Closing Thought–15Dec17

Most everyone knows that the US has been stuck in Afghanistan for almost 17 years now….and it appears that another western nation will follow in our footsteps.

France followed in our footsteps back in the 1700’s and had a revolution that got rid of a monarchy and brought about democracy and liberty….although their transition was are violent than ours….but 5 years ago they took upon themselves to go to Mali to fight terrorists  and now they are stuck…or so it would seem…..

In a recent editorial in Le Monde, French journalist Christophe Ayad draws disturbing parallels between the French military operations in Mali — which will reach their five-year mark in January — and America’s involvement in Afghanistan. At first glance the comparison is compelling, and in some important ways, accurate. Yet these two interventions present some fundamental differences that make the Afghanistan case likely more intractable than Mali’s, and give reason for optimism in France.

Ayad’s argument relates to the course of the wars and the apparent bind in which the American and French militaries now find themselves. Ayad observes that in both cases a lightning offensive gave way to a grinding counter-insurgency. In neither case can one now discern an alternative to continuing indefinitely to pay in blood and treasure to prop up governments that frequently act in ways contrary to good sense or good strategy. One can, in fact, blame those governments, as many critics do, but Ayad insists on Western militaries’ fundamental inability to do what they’re being asked to do in countries like Afghanistan and Mali. They have, he argues, neither “the mandate, the vocation, nor, finally, the qualifications for reconstructing the States in which they are intervening.” They “no longer know what to do” and have to choose between hunkering down in bunkers to prevent useless losses while becoming an army of occupation, or conducting raids to intimidate the enemy but risk accidents and ambushes like that which took the life lives of four American soldiers in Niger in October. Winning “hearts and minds” through civil-military engagements is supposed to be a third option, but, Ayad asserts, this is not really the job of soldiers, “as we saw in Afghanistan, where dozens of billions of dollars were spent for nothing.”

https://warontherocks.com/2017/12/mali-is-frances-afghanistan-but-with-a-difference/

Hopefully the French will not have to endure the decades of war….they did that back in the 50-650’s and it ended their overseas colonies for good.

That be it for me and my pen…..the that writes moves on and so shall I…..see you guys tomorrow hopefully it will be  better day….chuq

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Foreign Policy Round-Up–Dec2017

I realize that it is that time of year where people like to think of peace and good will toward men….well that is not happening…..while we are wishing people the best of the season the rest of the world is going to crap…..so you feelings of goodwill mean nothing in the larger scheme of things.

Let me give you the rundown of what is happening during your lapse into a joyous season……..

1–ISIS-AQ Conflict……

After a more than four-year absence, Jund al-Islam (JAI) has returned to the forefront in Sinai, marking a new chapter in the fierce conflict between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (Daesh, ISIL, ISIS). The group published an audio recording in which it took credit for an attack targeting ISIS affiliates in Sinai known as Wilayat Sinai (WS). Jund al-Islam deemed them Kharitjites or those that defected from the group, and demanded that WS leaders turn themselves in. This attack raises many questions related to the sudden timing of Jund al-Islam’s emergence, its relationship with al-Qaeda, and the likely impact of the renewal of old hostilities between Wilayat Sinai and Jund al-Islam.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2017/11/30/a_new_chapter_in_the_conflict_between_al-qaeda_and_isis_112700.html

Libya has not made the news lately….let me catch you up……….

When the Obama administration led a 2011 NATO military intervention on behalf of rebels seeking to overthrow Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi, there was considerable optimism that the move would produce a much better country. Although U.S. officials and their media cheerleaders acknowledged that significant challenges remained for a post-Qaddafi Libya, they argued that the outcome could scarcely be worse than the oppressive status quo. Events over the past six years have proven their assumptions spectacularly wrong. Libya is now a cauldron of turmoil and Islamic radicalism.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/libya-failed-state-its-americas-fault-23325

Syria has some dealings with the peace process and as usual the US is not there…..

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Sochi on Tuesday to discuss efforts to end the Syrian civil war. The presidents of Iran and Turkey are scheduled to meet Putin on Wednesday as Russia promises to scale back its military presence in Syria and push for a diplomatic solution.
https://www.usip.org/publications/2017/11/will-russian-peace-efforts-pay-syria

But wait there is more……

As 2017 comes to a close, the warring parties in Syria are moving towards reconciliation—but the U.S. is not among them.

The Islamic State is all but defeated, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies are now closing in on the few remaining pockets occupied by other extremists, and Iranians, Russians, and Turks are mapping out the peace to come.

