Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | August 6, 2012

Peace in our time: Asian Navies converging on the Mediterranean

While Russia’s “interfleet naval task force” tootles around the Eastern Mediterranean making like it doesn’t know from Syria, China and India have joined the naval game in the Eastern Med.  Both have a regular naval presence off the coast of Somalia, and each has dispatched its most recent antipiracy task group – now relieved on-station – to conduct port visits in the Med.  The Chinese units are visiting ports in the Black Sea as well.

China sent a naval task force (coming off antipiracy duty) to visit ports in the Med in 2010.  The visits extended into the central Mediterranean during that deployment; this time they are in EASTMED and – a new wrinkle – the Black Sea.  India sent a naval task force to participate in an exercise with Atlantic navies – the US, UK, and France – in 2009.  This task force also conducted port visits in the Med, primarily in the Western half of the sea.  Both nations have regularly sent naval training task groups on worldwide cruises as well, spending time in the Med and conducting port visits.  So the unprecedented nature of what’s going on doesn’t come from a complete absence of naval presence in the Med by the Asian nations.

The difference today lies in everything else that’s going on, and the new paths being taken by India’s and China’s navies in particular.

India has just conducted an unprecedented four-day port visit in Haifa, during which Indian sailors roamed Israel as American sailors have for many years, and joint ceremonies were held with the local population.  A naval visit to Israel is a big political signal; India would not be sending it lightly.

India also enjoys good relations with Iran, including a big trade boom between the two neighbors, and is edging ever closer to Russia in Asian geopolitics.  (For Russia’s part, of course, Vladimir Putin visited Israel this summer and displayed an eye-opening level of sympathy for Israeli concerns.  Russia is also Iran’s chief foreign patron, and those aren’t mutually exclusive facts.  The world has already stopped being a place in which ideological sympathy between nations trumps geographic necessity.  Russia is trying to exert influence over her neighborhood, not foster an ideology.  She’ll make common cause on one principle in one place, and on a different principle in another.)  At any rate, an Indian naval port visit in Israel is a lower-profile event than a Russian one, but it conveys the sentiments of both Asian nations that Israel is a partner in stability in the rapidly churning Middle East.

India and Russia both have security problems with Sunni Islamist extremists, and neither wants to see radical Sunni Islamism become entrenched in government after government in the Arab world.  Iran’s radicalism is comparatively singular; there is only one Shia theocracy, and its geography is limited, unlike the geography of potential Sunni prizes, which stretches from Indonesia to Morocco.  Iran’s theocrats are ultimately opposed to the Sunni view of eschatological fulfillment, and the two views will battle it out at some point if Islamism becomes the dominant geopolitical factor in South Asia.

Iran has her uses as a foil in the emerging drama, and India and Russia will make use of her if they can.  They are less worried about Iran than they are about China and Sunni Islamism – especially as united with the Arab Spring.  Take that away from this piece, if you take nothing else.

Speaking of China, her task group has completed a port visit in Ukraine (“In your face, Russia”), and is now conducting separate port visits in Bulgaria and Turkey.  The visit of People’s Liberation Army Naval (PLAN) ships to the Black Sea is unprecedented, as will be their visit to Israel at the end of their Med circuit.  Yes, they’re scheduled to go to Israel too.

I believe it is invalid to interpret the Chinese deployment as a joint signal with Russia to discourage Western intervention in Syria.  I don’t think China is really worried that we’re going to intervene, at least not with military force.  China’s deployment is a signal of competition with Russia and India – separately and together – for the future of the Eastern hemisphere.  The Chinese visits to Ukraine and Bulgaria are as in-your-face as it gets, Russia-wise; Moscow is very sensitive about foreign navies in the Black Sea.  China’s deployment is not an expression of solidarity with her northern neighbor.

The naval competition is heating up all around Asia.  The activity in the Med is one facet of it, and an indicator of the strategic significance of the Med to the calculations of the Asian powers.  Neither Russia, nor India, nor China can tolerate seeing herself flanked by the power of the others in EASTMED.  They all three see a necessity for being there because of geographic realities and their competition elsewhere.

It is essential to reiterate the reminder once more that none of them would perceive either a significantly increased threat or important new opportunities if the United States were still acting according to our character since World War II.  We no longer are, and the current proliferation of foreign naval expeditions is what had to result.

In the South China Sea in July, China dispatched an amphibious landing ship to anchor out near the Philippine-occupied Pag-asa Island in the Kalayaan archipelago (designated as municipality of Palawan by the Philippine government).   Earlier this year, in May, China had completed a radar station on nearby Subi Reef.   See the map for how close these features are to the Philippines, and how far from China.  The Chinese activity certainly has the look of China trying to enforce her extremely excessive maritime claims: claims that would deny her neighbors around the South China Sea the use of most of their EEZs.

South China Sea and Strait of Malacca

Chinese fishing vessels, accompanied by two PLAN frigates, gathered around Pag-asa for a week after the landing ship was sighted, operating in waters justifiably claimed by the Philippines.  (According to Filipino news sources, the ships were dispersing by 30 July.)

But all of East Asia is gravely concerned about China’s naval shows of force.  A Russian admiral spoke openly last week of the Russian navy seeking foreign bases in Vietnam and the Seychelles as well as Cuba, a clear signal of Russia’s intention to act as a counterweight to Chinese power in South Asia.  (Clear statements of intent rather than coy denials are a new set-out for the Russians on this matter.  One more reminder that everything has already changed.)

India has wasted no time establishing a new naval air base in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which command the western approaches to the Strait of Malacca (SOM), the highest-trafficked chokepoint in the world. The new base, situated on the southern tip of Great Nicobar Island, is India’s southernmost, 300 miles south of her older naval base at Port Blair on Andaman Island.  The great fear of naval experts is that China will seek to control the SOM and exert the major influence over the Indian Ocean.  India’s new pattern of visiting East Asia with a naval task force each year is also a measure designed to counter China.

If you want security for yourself in Asia, you have to have buffers and blocking mechanisms against your principal competitors – whichever direction they may come from.  That means alliances, influence, and raw power on both ends of the continent, and the vast interior in between.  All three of Asia’s land giants are cultivating their alliances, being where the others are, and keeping their options open (e.g., China visiting both Israel and Turkey).  That’s what’s going on right now.  Syria is a significant issue, but for them, it’s largely a matter of geopolitics, and blocking or creating a threat:  Russia and India seeking to block a Sunni-Islamist geopolitical triumph, China seeking to dilute their effectiveness and increase her own with the courtship of Turkey and Russia’s uneasy neighbors.

The stakes are high for them.  American power isn’t going to help stabilize their problems or stifle their initiative.  It’s open season on the status quo in the Eastern hemisphere.  In the last three years, nothing in geopolitics has been clearer than that.

 

Note:  One of my first blog posts, in February 2009, foresaw the rise of naval influence by Asian outsiders in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the increase in both their activism and regional instability.  Its title is “Not Your Father’s Cold War.”  I followed it in June 2009 with a 4-post series on how the competition between brands of Islamism would throw the Islamic world into chaos, in particular in the Middle East.  Much of what was forecast in those earlier posts has already come true.  The 4-post series was reintroduced in February 2011 when the Arab Spring was underway.

This has all been foreseeable.  If the US is not using its power, the world will revert to its historically normal condition: everyone armed, arming up further, and seeking to enlarge his sphere of influence and push the boundaries against smaller, weaker powers.  Some nations are less aggressive than others, but there’s no room for non-aggression.  The Pax Americana is dead.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online.

Note for new commenters:  Welcome!  There is a one-time “approval” process that keeps down the spam.  There may be a delay in the posting if your first comment, but once you’re “approved,” you can join the fray at will.


Responses

  1. — ” If the US is not using its power, the world will revert to its historically normal condition…..”

    SOP still going on. the opticon posts a conditional sentence where the antecedent clause has a truth value of F and then natters on.

    • The opticon’s ‘nattering’ is predicated on the assumption that the obvious need not be specified. Clearly, for some people, that assumption is a bit too optimistic.

      For those too obtuse, willful or otherwise; the ‘obvious’ is the implication that multiple nations, attempting to use military assets to establish expanded spheres of influence is an activity prone to miscalculation. Miscalculations have often led to wars, even world wars and, in a nuclear armed world, open, unrestricted conflict will bring destruction that we cannot really imagine.

      That is what the forfeiture of Pax Americana risks and to ignore that potential, indeed arguably probable, consequence is irresponsibility of the highest order and opens one to the charge of moral culpability in the potential deaths of millions.

