Closing Thought–28Apr17

Speaking Of Russia!

Did You Say Comintern?

No!  I said “Crimintern”….and it has nothing to do with the Communist International (COMINTERN)….

  • Over the past 20 years, the role of Russian organised crime in Europe has shifted considerably. Today, Russian criminals operate less on the street and more in the shadows: as allies, facilitators and suppliers for local European gangs and continent-wide criminal networks.
  • The Russian state is highly criminalised, and the interpenetration of the criminal ‘underworld’ and the political ‘upperworld’ has led the regime to use criminals from time to time as instruments of its rule.
  • Russian-based organised crime groups in Europe have been used for a variety of purposes, including as sources of ‘black cash’, to launch cyber attacks, to wield political influence, to traffic people and goods, and even to carry out targeted assassinations on behalf of the Kremlin.
  • European states and institutions need to consider RBOC a security as much as a criminal problem, and adopt measures to combat it, including concentrating on targeting their assets, sharing information between security and law-enforcement agencies, and accepting the need to devote political and economic capital to the challenge.

Source: Crimintern: How the Kremlin uses Russia’s criminal networks in Europe | European Council on Foreign Relations

Keep in mind that this group, the ECFR, will be a anti-Russian think tank….it will echo anything the Western powers want to use to influence others…..

Thanx for your time today on IST….I must shut down the keyboard until the morrow…..peace out, my friends……chuq

Where Is The “Political Will”?

Every politician that has to stand up and make a political speech has in one way of the other promised to end the wars in the Middle East in one fashion or another.  But is there a political will to end these conflicts?

As long as the M-IC is in control there will be NO end to these conflicts……the pursuit of profit overrides all else…….

As US sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime have failed to end the war in Syria, the international community must exercise the political will to do so—and, in the meantime, establish safe zones that would put civilians out of harm’s way, according to two members of the Syrian Civil Defense (SCD), also known as the White Helmets.

“The sanctions are not having the intended effect of stopping the war,” said Jehad Mahameed, a liaison officer for the SCD. Manal Abazeed, a volunteer with the White Helmets, called for world leaders, particularly US President Donald Trump, to exercise “the political will to stop this conflict.”

Source: “Political Will” Needed to End War in Syria | RealClearDefense

But let us look at Trump’s Middle East……..

The Trump administration has performed a variety of policy somersaults in the Middle East. One day it opposed intervention in Syria. Then it intervened. When it came to Israel, candidate Trump pledged a neutral policy. Then, as president, he embraced Israel for a few weeks before returning to a more detached approach. Where will it all head?

Today the Center for the National Interest hosted two eminent Middle East experts to discuss the new administration’s options and outlook in the region. Philip Gordon, now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, was Barack Obama’s White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region. Before that, he served as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs. Michael Singh, now the managing director and Lane-Swig Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was senior director for Middle East Affairs in George W. Bush’s National Security Council. Before that, he served as special assistant to Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. Geoffrey Kemp, the Center’s senior director for regional security as well as a former special assistant to Ronald Reagan and NSC senior director for Near East and South Asian Affairs, moderated the event.

Source: Trump’s Middle East | The National Interest

There will be NO end to these conflicts….for Trump has entered the world of the war hawk and once entered there is NO turning back.

To be fair we cannot blame Trump for these situations….NO it is a bi-partisan effort to continue war at any cost…….

After all the musings that Donald J. Trump fails the “presidential” test, he joined the tradition that confirms leadership stature: CNN’s most “serious and reasonable” foreign policy pundit, Fareed Zakaria soberly intoned that, after bombing Syria, Trump “became president of the United States”.

Trump’s 59 Tomahawk missiles, killed seven (including four children), injured nine, was accompanied by a near-universal repetition of an “atrocity” cover-story, No investigation was required before all corporate media (major newspapers, CNN, MSNBC and Fox) sang in unison. Endless “outrage” over dozens of Syrian deaths due to some sort of poisoning that may (or may not) be sarin gas and seems far more likely to have been either an accidental destruction of a warehouse or done by the terrorists groups Assad that recently beat back—ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusrun (who are supposed to be U.S. enemies, too).

