Wanted Dead Or Alive

Josh Randall hunts the Wild West for those dastards that have broken the law and are wanted so they may pay for their sins…..so goes the story line of a 60’s TV show.  But this time we are not talking the Old West where men were men and sheep ran scared.

This time we are looking for the leader, the caliph, of ISIS…aL-Baghdadi.  As troops zero in on Mosul and the home of ISIS leader it appears that the coward has tucked tale and ran.  He left town dressed as an elderly nun (my assertion not fact).

Did he run to the capital of ISIS, Raqqa?  Does not look as if he did…..for it is being attacked as I type.   He went where all good terrorists go when they are pursued by the US…Afghanistan.

ISIL Caliphate, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, is said to have fled Mosul. ISIL says this is not true and it makes everyone believe he is still there. Though we have never thought of killing individuals, or terrorist leaders, as important compared to refuting their ideas, it is always tempting to see the head of this criminal gang behind bars or being beheaded by one of his many victims.

But the question is: Where did Baghdadi go?

Naturally, a group like ISIL will think of securing its symbol where it has some infrastructure capable of providing a safe refuge to him. The only place that comes to mind is Afghanistan or any geographically inaccessible region in Central Asia.

This should raise again the more important issue of the expansion of terrorist Jihadism in that region. This issue is steadily growing and it is likely that in a decade or two, and so long as global cooperation does not move to this ground fast, we will be talking less about the Middle East and more about Central Asia.

Source: ISIL’s Caliph Left Mosul. Is he Now in Afghanistan? | Middle East Briefing

This could be good news….we have al-Baghdadi cornered like we had AQ’s master mind bin Laden in Afghanistan….oh wait…..we fucked up that gimme.

Al-Baghdadi could be anywhere….he could be a yak herder in southern Uzbekistan or a poppy grower in Afghanistan….no one knows just yet.

So what are the chances that we will get our man?  Or will this be a replay of the bin Laden affair in 2001?  Will it take another decade to “get our man”?

Did anyone notice?

Road Map To Success

WE as a country are fighting many wars around the world….and most of them are with non-state entities…ISIS, Taleban, AQ, et al……..and the way the world is shaking out this will be the future of warfare, at least as it looks today.

Our State Department (what’s left of it) and the Pentagon needs to find a doable strategy for these types of conflicts……

If, as President Obama asserted, “ideologies are not defeated by guns,” but by “better ideas,” then how should the U.S. military be used to help achieve strategic success in the growing number of protracted, irregular conflicts with ideologically-motivated violent non-state actors (VNSAs)? In Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, the Philippines, and many more countries around the globe, VNSAs, motivated by religious, political, ethnic and other status-quo-challenging ideas, have been remarkably resilient, perseverant, and influential. By surviving and rapidly recovering from punishing attacks by the United States and its partners—while continuing to carry out violent agendas against local, regional, and even global adversaries—these VNSAs can credibly claim that they are succeeding strategically. With broad, ambiguous long-term strategic objectives, and an open-ended, evolving path to strategic success, the United States has generally conducted limited military operations intended to disrupt and degrade such VNSAs, followed by the hopeful but indefinite objective of “ultimately defeating” them. In view of the VNSAs’ resilience, persistence, and ideological basis for conflict, the path to strategic success for the United States has remained elusive. Although its military has achieved tactical and operational successes against such adversaries, the U.S. government has struggled to define, much less achieve, strategic success. If military success is not sufficient against ideologically-motivated VNSAs, then how can the United States achieve strategic success and what is the military’s role?

Source: Winning Indefinite Conflicts: Achieving Strategic Success Against Ideologically-Motivated Violent Non-State Actors | Small Wars Journal

Plus we are, as I have said, fighting a multi-domain war……fighting around the world……and this appears to be the way forward for the foreseeable future….we need a plan and we need a good workable plan……

U.S. Army leaders today wrestled with the challenges of equipping and supplying soldiers in what the service sees as a multi-threat battlefield of the future.

To Gen. Gustave F. Perna, the Army has grown too dependent on contractor support to sustain its combat units, a practice that has led to bad habits over the last 15 years of war.