  2. Hello, ma’am! I have a question: can you foresee a time in the future when alliances of democratic nations and their navies (say, the US, Britain, India, Israel, Taiwan, Germany, and others) are used in a joint-command way to police the world’s oceans? Instead of working through the useless UN, perhaps the US and its’ allies would decide instead to form a loose federation of countries to protect their free-market interests – and use their militaries, when needed and necessary – to do so. It seems to me that the mockery of UN Security Council resolutions preventing action like Russia’s and China’s would prompt/drive something like this.

    • might we call it NATO? and perhaps have a similar treaty org in SouthEastAsia ?

      • No. NATO has too many countries whose economies and political makeup would prevent them from participating in their own self-defense (no matter what the treaty requires from them), let alone what I’m proposing. And we don’t need another REGIONAL treaty organization – what we need is the Earth’s democratic societies – and ONLY democratic societies – banding together in an economic/defensive alliance OUTSIDE of the UN (in fact, I will go so far to say that the new alliance’s members would leave the UN) against countries that represent threats to its’ interests. Leaving the hapless UN would redirect our policies and resources towards like-minded nations that share in our long-term national foreign policy goals; and away from those nations that don’t. If any of them want to jojn, fine: they have to become free societies that believe in the free enterprise system of economics; if not, the answer would be NO.

        • so, would countries such as Britain or Canada with their socialized medicine qualify as free-enterprise democracies?

          • you certainly don’t mean to include Israel with all the socialist roots to the place, do you?

            Is it just Turkey and Germany you’re including?

            • No, and I thought the implication was clear on that. “Democratic” nations would naturally include places like Australia, South Korea, Brazil, and other countries. If I were to give you an entire list, I’m sure I would run out of space. Obviously, my point was that nations that have the same basic freedoms in place that the US does would be members in my proposed federation – not Sudan, not Turkey, not Cuba. See the difference?

              • And, in the case of Israel, yes, she would be included. To drive home my point, do some research on the rights afforded to and living conditions for Arabs in Israel, as opposed to anywhere else. Do some digging, and get back to me. Because, if I were Arab, I’d MUCH rather live in Israel than any Arab nation – in terms of basic rights and freedoms, along with economic conditions. That’s IF I’d been taught openly about the free enterprise system in the first place, that is. You HAVE that in Israel; you DON’T have it anywhere else in the Middle East.

                • You might include Israel, Bill, but sadly, most of the western democracies you would like to recuit to your alliance would see Israel as being an embarrassing liability as long as it continues to occupy and steal Palestine property and flouts every concept of the very ‘rule of law’ that defines western democracy. I can hardly see them being over impressed by “I’d much rather be living in Israel than in any Arab nation” as a substitute for observance of basic western democratic standards – such as respect for private property.
                  However, I do see merit in an alliance of the countries that actually share our values. In fact, this alliance already exists on an ad-hoc basis because our interests largely coincide. These are also the nations that usually row in behind us without having to be doled by the US taxpayer.

                  • Unlike others, I don’t view Israel as being a “liability” or an “embarassment.” This is a nation that has fought tooth and nail for its’ existence since the first seconds of its’ birth. And, other than Britain, Canada, and Australia, has been America’s most loyal, consistent ally since coming into being. Friends like that – especially in a region of the world that hates us for our prosperity – don’t deserve what’s been said and done to them. I consider Israel a democracy in every sense of the word – and the charge that it is “occupying” and “stealing” lands belonging to the Palestinians is laughable and easily disproven. I don’t accept or take as gospel leftist rhetoric on Israel being an “occupying” country against forces that would destroy it in a heartbeat if they could; instead, I read history. I have read the League of Nations’ British mandate for that part of the Middle East; I’ve read the UN resolutions in 1948 creating the state of Israel. I’ve also read the multiple peace agreements between Israel and its’ neighbors that the Palestinians and other forces have turned down, or broken (as opposed to Jordan and Egypt, who have so far stuck to their agreements with Israel). I have watched Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian leadership for years; much of what they do is straight out of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”. I’d rather stick with people who have rights, stick to their word, and are there when you need them.

                    In my “federation,” Israel would hold a long-standing and honored place, and be an example of how a nation should treat its’ people, its’ neighbors, and conduct itself on the world stage.

                    • The Israelis have never fought alongside us. Most of our fellow western democracies have.

                      I hope no one ever steals your property, but if they did, you will surely be sympathetic if they use your novel “easily disproved” defence.

                      You might give Israel “a long-standing and honoured place” in “your federation”. The reality is that most of the other democracies wouldn’t. Canada, which you mention, has a particularly strong diplomatic view on Israel’s land-grab and behaviour generally.

                      But, again, I agree with the basic principle that an alliance of the true Western Democracies has great merit. All of us, whatever our differences, share a common value system, and a fairly similar world-view. Moreover, having countries which don’t share our values (like the rule of law and equal esteem for the persons and property of all who are under the power of the state) inevitably results in a dilution of our own values. I appreciate that temporary alliances with ethnocracies, partial democracies, and even totalitarian outfits can be temporarily convenient, but I still believe that such alliances are not worth the moral cost. These sort of alliances have had a large part to play in creating the present mess in the Middle East.

                      Don’t get me wrong. Israel is far from the worst state in the Middle East. But, while it observes some of the values of Western Democracy, it also some of the characteristics of an aparteit state. Alas, prolonged occupation has more than one victim. The moral values of the occupier are also an inevitable casualty.

                    • You’re obviously fixated on this idea that Israel is an “occupier” and has major anti-democratic facets of its’ national character and makeup. Please provide me with links to information that supports this; in all of my readings on the state of Israel, and my studies of the histories of both Israel and the Palestinian people, I’ve found little evidence to support what you’re saying.
                      What do you base all this on? Please provide clear examples.

                      And, of course, I’d be happy to provide links to you, and anyone else who may be interested, that help to demonstrate my position, as well …. if you’re interested, that is.

                  • I do see merit in an alliance of the countries that actually share our values.

                    And what would those values be? There are over 300 million souls resident in the US, each of whom has an individual perspective on “our values”. Some believe marriage is a private contract between a man and a woman, others have a different view. Many find cock fights disgusting, others think the same of high school football. You probably feel that your own values reflect those of the majority, for whatever that’s worth. Chances are many of them do not.

                    • In response to CM:

                      Very true, very true…

                      I will expand on that observation a bit by saying that I believe that the first order of business is to achieve an “alliance” amongst ourseleves. By whatever means necessary, by the way.

                      And, if we cannot achieve that here at home, what makes us think that we can achieve it with other nations?

                      Adding more volume and weight to the problem just causes more stress to whatever structure we might be building in my opinion.

                      rafa

                    • Interesting phrase, “by whatever means necessary” – I wouldn’t want to be a part, nor have my country be a part, of a group that acted according to that kind of thinking – unless in the case of dire emergencies, or all-out war. “By whatever means necessary” is a mindset our enemies would utilize; not us, unless our very lives – either as individuals, or as nations – were at stake.

                      It sounds as if there are some people in this discussion who are missing the point of the higher ideals my proposed Federation would have; maybe I need to write a constitution, or articles of federation, in order to clear things up

                    • TO: WNBILL

                      Higher ideals? Why do you think those will work? Life is not about “higher ideals” life is about making things work. “Higher ideals” for the most part translate to some hidden agenda and that is what has us in trouble in the first place.

                      And, also, who selects the higher ideals? You? Who made you the judge of higher ideals? Are you so arrogant that youthink of yourself as the final judge of lofty ideals and, if so, what makes you think I or others who don’t buy the BS would follow?

                      You know what I find an interesting turn of words? This: “…there are some people in this discussion who are missing the point of the higher ideals MY proposed Federation would have; maybe I need to write a constitution, or articles of federation, in order to clear things up…” So, it’s YOUR federation is it…? Nah. Don’t bother. I’ve been hearing that song all my life. Besides, you are way too full of yourself for my taste.

                      Here is what I think, Bill. The reason we are having this discussion is because our enemies are in a lot of respects whipping our ass. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t be having this discussion and we would be having a bunch of ice cold Coronas instead of parsing some idealistic Napoleon’s end-all solution to the troubles we’re in.

                      So, if this is the way our enemies would do it AND they are actually making inroads into our idealistic nonsense (or we would be talking about the Olymics instead), the smart gamble, according to you, is to have more lofty idealistic federations, build yet another bonfire, grab another set of hands and sing Kumbaya. Again.

                      Yeah. Right. Good luck with that “ideal”.

                      In the end, let’s see if YOUR ideals can actually trump MY solution in the real world.