Source: Bipartisan Wars R’ US – LA Progressive

The US seems to never learn from its mistakes in war…..NEVER……

Wars begin with political motives and end with political arrangements. Following the wisdom of Carl von Clausewitz, Nadia Schadlow begins War and the Art of Governance by observing that “Success in war depends on the consolidation of political order, which requires control over territory and the hard work of building local governmental institutions.” Countering the contemporary view, Schadlow tells us that this has not been principally an interagency effort but an important mission for the United States Army. In her accounting, in war after war, the United States Army and its partners have been faced not only with stability operations but also the hard task of governance “to shape the political outcome of the war.”

Source: Lessons Unlearned: War, Occupation, and Governance | World Affairs Journal

(Insert Einstein quote here)

Misadventures In Paradise

Since the discovery of oil and its importance to nations there has been many adventures into the Middle East and in all that time none have actually considered the outcome of any meddling…..that is what happens when you chase profits.

Yep, America has been sticking its nose into the region for many decades and in all that time no one has ever understood the region therefore all of our intervention has been nothing more that one misadventure after another….

The American Conservative takes a look at the region and our interventions…..

“From now on,” President Donald Trump declared in his inaugural address, “it’s going to be only America first, America first!” If so, no region stands to be more affected than West Asia and North Africa—what Americans call “the Middle East.” America’s interests there are now entirely derivative rather than direct. They are a function of the self-appointed roles of the United States as the warden of world order, the guarantor of other nations’ security, the shepherd of the world economy, and the custodian of the global commons. If America is now to look out only for itself, it has little obvious reason to be much involved in the Middle East.

The United States is a secular democracy. It has no intrinsic interest in which theology rules hearts or dominates territory in the Middle East. It is not itself now dependent on energy imports from the Persian Gulf or the Maghreb. For most of the two-and-a-half centuries since their country was born, Americans kept a healthy distance from the region and were unharmed by events there. They extended their protection to specific nations in the Middle East as part of a global struggle against Soviet communism that is long past. What happens in the region no longer determines the global balance of power.

Source: America’s Misadventures in the Middle East | The American Conservative

Many wish that we could claim a victory in our adventurism….sadly we cannot….most of today’s problems can be seen through the eyes of Lebanon in the 1980’s……

We should take a step back and re-think of war in the Middle East…..for the scorecard today is not good……

Make no mistake: after 15 years of losing wars, spreading terror movements, and multiplying failed states across the Greater Middle East, America will fight the next versions of our ongoing wars. Not that we ever really stopped.

Sure, Washington traded in George W. Bush’s expansive, almost messianic attitude toward his Global War on Terror for Barack Obama’s more precise, deliberate, even cautious approach to an unnamed version of the same war for hegemony in the Greater Middle East.

Sure, in the process kitted-up 19 year-olds from Iowa became less ubiquitous features on Baghdad’s and Kabul’s busy boulevards, even if that distinction was lost on the real-life targets of America’s wars—and the bystanders (call them “collateral damage”) scurrying across digital drone display screens.

Source: How to Lose the Next War in the Middle East | War Is Boring

This is not the first time that I have called for a fresh approach to the Middle East…..old school solutions have done nothing but waste lives, equipment and money for decades.

Every question that can be answered must be answered or at least engaged. Illogical thought processes must be challenged when they arise.Wrong answers must be corrected.Correct answers must be affirmed. —From the Erudite faction manifesto

Afghanistan: Land Of The Proxy

My old farts that visit IST will remember the days of yore, 1979, when the USSR entered Afghanistan…..I use “old farts” because few seem to want to remember that we have been doing “business” in Afghanistan for over 25 years.

The USSR entered neighboring Afghanistan in 1979, attempting to shore up the newly-established pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. In short order, nearly 100,000 Soviet soldiers took control of major cities and highways. Rebellion was swift and broad, and the Soviets dealt harshly with the Mujahideen rebels and those who supported them, leveling entire villages to deny safe havens to their enemy. Foreign support propped up the diverse group of rebels, pouring in from Iran, Pakistan, China, and the United States.

It was a proxy war between the USSR and the US and the people of Afghanistan were caught in the middle of the 9 years of death and destruction……The US armed the opposition to the Russian occupation and today it appears that Russia is arming the opposition to the American occupation…..

The Afghan War is going extremely poorly, 16 years in, and the US military needs someone to blame for its failures. The first choice among a lot of top military figures seems to be Russia, and while they offer no evidence to back up their claims, several have alleged that Russia might conceivably be arming the Taliban.

