Closing Thought–10Feb17

I apologize for the spotty replies on my part but I have been dealing with a provider that is doing maintenance and the connection has been hit and miss for a couple of days….please bear with me.

In the words of Osama……

Recently the CIA released a massive amount of declassified documents gave an old researched something to do in his spare time…..and then another bonanza for researchers….the release of the works of Osama bin Laden.

After his death in Pakistan the SEALs collected many documents that were valuable intel source…..as a parting shot Obama has released the documents for all to see…..

From Thomas Joscelyn, The Weekly Standard: “The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released 98 additional items from Osama bin Laden’s compound Thursday. If the ODNI has its way, then these files will be the last the American people see for some time. The accompanying announcement is titled, “Closing the Book on bin Laden: Intelligence Community Releases Final Abbottabad Documents.” The ODNI says today’s release “marks the end of a two-and-a-half-year effort to declassify several hundred documents recovered” during the Abbottabad raid. But the total number of files released thus far, including today’s document dump, is just a drop in the bucket compared to what was found in the al Qaeda master’s compound.”

In its last day running the country, the Obama administration has released a final batch of documents once belonging to Osama bin Laden, the AP reports. The 49 documents made public Thursday were part of the hundreds taken during the 2011 raid that led to bin Laden’s death. Intelligence officials have been working for years to declassify them. Despite multiple releases over the past two years, there are believed to be between 100 and 200 documents still classified, according to CNN. It will be up to the Trump administration whether to release them.

The 49 documents released Thursday include letters to and from bin Laden, his mother, and his deputies. They include instructions to multiple sons about how to travel safely and without being detected by enemies, including the CIA, and a rare letter from one of his daughters, who discusses her multiple ailments. The documents show bin Laden arguing with an al-Qaeda splinter group that would become ISIS, whose methods he found “brutal and violent,” the Mirror reports. They also include memos about al-Qaeda “best practices,” complaint boxes, monthly revenues, and an “oversight committee.”

As a person who loves research this will be a valuable resource for me……for those interested in what Osama was thinking and how he was reacting…..

Source: Bin Laden’s Bookshelf

It is the researcher in me…..time to start the weekend…..please everyone thanx for all the visits and comments they are much appreciated….be well, be safe….chuq

In closing how about some classic rock?  5 Hours of sheer joy…..

It’s Iran Again

Iran pretty much fell off the radar there for about a year but then we had an election and the winner has started saying one thing then another….and when you have leaders in DC with nicknames like “Mad Dog” then there has got to be chest thumping about Iran…..

I was taking notes to write this post and then decided I would do it another way because in the last week or so everybody has had an opinion on Iran and how to handle the situation…..

So to make it easier on me and for my readers I will give you links on this issue and you decide what you want to know……get caught up before the fall…..

The Trump administration is exploring ways to break Russia’s military and diplomatic alliance with Iran in a bid to both end the Syrian conflict and bolster the fight against Islamic State, said senior administration, European and Arab officials involved in the policy discussions. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

President Trump’s tough talk on Iran is winning him friends in the Arab world, but it also carries a significant risk of conflict with a U.S. rival that is now more powerful than at any point since the creation of the Islamic republic nearly 40 years ago. – Washington Post

New sanctions that the Trump administration imposed on Friday to punish Tehran’s latest ballistic missile test marked the beginning of what officials called the end of an era in which the United States was “too tolerant of Iran’s bad behavior.” – New York Times

Iran on Saturday began extensive military exercises in a defiant response to a week of warnings from the Trump administration, including new sanctions, with a senior Iranian military commander calling the actions “futile” and threatening to “rain” missiles down on the country’s enemies. – Washington Post

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis described Iran as the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism on Saturday, but he emphasized that there was no pressing need for the United States to beef up its military presence in the Persian Gulf region. – New York Times

Until President Trump’s inauguration, Iran’s clerics felt comfortable leading worshipers in a chorus of “Death to America” while simultaneously signing a $16.6 billion deal with Boeing. Now, the establishment is treading carefully, with even most hard-liners concerned that the smallest provocation could lead to military conflict. – New York Times

