Big Red Car here. Nice day in the ATX already. Cool mornings and hot afternoons. Lots of sun.
So The Boss is talking to one of his political friends who has been in the game for a long, long, long time.
The Boss, who is rarely accused of over listening, does a lot of listening and walks away with the following insights.
American foreign policy is at an all time low in effectiveness as based solely upon results. Here are some of the big issues.
In discussing American foreign policy, it is important to observe that partisan political interests should be jettisoned as we pass our shores. No political considerations should color our foreign policy. We should all support our President and never show anything other than solidarity with what is good for American interests.
The situation in Libya was started by a desire to remove a dictator who had been a thorn in the world’s side for decades. Having successfully done just that, we are now faced with a country engaged in an unending civil war in which we have been unable to find or champion a winner. The country is so violently unstable that the United States has correctly shuttered its embassy. The Benghazi tragedy is symptomatic of what a shambles Libya currently is and has been for some considerable time.
Resist the temptation to observe we won the war and lost the peace. That is churlish even if true.
Syria continues to be enmeshed in a civil war to depose its long standing despotic family leadership. The US made some missteps with lines, red lines and double dog secret lines which brought the world to the brink of military intervention. Then we panicked. The Russians intervened to craft a solution which had Syria supposedly destroying its chemical weapons at American expense.
You have to marvel at a solution which requires the party with the grievance having to pay the bills for the solution. This cost over a billion dollars.
The Russians emerge from this faux confrontation with a heightened sense of power in the Middle East and a greater value for their friendship.
Meanwhile, the despot has used the breathing room to almost destroy the opposition who we were trying to assist in the first place.
The advent of ISIS or ISIL — take your pick — and its spill over into Iraq is in many ways the product of American support of the Syrian opposition. Operating under the notion that the enemy of our enemy must by default be our friend, we have armed and funded the roots of what is the beginning of the Caliphate in Iraq. This is a real mess and we have started it.
After the failed attempt to champion the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood — which supplied two divisions of infantry to Hitler in the Second World War — we are left with an unstable situation on the left flank of Israel which has contributed to the instability and chaos in Gaza.
This is a work in “no” progress.
It is particularly galling as we had a very stable western frontier between Israel and Egypt for decades. Our abandonment of Mubarak and the championing of the Muslim Brotherhood — a truly wacky idea — started this mess.
We are not making much progress here. Do not doubt this instability contributes to the Gaza mess.
The American relationship with Israel is at an all time low. The Israelis who are fixated — rightfully so — on the prospect of a nuclear Iran, do not trust American leaders and American leadership.
In the interim, the chaos in the entire Middle East has emboldened the Iranians to force feed their support of Hamas who has overwhelmed the Palestinian Authority to make Gaza burst into flames.
The world is struggling with a very simple problem — what does the world expect Israel to do when Hamas has used Gaza as a launching pad for almost 3,000 missiles to be launched into Israel? Does the world expect Israel to sit idly by while Round Rock sends 3,000 missiles into Austin, Texas? [Oooops, got my analogies crossed for a second there but you get the idea, right?]
Israel, our only real ally in the Middle East, is concerned about American intentions, American resolve, Gaza and a nuclear Iran. We are not supplying any real or credible answers right now.
America has all but accepted the notion of a nuclear Iran. The Iranians have — as predicted — drawn out the negotiations with the US and others over their nuclear capabilities. This is about Iran having a nuclear bomb.
The Iranians meanwhile have continued to operate as a thugocracy as it relates to the bestial treatment of its own people, the export of weapons used against American soldiers, the support of Hamas and other terrorist regimes, the supply of rockets being rained down on Israel and the funding of terrorism. These are all acts of war.
Iran is a huge problem for the world and is not getting better. It is lead by thugs who intend to attack Israel with a nuclear weapon when they get one.
There is absolutely no reason to expect the protracted negotiations with Iran will bear fruit. We were warned from the beginning that the negotiations would be protracted and drawn out as a ploy to allow those centrifuges to keep on spinning. It has turned out to be so and still we don’t appear willing to accept the reality of it all.
Unable to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq, the United States withdrew its troops without the ability to return if needed. This failure to negotiate a SOFA is a huge failure and has had the predictable consequences — we cannot protect the improvements paid for with American blood and treasure. Iraq is enmeshed in a civil war in which ISIS [weaned by us in Syria] has spilled over int Iraq with eyes on establishing a Caliphate in Baghdad. [Sounds like a bad Disney movie but the truth nonetheless.]
Iraq with an army of 900,000 soldiers equipped with sophisticated weaponry including armor and artillery as well as communications is unable to defeat a rag tag army of 30,000. You cannot beat anyone if your officers slip out of their uniforms and disappear. Whoever in the US military declared this Iraqi army “fit to fight” has some ‘splaining to do.
Our failure to act — logically based on American war weariness — will have huge consequences in the Middle East and the economics of oil and oil warfare.