US commandeer Gen. John Nicholson appeared to be joining that camp today during comments in Kabul, complaining about the “malign influence” of Russia in the country, and insisting that he was “not refuting” allegations of Russia shipping weapons to the Taliban.

(antiwar.com)

I bring all this up because there seems to be another proxy war between Russia and the US brewing…..and yes Afghanistan will be caught in the middle once again.

If recent developments are any indication, Russia is becoming increasingly focused on and active in Afghanistan. The Russian government has held several consultations with Tajikistan on expanding security cooperation on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border and has explored increasing the scope of its Central Asian military bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). It has also increased its diplomatic engagement with the Taliban and, according to Afghan and U.S. officials, may even be providing security assistance to the group. Long a consideration for Russia, Afghanistan is growing in importance to Moscow at both the tactical and strategic levels. And as it does, it is becoming an increasingly important theater for the U.S.-Russia competition.

Source: Afghanistan: The Next Big U.S.-Russia Proxy Battle | RealClearDefense

This is what the US and Russia are very good at doing……using proxies so they do not have to get their hands dirty….as it were……

Russia is a great power that retains muscle memory (and a strategic arsenal) from its past superpowerdom. In the Ukraine and Syria, Russia has challenged the United States—its former peer and a hesitant hegemon in decline—through direct military interventions. Additionally, Moscow has impressively deployed hybrid warfare tactics to create the perception that it has influenced the U.S. presidential election and forged a rift between the incoming commander-in-chief and elements of the U.S. intelligence community.

Surprisingly, Afghanistan is emerging as another arena in which Moscow is pointedly working at odds with Washington’s interests. Indeed, recent moves by Russia now represent a pivot toward Afghanistan, posing a set of challenges that have been unanticipated by U.S. observers of the region. The incoming Trump Administration ought to be aware of Russia’s newfound assertiveness vis-à-vis Afghanistan, both in the threats it poses as well as the potential opportunities it may present.

Source: Russia Returns to Afghanistan | The National Interest

What is left to say….some tactics never change….and that could very well be the problem.

There is one more thing to say…..

Mattis did meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and offered the same assessment that US officials have been offering on the Afghan War for the past 16 years, that it’s “going to be a tough year” in Afghanistan, and that the US appreciates the major problems facing the country.

There you have same song, different year.

After I wrote this draft another Afghan story came to my attention……

The use of a large conventional bomb against an Afghan tunnel complex occupied by Islamic State militants recently captured the media’s imagination. Talking heads rushed to discern the meaning of the decision. Was it President Donald Trump sending a message to North Korea? Was the president even involved in the decision? It turns out that he wasn’t.

The U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, says he ordered the use of the MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Burst Bomb, known colloquially as the “mother of all bombs”) for purely tactical reasons: “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles.” The jubilation expressed by U.S. media in purely tactical destruction, however, sent a strategic message to some Afghans: that the United States considers their country a collection of targets to destroy rather than a country with a history and, hopefully, a future. A senior pro-government political analyst in Kabul whom I have known for decades points out that even if the Islamic State flees the area, the government’s weakness means the Taliban, who pose a greater threat to the government, will fill the vacuum.

Source: It’s Much Bigger Than Afghanistan: U.S. Strategy for a Transformed Region

The song is FAR from over!

It’s Looking A Lot Like “Groundhog Day”

I am referring to our wars of conquest of those barbaric groups AQ and ISIS…..

We have been fighting one or the other for about 20 years…the other is a fairly recent add to the War on Terror…..

The problem is that we keep doing the same thing over and over and spinning our wheels in the process….kinda like the movie “Ground Hog Day”…..only with guns, bombs, death and destruction.

The current situation in Syria reminds us again that we are failing in our post-9/11 wars. We have accomplished neither the strategic objectives set forth by the Bush administration nor those of the Obama administration. Both administrations have had notable successes and achieved periodic tactical and operational progress, but neither created sustained strategic success. The jury on the current administration is still out, but on the campaign trail the President suggested we can defeat ISIS with military force alone—bombing the *@#! out of them. To put it kindly, this approach misses the mark. America has led a concerted leadership decapitation campaign against both al Qaeda and ISIS for a decade and a half. Such a campaign is necessary, but not sufficient. How much longer will we take this approach before we learn that we are waking up to the same day over and over again?