                      I don seenk so, Lucy. ;-) wink, wink

                      rafa

                    • Chuck, you’re equating PERSONAL values with COLLECTIVE values; no one would agree, for instance, that a collective value of the US as a nation is forced dehumanization of its’ women; however, that’s a value that you can connect to regimes like Saudi Arabia, and North Korea. When I talk about shared values and precepts with America, I’m talking about the rule of law … free speech … freedom of religion and conscience (which the Obama administration, and people who are attacking Chik-Fil-A are in the process of attacking; a DANGEROUS precedent!) … things like that. Chuck, you’re trying to say that the individual values of a single American can be used in a logical argument against those of an entire nation; that’s not what I’m proposing at all. I think you know that.

                      The same collective, national identity values that link us with the Brits, Canadians, Australians, etc., would be the foundation of this new Terran Federation. The major difference would be – there would be no opposite collective values from places like Iran, North Korea, or Sudan in the collective policies and actions of the Federation; no time wasted, no prevarications, no feeble attempts to make sure regimes who don’t respect the rule of law and human rights take up the same amount of time and space as those we hold dear.

                      No, everyone on the planet would KNOW where the TF stands on most things; I’m sure that there would be occasional disagreements (we don’t always see eye to eye with the Brits, after all) …. but, those discussions wouldn’t incapacitate our ability to come to a mutual compromise or take an action – as they consistently do in the UN.

                      And for those countries who want to be our enemies, they’d have no hope that one of our members stymies our action (or reaction) by a single veto or any other move that runs counter to the will of the whole.

                    • You’ve lapsed into Commie-speak. There is no such thing as “collective values”. Of course when dealing with amorphous abstractions it can seem as though there are values accepted as a given by everyone but that’s actually never the case where the rubber meets the road.

                      Ask Americans (or Brits or Canucks or Kiwis) what “liberty” means as applied to their own society and you’ll get a variety of non-specific platitudes that can be printed on a T-shirt or bumper sticker but can’t be translated to real life experience.

                      A “collective value” can only be imposed on a population, it’s not the sum of individual values and is exactly the line of thinking that runs from Plato to Hegel to Bismarck to the National Socialists and beyond, the antithesis of individualism. Your concept doesn’t insure individual autonomy, rather it’s a mis-guided attempt to prop up the failing nation-state. Human-kind needs much less supervision to thrive, not more.

          • Yes, because they are proof that you can have solialist POLICIES without being a SOCIALIST nation; the US over the past four years stands as another example. The primary issue is the freedom of the people in those countries to live their lives as they deem best. Now, I don’t believe that socialist policies allow your to do that – but I do believe that people should have the right to decide how they ought to be governed. It took the Supreme Court to make Obamacare legal in this country; NOT the American people. More than 60% of voters wanted that law struck down. Similar situations occur in Canada, Britain, Israel, and other democracies …. but the fundamental freedoms of those peoples to decide still remain. You can’t say the same for places like Egypt, Iran, China, Russia, etc.

            • Bill— you seem to forget that the American people in Congress assembled is what made “Obamacare” legal…and that SCOTUS merely noted that the law passed was in conformity with the Constitution.

              opinion polls are not the basis for determining the will of the people, elections are…..and the American people elected the Congress that passed the law and the president who signed it.

              • Actually, fuster, you don’t seem to have paid close attention to the SC ruling on Obamacare – only the individual mandate was ruled constitutional … AFTER Roberts termed it a “tax”. He also made it clear that, if considered as a penalty (which is what the Obama administration termed it during oral arguments), then that would be unconstitutional as well. The other portions, like the expansion of Medicaid to the states, was ruled unconstitutional. Read the decision.
                So, you have a law, which was originally written and submitted to the whole of Congress for a vote from the Senate (which is also a violation of federal law, since any law that has budgetary or taxing elements MUST originate in the House), submitted to the President without due process of deliberation (it was passed on a voice vote after midnight on a Saturday) … and then had the majority overturned by the Supremes, now controlling over 20% of GDP. The American people, who in polling rejected the law by over 60%, did NOT choose to enact this into law.

                Which is why it will be one of the first things to go, once Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are in a position to do it, in January 2013.

                Obamacare has an expiration date of January 20th, 2013 – believe it.

                • every law is ….law….and presumed Constitutional until the courts say otherwise……so the SCOTUS ruling means that there is no part of the health reform laws that’s NOT Constiuttional.

                  • If you truly believe that there are NO parts of Obamacare that are and were found unconstitutional, then you don’t understand the rule of law, or the SCOTUS decision, at all. Medicaid expansion, for instance, was ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL – do I need to quote the relevant decision to you? I’d prefer that you simply take the time to read it for yourself, so that when you discuss it with others, you can truly say with a straight face that you’ve READ it, and UNDERSTAND what it means. Listening to someone on the left describe what THEY think it means, and taking them at their word, is NOT true knowledge.

                    You’re gonna have to work a little bit harder for it.

                    • let me know where your JD is from, billy

                    • Instead of inquiring about something that’s clearly not your concern, why not answer the question about whether or not portions of Obamacare were found unconstitutional?

                      And, keep in mind – I’ve read Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” so I do recognize your tactics.

              • Arguing that a 2000+ page bill passed in the dead of night, in which not one Republican voted in favor…with no time to examine the bill, told that they would have to vote for it in order to see what was in it…and which 60% of the public continue to reject…legitimately represents the will of the people as reflected by their elected representatives…is a complete denial of reason, common sense and justice. Anyone who supports such means as justified by the ends sought is an enemy of liberty and in spirit, a traitor, if not one in law.

                • Absolutely. And you don’t know the half of it. L. Ron. Hubbard came to me in my dreams last night and revealed that Congress has been infiltrated by Martians, and that the Chief Justice is actually a Cardassian shape-shifter.

                  • When unable to rebut factually or with reasoned argument and are forced to resort to personal attacks, it means they implicitly concede the argument. Pretending otherwise is playing the fool.

                    • Absolutely, I’m playing you. Guilty as charged.

                    • Actually, you’re wasting everyone’s time. We’re having a serious discussion here; if that’s not your cup of tea, then let the adults chat while you go outside and play. This country has serious issues, and needs serious people to discuss them and find solutions. You want games? Go watch the Olympics.

                  • If you think having a serious discussion includes the proposition that a law passed by the legislature and upheld by SCOTUS isn’t constitutional, or law, your idea of “serious” and mine are rather different. No, all in all, sometimes ridicule is the best response to surreal nonsense.

  3. Could be that the Russians don’t much want to know from Syria any more as they’ve come to understand that the Assad government will soon be no more…..

    Russian dip in France, Orlov…was going on radio saying that Assad knows that he must go…but it looking for a “civilized” way to make his exit…………

    as well, Russia seems to be saying that, darn it, but we just can’t make any deliveries of those military helos to Bashir’s boys…….

    Just when the opticon was getting around to noting that the Russkies had Obama cowed and were about to get his permission for the Assad’s to march on down and link up with the Egyptians marching North to liberate Jerusalem….something seems to have happened…or not.

    and somewhere around here I’ve still got a bet with somebody who says that them Russkies gonna be contracting out their pilots to bomb and strafe the rebels…like they wuz Milo Minderbinder or someone.

    • Good day Fuster,

      I’ve got no problem losing that bet. So far the Russians have deterred “safe havens” and “no-fly zones” in Syria by other means (SC vetoes).

      I said stationing a squadron in Syria to deter the above, not strafing rebels The Russians continue to maintain their position and serve their interests in Syria as best as possible. No Russian aircraft ? So much the better

      As for Assad, nothing lasts forever, personally,,(and selfishly), one of my main concerns is a prevention of the wholesale slaughter of Syria’s Christian population. Eastern Christendom has suffered too much of that.

      Let’s see how this all plays out first.

    • PS

      In the meantime, Hellenes and Hebrews are quietly (and industriously) laying the foundations for a new economic and security axis in the EASTMED. With Washington’s (and Moscow’s ) blessings.

      Nothing is as it seems on the surface.

      • A rather porous surface, methinks. The Hebrews are industriously shaking down the US tax-payer for a several billion $ dole (and looking for more), while the only thing between the Hellenes and the abiss is an even larger dole from the taxpayers of Germany and France. The real industrial powerhouse in the region is now Turkey.

        • I was referring to cooperation mainly in the field of energy Paulite. The hydrocarbons discovered in the EEZ’s of Cyprus, Israel and from initial indications, Greece, offsets their debt problem to a degree. The results should be seen in about a decade when the wells start producing.. Israel is in much better economic shape right now than the other two,

          Your anti-Israeli bias is well known. Constantly repeating it
          adds nothing new to the discourse. Would Israeli produced natural gas flowing through a Greek pipeline be bad for Europe? Does it not diversify European gas supplies and reduce dependence on Gazprom? These are questions worthy of you reply, are they not?

