It’s Just Sad

Anyone that visits here understands that I am NOT a supporter of Trump…I will admit that during the campaign he did make a few statements that I could agree with on principle…..but since the election any support for ideas has since disappeared.

It is all so much comedy now….more like a sad comedy…..recently there was a love fest by his cabinet members that went around a circle kissing his ring (more like his ass)…that did not need televising but in his need for admiration he made it all too pathetic…..

All the “love” is just destroying reputations of his cabinet members…..

Vice-President Mike Pence set the tone, confiding that serving a president “who’s keeping his word to the American people” is “the greatest privilege of my life”. As Mr Trump clenched his jaw, nodded and threw in an occasional “good job” of encouragement, his cabinet secretaries—who include former governors, retired four-star generals and more than one billionaire—mostly followed suit. They variously reported that his presidency has “thrilled” crime-fighters, excited the world with its “international flair” and inspired “love” in Mississippi. “My hat is off to you!” swooned the energy secretary, Rick Perry, who in 2015 called Mr Trump a “cancer on conservatism”. For as long as cameras whirred this surge of praise rolled round the room like a bureaucrats’ Mexican wave, peaking with a testimonial from Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff. Unabashed by speculation that he is to be sacked, Mr Priebus declared: “We thank you for the opportunity and the blessing to serve your agenda.” The verdict of a Twitter-user from Toronto, “This is actually the start of ‘King Lear’,” went viral, pinging around the political internet.

Source: Donald Trump’s need for flattery is trashing reputations

All this silliness surrounding the “leader” of the free world is just too scary……we have international crises forming and he will have to handle them as the world leader he should be….but is he capable?

My thought is no way….but some others have also weighed in on this situation…..why?

After 5 months in office his national security team is still not complete….so how could he actually handle a crisis?

Inside the 18-acre White House compound, the National Security Council process—making key decisions and overseeing their execution—is still in transition nearly five months after President Donald Trump took office. The sooner this transition concludes, the better for our security. In the long run, getting this transition right is far more important than any of the administration’s discrete decisions that have dominated the news since January 20. Based on my firsthand experience in the White House coordinating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during the last such transition—the departure of the Bush administration and the arrival of the Obama team in 2009—there are two fundamental challenges.

First, the national security team must be built. This goes far beyond the early presidential memorandum specifying the members of the NSC and the supporting principals and deputies committees. With the departures of Michael Flynn and K.T. McFarland, the NSC staff is now settling in, with H.R. McMaster at the helm. The 10 to 12 “senior directors” reporting directly to McMaster lead small cells of professionals drawn largely from across the government. But, this is only the nerve center of the national security team. Their counterparts in the State and Defense Departments—where the depth of experience and diversity of views reside, and where responsibility for implementation lays—are still nowhere close to being in place. Incredibly, nearly half a year in, there are still only a very few political appointees in Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon below the deputy secretary level, fewer than 10 percent of those required.

Source: Trump’s Not Ready for a Crisis – POLITICO Magazine

All we can do is hope that calmer heads will prevail and we are not thrown into a major international crisis.

All the while the conditions keep mounting up…..and few are noticing….

On Sunday, a US Navy F/A-18 shot down a Syrian Su-22, marking the first time in over a decade that the United States engaged in air-to-air combat. Syria claims that their aircraft was bombing ISIS troops. We have at attacked Syrian government forces no less than four times in the last month, causing tensions to swell in the complex conflict. Russia has responded by saying they will now possibly target aircraft from the US-led coalition. On the ground, it is estimated that anywhere from 500 to 2,500 American troops are fighting in Syria, despite the President’s claim that “we’re not going into Syria.”

Meanwhile President Trump has followed through with several arms deals that were started under President Obama, helping supply both Saudi Arabia and Qatar with billions of dollars in weapons and aircraft. This comes after Trump criticized Qatar’s alleged funding of terror organizations. Saudi Arabia faces its own allegations of relations with terrorists, all while running a salacious campaign to recruit American veterans to lobby on their behalf.

Source: Sneaking into War: Trump’s Plan to Incite Global Conflict Without Anyone Noticing – The Ring of Fire Network

Please pay attention…before it is too late!  Stop listening to slogans and one liners….there is more at stake for this country.

Please pay attention!

What Is North Korea’s Real Strategy?

NK has been in the news a lot lately…..from its rhetoric to the launching of multiple missiles to its continuing nuke research….and there have been many opinions and analyses on why this small Asian country is doing what it is doing.

I am not an expert on East Asian relations so I have to depend on others for their opinions and analyses…..I read a paper written by a person that is just such an expert…..do not know if I agree with him completely but I bow to his expertise….