Source: U.S. Strategy for al Qaeda and ISIS: It’s Groundhog Day | RealClearDefense

I keep waiting for all those brilliant minds in the government to come up with something new and innovative…..so far there is NOTHING new under the table at the Pentagon.

And this new administration is definitely not the group to end this war with a victory….they, like their predecessors, are nothing more the hammer to help the M-IC nail down massive profits with NO intention of ever ending this gravy train.

Libya: What To Do?

Libya has been in the news, not so much in the US but the rest of the world is watching, at every turn the news is that ISIS is taking it in the butt…..however the divisions among the different factions is still a kettle at boiling point.

But let’s say the shooting is over and Libya becomes a calm region….but what would be the government that would protect this calm?

Well there is the typical answer when dealing with the Arab world….a federal government.

I say typical because it has been proposed for two other countries at war….Iraq and Syria……(check out the proposals)

Source: How About a Federalized Iraq? – In Saner Thought

Source: The Partition Of Syria – In Saner Thought

And now there is talk of a partitioning of Libya…..

History repeats itself, it is often said. The strife facing modern-day Libya—strife largely born of and fueled by internal, sometimes tribal divisions—is only the latest iteration in a longstanding pattern. As the Italians discovered during their colonization of Libya, and as ISIS discovered when it conquered Sirte, and as the international community has recently discovered in a multitude of ways, Libya is a deeply divided country. Without a real approach to that reality—including perhaps creating a confederal model for Libya—Libyans themselves will continue to be their own worst enemies.

Source: A house divided: Why partitioning Libya might be the only way to save it | Brookings Institution

This idea was floated by an adviser of Trump…one Gorka….Politico covered his proposal written on a napkin…..

Dear Dr. Gorka,

So I hear you’re interested in being Donald Trump’s envoy to Libya. You even sketched a plan on a napkin to partition the country. The plan would divide Libya into three provinces that date back to the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, and thereby solve Libya’s current crisis. If it were only that simple.

Source: So You Want to Partition Libya … – POLITICO Magazine

Some, like myself, do know think that partitioning is the answer….it is not a good idea for Iraq nor Syria….and Libya fits into that disapproval nicely…..

In their final communique at the end of their two-day meeting in Italy on April 10, the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven yet again expressed their unequivocal support of the Libyan political agreement and its transitional government headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, while calling on all armed groups in the Libyan capital to “desist from actions that would exacerbate internal division and fuel further conflict.”

What is worth noting in the statement on Libya is the clear expression of support to the country’s territorial integrity and unity, which clearly rejects any idea of a possible breakup of the country as a way of stabilizing it, since its quarreling factions have failed to accept any form of a political solution. The statement read, “We reaffirm our commitment to preserving the sovereignty, integrity and unity of Libya.”
Libya will have its problems after the hostilities….but breaking the country up is NOT the best answer.

6 Of One And A Half Dozen Of The Other

Every American knows how barbaric ISIS can be and that AQ was the bastards that lead to the 9/11 attack and the horrific actions since that fateful day…..

Our troops are fighting both organizations at the same time……all across the world ISIS and AQ affiliates are attacking and killing…..

But “what if” the two terror groups started working together and coordinate their attacks?

The leader of so-called ‘Islamic State’ (IS) has spoken to al Qaeda about a ‘possible alliance,’ according to Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi. The talks come as Iraqi troops close in on IS fighters in the city of Mosul.

Allawi told the Reuters news agency in an interview on Monday that he had the information from Iraqi and regional contacts knowledgeable about Iraq that “the discussion has started now.”

“There are discussions and dialogue between messengers representing [IS leader Abu Bakr] Baghdadi and representing [the head of al Qaeda, Ayman] al Zawahiri,” he said.

It is unclear how the two groups would work together, Allawi said.

Source: ′IS′ in talks with al Qaeda on ′possible alliance′ – report | News | DW.COM | 18.04.2017

Right now the talks are for Iraq and Syria….but if that is a success would that lead to a worldwide affiliation?

This is something that our counter-terrorism boys and girls should keep a close eye on this situation for this could lead to a much more dangerous world…..of course it could be just a ploy to make sure that the resources and cash keep flowing for years to come.

Any thoughts?