Iran is set to boost its crude output next month and a deadline to bid for oil and gas fields has been pushed back, a top Iranian oil official was reported as saying Saturday, amid fears a recent missile test could lead to new U.S. measures that would deter foreign companies from investing in the nation’s petroleum. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Donald Trump jetted off Friday for his first weekend away from the White House after his first two weeks in office, capping off 14 days in which his administration moved aggressively to move on his campaign promises and take shots at the Obama era. Yet, as the president heads for his Mar-a-Lago retreat in South Florida, his first two weeks produced little clarity about the next four years. – Roll Call

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says the Iran deal negotiated by the Obama administration is likely to remain in place. – The Hill

A member of the House Armed Services Committee is urging the Trump administration to build a new ballistic missile defense system in the Middle East to counter Iranian aggression and defend U.S. allies, according to communications to the White House obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. – Washington Free Beacon

Iran’s nuclear chief says it will have 60 percent more stockpiled uranium than it did prior to the landmark 2015 agreement with world powers after a shipment expected later this week. – Associated Press

Editorial: Iran’s missile launch is a deliberate effort to test the seriousness of the new U.S. Administration. Iran may now decide to test the White House again on how far it is willing to go to enforce the meaning of “on notice.” The more unequivocal the Administration’s response, the sooner Tehran will get the message that, this time, it faces a U.S. government that means what it says. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Editorial: Rolling back the gains Iran has made across the Middle East in the past decade will be, at best, a work of years. To succeed, the Trump administration will have to clarify priorities: Russia, which it regards as a potential ally in the region, has become Iran’s strategic partner. Leaving the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad in place will lock in Iranian domination where it matters most. Until it has a strategy for addressing such challenges, the administration will find it hard to impress the mullahs. – Washington Post

John Bolton writes: Time always works on the side of nuclear proliferators, and the Iran deal is providing the ayatollahs with protective camouflage. Every day Washington lets pass without ripping the deal up is a day of danger for America and its friends. We proceed slowly at our peril. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Fred Fleitz writes: Putting Iran on notice is significant because it signals the return to the global stage of a strong and decisive United States prepared to reinstate the successful national-security strategy of President Ronald Reagan: “peace through strength.” Such a jolt to the international order could convince rogue states such as Iran and North Korea to dial back their destabilizing behavior and possibly agree to talks to address regional concerns about their missile and weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. – National Review Online

As Iran tries to calibrate how to deal with President Trump, its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in caustic comments to air force commanders, thanked the new American leader for revealing “the real face” of the United States. – New York Times

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday urged Western leaders to follow U.S. President Donald Trump in imposing fresh sanctions against Iran. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Sanctions the Trump administration imposed on Iran after the country conducted another ballistic missile launch are more symbolic than punitive, a former Obama administration Treasury Department official said Monday. – The Weekly Standard

James Rubin writes: Republicans and Democrats can and should agree on the broad thrust of U.S. policy toward Iran’s nuclear program and Russia’s international aggression. For one day at least, that is possible. – Politico

Mark Dubowitz and Behnam Ben Taleblu write: The administration could also accelerate the process, both technical and diplomatic, of getting America’s Middle East partners and allies to integrate existing ballistic missile defense systems. But most important, the U.S. can respond against future missile tests by targeting sectors of the Iranian economy that underwrite, procure, produce, develop, and house those capabilities. – The Hill

See what I mean?  Anyone with a keyboard has a better idea…..

Trump–Virgin No More

I wrote about these US military deaths the other day and NO one even noticed….that is truly sad…..

Recently a US military action in Yemen was the first under Trump administration…..until this raid Trump was a virgin to calling for an armed response……it was a raid and it was a disaster……

The first American military raid of the Trump administration wasn’t a complete failure, but “almost everything went wrong,” a senior military official tells NBC News. The Sunday raid in Yemen, which the president approved last week, left dozens of people dead, including two Americans: a service member identified Monday as Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, 36, and Nora al-Awlaki, the 8-year-old daughter of radical US-born preacher Anwar al-Awlaki. Her father was killed in a US drone strike in 2011 and her 16-year-old brother died in a 2013 strike. Officials tell the New York Times that the raid had been in the works for months, but the Obama administration handed final approval over to President Trump.