Then there’s America. Donald Trump may have hinted at changes up his sleeve, but he’s treading the same tired path as his predecessor on Syria.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/in-syria-mideast-peacemaking-is-no-longer-made-in-america/

The aftershocks of the combat deaths of four U.S. special operations soldiers in Niger on Oct. 4 are still shaking the Pentagon two months later.

The deaths prompted a familiar refrain from the American public: “Why are we there?” This expected, if fair, question reminds us of the precisely opposite question asked about Afghanistan after the shock of 9/11: “Why aren’t we there?”

To be there or not to be there? Either way you answer, you’ll find risk.

The devastating ambush in west Niger occurred on the 24th anniversary of another bloody day in modern military history. The Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia occurred on the third and fourth day of October 1993, leaving 18 American soldiers dead and 73 wounded. This ambush also triggered surprise, then outrage, then investigation — the “why are we there?” inquiry. As the grim tactical details of this mission-gone-bad come to light, a broader strategic question looms: Where exactly does the United States need to project power abroad to prevent strategic surprise?

https://warontherocks.com/2017/12/playing-zone-defense-niger-risk-vs-reward-remote-operations/

Now to Afghanistan……

President Ashraf Ghani looks set to mobilize a new 20,000-strong militia to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. The story of militias loyal to his former running mate and current vice-president, Abdul Rashid Dostum, should give him pause. Many of Dostum’s former commanders, who were armed to fight the Taliban, are now joining both the Islamic State and the Taliban.

Such defections are hardly the exception. Militias, once mobilized, are hard to disarm. When resources dwindle, they often seek new patrons and switch sides. By mobilizing a new force Ghani risks reinforcing, over time, the ranks of the very enemy he hopes to defeat. Today’s allies risk becoming tomorrow’s insurgents.

https://warontherocks.com/2017/12/afghanistan-todays-pro-government-militias-tomorrows-insurgents/

There is so much more….there is always more……to be continued in another post…..chuq

Will There Be War With North Korea?

Lots of rhetoric between Fearless Fosdick and Li’l Kim…..I am sure that everyone reading IST is well aware of the situation between the US and North Korea…..but with all the rhetoric is there anyone that thinks this will spiral beyond the rhetoric?

Looks like the Chinese are taking all the threats as the possibility of a war……why?

With a conflict on the Korean Peninsula looking increasingly possible, China is reportedly preparing. The country is said to be laying the groundwork for refugee camps for thousands of prospective migrants along Jilin province’s border with North Korea, reports the New York Times, citing a document produced by a state-owned telecom company. The China Mobile document describes recent inspections of five planned refugee camps—in the cities of Tumen and Hunchun and three villages in Changbai County—for the purposes of verifying Internet access there. Though China’s government hasn’t confirmed the plan, a local businessman tells the Times that temporary housing is already under construction on state-owned land.

The camps were ordered “because the situation on the China-North Korea border has intensified lately,” according to the China Mobile document, which was shared last week on microblogging site Weibo before it was deleted, per the Telegraph. In an exchange erased from the official transcript of a press briefing on Monday, a rep for China’s Foreign Ministry said he was unaware of any such plan, per the Guardian. But analysts say China would be foolish not to anticipate such future needs, particularly in an area that lies just 60 miles from North Korea’s main nuclear test site. The Korean Peninsula is “on the brink of war,” a Beijing specialist on North Korea tells the Guardian. “As a major power and a neighboring country, China should make plans for all eventualities.”

But maybe there is a bright light in all this craziness…..what would that be?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the US is ready to talk to North Korea at any time about any subject Pyongyang wants to talk about—without preconditions. “Let’s just meet and let’s talk about the weather if you want and talk about whether it’s going to be a square table or a round table, if that’s what you’re excited about,” Tillerson said in a speech at the Atlantic Council policy forum on Tuesday, per the BBC. “Then we can begin to lay out a map, a road map, of what we might be willing to work towards.” But the US has previously demanded that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons before talks begin, and it’s not clear whether that policy has officially changed, NPR reports.

President Trump’s “views on North Korea have not changed,” the White House said in a statement after Tillerson’s speech. “North Korea’s actions are not good for anyone and certainly not good for North Korea.” Tillerson said that before talks could begin, there would need to be a “period of quiet” without nuclear or ICBM tests. Reuters reports that United Nations political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman, whose trip to North Korea last week was the first of its kind since 2011, said Tuesday that Pyongyang did not commit to talks, but they “left the door ajar” for future negotiations.

