reasons, of course), free up Lebanon and turn Syria from long-term enemy to at least temporary friend – friend at least during the impending crisis of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons and attempting to make Iraq a satrapy of Tehran…and if the deal can also be worked that the Kurdish areas of Syria are joined to those of Iraq in a new Republic of Kurdistan, then we’ve picked up three dominoes in the area and are in a much better position to confront Iran as well as an increasingly hostile Turkey. We’d also be less strategically dependent on Saudi Arabia and so we could start to systemically detach ourselves from the Saudis…until such time as they really feel the pressure from Iran and are willing to, well, not be quite so stoning-people, owning-slaves, flogging-bloggers sorts of people.

Of course, we’ll end up doing neither – we won’t get out, we won’t go in sensibly. So, get prepared for the worst of all worlds in the Middle East.

Obama’s Beneficiaries: Russia, Cuba and Iran

I read today that we’re to start negotiating Russia’s position in eastern Ukraine. Coming on the heels of Obama’s decision to open up to Cuba and recent remarks about how Obama would like to normalize our relations with Iran, we now know who has benefited most from Obama’s foreign policy: Russia, Cuba and Iran. That all three nations are enemies of the United States is not a bug in Obama’s policy: it is a feature.

To an academic liberal like Obama – ie, someone ignorant of the actual history of the world – these nations aren’t really our enemies. They were forced into opposing us because of our wrong-headed, racist and imperialist policies. Had we just not been rat bastards to these people in days gone by, they would be our friends. Obama has set out to correct this problem – and true to liberal prescriptions, the solution is for us to surrender…because by doing so we are merely surrendering our ill-gotten gains. Once such surrender is consummated, these so-called enemies will be our friends and partners in making a better world.

For Cuba, the enmity stems from our support for corrupt and cruel governments of the past, made worse by our embargo and other oppressive measures. For Iran, it was because we – all by ourselves, with no Iranian input, at all – overthrew an allegedly democratic Iranian government in the 1950’s. For Russia, it was because we kept trying to push NATO to the east, thus threatening Russia’s security. Had we just backed Castro at the start, helped overthrow the Shah of Iran and kept our nose out of places like Poland and Estonia, all would be well. Obama is going to fix all this – and any of us who point out the absurdity of it all will just be put down as old-fashioned, racist hate-mongers who want enemies so we can get defense contracts, or some such nonsense.

In the end, what Obama will actually do – though he and liberals like him will never understand it – is massively empower bitter enemies of the United States, much to the detriment of freedom in the world and America’s position in it. Cuba’s communist regime will get a new lease on life – and China better watch out because ruthlessly exploited Cubans can make cheap consumer goods just as well as ruthlessly exploited Chinese, and as they are much closer to the United States, the price will be less for Cuban crap than for Chinese crap. Russia will gain recognized dominance over most of its old Empire…and will try to push outwards more and more. Iran will become predominant in the Middle East and pressure will mount ever higher for us to cut Israel adrift rather than try to fight all of Islam to save her (our liberals grow to hate Israel…when push comes to shove, they’ll turn a blind eye to slaughter). Great job there, Barry – Neville Chamberlain got nothing on you.

What it also means is that anyone looking for an alliance won’t look towards us – we’re demonstrating that if you rely on us, you’ll be thrown overboard at the first opportunity. As soon as we find a tyrant who wants something, we’ll hand you over and call it a “reset” of relations. Small, weak nations will now try to make the best deal they can with tyrannies…this will prove especially crucial in places like Vietnam, Taiwan and Philippines…who in any of these nations would actually think in 2014 that an American army or fleet will be on their way when the tigers start to prowl?

Obama’s successor – either fellow nitwit academic Hillary or whomever the GOP nominates – will inherit a world which will be quite a mess. No one who possibly likes us will trust us, no one who hates us will be in any fear. We’ll be quite alone – and rather disarmed as Obama has cut the size of our military dramatically. Adding to the bad news, we’ll be $20 trillion in debt with a lot of short-term notes coming due at a time when interest rates are likely to be rising. I do wonder, seriously, if any of the contenders for the White House really understand what a difficult problem Obama will be leaving them…even if on January 20th, 2017 we’re not in a hot war or actual recession? I think if they did, hardly any of them would make a try for it. We’re going to need someone of the stature of Washington or Lincoln to get us through – someone who will be willing to work themselves to death, just to repair the worst of the damage. It won’t be an Obama-like time of vacations, golf outings and people checking your NCAA brackets.