Owens, a Navy SEAL from Peoria, Ill., died after being wounded during the raid on an al-Qaeda-held village, the Washington Post reports. Another three members of his unit were hurt during the firefight, and three more were injured, one severely, when their MV-22 Osprey aircraft had a “hard landing” at the site. Pentagon officials say three al-Qaeda leaders were among 14 fighters killed during the raid. Medics say at least 30 people died at the scene, including women and children. Nora al-Awlaki’s grandfather, former Yemeni Agriculture Minister Nasser al-Awlaki, claims the true number is closer to 60. Nora “was hit with a bullet in her neck and suffered for two hours,” he tells Reuters. “Why kill children?”

Not only did we lose some very brave soldiers but we also set about killing children…..

I truly hope that this was not a vision of what our troops have to look forward to with this administration….

 

Trump And His Syrian Strategy

While everyone was up in arms about this Trump policy or that…his admin hit a mark that should be the focus of all news agencies……

In case anyone is interested.

A US military service member was killed Sunday during a raid against al-Qaeda militants in central Yemen that also left nearly 30 others dead, including women and children. The loss of the service member is the first-known combat death of a member of the US military under President Trump.

I realize this is not important to a great many of American “patriots” but it should….how many more Americans must die for senseless foreign policy?

Finally I got something substantive in foreign policy from the Trump gang…..the problem is that I do not see it helping the situation very much…..Clinton wanted a “no fly zone” and Trump’s answer is similar….a “safe zone”…..

Turkey has long sought an internationally-imposed series of “safe zones” in northern Syria to house refugees, as a way to limit the number of refugees who actually end up crossing into Turkey. The White House resisted, fearing it would be too complicated, and President Trump’s intention to shift Syria policy toward fighting ISIS made it seem like the idea was very unlikely.

Instead, President Trump made a surprise move, ordering the State Department and Pentagon to prepare for the establishment of safe zones in Syria, giving them 90 days to provide a full blueprint for how they would go about it.

Arguments over the theoretical viability of such safe zones centered on the question of airspace control, with Turkey arguing the zones would be meaningless without a no fly zone, and Pentagon officials warning at the time that would mean war with both Syria and Russia.

(antiwar.com)

My problem with this plan is that there are so many aircraft in the region at any one given time…Turkey, Syria, Russia, US…..that the chances of something going wrong is amplified many times over…..

Then there is the new US base on the ground in Syria……

Washington has established a military base in north-eastern Syria, which is currently controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Daily Sabah newspaper reported on January 23, citing a report of the Kurdish BasNews news agency.

The base is in the Syrian city of Al-Hasakah, located 70 km from the Syrian-Turkish border and 50 km from the Syrian-Iraqi border. Reportedly, the US has deployed 800 servicemen on the military base.

Source: More Details about New US Military Base in Syria

Yet another idea that I see as ill thought out before jumping…..for a country that does not want to get involved in a ground war in Syria we are making the wrong decisions to prevent it…..even the Pentagon has questions about the plan…..

Pentagon officials are said to be full of questions today after reports of President Trump planning to order the State Department and Pentagon to develop plans within 90 days for the establishment of “safe zones” in Syria, unclear exactly what is being planned.

US officials have previously suggested it would take a massive ground force to secure this safe zone from attacks, and that even a limited no-fly zone would risk starting a war with Russia. This scared the Obama Administration away from trying anything.

Shooting from the hip in this region is as deadly as trying to have sex with a pissed off rattlesnake….now is not the time for some macho bullshit.

As I was writing this post this morning news came out about a possible change of mind…..

Reports throughout the week that President Trump intended to order the State Department and Pentagon to create plans for the establishment of safe zones inside Syria appear to have fallen through at the last minute, as the final version of the executive order said to contain the clause no longer makes any reference to it.

Trump was reportedly to have said he intended to “do” safe zones in Syria on humanitarian grounds, but the administration offered no real details on what they intended to do. Moreover, the Pentagon discussed the matter with the expectation the order would come, with a spokesman urging people to give Trump a chance to articulate the plan.

Did clearer minds prevail?

Let’s hope so for there have not been much of that lately…….

Who’s Your Friend?

Syria has been raging for years and the world could care less….the death and destruction is massive….the US is arming those “moderate Rebels”….and that is a big joke….a joke that has NO one laughing…..