Talking is good……but will this ever make it to reality?

With North Korea sending out feelers in recent days about the possibility of direct talks with the US, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson struck a conciliatory tone Tuesday, saying the US is now also ready for talks with North Korea with no preconditions.

The White House apparently wasn’t too happy with that, and today went to a very public point of issuing a correction to Tillerson’s statement, insisting that the US very much is not ready for talks with North Korea.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huakabee-Sanders insisted President Trump’s position on North Korea hasn’t changed,

Fearless Fosdick is a moron that will lead this country into the deep end of the pool.

To answer the question……who the Hell knows?  Since there is no direction from the State Department and a loud mouth president…….anything is possible.

Where The Hell Are The Troops?

I have been writing about the deployment of our military for many years……we have troops basically fighting all over the world…..we have about 800 military bases in 70 countries…..but there is 44,000 troops deployed and no one knows where the Hell they are…..I know….say what?

When the Pentagon wants to mislead the public about where US troops are, generally speaking, they just lie. Yet sometimes the number of troops is just too big to claim as a rounding error, and questions start happening.

This week, the focus is on over 44,000 US military personnel deployed to “unknown,” which immediately raises red flags, because that’s not a place. Pentagon officials, however, say there is “no good way” to describe where they are.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning, on the one hand, presented this as an “operational security” and “denying the enemy any advantage,” including, it seems providing any specifics on who “the enemy” at this point even is.

At the same time, Manning presented this as simply a limitation of the Pentagon’s current capabilities, and that there is literally “no personnel system” in the Pentagon that tracks where everyone is, and they just stick everyone else in “unknown” so the number of troops they officially have balances out with the number of troops deployed in actual, real places.

Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon went a step further, saying that the figures are flat out fiction, and were “not meant to represent an accurate accounting of troops currently deployed to any location. They should not be relied upon for a current picture of what is going on.”

Secretary of Defense James Mattis suggested that the situation was complicated, but also that he wasn’t entirely comfortable with the lack of accounting for troops abroad, saying at some point he was going to try to put everything together and figure out where everyone really is.

(antiwar.com)

Now we will wait to see if someone in the bowels of the Pentagon knows where these troops are…..maybe Fearless Fosdick has an idea…..I mean that moron has knowledge that no one else has……

North Korea And Beyond

We  all know the machismo of Fearless Fosdick and his rhetoric aimed at North Korea and its leader……but has Li’l Kim had to say in the past couple of days……

War on the Korean Peninsula is now inevitable thanks to America’s “confrontational warmongering remarks,” North Korea warned late Wednesday. A statement from the country’s foreign ministry said the outbreak of war is an “established” fact and the only remaining question is when it will happen, Reuters reports. “We do not wish for a war but shall not hide from it, and should the US miscalculate our patience and light the fuse for a nuclear war, we will surely make the US dearly pay the consequences with our mighty nuclear force which we have consistently strengthened,” the statement said.

The statement also slammed US officials including CIA Director Mike Pompeo for “impudently criticizing our supreme leadership, which is the heart of our people.” The statement came as the “Vigilant Ace” military drills involving hundreds of American and South Korean aircraft continued, with a US B-1B supersonic bomber flying over the peninsula Wednesday, the AP reports. The South Korean military said the drill, in which the US bomber simulated land strikes, “displayed the allies’ strong intent and ability to punish North Korea when threatened by nuclear weapons and missiles.” (On Tuesday, a senior UN official visited North Korea for the first time since 2011.)

Everybody involved in this situation has blasted the other……everybody has the idea of what should be done…..and it looks like war could be inevitable….heavy hard words but what is wrong with the US and NK actually talking to each other?

Anyone who says talk is cheap hasn’t tried getting President Trump to talk with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un. Not even the specter of a war that could kill millions of people on the Korean peninsula, Japan and now even the continental United States seems sufficient to push the two leaders into negotiations. Both sides insist on unacceptable preconditions before they will even consider holding formal talks to reach a peaceful settlement.

Successful negotiations might end Washington’s economic sanctions and military preparations against North Korea, but Pyongyang demands that outcome before it even starts talks. Two weeks ago, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, Han Tae Song, said, “As long as there is continuous hostile policy against my country by the U.S. and as long as there are continued war games at our doorstep, then there will not be negotiations.”

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/11/30/whats-wrong-with-talking-to-north-korea/

Talking is far better than bullets…..

The Russians have delivered a message from NK…….

