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Posts Tagged ‘Security’

Could the U.S. Superpower Commit Suicide?

May 4, 2014 Leave a comment

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Though Russian troops gather on Ukraine’s border, and civil war devastates Aleppo, the view from Washington still sees the ‘big story’ of this century as the rise of China and the mischief it entails. The big question is about the potential switch from an American to an Asian century and the bloody reckoning this could bring with it. Are America and China on collision course in the tradition of Athens and Sparta, or Imperial Germany and Edwardian Britain?

Some observers, such as Graham Allison and Joseph Nye of Harvard University, and recently strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski,sense that the problem is all Greek. Read more…

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Washington’s Biggest Strategic Mistake

April 18, 2014 Leave a comment

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The United States is on the brink of committing a cardinal sin in foreign policy: antagonizing two major powers simultaneously. There are frictions in bilateral ties with both Moscow and Beijing that have reached alarming levels over the past year or so. It is a disturbing development that could cause major geopolitical headaches for Washington unless the Obama administration takes prompt corrective measures and sets more coherent priorities.

Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea has created a deep freeze in relations that were already rather frosty. Although few knowledgeable Americans Read more…

Surprise Attack on Iran: Can Israel Pull It Off?

April 16, 2014 Leave a comment

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According to a report in March by the Israeli daily Haaretz, Israel continues to prepare for a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Quoting anonymous members of the Knesset who were present during hearings on the military budget, officials in the Israel Defense Force (IDF) have allegedly received instructions to continue preparing for a strike and a special budget has been allocating for that purpose. However, conducting a military operation against Iran’s key nuclear facilities would be a challenging task for the Israeli military. The distance from Israel to the Iranian nuclear sites is such that any strike using the air force would be challenging on its fuel capacity. Allocating tanker planes to the mission could alleviate part of this concern. Nonetheless, Israeli jets can’t spend too much time in Iranian airspace before the mission itself is in jeopardy. Engaging Iran’s air force in dogfights must be avoided. Therefore, surprise will be a necessary element in a successful Israeli mission. Read more…

No War with Russia? Don’t Be So Sure

April 3, 2014 Leave a comment

Though Moscow now appears willing to talk about Ukraine, it is far from clear that Russia’s terms will be acceptable to the United States—or, more important, to Kiev.Ukraine 3-3-14 Meanwhile, according to NATO’s commanding General Philip Breedlove, Russia’s troops could seize southern and eastern Ukraine within three to five days. With such high stakes, it’s time to reexamine some of our fundamental assumptions about war.

Nineteenth-century American humorist Josh Billings—a contemporary and rival of Mark Twain—is credited as the originator of the often-cited warning that “it ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Unfortunately, after two decades of sole-superpowerdom, our president, politicians and pundits seem to know a great deal that ain’t so about wars. Thus as Washington debates its response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, all sides agree on only one thing: America will not go to war with Russia. Unfortunately, their certainty may rest upon a series of dangerously false assumptions. Read more…

America’s Ultimate Geopolitical Nightmare

April 3, 2014 Leave a comment

“Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; Who rules the World Island commands the World” —Sir Halford downloadMackinder, 1919

With only minor modification, these words of wisdom from one of the early geopolitical thinkers still ring true. The Heartland is once again threatened, just as it was during the World Wars and Cold War of the twentieth century.

While many in the professional American commentariat are bloviating about the current Ukraine/Crimea crisis and raising the specter of Hitler, Czechoslovakia and Munich Agreements, the more significant and longer-term challenge to the post World War II international security architecture is further east: China. Its rise and the increasing potential of more than a tactical entente with Russia should be ringing alarm bells amongst U.S. strategists. Read more…

America’s Secret Weapon to Stop Russia

March 31, 2014 Leave a comment

Today Ukraine is threatened by a large Russian force on its border. The Crimea has been annexed by Russia, and Russian forces are consolidating their hold on the FA-22A-Ext-AMRAAM-Sprovince. Despite assurances by the Russians that they have no interest in invading Ukraine, it is easy to be dubious of their claims. Capability doesn’t lie, and intent can change in a heartbeat.

Many have already said that there are no military options in the Ukraine crisis. While Western Europe and the United States do not desire conflict with Russia, the lack of action supporting Ukraine is actually a provocative gesture that invites escalation by the Russians. Fritz Kraemer, a little-known but highly influential strategist in the Pentagon best known for his many years as advisor to numerous secretaries of defense, believed that there were two ways to be provocative. One way was to be threatening, and in so doing provoke an enemy to action. The other way was to appear weak, and thus to provoke an adversary into a similar risky misadventure. Read more…

America’s Failing China Paradigm

February 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up his two-day visit to Beijing late last week with the release of a four-sentence joint statement on climate change [3]. Hong kerry_va_xi_pd_21814Kong’s South China Morning Post, thought to have a pipeline to the Chinese leadership, reports [4] [5]that the “only result” of his consultations in Beijing was “a commitment to seek greater co-operation” on that issue [4]. Climate change, along with North Korea, was at the top of Kerry’s agenda, according to a former State Department official with knowledge of the trip.