          Turkey has made good progress since it was in an even worse economic situation than was Greece. You can thank Kemal Dervis for that. Calling Turkey an industrial powerhouse is a bit premature, let’s see if it survives with its current borders intact first. With Erdogan/Davitoglu’s current policies, I have my doubts. The possibility of open revolt, autonomy and cessation of the Kurdish region grows daily.

          I won’t touch upon the Alevi minority’s gripes, yet.

          Have a nice day

        • Make that “secession” of the Kurdish region, damn automatic spellcheckers….

      • Update

        No offense intended to anyone’s morals. I just couldn’t resist.

        On the subject of laying foundations.

        http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4267626,00.html

        Now that’s what I call close cooperation between allies.

        You gotta love sailors, they’re the same all over :)

        • but not the same all under…and I’ll ask you to remember the hostess

  4. Below. again commentary and thoughts, no pretensions to analysis

    “Iran has her uses as a foil in the emerging drama, and India and Russia will make use of her if they can. They are less worried about Iran than they are about China and Sunni Islamism – especially as united with the Arab Spring. Take that away from this piece, if you take nothing else”.

    Very true, Iran can also be utilized as a foil for Western interests, I’m certain that that hasn’t escaped our own analyst’s attention either.

    Yes Optcon, in the spirit of your post, it seems Russia and China are (somewhat) adversarial in the EASTMED (I believe you are making too much of it, it can still go either way between cooperation and tame disagreement) , but, there seems to be an allowance by Russia for a free Chinese hand in the South China Sea (knowing what the quid pro quo for this is would be helpful). Russia’s geopolitical position allows for such incongruities in the short term. And she will utilize that to maximum effect.

    BTW I believe any Indian moves that are not strictly restricted to her immediate neighborhood are over hyped, India has a long way to go to fulfill her pretensions of global superpower.

    And finally, whose interest is it in to have a resurgence of Sunni based Islamic power between Morocco and Malaysia? Unless it is in ours, as a precursor to eventually dismantle all of them into smaller innocuous constituent parts.

    Are we still able to pull something like this off?

  5. To add to my previous comment,

    Concerning Russia, in regard to the Pacific theater: a China entangled in the South China Sea, (at odds with the US), is preferable to having China drooling while gazing at the land north of Manchuria.

    India is a very fractious unstable country under the surface, with a population of 177m Muslims, roughly equal to the population of Pakistan. It’s a disaster in the making.

  6. “Iran has her uses as a foil in the emerging drama, and India and Russia will make use of her if they can. They are less worried about Iran than they are about China and Sunni Islamism – especially as united with the Arab Spring. Take that away from this piece, if you take nothing else.”

    I cannot fully agree. India is worried about China but not her explorations into the Med. Russia is not particularly worried about China’s intrusion into the Mediterranean either, as both India and Russia must realize that neither logistics nor the restricted access through the Suez Canal will support anything beyond securing a Chinese toehold in the region. Russia would certainly prefer blocking China from establishing even that toehold but logistics dictate that it cannot be a major concern.

    Russia’s major concern is reducing American influence in the region.

    Reducing American military might is Russia’s primary goal.

    An America materially, economically and psychologically devastated by Islamic nuclear terrorism is completely in Putin and his thugs interest. After massive retaliation, (removing the threat to Russia) the natural reaction of post-nuclear devastated America to multiple nuclear terror attacks will be a ‘fortress America’ mentality, greatly reducing our global influence. In such an eventuality, Russia would rush to fill the power vacuum.

    Putin has to know that Iran’s gaining nuclear weapons capacity will result in greatly expanded nuclear weapons capacity among Sunni nations. So Russia’s actions are in contradiction to the assertion that Islamic terrorism is a major motivational dynamic for Putin and his strategists.

    When individuals or nations engage in what appear to be counter productive behavior look to what psychologists term ‘secondary gain’. IMHO, Russia’s behavior is only explainable when the geopolitical strategy of using Islamic terrorism as a foil to reduce American military/economic might over time.

    I have yet to see a reasoned rebuttal to these assertions. But would welcome a rational alternative explanation that fully accounts for Russia’s behavior, given the certainty of the consequences of facilitating Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

    • A lighthearted rebuttal, it’s summertime after all, hope you don’t mind.

      Take into account Russia’s peculiarity as both European and Asian power, (it helps if you turn a map of the Eastern hemisphere upside down). Put aside the Intercontinental and global aspects of the Iranian nukes issue (or any other dimension for that matter) for a moment, Forget the Islamic terrorism factor, think: “how the hell can I secure my vast territory with all these thugs surrounding me?” Therein lies your answer.

      Have a good day GB :)

      • What power threatens Russia’s borders? Even Russia’s famous paranoia cannot seriously entertain the notion that either the US or China is a real threat to Russia’s current borders.

        Only if we consider Russian military aggression in expanding her borders can the US or China be considered a threat.

        Russia is not going to invade China or even seek to expand to her east, as the logistics do not support that ambition.

        Only Eastern and Western Europe provide any opportunities for Russian expansion. The US of course currently makes expansion in that direction untenable. Thus the strategic need to reduce American influence and willingness to defend Europe.

        Consider these facts;

        Russia is the primary facilitator of Iranian ambitions toward nuclear weapons capability.

        Putin knows that Iran gaining nukes inevitably results in multiple Sunni nations going nuclear. There can be no doubt of that result or of Putin’s foreknowledge. Putin is a power driven thug but a former KGB colonel, his actions consistently demonstrate a firm grasp of strategic considerations.

        Once nuclear weapons proliferation reaches its ‘tipping point’, nukes will find their way into the arms of terrorist organizations. As they are terrorist’s strategic holy grail, the ‘great equalizer’.

        Fanatical Islamists are quite aware of the kind of people they are dealing with when considering Russia and China. Islamists realize that neither Putin nor China’s totalitarian leadership will have any ethical reservations with an immediate and overwhelming nuclear response. The leadership of Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Pakistan, etc. KNOW that 30 minutes after a nuclear terrorist attack in Moscow or Beijing…Mecca and most of the Ummah will cease to exist.

        But once terrorists acquire nukes they will attempt to use them against the ‘Great and little Satan’. Sooner or later they will be successful.

        Tel Aviv, Israel’s cultural and governmental center is a coastal city. 50% of Israel’s population live with the greater metropolitan area of Tel Aviv.

        20 of America’s largest cities are coastal, without bringing our commerce to a standstill, a suicide tanker loaded with a nuke, detonated at port facilities is essentially unstoppable.

        Whether we immediately retaliate effectively or not, that will result in a fortress America mentality. Retaliating effectively means fully removing the threat, which we shall at some point do, the only question being how badly we allow them to hurt us before full retaliation occurs.

        In the aftermath, a devastated America will not be able to resist Russia rushing into the resultant power vacuum.

        The facts are clear, the actions of the various players evident.

        What other explanation accounts for the observed phenomena?

        • GB with all due respect, and I learn a lot from your interesting views, please consider the following.

          If you were Russian, would you consider NATO troops stationed in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine a significant military threat to you security or not? Or to put it another way, would it not raise American eyebrows if there were Chinese troops stationed in Mexico?

          There are certain geopolitical axioms that governs the way powers along the vast Eurasian plain evaluate their security. Due to the lack of natural geographical barriers, it molds a perception that equates expansion with defense. Russia is a slave to geography as are other powers (NATO). She will always feel threatened unless, and this has always been my take, she is fully integrated into the EuroAtlantic system. Then her only potential security concern lies with China and Central Asia.

          It was a mistake to expand NATO piecemeal. We should have taken in the whole kit and caboodle when we had the chance, including Russia. Now the Poles and Balts will never give up their pecived security edge vis a vis Russia and the Russians will never allow further expansion. For brevity’s sake.let’s dispense with the “democracy” argument as criteria for membership Granted Russia is not a functioning Western democracy, neither is Turkey. Franco’s Spain was not a “democracy” and neither were Greece and Portugal for a limited period of time.

          Nevertheless, Europe and Russia are destined to closer integrate. that’s if the current economic trends keep up. The symbiosis of Russian raw materials and European technology is too strong.

          You know we disagree on your point about a nuclear Iran being in Russia’s ultimate interest. Just a small point here, why did the Russians cancel the sale of advanced SAM S-300 batteries to Iran? The Russians surely would have beefed up Iranian air defense (and made a few bucks too) if their objective was to protect Iranian facilities from air attack, sanctions or no sanctions they would have found a way. Optcon hit the nail on the head. Iran has her uses as a foil.

          Pakistan’s nukes falling into the hands of Sunni extremists are a much more immediate global threat. And by golly, guess who they get their support from, China and the US.