North Korea’s quest for nuclear weapons is often depicted as a “rational” response to its strategic imperatives of national security and regime survival. In fact, North Korea seeks to decouple the US and its South Korean partner – a split that would enable the reunification of the Korean Peninsula on Kim’s terms.

In fact, North Korea’s appetite for nuclear weapons is rooted more in aggression than pragmatism. North Korea seeks nothing less than to decouple the United States from its South Korean partner – a split that would enable the reunification of the Korean Peninsula on Kim’s terms. In other words, North Korea does not want only to defend itself; it wants to set the stage for an invasion of its own.

Source: North Korea’s Real Strategy by Christopher R. Hill – Project Syndicate

A situation that could boil over at any time…..it all depends on the whim of a leader that is not wrapped real tight (in my opinion)…..

Thirty minutes. That’s about how long it would take a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched from North Korea to reach Los Angeles. With the powers in Pyongyang working doggedly toward making this possible—building an ICBM and shrinking a nuke to fit on it—analysts now predict that Kim Jong Un will have the capability before Donald Trump completes one four-year term.

About which the president has tweeted, simply, “It won’t happen!”

Source: How to Deal With North Korea – The Atlantic

After writing this post news broke that I feel needs to be included here…..

NEW DELHI, June 21 (Yonhap) — North Korea’s top envoy to India on Wednesday offered a conditional moratorium on his country’s nuclear and missile tests in an apparent bid to hold talks with the United States.

North Korea Ambassador to India Kye Chun-yong said Pyongyang is willing to talk in terms of freezing its nuclear and missile tests under certain circumstances.

Source: North Korea is Open to Moratorium on Nuclear, Missile Tests | World Affairs Journal

This is an interesting turn…too bad that the US has so little diplomats on payroll to take advantage of this situation.

Side note:  I have been asked why I do this….this blogging thing.

I am an analyst of international conflict and this is my way to keep doing what I love and to inform anyone that wants to know about the future.

Qatar Could Be The Trigger

Not many people here in the US care much what is happening in Qatar….right now they are worried about the special election in the 6th District of Georgia or some other major deal that the media is fixated on at this time…..

But if you are a military family you might want to keep an eye on the situation on the Persian Gulf region….what happens there could effect your family in a numerous of ways.

The Persian Gulf is a vital importance to the US and the West…..keeping the Persian Gulf a calm and safe waterway is essential.  But the situation between the Saudis and their allies and Qatar and their allies could change that dynamic at any time.

It began as a squabble between Arab allies, but the standoff between Qatar and its neighbours is threatening to engulf the Horn of Africa. When Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and the Maldives declared at the beginning of June that they were severing diplomatic relations with Qatar it appeared to be of interest mainly to the Arabian Peninsula – and the Gulf in particular.

The Saudis and their allies accused Qatar of backing international terrorism. The US, which has the Al Udeid air base in Qatar, looked askance, but did little more than use its good offices to try to ensure that the war of words did not flare into an open conflict.

Source: Africa: Qatar’s Conflict With Its Neighbours Can Easily Set the Horn of Africa Alight – allAfrica.com

The Middle East is not a stable region no matter what the press wants you to believe….okay it has seldom been very stable but that is neither here nor there….the crisis with the Saudis and Qatar could prove to be a destabilizing force for the region…..

The Qatar-Gulf rift isn’t about fabricated statements or a hacked website, but a battle to control regional order after the Arab uprisings. But will the Gulf destroy itself in the process?

A heavy tension has prevailed over the Gulf since 23 May.

It all appeared to start with the publication of statements attributed to Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, which were quickly proven to be fabricated. The Qatari News Agency website, it turned out, had been hacked.

Although hacking any country’s official news agency is clearly problematic, the bigger issue is the way in which two Arab Gulf states handled the fabricated statements.

Source: The Qatari crisis may destroy what little order remains in the Middle East | Middle East Eye

Like I said…..the admin in power needs to keep this in their sights and work for a calm and equitable termination of the “hostilities”……

Military families should be the first and the loudest to demand such.

After this draft was written more news came to light……seems the State Department is NOT on board with this Qatar bashing anymore…..

The US stance on Saudi Arabia and its allies’ hostility toward Qatar, including an outright blockade, has not been particularly consistent in the last couple of weeks. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert took a more direct position against the blockade today, but that is just raising more questions.

Nauert very directly faulted the Saudis for their move against Qatar, noting neither they nor other nations involved have offered any details to back up their allegations, and suggesting that the blockade was not about Qatar’s alleged support for terrorism, but long-standing grievances among GCC countries.