Source: Army Leaders Search for Answers to Multi-Domain Battle | Military.com

What got me on the road to this post was something that I read in the news awhile back…..I watch conflicts around the world and the way they are fought and resolved…..and the report I read was a bit disturbing……

Donald Trump’s administration is considering a military proposal that would designate various undeclared battlefields worldwide to be “temporary areas of active hostility”, the Guardian has learned.

If approved, the Pentagon-proposed measure would give military commanders the same latitude to launch strikes, raids and campaigns against enemy forces for up to six months that they possess in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Source: Pentagon wants to declare more parts of world as temporary battlefields | US news | The Guardian

To my way of thinking this is a free ride to attack and kill with little or no oversight.

As SecState Tillerson made sure to point out……he has made it clear the diplomacy is out of the question….if that is out what then?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that “all of the options are on the table,” including the use of military force, to deal with the threat of North Korea and its ever-escalating weapons program.

Tillerson, making his first trip to South Korea since taking over as America’s top diplomat, visited the demilitarized zone along the border with North Korea on Friday, according to the Associated Press. He said preemptive military action against North Korea, which recently conducted a ballistic missile test, could be necessary if the repressive regime’s weapons program rises to a level “that we believe requires action.”

If diplomacy is a failure then all options are NOT on the table.

You want something to fear then I give you above for a bit of contemplation.

But it will fall on deaf ears….for most are too narrow minded to think past the headline of the day from the “Ignorati”.

Where The Hell Is Belarus?

A professor colleague approached me the other day he had read a paper that I had written years ago about a linch pin that I thought could start a major conflict (link below is a short post I did for IST on this theory)…..

Source: Looking For The Linchpin – In Saner Thought

My friend is an expert on the ex-Soviet Union, he teaches a class on late Russian history….anyway wanted to debate my premise for he thinks that the focal point will indeed be in Eastern Europe but he thinks it will center around Belarus….after about 2 hours of debate we both came away with our theories in n tact…it was a draw.

But he made some excellent points so I decided to do some research on my own……

  • After seven decades as a constituent republic of the USSR, Belarus attained its independence in 1991. It has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than have any of the other former Soviet republics. Belarus and Russia signed a treaty on a two-state union on 8 December 1999 envisioning greater political and economic integration. Although Belarus agreed to a framework to carry out the accord, serious implementation has yet to take place. Since his election in July 1994 as the country’s first and only directly elected president, Aleksandr LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means and a centralized economic system. Government restrictions on political and civil freedoms, freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion have remained in place. The situation was somewhat aggravated after security services cracked down on mass protests challenging election results in the capital, Minsk, following the 2010 presidential election, but little protest occurred after the 2015 election.

Belarus said on Thursday it suspected Russia was trying to restore a formal border zone between the two countries, a move it said flouted agreements on freedom of movement and trade and raised questions about Moscow’s real intent.

Belarus spoke out after the publication of three decrees signed by Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), that ordered border zones to be set up in three Russian regions adjacent to Belarus.

Source: Belarus says suspects Russia trying to restore post-Soviet border | Reuters

During my research I found a good paper written for RealClear……

Tensions between Moscow and Minsk have increased dramatically in the last two years as the countries’ tenuous relationship has deteriorated to the point of a regional crisis that mirrors the events in Ukraine. After Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko began exploring closer relations with the West because of high Russian oil prices, Russian media has ratcheted up an information war designed to spoke fear that Belarus is trying to follow Ukraine in aligning with the West.

Source: Belarus: Rising Fear That Country Will Be the Next Ukraine | RealClearInvestigations

After my research I can see where my friend is coming from….but I still hold to my original premise.

Closing Thought–08Mar17

Live And Let Die–Russian Style

Has anyone else noticed the amount of people around Putin that have died?

There was the dude in London about 10 years ago….then a political opponent was shot dead in Moscow….an associate of Putin died in DC and then there was the political opponent that has been poisoned for the second time….there have been many people drop dead around the Russian…..

When Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s top United Nations envoy, collapsed suddenly from an apparent heart failure recently, it triggered widespread and predictable murmuring about possible foul play. With so many sudden and mysterious deaths at the upper levels of the Russosphere during the Putin years, chiefly among his opponents, it’s no surprise that rumors abound even when a stalwart loyalist like Churkin dies. The actual causes of many of the untimely deaths, like those of Alexander Litvinenko and Boris Nemtsov cases, however, have been considerably less mysterious. Clear assassinations of that kind naturally leave a cloud of suspicion over seemingly innocent but abrupt deaths—and, there have been an inordinate number. Indeed, I noted in a recent column that five prominent Kremlin-linked deaths have occurred in the UK—including Litvinenko, and Alexander Perepilichny whose demise seemed inexplicable until a mysterious Himalayan poison was found in his stomach tissue as this article in The Atlantic explains. All of this might also explain why former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, compiler of the notorious Trump ‘dossier’, went underground in his own country.

Source: Mysterious Circumstances Surrounding Russian Murders, Deaths | World Affairs Journal

I am waging that these will not be the last to expire around Mr. Putin.

Day is done…I am off to see the wizard….have day and see ya tomorrow….chuq

After I wrote this draft more news about deaths has come to the top……

Conspiracy theorists have pointed to a number of recent deaths of Russian diplomats in the past four months.

Russia’s permanent ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, died last month in New York after suddenly becoming ill on his way to work the day before his 65th birthday.

It was initially reported he had suffered a heart attack but an autopsy proved inconclusive.

The Russian Consul in Athens, Andrei Malanin, 55, was found dead on the floor of his apartment in Greece in January. Greek police said there was no evidence of a break-in and he was believed to have died of natural causes.

Russia’s Ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, 67, was reported to have died of heart failure in January after a “brief illness” according to Indian media.

Russian diplomat Sergei Krivov, 63, was found unconscious having suffered severe head injuries at the Russian consulate in New York on US election day.

The Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was assassinated in Ankara by a policeman at a photography exhibition on 19 December and another diplomat, Peter Polshikov, was shot dead in his Moscow apartment on the same day.

Former KGB chief Oleg Erovinkin, who was suspected of helping British spy Christopher Steele draft a dossier on Donald Trump, was found dead in the back of his car last Boxing Day.

(the independent)

Russians are dropping like flies…..

Does Anyone Know What It Says?

Remember the Muslim Ban?

Everyone has an opinion whether it is good or bad….even though the first EO was whacked on the pee pee we have a new one…..the updated version…..I waited a couple of days to see what the chatter would be all about…..

The White House is rolling out its new travel ban after the first one got hung up in the courts. The big difference, as expected, is that Iraq is no longer on the banned list after promising to beef up screening, reports the AP. That leaves six Muslim-majority nations: Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. The new directive, scheduled to take effect March 16, will prohibit new visas from being issued to travelers from those nations for 90 days, but those with current visas won’t be affected. The revised order generally makes more exceptions than the first one, notes the Washington Post, including for those who are permanent legal residents of the US. President Trump signed it Monday, though not in a public ceremony as with the first.

“If you have travel docs, if you actually have a visa, if you are a legal permanent resident, you are not covered under this particular executive action,” adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News on Monday, per CNN. The order also will suspend the nation’s refugee program for 120 days, making exceptions for those already cleared, and it will cap the total number of refugees at 50,000 for fiscal 2017, down about half from last year. So will the narrower scope appease critics? Early reaction suggests not. “The president has said he would ban Muslims, and this revised version—in these preliminary fact sheets—still does that, even if they have removed Iraq from the list,” says the director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

People will debate and argue but really how many know what the EO states?

My guess is….very few…..but I can help with that…..Want to know the difference between Trump’s last executive order and his latest? Data visualization specialist and longtime friend of Just Security, John Emerson, gave us this line-by-line comparison of the two documents. Anything in red is text that was cut from the original order. Anything marked green is new material while white is unchanged text.