          I have no doubt at all , not one iota, that if some m#th#r f#ck#r did what you very properly bring up, that of a nuclear terrorist attack on the US, we also would cauterize the Muslim world. Especially after 9/11. I disagree that we will retreat into our shell.

          As for the Israelis, they have a problem. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been advocating for a closer Israeli cooperation with EU states Greece and Cyprus. I believe this is the path to Israel’s eventual EU membership ( don’t laugh, I know this will take time and there are many hurdles). This will accord her some international coverage other than the relationship with the US. I’d like to see them in NATO also, but that’s a non-starter with the present Turkish regime, (also because of our oil and money based relations with the Sunni Gulf monarchies).

          The only place left for Russia to expand east GB is Alaska. I think the phrase “been there done that” suffices to cover that issue :)

          • NATO troops are not a threat to Russia because our military’s posture has never, at any point, been offensively oriented. It has always been and continues to be, a defensive posture.

            Thus, if I were Russian, I would not consider the US, NATO or even China to be a serious threat to my national security. However, if I were a Russian and desirous of expansion, I would worry about US and NATO reaction to Russian aggression.

            That is the crux of the matter, assigning equivalence to Russian protests against western ‘aggression’ is allowing Russia to falsely define the narrative.

            Integration of Russia into the ‘EuroAtlantic’ system must be contingent upon Russia embracing an honest representative democratic system of governance. Spain and Portugal are culturally western European societies making their brief flirtation with tyranny an aberation, while Greece is essentially western and has a tradition of representative democracy. So I would argue that hindsight and the example of Turkey instead proves the importance of an insistence upon democracy as a contingency of membership in western military organizations.

            Europe and Russia may well be destined for closer integration. The question is whether that integration will lead to greater or lesser individual freedom. I suspect that current dynamics suggest that the answer will be in the negative.

            I agree that Iran is a useful foil for Russia, it is in the quality of that foil wherein we differ. Russia has consistently chosen a passive aggressive posture in support of Iranian ambitions. Deniability has been Russia’s operative M.O. The cancellation of SAM S-300 batteries may have been simply the result of a judgement that going forward with that sale would have made deniability untenable or it may well be evidence in support of your position. But if so, that presupposes that Russia’s behavior is confused to the point of dysfunction. I see no other evidence of possible dysfunction upon Putin’s part.

            Yes, Pakistan’s nukes falling into the hands of Sunni extremists are a much more immediate global threat but, (if I am correct about Putin’s strategy vis a vis Iran and terrorism directed against the west) that is a threat that Putin cannot count upon.

            Plus, US aid to Pakistan is essentially a bribe to ensure that Pakistan keeps her nukes secured. Further preventing Putin from strategically manipulating Pakistan into an escalating threat against the US.

            I am not at all sanguine that the US would retaliate against a successful Al Qaeda nuclear terrorist attack upon a US city. What territory would we retaliate against? You can be sure that whatever nation provides the nukes to Al Qaeda will seek to do so in a manner that provides plausible deniability…

            Without clear responsibility, support for retaliation will be divided, to retaliate without unassailable proof, opens one to the charge that America is starting a religious war with Islam itself as the enemy. The MSM will continue to resist the assertion that Islam has already declared a religious war upon the west.

            There is no chance whatsoever that Israel will ever join the EU.

            I wish it were otherwise but if it were, the EU would not be recognizable. For a most insightful exposure of the roots of modern European antipathy toward Israel see; Israel Through European Eyes

            • Thank you for your insights GB. I can’t agree with them , but I respect them. I won’t be starting another round of replies. We have time yet to find common ground.

              An ancient metaphor for dealing with the modern world’s growing Islamic extremist problems, if you allow it.

              It took both Athens(West) AND Sparta(Russia) to defeat the Persians(Islam). That miracle happened only when the latter stopped beating on each other.

              • I meant “former” of course.

              • Like the pundit Dennis Prager, whom I greatly admire, I value clarity over agreement. When disagreement is reasoned and coherent it is an aid to either refining ones thinking or rethinking the issue in light of the deeper insight provided. I in turn respect your obvious sincerity.

                I also could care less about winning or being in the right. While getting to the heart of the matter, to the objective truth of the issue is everything. I’m open to rational, coherent alternative hypothesis that address the facts and are consistent with the observed behavior and dynamics.

                I don’t enjoy positing that our national security is threatened externally by Islam, Russia and China nor internally by liberal naivete and the drive to power of the West’s leftist ideologues. But where reason and common sense lead we must follow or be led astray by fear of being thought paranoid.

                Despite appearances, I’m not wedded to my theory of Putin’s strategic moves, I simply see no other rationale that doesn’t rest upon the assumption that Putin can’t possibly be encouraging Islamic terrorism because of the threat Islamic terrorism poses to Russia. I find that presumption and premise simplistically naive.

                I certainly believe Islamic terrorism to be a greater threat to US interests than Putin’s stratagems, which rely upon duplicity and gullibility for their success. The main issue regarding Putin’s strategy is that it provides covert support for Islamic terrorism’s logistical infrastructure in facilitating and supporting the rogue regimes which provide logistical support to the terrorist networks.

                Putin’s days are finite as are every power broker.

                Islam however is in a fight to the death with the West because its 7th century theology is fundamentally incapable of reform and it cannot survive long term exposure to modern western societies liberality and individual freedoms. Islam is coercive and cannot stand upon its own merits.

                Stalin’s Soviet Russia became an ally when Hitler’s Germany attacked. So under the right circumstances, I could easily see ‘Sparta’ seeking allegiance with our Athens.

            • Integration of Russia into the ‘EuroAtlantic’ system must be contingent upon Russia embracing an honest representative democratic system of governance.

              Why? Does the US have an “honest representative democratic system? Why should Nancy Pelosi or Barney Frank or Henry Waxman determine how my money should be spent and ultimately how my life should be lived?

              • What with all the dead people voting and the live ones voting often and with the persistent resistance to checking proper ID before casting a “legal” vote and all the shenanigans with absentee voting and all, I just can’t wait to read the answer to this rather poignant question… :-)

                I will also augment that by also asking if a government that proves disastrous to the culture, the economy and, ultimately, to the society at large, is really and truly representative of “the people” or just of the on-going deterioration of the nation’s soul.

                And, also, add this one as well: Is the majority always right simply by virtue of being a majority? Even a slight 1 or 2 percent majority of the minority that votes? Is that a proper representation of the will of “the people”?

                If we walk into a cannibal tribe by mistake, will they be right and morally excused when they eat us? If we hook up with a group of pedophiles will we simply shrug and say: “It’s OK, they have the majority” when they do their thing? Exchange those weird personalities with drug dealers, bank robbers, communists…etc. to please yourself. But, you all do catch my drift, right?

                No. You don’t catch my drift? OK, let’s make it a bit more topical then…

                Egypt. Since Morsi was freely elected by a majority of the Egyptian people, then we should be happy to accept whatever that dangerously stupid choice, which, again, was made freely by the Egyptians, might bring to OUR table, right? We should forget for now whatever consequences that might bring and celebrate, yes, celebrate the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the democratic process in Egypt, right? It must be the proper way to go because lofty concepts like democracy, which is bantered about in a rather unaccountable and cavalier way as far as logic, reason and morality go, actually make little or no distinction as to the possibly nefarious results that they too often bring along with them.

                Or do they make that distinction somewhere…? Or, perhaps, the question should be posed thusly: SHOULDN’T they make that distinction somewhere…? If the answer is “yes” then that question should be imediately followed by: Who, then, should tasked with making that important distinction…?

                rafa

  7. An America materially, economically and psychologically devastated by Islamic nuclear terrorism is completely in Putin and his thugs interest. After massive retaliation, (removing the threat to Russia) the natural reaction of post-nuclear devastated America to multiple nuclear terror attacks will be a ‘fortress America’ mentality, greatly reducing our global influence. In such an eventuality, Russia would rush to fill the power vacuum.

    Russia doesn’t have any problem with Islamic terrorism, does she? Russia doesn’t have any Islamic former colonies on her borders that harbor folks with genuine hatred for the godless ex-commies, does she?

    • Of course she does. It’s the willingness to retaliate with an overwhelming nuclear response wherein the difference lies. Fanatical Islamists KNOW that Putin and totalitarian China’s leadership are en entirely different ‘kettle of fish’ that Obama, Europe or Romney.

      The West believes in proportional response, “Just War Theory” avoidance of civilian casualties and fighting with both hands tied behind our backs.

      Islamist leadership will avoid at all costs serious provocation of Putin and China. They will welcome however, the opportunity to strike with nukes at the west, they honestly believe that we will chose dhimmitude over a fight to the death.