There was no progress on more pressing matters, such as the worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria or the ongoing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Moreover, there were, according to the Post, no “breakthroughs” on what many believe to be the most important topic of discussion, Beijing’s provocative actions in the East China and South China Seas. “Kerry’s China visit only provided an opportunity for both sides to make clear their differences on these issues,” said the oft-quoted Shi Yinhong of Renmin University in Beijing. Read more…

America Unhinged

January 10, 2014 Leave a comment

SINCE EARLY 2011, political developments in Egypt and Syria have repeatedly captured the attention of the American foreign-policy elite. The Obama administration11453480733_071f17bd88_c has tried to guide the turbulent political situation in post-Mubarak Egypt and become increasingly engaged in Syria’s bloody civil war. The United States is already helping arm some of the forces fighting against the Assad regime, and President Obama came close to attacking Syria following its use of chemical weapons in August 2013. Washington is now directly involved in the effort to locate and destroy Syria’s chemical-weapons stockpiles.

These responses reflect three widespread beliefs about Egypt and Syria. The first is that the two states are of great strategic importance to the United States. There is a deep-seated fear that if the Obama administration does not fix the problems plaguing those countries, serious damage will be done to vital American interests. Read more…

Let’s Call for the Peaceful End of Iran’s Dangerous and Illegitimate Regime

November 26, 2013 Leave a comment

March of freedom would leave the tyrannical Islamic regime on history’s ash heap. [DID]

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The Obama administration’s deal with Tehranbrings the world closer to two profoundly undesirable events: an Iranian nuclear breakout capability or a possible Iranian retaliation in the wake of an Israeli strike to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program. Such is the implication of the Geneva agreement that U.S. diplomats call a nuclear “freeze,” but which allows Tehran to proceed merrily with uranium enrichment.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu—representing those caught playing the role of canary in a coal mine, who may presumably fall first to Iran—has made no secret of his distaste for what he called yesterday “a historic mistake.” He has also lamented the approximately $7 billion in sanctions relief sanctions relief given to Tehran for the deal—money that will alleviate domestic pressure on Iran’s government and allow it to augment its nuclear program.

Netanyahu is not alone. Over the past month, Washington has gotten an earful from other U.S. allies as well, including Saudi Arabia and several Persian Gulf states that must contend with Tehran’s terrorism and political subversion efforts. This loss of confidence in America will have real consequences. Read more…

Advantage: Iranian Mullahs

October 9, 2013 Leave a comment
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Rouhani, the leader of the terrorist IRI regime

Nobody knows how the Iranian nuclear dilemma is going to end. A good deal, a bad deal, no deal, a U.S. or Israeli military strike — or none of the above? But amid all the uncertainty, at least one thing seems pretty certain: The mullahs are playing three-dimensional chess while the United States is playing checkers.

This is not to say that the Iranians are diplomatic and strategic geniuses. After all, if they were that clever, they wouldn’t be reeling under the impact of nation-crushing sanctions that are destroying their economy. Nor would everyone’s favorite mullah — President Hasan Rouhani — be sending Rosh Hashanah tweets to all his would-be Jewish friends.

The checkers reference is also not meant to suggest that the Obama administration is clueless about how to deal with Iran. Read more…

Beware the Smiling Cleric

September 27, 2013 Leave a comment

There are a few reasons to be optimistic about Iranian president Hassan Rouhani coming to New York. Fresh off a major electoral victory this summer, there is no time like the rouhani_smile_ir_92313present for a reformist to meet and greet the Great Satan. Likewise, a face-to-face meeting with a card-carrying member of the Axis of Evil could be a Nixonian moment for President Barack Obama. Groundbreaking political discourse and a thawing of relations might be the first step toward a changed relationship that could remake a Middle and Near East torn asunder by a decade of war, conflict and intense political rhetoric. President Obama would be wise to explore any diplomatic options for Washington. But he should do so carefully and pragmatically, and consider the underlying drivers pushing Tehran to seek détente. Beneath the surface are dynamics that more aptly define the political reality: deep economic and political fissures eroding Iran’s carefully orchestrated system of government. Read more…

We Shall Return

February 7, 2013 Leave a comment

Don’t be too sure there won’t be another U.S. war in the Middle East.iraqexit

Shortly before he left office in February 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told West Point cadets that “in my opinion, any future defense secretary who advised the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it.” The remark no doubt reflected Secretary Gates’s fatigue and frustration from the enormous intellectual and emotional burdens associated with overseeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One suspects, however, that in a more reflective moment, Gates would have acknowledged that “never say never” is a wise rule of thumb in planning for military Read more…