I wrote about this silly paradigm about 3 years ago….and so far not much has changed….we have NO idea who is good….or who is bad…..but we keep sending arms and cash with NO idea who is getting the aid…..

Source: Our Friends The Rebels – In Saner Thought

Plus I wrote a post about her visit when news first came out…..

Source: Finally, Some Leadership! – In Saner Thought

Recently Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and former Congressman Dennis Kucinich made a secret trip to Syria as a fact finding mission….

US Congresswoman and war veteran Tulsi Gabbard, along former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich traveled to Syria, met with Assad, met with families torn by the war, met with religious leaders, saw the results of US regime change first hand, on the ground in Aleppo and Damascus.

The two US leaders confirmed what we at The Duran have been reporting since our inception…the war in Syria, Obama’s war to overthrow a democratically elected, sovereign, internationally recognized government was, is and remains illegal. Syria’s invasion by US funded ISIS and Al Qaeda forces aligned with Saudi Wahhabi terrorists did not, and does not serve the US interest.

Source: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard travels to Syria, CONFIRMS: “no difference between ‘moderate’ rebels and al-Qaeda or ISIS  – they are all the same”

If you have more questions as I did then here is the full interview with Gabbard on CNN……

Source: Full CNN interview with Rep Tulsi Gabbard on Syria trip: Debunks neocon lies on air ‹ The Ugly Truth ‹ Reader — WordPress.com

There is so much going on in Syria that it boggles the mind….and we are about to enter into another phase of this conflict…the Trump phase…..and it could go horribly wrong….(a future post to explain is forthcoming)…..

Her visit has gotten Gabbard some flak…..

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D – HI) continues to be pilloried by Congressional hawks from both parties over her visit to Syria last week, with a number of representatives declaring the very idea of going to Syria and talking peace “reprehensible,” with one Congressional aide quoted claiming there was widespread “disgust” over the visit.

Most of the efforts to attack Gabbard for visiting Syria, and talking with President Assad about the possibility of peace, center on nothing specific that Gabbard did, as it doesn’t appear she violated any laws or even political norms in doing so. Rather, most seem to object to Gabbard’s support for peace in Syria at all, with multiple Congressional officials including in their comments demands for regime change in Syria as a precondition to peace.

These attacks are typical of slugs that have NO idea what the science of conflict management is about…..Peace cannot be found without talk to ALL sides of the conflict…pretending otherwise is just moronic and typically ignorant.

Tulsi Gabbard should be celebrated for her bravery and foresight…she has done what NO other Congressional tool has had to the courage to do….

She has my support.

Syria: Will Peace Prevail?

The situation in Syria has been a smudge on the fabric of humanity for years now.  The Syrian Army with the help of Iran and Russia has been making headway against those in opposition to the Assad regime….while the war on ISIS has had its ups and downs but for the most part it is going well but not good….

There have been NO bright spots for the most part….the refugees are suffering…..civilians are dying….and bombs continue to fall….but recently a small flicker of hope came out of Syria…..that flicker is a peace process to end this thing….and how many know there is a peace talk going on?

Anyway…….

The Syrian peace talks arranged by Russia, Turkey and Iran that opened today in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, show that President Bashar al-Assad is winning the six-year-old war, but his final victory may be a long way off. Several participants in the conference have good reasons to fight on and Isis has recently made important advances.

Representatives of some of the rebel armed groups sat on one side of a round table, while the Syrian government delegation sat on the other, but the rebels said there would be no face to face talks. The most positive likely outcome of the meeting would be a reinforcement of the shaky ceasefire that began on 29 December and has been only partly effective. The US is not taking part in the talks, in contrast to previous abortive negotiations, but has sent its ambassador to Kazakhstan indicating that it does not oppose them.

Source: Syria peace talks begin in Kazakhstan with Russia taking centre stage – The Unz Review

If you get your news from American media then you know very little of this attempt…..why/  For one the US is not part of this process……we have an observer for what that is worth…..

My friends at the International Crisis Group (ICG) has issued a report on what is at stake with these negotiations……

Here in Astana, the spotlight is on the talks between the Syrian government and members of the armed opposition, but this is largely theatrics. Indeed, among the diplomats, journalists and analysts waiting in the hotel lobby and pub, there is a growing sense that we are also part of the show. The more substantive event involves trilateral discussions among Russia, Turkey and Iran, yet little has been revealed about their content.