      To their way of thinking, it’s the difference between attacking Stalin and Chamberlain.

      “If they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide. Let the entire world hear me. Our hostility to the Great Satan [America] is absolute […] Regardless of how the world has changed after 11 September, Death to America will remain our reverberating and powerful slogan: Death to America.”
      Hassan Nasrallah, current Secretary General of Hezbollah.

  8. BTW, 2492th anniversary of The Battle of Thermopylae. Happy Anniversary Western Civilization. Just so y’all remember one of the reasons why we aren’t writing in Farsi today.

    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ to all you Islamofascist Xerxes wannabees, wherever you are.

    • the anniversary was weeks ago…or weeks from now.

      • Most place it @ Aug 7. The exact date isn’t that significant Fuster. What they did was, obviously.

        • heck, back then, there was no August.

          • Thank you Fuster for pointing that out. I’m gonna shut up now and enjoy my weekend with a lot of (real) Czech beer. It’s Hekatombaion after all.

            All the best.

            • sorry if I was teasing too hard, j.

              and do enjoy.

              I certainly got enjoyed your beer gag.

              and, as you can guess by looking at me, I love Czech beer…..best hops.

  9. “Just War Theory”? That must have come into vogue sometime after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Let’s sum it up: a small group of jihadis hijack some airliners and crash them into big buildings on the US east coast, killing several thousand people. In response the US invades, defeats and occupies two countries and change on the other side of the world, feeding lots of her own men into the mess and killing and wounding who knows how many other uninvolved parties at an expense of billions. To make the response even more effective, American civil liberties are cancelled, probably forever. Yet the jihadis are afraid of a Russian response? Why, how could it be any worse? Well, of course the US is spending big bucks in Asia Minor, building infrastructure and paying off everybody and their nephew, something Ivan would never consider even if he could actually sell sovereign bonds and get his grandchildren to pay for the adventure.

    The scenario of the jihadis somehow acquiring a nuclear weapon and then drawing straws to determine if it goes to St. Petersburg, FL or St. Petersburg, Russia is a little difficult to imagine. I don’t know about you, or whatever’s left of the Russian nuclear forces, but if I was in possession of an atomic weapon, an item worth far more than its weight in gold, there’s no way anybody would stand a chance of taking it away from me. And who could come up with enough money to buy it, considering that the galaxy wouldn’t have room for the seller to hide? And the Russkies are going to respond to a nuclear event in their territory with another one right next door? Really?

    Whoever’s running the Russian military has game theoried this whole thing over and over. Dropping a nuke anywhere near Mother Russia isn’t part of the program.

    • Just War Theory is taught at West Point and has been for decades. It is the operative strategic philosophy of the American military and has been since at least the Vietnam War. The American response to 9/11 was a reaction to both a mass attack upon American citizens on our soil and decades of an increasingly violent series of attacks and provocations against the West.

      The relative effectiveness of our response to 9/11 is irrelevant to Russia and China’s response to a nuclear terrorist attack. Which was and is the issue I discussed when explaining my view as to why Russia and China do not share our concerns regarding a nuclear terrorist attack. The jihadi’s are afraid of what Russia and China would do if they were to attacked with nukes. Jihadi’s welcome martyrdom but would most definitely not welcome Mecca becoming a glass parking lot.

      Russia survived Chernobyl and Mecca is nowhere near Russia’s borders, much less China’s.

      Islamic jihadists only value the destructive power of a nuke, not its monetary value. And Iran’s mullah’s would welcome Sunni Al Qaeda ‘stealing’ one of their nukes and then successfully using it on NYC.

      See Shia Hezbollah chief Hassan’s quote above for clarification on jihadist priorities.

      Once Sunni Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood attains nuclear capability, they would cheer the announcement that one of their nukes has been ‘lost’ and, if Hezbollah ‘finds it’ and successfully uses it against Tel Aviv, the celebration will go on for months.

      The point being that jihadist hate for the great and little Satan will lead them to rationalize a way to do what they so fervently want to do.

      Whether conscious or unconscious, Islamists know that their ‘cultural abominations’ cannot survive exposure to the modern west.

      From their point of view, they have to attack, it’s a matter of survival.

      They will act accordingly.

    • Just War Theory is as old as the Christian church. The West comes by it through Judeo-Christian thought and Western philosophy. Prelates and princes began to put a lot of thought into it in about the 13th century, in the wake of the Crusades. Modern Just War Theory is typically traced to Aquinas, who wrote comprehensively on the topic. The monarchs of Europe did greater and lesser obeisance to the idea of “just war,” but it is through the waging of war in Europe between the 13th and 20th centuries that the West came to prioritize the concept.

      Napoleon was a big shock to Just War thinking, and it has been scrambling to fit Just War premises to modern military realities ever since. To say that men have ever settled what it means to wage a “just war” is inaccurate. But themes like sparing civilians and rejecting weapons intended to be particularly, gruesomely destructive have persisted.

  10. “Neither Russia, nor India, nor China can tolerate seeing herself flanked by the power of the others in EASTMED. They all three see a necessity for being there because of geographic realities and their competition elsewhere.”

    None of the aforementioned powers can maintain a significant and persistent presence in the EASTMED without access to the naval facilities of one of the following: Souda Bay,(of the greatest importance), Piraeus, Syros Island, or Thessaloniki. Even the Aksaz Naval Base in Turkey is fully choked off by the Greek Island of Rhodes as are the rest of the secondary Turkish naval facilities that are in turn blocked by other Greek islands in the Aegean. These anchorages are the most easily defended for any aspiring EASTMED naval hegemon. No points for guessing who gets the honor of using them today.

    • The EU’s founder has just agreed that some members may be forced to leave the EU.

      If that occurs and there’s an excellent chance it will, it opens the following scenario to the realm of real possibility;

      If Greece, arguably the most egregious of the spendthrifts, is forced out of the EU and, out of public spite and desperation, the left is elected to leadership of the country, then access to those naval facilities (all Greek) may be granted to Russian and/or Chinese naval forces in exchange for desperately needed revenue by a bankrupt Greece.

      If Egypt’s ‘evolving’ Muslim Brotherhood government allows free passage to Russian and/or Chinese naval forces through the Suez canal… you have all the elements needed for a strong naval presence in the Med by Russian and/or Chinese forces.

      Once Iran get the bomb, if Iran then seizes control of the Strait of Hormuz and an established Russian and/or Chinese naval force denies access to US naval forces, Iran can hold the world price of oil hostage, which gives it an economic stranglehold upon the West.

      Just one possible scenario to consider.

  11. IMHO, no one will be leaving the Euro or the EU, bankster and MSM hype aside.

    Greece is a minor Allied Power and has fought shoulder to shoulder in every war the Western Allies have had since 1821.

    There won’t be any Chinese naval presence or facilities in Greece (everybody does port calls).

    There will be (some) courtesies extended to the Russian Navy, that’s mutual tradition between the two countries, but it won’t be anti-NATO or anti-Western. That’s about it, unless there is a conflict with Turkey.

    Egyptian extremists potential strong Suez card, is, restricting southbound Western vessels, not the other way around. Chinese vessels got no place to go in the EASTMED other than to make some port calls.

    If Iran gets the bomb we will have bigger headaches than just the strait of Hormuz GB.

    • Just mentioning possible scenarios jgets. Not implying that there is a high probability of such a scenario occurring but I wouldn’t summarily dismiss the possibility.

      When the EU collapses, as it inevitably must, everyone will be leaving the EU…

      When Iran gets the bomb, the movement toward nuclear proliferation will begin. Iran holding the Strait hostage and raising world oil prices is a tactic they may well employ. They’ve certainly made noises in that direction, so what basis is there for dismissing what would be a severe economic blow to the US?

      Certainly, at some point, there will be bigger headaches but $12.00 a gallon gas will seize our attention quite forcefully, yes?

      • European unity is a noble cause GB.
        People tend to forget why the EU was created in the first place. No European in his right mind wishes to return to the days of slaughter, trenches, death on an industrial scale, genocide. The post war Germans and French taught the world a great and valuable lesson through agreeing to integrate their nations. Without a functioning supranational European body all the old bad things connected to nationalism would resurface. Of course some enlightened and inspired leadership is sorely missed in this particular phase of the EU’s development.

        The Europeans will eventually come to their senses and continue down the path of ever closer union. The alternative is really in no one’s interest.

        I still maintain that Iran will not get the bomb, for reasons we have been through.. Your point about gas prices is one of the reasons also. Although Iran isn’t the only factor behind the price of gas.

        Why would they close the strait (while still armed conventionally)? Why would they give us the pretext we want to attack them? And we would attack, they know that very well.