With its nuclear and missile programs having advanced substantially over the past several months, North Korea is now ready for direct nuclear negotiations with the United States, according to a message delivered to US officials by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Details of the plan delivered from Lavrov to Rex Tillerson weren’t totally clear, though in recent weeks North Korea has suggested they envision Russia being involved in any such talks as well. Lavrov says North Korea’s main goal in the talks is security guarantees.

This is unsurprising, as North Korea’s foreign policy seems to be built more or less entirely on the notion that a US invasion could happen at any moment, and they’ve been very public about their nuclear program being designed to deter the US from launching a costly war.

There was no word out of the State Department on any US response to such talks. Though Tillerson has advocated diplomacy with North Korea, they’ve also suggested that any direct talks would require unilateral North Korean disarmament as a precondition.

(antiwar.com)

It appears that talk is cheap but what would the results be if there is no talks?

In a nuclear standoff with North Korea more than two decades ago—long before the reclusive government had atomic weapons that could threaten America—US officials planned for war. Declassified documents published Friday show the United States believed its military and South Korea’s forces would “undoubtedly win” a conflict on the divided Korean Peninsula, with the understanding it would cost many casualties. The Pentagon estimated at the time that if war broke with Korea, some 52,000 American service members would be killed or wounded in the first three months. South Korean military casualties would total 490,000 in that time. And the number of North Korean and civilian lives claimed would be enormous.

Today, with North Korea almost able to directly threaten the US mainland with nuclear strikes, the possibility of conflict looms as it had in 1994. Twenty-three years ago, the stakes were different, reports the AP. At that time, President Bill Clinton’s administration considered a cruise missile strike on a North Korean nuclear complex after it began defueling a reactor that could provide fissile material for bombs for the first time. Former President Jimmy Carter headed off a conflict, meeting with founding North Korean leader Kim Il Sung and helping seal an aid-for-disarmament agreement. The pact endured for nearly a decade, despite frequent disputes and periodic flare-ups on the peninsula. The AP has more.

Do we want a war or do we want a world that is safe from bullies and warmongers?

Do we talk or do we walk?

Is A Second Cold War Coming?

I like political predictions….they are much more interesting than the ones about the end of the world…..this is a off handed prediction about the world in 30 years…..I found it interesting……

After the 19th national congress of the Chinese Communist Party in October, one may discern Premier Xi Jinping’s vision of the emerging New World Order.

By 2049, the centennial of the triumph of Communist Revolution, China shall have become the first power on earth. Her occupation and humiliation by the West and Japan in the 19th and 20th centuries will have become hated but ancient history

America will have been pushed out of Asia and the western Pacific back beyond the second chain of islands, Taiwan will have been returned to the motherland, South Korea and the Philippines neutralized, Japan contained. China’s claim to all the rocks, reefs and islets in the South China Sea will have been recognized by all current claimants.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/buchanan/is-america-up-for-a-second-cold-war/

Now the America First bunch will dispute what this person is seeing…..but any normal person would watch China and their policy…..China is moving slowly but surely and is firming its position up as it goes…..something Fearless Leader should aspire to……

An Alternative Strategy

From time to time I offer up a “what if”….a historic look at events that might have changed the world if a different course had been charted…..this is a fine piece written about the 9/11 attacks and the aftermath…..it makes a bunch of excellent points to consider…..

It is a lengthy article but well worth the time to read…….

You’ve heard the platitude that hindsight is 20/20. It’s true enough and, though I’ve been a regular skeptic about what policymakers used to call the Global War on Terror, it’s always easier to poke holes in the past than to say what you would have done. My conservative father was the first to ask me what exactly I would have suggested on September 12, 2001, and he’s pressed me to write this article for years. The supposed rub is this: under the pressure of that attack and the burden of presidential responsibility, even “liberals” — like me, I guess — would have made much the same decisions as George W. Bush and company.

Many readers may cringe at the thought, but former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has to be taken seriously when she suggests that anyone in the White House on 9/11 would inevitably have seen the world through the lens of the Bush administration. I’ve long argued that just about every Bush-era policy that followed 9/11 was an unqualified disaster. Nevertheless, it remains important to ponder the weight piled upon a president in the wake of unprecedented terror attacks. What would you have done? What follows is my best crack at that thorny question, 16 years after the fact, and with the accumulated experiences of combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/42724-what-if-an-alternative-strategy-for-9-12-2001

I spend a lot of time second guessing our foreign policy establishment…..to me they have not made a good or an accurate decision in 25 years…..and a continuation of an unwinnable war is just what I am referring to……not a good decision in decades.