This is largely in keeping with what you’d figure would be the US position on Qatar, a long-time ally, but runs contrary to President Trump, who personally took credit for the Saudi-led move and has repeatedly parroted Saudi allegations against the Qatari government since then.

(antiwar.com)

Why has this region gotten more unstable since the Trump visit?

Just asking.

No one seems to have a handle on why the Saudis pulled this end run…..in other words…what is the real cause of the situation….

Officially, the narrative on the split among Gulf Arab nations, between Saudi Arabia and the tiny nation of Qatar, has centered around support for terrorism. The reality of the situation is far more nuanced, but that hasn’t stopped President Trump from immediately embracing the Saudi position, attacking the Qatari government for supporting “extremism” in the region.

Yet when we dig deeper into the details underpinning the split between the Saudis and Qatar, we find that the actual rift stems heavily from the Arab Spring, and the Qatari government’s support, both official and unofficial, for groups advocating democratic reform in the Middle East. While the Saudis and the other nations involved in directly in this split are more than comfortable to be overtly hostile to democracy in the Middle East, it is wildly dangerous for the United States to position itself in such a manner.

Source: The Real Reason behind Qatar’s Gulf State Freeze Out | The American Conservative

This situation is fascinating……all the intrigue of a “Game of Thrones”…..how will it end?

A Royal Shake-Up

The real life Game of Thrones in the Middle East has taken a new twist or should I say turn?

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Wednesday appointed his 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince, placing him firmly as first-in-line to the throne and removing the country’s counterterrorism czar and a figure well-known to Washington from the royal line of succession. In a series of royal decrees carried on the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the monarch stripped Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who had been positioned to inherit the throne, from his title as crown prince and from his powerful position as the country’s interior minister overseeing security, the AP reports. The young prince was little known to Saudis and outsiders before Salman became king in January 2015.

The newly announced Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman already oversees a vast portfolio as defense minister and head of an economic council tasked with overhauling the country’s economy. He had previously been the second-in-line to the throne as deputy crown prince, though royal watchers had long suspected his rise to power under his father’s reign might also accelerate his ascension to the throne. The royal decree issued Wednesday stated that “a majority” of senior royal members from the so-called Allegiance Council—a body made up of the sons and prominent grandsons of the founder of the Saudi state, the late King Abdul-Aziz—supported the recasting of the line of succession

The Trump admin ought to be pleased…..the new “dude” is a staunch hater of Iran and will play ball with the US if the push comes to shove.

The prince is a hardliner…and that means that the crimes against humanity will continue……the be-headings, oppression of women, and the same extreme form of Islam that fuels ISIS and AQ…..

I am not alone in my mistrust in this move……

The epic battle in the Trump White House between Jared Kushner, the Orthodox Jewish son-in-law, and Steve Bannon, the alt-NeoNazi White House strategist, is hard to top.

But Saudi Arabia just topped it?

Saudi Arabia just topped it.

King Salman just fired the crown prince and made his son, Muhammad bin Salman, heir apparent.

the new crown prince is a foreign policy adventurer and hard liner who said just last month that there can be no compromise with Iran.

Source: The Millennial’s Palace Coup in Saudi Arabia

This will be on my radar as the Iran debate heats up….this will be telling of any action to come.

More on this …..situation…….

The move itself was not unexpected given that Salman has been concentrating power in his son’s hands from the moment he became King in 2015. MBS rapidly became the key figure in the country’s internal and foreign policies, but MBS also knew that his chances of becoming King might have been forestalled if his father died before he could consolidate his power, especially vis-à-vis his key rival in the family, MBN

Source: The Saudi Succession Shuffle | RealClearDefense

Another episode of the Saudi version of “All In The Family”.

One More Time

On numerous occasions I have written that I do not like the foreign policy that Trump has set out for this country…..I think it is dangerous and ill-conceived…..his dependency on military force over diplomacy is not making the world a safer place…..

A loyal reader and friend of IST posted this the other day on his blog…

In 2016, Spiegel wrote that Donald Trump could be the leader of a new, hate-filled authoritarian movement as a president during which George W. Bush’s America would seem like a place of logic and reason in comparison. Bush, to his credit, never compared migrants to poisonous snakes — something Trump does. And Spiegel was not wrong about the Trump gloal threat. All what he said about Middle East  before his election were just communication tactics. And the US becomes more and more dangerous country under Trump’s hegemony.

Source: Donald Trump Is the World’s Most Dangerous Warmonger | Eyes on Europe & Middle East

Within the ranks of foreign policy wonks there is a growing concern about his, Trump’s, foreign policy…..