        Yup, 12 bucks a gallon sure would tilt the scales, I’d say.

        • People tend to forget why the EU was created in the first place. No European in his right mind wishes to return to the days of slaughter, trenches, death on an industrial scale, genocide. The post war Germans and French taught the world a great and valuable lesson through agreeing to integrate their nations. Without a functioning supranational European body all the old bad things connected to nationalism would resurface.

          So that’s the two alternatives, a supra-national bureaucratic maze that milks the productivity of society for its own ends or trench warfare? There’s no third or fourth or fifth path?

          • There certainly are many paths, but the framework of the EU has prevailed. The process of European integration is now irreversible, regardless of the makeup of the prevailing framework. Unfortunately we live in an age where people demand quick and easy fixes ( then again, people have always demanded quick and easy fixes). There is no quick and easy fix to forging a union between parties that were engaged in suicidal civil war for centuries. I’m optimistic, the worst is behind.

            I don’t believe it is longer possible, with the level of development the Europe has achieved that she will ever again fall , seriously, under the shadow of totalitarianism. Individual liberties will continue to flourish, as they currently do in Europe. It’s a process, and it hasn’t been completed yet. Mechanisms for reform exist and will be implemented. People always gripe when the economy does badly. It’s a pendulum, when thing swing back to prosperity, which they inevitably will, more integration and expansion will occur.

            • PS

              None of the above would have been possible without America.

              • PSS

                And, if I really want to be totally politically incorrect, We should thank those brilliantly idealistic and educated crops of WASP’s that founded and ran the country till it consciously decided to commit suicide for some inexplicable reason. Then again, Sparta and Athens are history now as well.

                Regards to all

        • If the European unity is a noble cause, then I will ask for the hundredth time: why not expand that thought and consider a World-wide unity thingy? Like the UN.

          Now, pray tell, when has that silly idea worked?

          Expanding the democratic process to a world-wide nation by nation basis is what is behind the internationalists’ agenda and what has the world screwed up in the first place.

          Like with all other democratic systems, the individual voters, be them people or nations, will work to vote themselves into whatever advantages and privileges the system is willing to give them. It is a failed policy and we can see the destruction that it has sowed all over the world. Democracy has become the best tool of the socialist and, ironically, of the enemies of freedom.

          Touchy-feely philosophies are fine on paper and they make a great tool for heartless demagogues because they make us feel good but, sadly, they don’t stand a chance in real life or in the real world. Humans…mankind is too flawed and too selfish, greedy and lazy to drive that bus correctly.

          Natural selection is much better.

          rafa

          • “If the European unity is a noble cause, then I will ask for the hundredth time: why not expand that thought and consider a World-wide unity thingy? Like the UN.”

            The American point of view doesn’t take into account that this is a local thing, not the precursor to some kind of world wide government. Just a way of handling local European affairs, that’s all.

            Don’t extrapolate.

            • Look up transnational socialism. It was the European intelligentsia’s answer to the horrors of WWI and II.

              For decades it has been the prevalent world view of Europe’s elite and the world view of many of America’s intelligentsia. Most notably, a politician by the name of Barack Obama…

              Transnationalism ascribes much of the world’s conflicts to nationalism and thus strongly opposes national sovereignty.

              The Obama administration, the agent of the left, has been repeatedly attempting to move toward subsuming our Constitution under UN treaties, promoting judicial acceptance of European and World Court precedents and various other stratagems designed to gradually erode our national sovereignty.

              Since transnationalism embraces the UN’s “Declaration of Human Rights”, whose sole rationale rests upon the premise of shared opinion, Europe’s ‘rights’ are ultimately based in the popular whim of the moment.

              On the other hand, our Declaration, the philosophical foundation of our Constitution, rests upon the premise that our rights are ‘unalienable’, as they are our birthright, granted to us by a beneficent ‘creator’ who by definition transcends the laws of mankind and thus, our rights are irrevocable.

              This is a fundamental difference,the importance of which is incalculable.

              European unity could be a noble cause but the premises, animating philosophy and methodology that Europe’s and America’s leftist elite is pursuing is far from benign.

              They believe that individual liberty should be restricted to the espousal of politically correct views and subservient to the ‘good of the collective’. That makes it, at base, the enemy of liberty, for at best, it seeks to slay liberty upon the altar of good intentions.

              At worst, it is simply a ploy to acquire the power to control.

              “Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak and that it is doing God’s service when it is breaking all his laws” Pres. John Adams

              “Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties:
              1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes.
              2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depository of the public interests.
              In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves.” –Thomas Jefferson to Henry Lee, 1824.

              • Uh-hum…Well enough said.

                rafa

          • I agree with jgets that the original idea of European unity was to try and prevent the internecine strife to which the continent had been subjected over centuries. The dreadful consequences of modern war — WWI and WWII — were a particularly urgent pretext.

            The EU has gone well beyond that pretext for some time now, seeking to impose uniformity in areas where that is dysfunctional aand undesirable. Brussels hardly knows how to spell “security” any more; its focus has become social homogenization and the imposition of a utopian ideological vision.

            In that sense, Brussels is only a decade or so ahead of the US federal government in Washington. And Europe is responding about as well as anyone would to being stuffed into a regulatory straitjacket. Its members are starting to implode internally and it is taking more and more debt — kicking the can down the road — to preserve a semblance of economic stability. In some places, government services, both valid and foolish ones, are being cut drastically, with the expected impact on people.

            I think Greece would have done better in the last 30 years if she were not a member of the EU. (I’d say the same of Spain.) Although membership conferred a level of seeming political stability, it also papered over unresolved conflicts between constituencies inside of Greece. I really think that if Greece had had more policy freedom and responsibility — both together — she would have resolved the big conflicts by now and would be on a better path.

            Greece will always have a natural affinity for Russia, and vice versa. I hate to see Russia’s slash-and-burn economic methods seemingly coming to Greece’s and Cyprus’s rescue, but there’s not really anything else out there.

            • “Greece will always have a natural affinity for Russia, and vice versa. I hate to see Russia’s slash-and-burn economic methods seemingly coming to Greece’s and Cyprus’s rescue, but there’s not really anything else out there.”

              Fret not Optcon, the wily Hellenes will assist Russia in her quest to be an exemplary addition to the Western world.

            • Opticon:

              “I agree with jgets that the original idea of European unity was to try and prevent the internecine strife to which the continent had been subjected over centuries. The dreadful consequences of modern war — WWI and WWII — were a particularly urgent pretext.”

              My point was and remains that these pan-unions, federations and “united” nations always start with some lofty pretext or promise. Anything is used; from “peace” to economic security, to trade uniformity to “liberté, fraternité, égalité” and other copy written dime-a-dozen philosophies that never seem to work quite as intended when they are actually taken out to see the light of day.

              Remember that these proposed fraternities are often comprised of well run democracies that have to be sold on these pretexts in order to get the full and unequivocal backing of the Kumbaya crowds that vote en masse and are often joined by all the other people who might also aspire to funny stuff like “peace in our time”, free healthcare, free housing or “a turkey on every family’s dinner table-but at somebody else’s expense”.

              Yup. That’s the way these plans that invariably promise a better, safer comfier world always start.

              But, then, eventually, the politicians, bureaucrats and all sorts of other power-hungry ilegitimate sons of female dogs, take over running those associations and it all becomes a mad dash for more and more power. When that happens the original lofty concept is soon replaced by other more complicated and complex “concepts” that eventually float up out of the foam of empty promises and unattainable goals and the true, maybe even the revised intentions of that “association” are really seen in their entire wicked splendor. Witness the UN, for instance.

              When that happens, and it will, those lofty original goals are invariable replaced by the realities of power, excessive governance and the outright race to rule individual and national behavior by those who expertly play and march to the international and national demagogue’s hymn.

              I still think that natural selection is way better. :-)

              rafa

              • Natural selection, outside the restrictions of, ideally, constitutional protections, is otherwise known as the law of the jungle…where might makes right.

                Natural merit, free to operate upon a level playing field is all that can be asked.

            • the original idea of European unity was to try and prevent the internecine strife to which the continent had been subjected over centuries. The dreadful consequences of modern war — WWI and WWII — were a particularly urgent pretext.

              When the Romans could no longer enforce their hegemony on the rest of Europe the continent made do with a feudal system that served the purposes of a pre-industrial society. Wars between insignificant principalities or even monarchies on the road to the status of nation-states involved small raids or set-piece affairs between small armies that had little effect on the civilian population other than looting. It took the development of the nation-state to introduce murder on an industrial scale, where no “enemy” citizen was a non-combatant.

