Closing Thought–12Jan18

Pres. Kennedy back in the day organized and established the US Peace Corps and since the 60’s this group has done some amazing work….helping people in the Third World from everything from agriculture to water purification…..

Recently the Peace Corps had a tragedy when one of its own died because of lack of medical care in China….the Senate has taken up this to try to see that this never happens again….

U.S. Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.) today introduced legislation to reform the Peace Corps. The Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018 would improve access to medical care for volunteers, strengthen accountability and oversight, and enhance procedures to reduce the risk of crime in the countries in which volunteers serve. The legislation is named in honor of Nick Castle, of Brentwood, Calif., who lost his life at age 23 due to inadequate health care while serving in China in 2013. It was later determined by the inspector general that flaws in medical care and the response to his illness contributed to his death. Nick would have turned 28 today.

“Very simple steps would have saved Nick’s life,” said Sue and David Castle, the parents of Nick Castle. “As parents, we have worked for legislation to ensure this never happens to another family, and we believe this legislation will make the changes that are needed. Nick wanted to make a difference in this world, but he didn’t have time to do that. We hope with the passing of this legislation that he can make a true lasting impact on the Peace Corps.”

My day has come to an end….please have a good evening and be well and safe…..chuq

Say Good-bye To The Caliphate

Last year ISIS was meeting there end…..their doom was sealed….they are no longer a caliphate….but does that mean that ISIS is winding down?

Not at all……look for them to change their tactics…..

Its much-vaunted caliphate has gone, crushed by the might of Russian, Syrian and US warplanes, Iran-backed militias, Kurdish forces and armies launched by Damascus and Baghdad. But while 2017 might have seen the end of Islamic State’s dream of ruling over its twisted vision of an ideal society, the year ended with an ominous sign that its deadly international campaign against the many people and faiths it sees as spiritual foes has gathered new energy.

Last Thursday, dozens of civilians in Kabul were killed in a suicide attack that targeted a Shia cultural centre in the Afghan capital. The assault was the latest in persistent attacks by an affiliate of Isis, which has proved to be resilient despite a relentless campaign against it in recent months.

Is it possible that ISIS could crawl its way back to the forefront?

The past year has witnessed a dramatic reversal of fortunes for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, which suffered a stunning series of defeats in its former strongholds.

From Mosul to Hawija in Iraq, and from Raqqa to al-Bab in Syria, ISIL has been driven from key territory, leaving the group’s expansive vision of a caliphate in tatters. To date, more than 98 percent of the areas it previously held have been retaken, and more than seven million Syrians and Iraqis have been freed from the group’s control, according to the US-led coalition battling ISIL.

Even with the demise of the caliphate ISIS is still a player in terrorism as well as AQ….so basically the jihadist wars are on an endless loop…….

Of course the neocons will preach that these wars need to be endless to protect the homeland….the American Conservative has written on this subject……

A disturbing exchange occurred during the Jamestown Foundation’s 11th annual conference on terrorism at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. last month. Bruce Hoffman, director of Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies, was asked if he thought Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s newly announced domestic reforms would include an effort to rein in the Wahhabi clerics who have been fanning the flames of Islamist radicalism for years.

Hoffman, an expert on the subject, replied that it really didn’t matter much anymore because Wahhabi teachings had taken on a life of their own throughout vast stretches of the globe, and Saudi action or inaction probably wouldn’t affect the course of that movement.

Finally does diplomacy have a place in the War on Terror?