Against the backdrop of the counter-Islamic State campaign, the civil wars in Syria and Yemen and efforts to forge strong ties with Israel, recent reports suggest that the Trump administration is placing a renewed focus on combating Iran’s network of sectarian-based militant groups and terrorist organizations, even as inter-Arab tensions are on the rise.

The Trump administration has also, reportedly, engaged in direct military action against Iranian-backed elements, threatening U.S. and U.S.-backed personnel in Syria.  The administration will have to determine how best to manage a more direct and aggressive approach to Iran’s proxy network in the midst of inter-Arab disputes.

Source: Is Trump’s foreign policy more ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ or ‘Press Your Luck’? | TheHill

The world has changed and our State Department needs to keep up with the rest of the world…..as it is today there is NO direction other than a military one.

For as long as they have existed, nations have clung to the illusion that their military strength guarantees their security.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that the military power that one nation considers vital to its security fosters other nations’ sense of insecurity. In this climate of suspicion, an arms race ensues, often culminating in military conflict. Also, sometimes the very military strength that a nation intended for protection ends up emboldening it to engage in reckless, aggressive behavior, leading to war.

By the twentieth century, the devastation caused by wars among nations had grown so great that the general public and even many government officials began to recognize that a world left to the mercies of national military power was a dangerous world, indeed. As a result, after the mass slaughter of World War I, they organized the League of Nations to foster international security. When this proved insufficient to stop the march of nations toward World War II and its even greater devastation, they organized a new and stronger global entity: the United Nations.

Source: National Illusions and Global Realities – Antiwar.com Original

The US needs to work with other countries to solve problems instead of resorting to force at every turn…..mutual agreement is far superior to brute force.

War and violence decoupled from strategy and policy—or worse yet, mistaken for strategy and policy—have contributed to perpetual war, or what has seemed like 15 years of “Groundhog War.” In its wars since 11 September 2001, the United States has arguably cultivated the best-equipped, most capable, and fully seasoned combat forces in remembered history. They attack, kill, capture, and win battles with great nimbleness and strength. But absent strategy, these victories are fleeting. Divorced from political objectives, successful tactics are without meaning.

In theory, we fight wars to fulfill a political purpose and to achieve objectives by aligning the means and methods of war toward that purpose. In theory, the purpose of war is a better peace. In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but as history has shown repeatedly, in practice there is.

Source: The Wages of War Without Strategy | RealClearDefense

There is only so much that can be accomplished without a strategy….a long war will ensue.

Why Is the World So Unsettled?

Has Anyone noticed the world becomes more and more unstable with every passing year?

A new conflict pops up almost monthly…..and the US seems to have to throw troops and money at each and everyone…..

There was a time when the world thought things would get better….especially after the fall of the USSR….all antagonism would be lessened.

It just did not work out that way now did it?

U.S. foreign policy is likely to be wracked by crises in the coming years. Yet crises are often symptoms of deeper structural transformations, and the fundamental fact of international politics today is that the post-Cold War era has reached its end. That period was defined by uncontested U.S. and Western primacy, a marked decline in ideological struggle and great-power conflict, and a historically remarkable degree of global cooperation in addressing international disorder. Today, however, the international system has reverted to a more contested state. The core characteristics of the emerging era are the gradual but unmistakable erosion of U.S. and Western primacy, the return of sharp great-power competition across all three key regions of Eurasia, the revival of global ideological struggle, and the empowerment of the agents of international strife and disorder. Moreover, the impact of these forces is magnified by growing uncertainty about whether the traditional defenders of the post-Cold War system will be able and willing to play that role in the future. Dealing with the dangers and dilemmas posed by the new global politics will be a generational task. Yet understanding the basic nature of the age is the critical first step.

Source: Why Is the World So Unsettled? The End of the Post-Cold War Era and the Crisis of Global Order | CSBA

WE need an adequate foreign policy but since we got a new prez we also got a crappy State Department…..seems the prez does not think that diplomacy and foreign policy are important when you have a military that will travel the world looking for a fight.

This will be a disastrous 4 years for our standing in the world…..so bad that it will take a generation for the country to recover.

Would An Arab NATO Stabilize The Mideast?

A question that is being asked…I was one of the first to point out the absurdity of this idea…….to answer the question….NO it will not make the ME more stable.

Read my thoughts for yourself…….

Source: A Middle East NATO? – In Saner Thought

Source: New Plan–A Middle East NATO – In Saner Thought

During last week’s Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, President Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud strongly condemned Iranian support for terrorist groups and militants throughout the Middle East.

“From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region,” Trump said. “Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.”

“The Iranian regime,” King Salman charged, “has spearheaded terrorism since [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomenei’s revolution [of 1979].”