But, Obama won’t care – he’ll go to his grave believing that he fixed everything. When things go smash – likely after he is out of office – he’ll blame his successors for not being as smart as he was. His acolytes in the MSM will also never question what was done, and will lay all blame on whomever gets stuck with the White House (you sure you really want that, Hillary?). Obama will be rich, well guarded and living among the elite of the elite for the rest of his days…the much poorer people who will have to play in blood and treasure to fix his mistakes won’t even be on his mind.

The Crisis is Worse Than Imagined

Because most of us don’t really understand how far the rot has gone.

Take, for instance, ISIS – recent polling shows that the American people are a bit out in front of the President on fighting those savages.  By and large, Americans are willing to have “boots on the ground” if it means we’re killing the sort of people who behead Americans and sell women into slavery and that is a good, healthy attitude.  It shows that even as late as 2014 after a century of moral degradation, it is possible to get in the range of 47% of the American people wanting to do the right thing. But here’s the kicker – if we were at all in healthy shape, it’d be 90%.  If fighting ISIS doesn’t command respect from everyone except avowed pacifists, then what would?

But, actually, it is worse than that.  Even among those who are ok with the concept of fighting are not, in my view, fully prepared to understand what it means.  It means quite a large number of American soldiers (a million?) there for a very long time (10 years?) completely re-working the entire Middle East (meaning, re-carving it up along genuine ethnic-religious lines so that everyone gets their own sand box with no minorities around for anyone to oppress) and that implies massive population transfers – but before we get to that we’re talking quite a lot of killing of the enemy until the very idea of violent jihad is viewed with horror by everyone in the area.  I don’t think that even those who wish to fight have the moral courage to really carry it out.  Of course, we could bombs away and just massacre people there…but its a certainty that if we went for massive bombing the overwhelming majority of those killed won’t be those needing killing and such action will just provide fuel for those who are causing the trouble.

But what are we to expect?  We’ve got a nation where our ostensible feminists are demanding that college boys get arrested for failure to obtain written permission for sex, while ignoring the massive problem of sexual slavery elsewhere in the world. We’ve got gay rights activists joining anti-Israel groups indifferent to the fact that the only place a gay man is safe in the Middle East is Israel. We’ve got war hawks who propose to use mercenary Islamist “boots on the ground” rather than being willing to call up the required number of American troops. Basically, everyone has gone yellow – and that stems from the lack of any genuine moral foundation for our lives. You’re only as brave, in the end, as the thing you are willing to die for. The Jihadists, say what you will, are prepared to die for what they believe.  Are we?

Yesterday I took it upon myself to be the cold water on Twitter regarding the Hong Kong protests. My view: yeah, it’ll go on for a bit, everyone will be #IStandWithHongKong and then the Chinese government will crack down, and we’ll move on to something else. In the end, too many people make too much money off China for our Ruling Class to really stand up to the Chinese oligarchs. None of us are going to be willing to fight the Chinese government – one could get killed doing that, after all.

While I have a great deal of contempt for those westerners who joined the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War (in the end, the niwits were fighting to impose a Stalinist dictatorship in Spain), I still have a great deal of admiration for their sublime courage.  Coming from safe, prosperous lives in the United States, Britain, France and elsewhere, they gave up their blood for a cause they believed in. Anyone going to raise an International Brigade to help the people of Hong Kong? Go get our girls back in Nigeria? Assist the Kurds?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  And why won’t we? Because we don’t believe in anything enough to really fight for it. Oh, we’ll send our troops in – and they’ll spill their blood a bit and we will, with genuine sincerity, thank them and remember them.  But what about you and me, dear reader? What will we actually do?