The very fact that Russia, Turkey, and Iran are driving the talks – with limited participation from the U.S. as an observer, and none at all from Saudi Arabia – reflects the extent to which the centre of gravity in the Syrian war has shifted. This is the result of military progress by the regime and its backers, declining U.S. influence (for the moment at least) in the conflict’s central power struggle, and Riyadh’s stepping back from a role in Syria (due to its Yemeni quagmire and the weakening of its preferred rebel partners).

Source: What’s at Stake in the Syrian Peace Talks in Astana? | Crisis Group

This is a monumental attempt that could have long lasting effects…it will be a difficult and delicate process but if sides are willing then peace is possible….as it is today….the US would have very little to do with peace…….that is sad.

The Foreign Crises Awaiting Trump

Now that all the pomp and ceremony is done it is time for me to get back to work with the international relations and conflict analysis….

WE are in our new president’s first full week of rule…..and the news is that his choice for SecState, Tillerson, will be confirmed after weeks of confusion and misdirection……and now it is time for the new admin to face the crises waiting on the horizon….especially internationally…..

Trump wants to undo the liberal international order the U.S. built and replace it with a 19th-century model of nationalism and mercantilism. Its unwinding cannot, and will not, be pretty.

We do not know if the period we are about to enter under the presidency of Donald Trump will be as turbulent as the 1910s, the 1930s, the 1940s, or even the 1960s. But it is a safe bet that if such turbulence were to recur in our lifetimes, it would happen under conditions like those of today—a superpower under radical and volatile leadership, geopolitical rivalries, a populist revolt, and a fragile global economy.

Source: The Foreign Crises Awaiting Trump – Defense One

His most pressing situation is that of the South China Sea and China’s expansionism……

The South China Sea is developing at an extraordinarily rapid rate and the events that transpire in the region in the next two to three years will be some of the most significant geopolitical events in the world.  Inside the South China Sea Region are five claimants, hundreds of contested geological features, and two major clashing superpowers: The United States and China. Four key variables have been identified as the principal factors in determining how the South China Sea will evolve in two to three years: (1) U.S. foreign policy in East Asia under Trump. (2) The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) increasing reliance on nationalism to maintain its legitimacy. (3) Vietnam and the development of its foreign policy. (4) The trend in the unity of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a collective security organization. It is predicted with a high degree of confidence that tensions in the South China Sea will continue to increase as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s foreign policy becomes more confrontational with China. This will in turn encourage Vietnam to act more assertively, which in turn will drive Chinese nationalism to new levels. We predict with a medium degree of confidence that the region will take on the characteristics of Finlandization as a weak U.S. economic, as well as a lackluster hard power presence drives the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) towards bandwagoning with an increasingly-aggressive China. Vietnam remains the lone holdout, lashing out from its isolated position. Finally, we predict with a low degree of confidence that the South China Sea will deescalate to the mid-2016 status quo as uncertainty in U.S. foreign policy forces all claimants and peripheral influences to pause and consolidate their positions. Black swan events in the region include a radical change in Indian foreign policy towards China and a radical shift in the China-Russia relationship, for better or worse.

Source: Tensions in the South China Sea National Intelligence Estimate: The Next Two to Three Years | Small Wars Journal

Then there is the region that has been a thorn in every president’s ass since 1948….the Middle East….

During the campaign, President-Elect Donald Trump often vowed that the days of American adventurism in the Middle East were over (while incongruously promising to obliterate ISIS with a sophisticated strategy of More Bombs). He excoriated Hillary Clinton for her role in the NATO-led 2011 military action in Libya. And frankly, a principled skeptic of American interventionism could have squinted and discerned some good ideas — even if the intellectual framework remained To Be Tweeted.

But this posturing about a new day in the Middle East was just an elaborate con, like most everything else that came out of Trump’s mouth during this campaign. Team Trump is about to make an already troubled region so much worse.

Source: Donald Trump’s Middle East con

My point is that there is so much that could go wrong in the world and attention should be there and not bitching about protests or trying to bully the social media world on Twitter.

Flash:  Rex Tillerson has made it out of hearings as SecState….vote coming….