Source: Would an Arab NATO Help Stabilize the Mideast — or Inflame Iran? | The Cipher Brief

Funny that the Saudis are laying blame on the Iranians…..just ask how many of the 9/11 attackers were Saudis…..ask who exports the most extreme brand of Islam?

All that aside…..why do they need a new organization?

I ask this because there is already an Arab League with a charter and a provision to fight so-called terrorism……

Source: The Arab League Charter (Pact of the League of Arab States)

Now read Article 6 of the charter……it would do nicely with a bit of tweaking and this whole ME NATO would not be necessary.

Ask yourself who will benefit most out of this new organization?

This is an exercise in futility…..a waste of time, money and resources……

Someone needs to step up and point to the silliness of this new deal……but has anyone in the Trump admin have the balls to point all this out?

No way…they are all ball-less.

This whole thing was nothing more than theatrics….just an appearance of doing something without doing anything.

After only about a week of its formation the “Arab NATO” is falling apart…….

Six Arab nations cut diplomatic ties to Qatar early Monday, further deepening a rift among Gulf Arab nations over that country’s support for Islamist groups. Bahrain and Saudi Arabia first made the move, followed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya, reports the BBC. The nations were withdrawing their diplomatic staffs and cutting air and sea traffic to the peninsular country, per the AP. It wasn’t immediately clear how that would affect Qatar Airways, one of the region’s major long-haul carriers. Bahrain blamed Qatar’s “media incitement, support for armed terrorist activities and funding linked to Iranian groups to carry out sabotage and spreading chaos in Bahrain” for its decision. Other countries issued similar statements.

Qatar is home to the sprawling al-Udeid Air Base, where the US military’s Central Command and some 10,000 American troops are based. It wasn’t clear if the decision would affect American military operations. Qatar has strongly denied it funds extremist groups, though it remains a key financial patron of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Western officials also have accused Qatar of allowing or even encouraging funding of Sunni extremists like al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.

Further reading in this development…….

Source: In wake of Trump visit, Saudi-led Sunni bloc already splintering

Source: Gulf diplomatic crisis: Qatar’s reaction in full | Qatar News | Al Jazeera

Why is this happening?

Source: Qatar diplomatic crisis – what you need to know | World news | The Guardian

I believe the original question has been answered and it took less than a month for this idea to go to pieces….

I put this post in my drafts because I wanted to see if the news changed in a month or so…..proved to be a wise choice.

And the drama just keeps giving…….

The decision by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and other Arab nations to sever ties with Qatar on Monday reflects a long-standing dispute between Qatar and its regional neighbors. In fact, a similar fallout happened in 2014, but Monday’s events mark a “severe escalation” that could eventually alter the balance of power in the region, per an analysis at the BBC. Nations aren’t just pulling diplomats, they’re cutting off land, sea, and air travel, and Qatar relies heavily on imports for its survival. Here’s what’s happening:

  • Terror accusations: The official Saudi press accused Qatar of supporting “terrorist and sectarian groups” such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar denies supporting militant groups and says there’s no “legitimate justification” for the moves.
  • More broadly: “The feud—the most serious in decades among some the region’s most key Western allies—has been simmering for years as Qatar increasingly flexed its political muscle across the region, including backing the Muslim Brotherhood,” per the Washington Post. The Saudis also accuse Qatar of backing its arch-rival, Iran.
  • Bogus article? Two weeks ago, a Qatari news report quoted Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad as criticizing Saudi Arabia and praising Iran, among other things. Qatar later claimed its news websites had been hacked, but the article seems to have been a factor leading to Monday’s actions, reports the Atlantic.
  • Trump’s visit: Another factor could be President Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, notes the New York Times. Generally, analysts think the Saudis feel more emboldened under Trump, with one analyst saying the “moves reflected a ‘bullishness’ prompted by the Trump administration’s stances—on the confrontation with Iran and on a willingness to look the other way on human rights violations.”
  • US military: Qatar is home to the Al Udeid Air Base, where 11,000 US personnel are stationed and from which attacks on ISIS targets are launched, notes the AP. Trouble with the base could complicate US military strategy, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has offered to mediate.
  • Big shift? The base, however, may no longer be enough to keep Qatar in the US’ good graces, writes David Roberts at the BBC. Other Gulf states might offer to replace it. “The argument to President Trump may be compelling: with US help, Qatar might be persuaded to evict Hamas leadership from Doha and genuinely cut back on funding Islamist groups. It seems that the time of Qatar’s individualistic foreign policy may be up.”

You can bet that Russia is watching this play out…..

The Middle East may be a lot of things…..but boring is NOT one of them!