Not much. Wring our hands. Make a statement. We won’t show real courage, because we don’t really believe in anything. We have neither the kind of courage which had the Crusaders storm Jerusalem, nor the kind which sent St. Francis with a comrade to try and end the Crusades by converting the Muslims. Godfrey of Bouillon and St. Francis had guts – raw courage; the sort of nerve which understands that courage is an intense desire to live carried out with a supreme indifference to death. We just want to live. With our I-Crap. And our scandal-mongering.

If anyone out there has the courage of Godfrey or St. Francis, then it is time to stand forth. We are doomed if we don’t change – if we don’t become a people with a firm moral basis and a willingness to lose everything we have in defense of core principals (that would be “dogmas” for old-fashioned sorts of people). If we don’t become such people, then we will eventually be conquered by people like that.

UPDATE: Yes, I do sound like a nattering nabob of negativism – and I know there are plenty of people, good and true, who wish to do the right thing. But I am worried about whether or not we, on the whole, can muster the courage to do what is right. And for you liberals out there, keep in mind that it covers you, as well. I used the examples of Godfrey and St. Francis on purpose…the former went to drive a sword in as far as it would go; the latter went to convert by love and example. Both took courage – both took an absolute belief in certain, fixed moral principals. We have got to be willing to say to the world, “here is what we absolutely believe in, all of us: and we will brook no opposition from anyone beyond this point”.

Obama’s Non-War

The usual course of action is that when the guns go off, we citizens are to rally ’round the flag and back our forces in the pursuit of victory. But that is a bit impossible right now – Obama and his Administration are telling us, over and over, that this isn’t a war. That we’ll be bombing the heck out of things and that lots of people will die horrific, violent deaths at our hands doesn’t count: per Obama and Co, war is only in existence is U.S. troops are on the ground doing the fighting.

So, no war – and thus no rallying ’round the flag. And even if we decided – correctly – that Obama and Co are just full of “stuff” and that this is a war so we’d better rally anyways, what would we be rallying for? Not for victory, because there can be no victory in this non-war. Its not like the enemy commander can offer to surrender to a drone. We’ll bomb a lot and kill a lot of people and this will help those who are fighting the people we’re bombing – and that, in turn, might lead others to victory. A Kurdish victory would be ok, as the Kurds seem a lot of very decent people – but it could also lead to Assad’s victory in Syria and Iran’s victory in Iraq; not exactly ideal outcomes for us. It could also lead to victory for non-ISIS, non-Assad forces in Syria, this might not work out well, either. Let’s just say I have my doubts about Administration assurances that they can pick the non-Islamist-screwball forces in Syria for us to back.

We can also get the worst of all worlds – we blow a lot of stuff up and kill a lot of people with attendant video showing what a bunch of hideous war criminals we are but after all that, Assad still rules his part of Syria, ISIS still rules vast tracts of Syria and Iraq and Iran has secured itself the part of Iraq it cares about (ie, Baghdad plus the oil fields). That sort of outcome is made doubly bad because if ISIS survives in any form, it will become the Islamist hero as it stood up to us, endured a pounding and emerged from the welter of slaughter with victory. Of course, all of this won’t fully come out until after Obama leaves office, so he probably doesn’t care in the least about it, even if he’s aware of the possibility.

This whole thing is the terribly bad decision of a man – Obama – who knows nothing of history, nothing of the world and yet sits assured that he’s the smartest guy in the room. I hope it works out – and I hope our losses are small. But the rule of thumb for war is that you either go all in, or stay all out. Our choices for ISIS were two:

1.  Go all out to war against them until they are all killed or taken, regardless of cost.

2.  Surrender to them and allow them to do as the wish.

Either course of action can have rational arguments to back them up. We have failed to choose between them – we’re just going to bomb a bit and hope for the best. I believe we will be disappointed – and maybe in a vastly worse geo-strategic situation two or three years from now.

UPDATE: Reeling from criticism about us not being at war, the Administration has decided we are at war with ISIS, just as we are against al-Qaeda. Meaning? I guess that six years from now ISIS will be around and a threat, just as al-Qaeda is still around and a threat after six years of Obama…

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.