Declarations from US Presidents since WWII have championed values as the linchpin for US national security and foreign policy, however, current Secretary of State Tillerson has been a vocal advocate for removing the ‘promotion of democracy’ from State’s mission statement as well as the separation of values and policy.[1]  Moreover, the nascent Trump administration has been open in its chagrin toward the State Department, diplomacy and multilateral fora in particular and has prioritised pursuing “constructive, results-oriented bilateral relations.”[2] This line of thinking is a direct reflection of President Trump’s inauguration speech in which he declared that the US would not impose its values on others.[3]  The Secretary told a meeting of departmental staff in May 2017, that the “fundamental values of freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated” guide US policy, but they “are not our policies.”[4] Tillerson declared that “sometimes values have to take a back seat to economic interests or national security.”[5] The Secretary concluded that “interests come first, and then if we can advocate and advance our values, we should.”[6] This approach raises several questions such as: will the US’s allies and partners follow suit; what will be the long-term outcome of an ‘overt’ separation of interests and values; and more importantly, can diplomacy, the core of Western-led global stabilization efforts, survive the ‘new’ norm?

After a year of the Trump presidency and I still have no idea if he actually has a plan for fighting terrorism….so far he is just letting the Bush/Obama plan play out.  Hopefully Trump will tighten up and have a real plan.

Beach Assault

A hundred years ago the World was ass deep in a deadly conflict….the War To End All Wars…..the Great War….and we know it as World War One…..and as I have been doing for awhile now a history lesson will ensue.

When someone mentions beach assault most people will think of the Normandy landing or the island landings in the Pacific during World War Two……but the first beach landing was not unique to WW2…..a massive beach assault began with WW1 and the battle of Gallipoli in Turkey……

Winston Churchill is widely credited as the man who committed British, French and – above all – untested Australian and New Zealand forces to the ill-fated campaign to seize control of the Dardanelles Straits and western Turkey.  Indeed, although it was Churchill’s drive and aggressiveness – not to mention cunning – which resulted in the campaign actually taking place, the notion of capturing the Turkish Dardanelles Straits had long been given consideration.

It was widely believed however – at least in professional circles – that a purely naval attempt to win the Straits was bound to end in failure.

The Value of the Straits

But why attempt the Straits in the first place?  The answer lay in the great strategic value control would give the Entente Powers.  The Straits linked the Mediterranean Sea with the Sea of Marmora.  This not only gave ready access to the Turkish capital Constantinople and much of the Turkish Empire’s industrial powerhouse, but also provided a lane to the Black Sea.

Unlike the landings in Normandy and the Pacific….Gallipoli was an utter failure that got thousands, 200,000+ to be exact,  killed and wounded for NO gain whatsoever.

“Good Jihadi-Bad Jihadi”

The US has made some horrific decisions when arming counter-insurgents…..for instance back in the 80’s AQ was our friend and we armed them and gave them cash in their fight against the Russians……then AQ brought down the Towers in NYC….

We have 25+ years of bad decisions when dealing with terrorists……

U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter[1] and Ronald Reagan[2] aligned the U.S. with jihadists in Afghanistan against Russia and later gave weapons to Salafi-jihadis allied with Osama Bin Laden[3]. Less than 20 years later, Al Qaeda brought down the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon. Presently the U.S. is bogged down in Syria and continues to make the foreign policy mistake of playing “Good Jihadi-Bad Jihadi.”

Our foreign policy needs to take a good look at our past record….not something that could be called a success….and that will not happen until we have a new president and then the change will be iffy at best… long as the M-IC is in charge we will continue down the road that we began all those years ago.

Is Sudan Next?

AS an analyst of conflict I am always on the outlook for the next possible conflict that could drag the US into participation……after reading various reports and watching situations the possibility of Sudan as the next region of conflict…..

My friends at Middle East Monitor has issued a warning….

With the recall of Sudan’s Ambassador from Egypt, the closure of the Eritrean Border and a recent visit by Turkey’s President in which a Turkish takeover of a strategic island port fuelled uncertainty, it is safe to say that Sudan has moved closer than ever before to direct military conflict with its neighbours. The country now finds itself preparing its strategy to deal with major geopolitical issues facing the region.

The relative calm was arguably first disturbed by the Sudanese President’s visit to Sochi on 23 November last year, where he met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Omar Al-Bashir’s brief encounter set off a chain of reactions adding disquiet to the already tense atmosphere between his country and Egypt, and served to worry Sudan’s neighbours across the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia.

I will keep an eye on this situation.