Source: A Line-by-Line Comparison Between Trump’s Original Muslim Ban and Today’s | Just Security

The problem is that few see the benefit from this ban…even the American Conservative does not see the need……

Benjamin Wittes acknowledges that the Trump administration made a number of important concessions in its revised travel ban order, but still says this:

To be sure, the new version of the executive order will have consequences—all of them bad. It will keep large numbers of people from six countries out of the United States for no good reason [bold mine-DL]. It will delay resettlement of large numbers of refugees and prevent altogether resettlement in the United States of a smaller number of refugees. As with the earlier version of the executive order, the overwhelming majority of people affected by this one will not be terrorists or even people against whom there is whiff of suspicion. The overwhelming majority of those affected, rather, will be innocent victims of horrific violence and folks who just want to come to the United States for reasons of tourism or business [bold mine-DL]. It’s terrible policy that

Source: The U.S. Doesn’t Benefit from the Revised Ban | The American Conservative

Now go ahead…..debate your butts off!

More Troops For The Fire

As usual an announcement was made that more troops would be sought to throw into the fires around the world….and as usual….NO one noticed.

ABC News is reporting tonight that the Pentagon has been quietly deploying special forces units across the Middle East, particularly in Yemen, and in several nations around Northern Africa, moves seen as a prelude to an escalation in attacks on al-Qaeda and ISIS-linked forces across the region.

Officials say that there is a sense that the Trump Administration is more interested in using special operations’ forces, and that they are particularly interested in attacking al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) targets in Yemen, saying the lack of a functioning government in Yemen justifies more US operations.

Troops around the horn of Africa and elsewhere across the continent’s north are also being deployed, and while the exact details on what they’re going to end up doing aren’t yet clear, those familiar with the situation say the deployed troops expect to “see a lot of action.”

“See a lot of action”….now there is an ominous prediction…..

How to Engage North Korea

In recent weeks there has been an uptick of chest thumping by the GOP and their leader over what is happening in North Korea.

I do not normally keep my attention on the Asia region but there is too much macho bullshit coming from Foggy Bottom.

I a always on the outlook for a problem that could lead to the ultimate use of force…war.  And the language around North Korea is starting to worry me.

The US has depended on sanctions for damn near 30 years now and so far it has done little to change the situation in any way…..maybe it is time for a re-think.

The Trump administration has yet to fill out its foreign policy team—but the international challenges won’t stop. There is broad agreement that North Korea is one of the central problems, if not the biggest challenge, facing the new president.

The government of Kim Jong-un won’t give Washington a break. The latest mid-range missile test was routine, if unwelcome. But the apparent public assassination of Kim’s half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, with deadly VX nerve agent at Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur airport, demonstrates a willingness of the North Korean regime to ostentatiously flout the international sensibilities of friend and foe alike.

Source: How to Engage North Korea | The American Conservative

But since a re-think is probably out of the question…we can always use our stand-by plan……

The Trump Administration, and Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland in particular, are seeking “outside the mainstream” options for dealing with North Korea, according to reports, and that among these options would be attacking North Korea outright.

While the US has kept a large number of troops on North Korea’s border for generations now, but has long centered that deployment on deterrent factor, keeping the two sides, though technically still at war, from too much direct fighting with one another.

McFarland requested multiple options along with the usual one, citing a “fresh series of provocations” from North Korea, including a possible US military attack on North Korea and also the possibility of just recognizing North Korea as a nuclear state.

(antiwar.com)

It is truly sad that there are only two options open to the masters in DC…sanctions and/or war…..

How long?

After writing this draft further NK news has come to light……

North Korea on Monday fired four banned ballistic missiles that flew about 620 miles, with three of them landing in waters that Japan claims as its exclusive economic zone, South Korean and Japanese officials say. The move was an apparent reaction to huge military drills by Washington and Seoul that Pyongyang insists are an invasion rehearsal, the AP reports. It was not immediately clear the exact type of missile fired, but the tests will be viewed as a provocation by the Trump administration in Washington, which is working on its policy for North Korea.

At least one of the missiles landed as close as 190 miles from Japan’s northwest coast, leading Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo to condemn the “extremely dangerous action,” which he noted was clearly in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, Reuters reports. US national security adviser HR McMaster and senior South Korean presidential official Kim Kwan-jin held a phone conversation after the missile firings. The two condemned the launches and agreed to boost cooperation to get the North to face more effective sanctions and pressure, according to South Korea’s presidential office.

North Korea fired four ballistic missiles this morning; they traveled almost 1,000 km towards the Sea of Japan

Time to get serious about North Korea….lip service has accomplished little….time to get serious.