The Taliban — returning from the French Riviera in anticipation of the American withdrawal in 2014 — have proven to be as resilient as cockroaches. Why not? We told them when we were going to withdraw and they decided to do the smart thing — wait us out. Why not?
Tanned and rested, they are stronger than ever. They are contesting areas of the country we turned over to the Afghans including in close proximity to Kabul. Once we left these areas, no news has been forthcoming. The Taliban are on the move.
We do not have a SOFA with Afghanistan and no real prospect of getting one before we withdraw. Iraq, instant replay.
We made a huge fundamental mistake of trying to impose a western democracy replete with the infrastructure and institutions of a western democracy on a nacro-terror state which is content to be a narco-terror state.
As a side note, what is really mind boggling is that over a decade of American influence has not impacted the heroin trade one iota.
Crimea is part of Russia and it was not even a close call in retrospect. It was a continuation of the Russian hosted Olympics and not much more. Putin won it all with a degree of difficulty which was not even the equivalent of “fine” sandpaper.
Russia continues to operate a mythology that “separatists” are engaging with the Ukraine government in rebellious military actions in eastern Ukraine. In fact, these are Russian stooges and are being resupplied by Russia. Russia is firing artillery across the border in support of military actions. This is open warfare and Russia is calling the shots.
It is only a matter of time before the eastern half of Ukraine is also annexed as part of Russia. This is a reality waiting to be declared.
The US has provided meaningless support to the Ukraine — perhaps wisely so as we do not intend to intervene military under any circumstances.
NATO finds itself in a real fix. Having expanded its umbrella to include Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Moldava with a near miss on the Ukraine and Georgia, NATO finds itself in an awkward position. Russia is on the move and the military defense alliance that is NATO as evidenced by Article 5 (an attack on one is an attack on all) is not going to work for a very simple reason.
Neither NATO nor its members wants to go to war over Latvia, et al. They are not really strategic considerations after all. Nobody in the US wants to fight for these countries. Do you?
Russia, of course, knows this and will be acting on this reality. Putin knows there is no fight in NATO over these countries and intends to gobble them up like a basket of French fries with sea salt and ketchup. Perhaps he will suffer a heart attack with all that fatty food?
Ahhh, Russia, the bad boys of the boardwalk led by the irrepressible school yard bully, Vladimir Putin. Putin is a punk but he’s a punk who has taken the measure of our President, our Secretary of State, the war weariness of America and the mien of his neighbors. He is a bully with a Harvard MBA who knows exactly what the calculus portends. He can gobble up countries while his henchmen will be denied the special tickets to Disneyland. This is a trade he will make all day long.
The funny thing is that President Obama has it exactly correct — Russia is a chicken shit little economy with a second rate army led by a thug. What is wrong, however, is that Putin does not mind being called an 18th or 19th century guy — he’s thinking of Catharine the Great of that time. Vladimir the Great? Hell yes, sayeth the Russian thug. You will not deter Putin with words or by preventing him and his buddies from going to Disneyland.
Russia will also become a major pain in the butt in our dealings with Iran, Syria, Cuba and South America. Monroe Doctrine for Russia? No, not really.
China has been the big beneficiary of the War on Terror (remember that one?) and the current chaos. They continue to go on with their mischief while the world is distracted elsewhere. They are becoming increasingly pugnacious and cannot help but be emboldened by the American reaction in other parts of the world. They are testing American resolve and that of their neighbors by fiddling with the ownership of oil rich islands in the vicinity and the imposition of silly ADIZ zones. It is all a test.
The Chinese are always playing the long game and they are patient while the US changes its views on things every election.
The Chinese are actively waging war on us today in outerspace and on the Internet. This is where the next war will be fought. They are buying their way into America in effect exchanging their excess dollar deposits for ownership of American businesses. This is the Chinese equivalent of Lenin’s prediction we would sell the Communists the rope with which to hang America.
The Chinese are subject to illusions of grandeur as it relates to their ability to project force over the horizon something they have effectively never done. They indicate they could defeat the US Navy at sea — good luck on that one.
Perhaps the biggest consideration today is the wholesale dismantling of our organic regional intelligence and cooperative intelligence relationships. We had exquisite intelligence capabilities when we had a full on presence in Iraq. Since the loss of those capabilities, our intel has become very suspect. We are now flying blind in this region which suggests we need Israel’s capabilities more than ever.
I know it is not fashionable to mention the War on Terror. Nonetheless, it is important to note that Al Qaeda and all of its verminous offspring are stronger than ever. Their footprint is enormous. Their funding is enormous. Their cache of weapons is enormous. Their regional acceptance is breathtaking.
While we are not discussing domestic politics in this chat today, any notion that the terrorists are on the run is sheer nonsense. They are stronger than ever. Stronger. Than. Ever.
So, dear and beloved readers, the world and American foreign policy is not showing much in the way of encouragement. Let’s try to keep things in focus.