              It’s possible that the original impetus of a European union may have been to prevent further mindless death and destruction but it hardly requires a monster supra-national bureaucracy with power over all aspects of trade down to the length of the eyelashes of dairy cattle to insure peace and tranquility. A simple NATO-like alliance covers that. Instead the EU is just one more attempt by an elite to take power over the unwashed masses. It seems their strategy may not be working.

              • TO: CM

                BINGO! Give the man a cigar…
                :-)

                rafa

  12. Interesting posts throughout.

    However…

    NWbill really underlines the futility of trying to please all the people all the time as far as putting together “his” loose coalition of nations to safeguard what has become an interpretative system of government. I mean, when has that ever worked before…? In the end, we would end up with another UN or another NATO and they, in turn, would immediately begin to work hard to enlarge their own ambitions and power at the expense of the individual nations while passing the bill to…of course…the US.

    Nah…I have a better plan: Have the US police its own best interests worldwide and have them use their hard-won power to impose, yes, I said impose, their interests on others. Natural selection will take care of the rest and, ususally, the best will survive and the worst will fade off to black.

    We spend too much time equalizing the playing field for far too many people that hate us and are only waiting for our weakness to demonstrate itself in order to take advantage of what we sweat and bleed so much to give them. For free, even…

    We spent billions amputating the Sadam cancer? Fine. Pay us back in oil, dollars, diamonds or whatever your sand castle can produce. Don’t pay us back, then pay us in obedience and respect. Taliban was making you cry? OK, same deal. Otherwise we go back to the glass parking lot concept and let them pound sand (sorry for the quick analogy). None of that is good enough? Cool, then take care of those bastards yourself but mind your manners or we come full circle to the glass parking lot concept again.

    Can’t you tell I’m sick and tired of taking out somebody else’s trash? Hell, I think we have enough trash of our own as will be amply demonstrated come November… :-)

    rafa

    • Thanks for the insights, Rafa … however, I have to disagree with you on one thing: I do NOT believe in America imposing itself on other countries. I don’t believe in America “lording it” over other nations. If we’re going to demand others respect our sovereignty, then we must do the same. I feel very strongly about that; if we actually become what some countries already see us as, then we’ve lost our place in the world.

      My “federation” is mainly born out of the idea that a body like a UN is fatally flawed in today’s geopolitics. Countries must (a) look out for their own interests, and then (b) work with other like-minded nations in problems or issues with shared positive outcomes. To me, working with a North Korea or a Syria or even a Russia in general is a waste of time and resources – unless it’s an issue of shared interest (for example, the lead roles both we and the Russians assume with the ISS).

      I believe that America’s foreign policy and long-term interests are best served by focusing on other countries that share our cultural distinctives and international interests; starting with economics and self-defense. Now, you could say that NATO does that for us; but we all know that in the event of a general war, we would shoulder the bulk of the work. I’d rather create a scenario whereby like-minded countries pool their economic resources and mutually support one another’s free-enterprise systems in order to promote prosperity … which would create as one benefit the ability to contribute meaningfully to mutual self-defense in the case of war or conflicts … and do it WITHOUT being beholden to other countries, like China and Russia on the Security Council, that could – with one veto – prevent us and our friends from carrying out our national and joint interests.

      If Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, etc., want to play those games, fine …. let them form their own alliance. We’ll have ours, and we’ll be much more proactive (and reactive, when needed) in those areas where it’s necessary. Times have changed; modern war and communication have shrunk the planet … and nations need to act (or react) MUCH faster than in decades past to events around the world. We no longer can afford debates in the UN; we need a common consensus in foreign affairs – which isn’t practical, unless you have a group of countries with similar values, interests, and customs working together for mutual benefit.

      A “Terran Federation” of countries could, for example, have conducted the Gulf and Afghanistan conflicts with much less burden and time on the US – and reached the same results … along with defining post-conflict situations that would be to our benefit (Iraq, for instance, could have indeed been directed to divert some of its’ oil revenues in payment for the TF’s military expenditures and losses; a policy that I have no problem with). Or, we might react the same way in places like Libya, or even Syria. As far as Iran goes, it would be made crystal clear to the Iranians that either they give up their nuclear weapons willingly, or the Terran Federation would come in and take them by force. In addition, ANY attack on Israel (or any other TF member state) would trigger an immediate war with the ENTIRE TF … with BAD consequences for Iran. Russia, China, etc. would have no say in the matter … because we wouldn’t be asking them for permission, or consult with them, beforehand.

      And if they didn’t like the TF’s actions, they could do one of two things; change their governments, so that THEY could join us …. or declare war against the entire Federation. Could Russia survive that? No. Could China? No.

      It would be peace through strength …. rather than peace through “go along to get along,” or peace through compromises that undermine US sovereignty or national interests … or any other of the bad results that come from organizations like NATO and the UN.

      I believe that a foreign arrangement like this is inevitable for the US – I don’t see us being in either NATO or the UN within another decade or so. Let’s begin the work NOW – elect leaders with long-term goals in mind, make our plans, work with our friends – and then, one day, jointly stand before the General Assembly, declare our membership cancelled, and then walk out while they scream and protest … out to a press conference, where our leaders announce the new Terran Federation – with one single goal: peace through strength and economic prosperity for its’ members.

  13. […] & Money : Lawyers, Guns & MoneyTaiwan Mulls Extending Runway in Spratlys; Sure to Anger PRCPeace in our time: Asian Navies converging on the Mediterranean var jplayerswf = […]

  14. NWbill:

    So, what I think you are saying is that it would be OK for us to impose our will on other nations as long as we get the convenient cover of some federation or other. Translating that I would go as far as saying that it would be OK to be what others already think we are only if we get a few others to stand with us. Did I get that right? If I did, I think you must have voted for Bush… :-)

    Also, if others think of us in a certain way already…what’s the diference in how we actually act? They think of us that way already.

    Furthermore, why do we care how others see us as long as they are too convinced of their own destruction to mess with us in the first place? A good dose of fear is the first step towards a good amount of respect. Specially when you are dealing with idealogues, enemies, and other interests that are polarly opposed to ours.

    THAT was the core of my message before and not to ignore anybody’s soverign status. You can go ahead and be whatever you choose to be; have your wife walk ten paces behind you and wear a rug around her face if you want and she lets you. That is your business. Go ahead and worship a cow, a goat or a pedophile if you like and that floats your boat, but don’t mess with us or with our national interests or we will destroy you, your wife, your goat and your pedophile.

    Kinda like an international “stand your ground” law. I’m sure it will cut crime enormously.

    Best to you.

    rafa

  15. Welcome, NWBill, and my apologies for not getting back to you sooner. You asked:

    “I have a question: can you foresee a time in the future when alliances of democratic nations and their navies (say, the US, Britain, India, Israel, Taiwan, Germany, and others) are used in a joint-command way to police the world’s oceans? Instead of working through the useless UN, perhaps the US and its’ allies would decide instead to form a loose federation of countries to protect their free-market interests – and use their militaries, when needed and necessary – to do so. It seems to me that the mockery of UN Security Council resolutions preventing action like Russia’s and China’s would prompt/drive something like this.”

    If there is such a time, it will be under the clear leadership of the United States. And such a coalition will have all the problems NATO has had, e.g., with developing unity of purpose and getting everyone to contribute as he is able to.

    It is a truth never contradicted by any event in history that nations can’t coalesce as equals around a common purpose. No such “league” has ever fulfilled its promise or even survived. Only where there is positive leadership from a great power does a coalition get useful things done.

    There is war either way, whether there is a power of overwhelming greatness or not, but there is only stability when the vastly superior great power exists. There have really been only two such times in history: the early Roman empire — the Pax Romana — and the post-WWII Pax Americana. The Pax Britannica was characterized by more strife and instability.

    In the conditions of the Roman period, Rome’s influence stabilized “the world.” The same is true of American influence after 1945. Great Britain ruled much of the seas from 1700 to 1918, but she didn’t stabilize the whole of the known world in the same way. She had no competitor on the seas, but her geography still tied her to the continent, where the continental powers were always breaching stability.

    It’s not clear yet what kind of time we’re heading into, but the emergence of both economic and military activism from the Asian nations and the big countries in Latin America suggests that whatever future “Pax” we can put together will look more like the Pax Britannica than the Romana or Americana. A single overwhelmingly superior naval power — which will be the United States — but no more ability to influence events ashore than Great Britain had. The US may have to play in Asia the role Britain did throughout the age of sail in Europe: backing one power or another to secure a balance of power.

    Eventually, as we saw with WWI, such a policy falls apart.

  16. Incidentally, of course the US should impose our will on other nations — sometimes, and for some purposes. Winning a war is inherently imposing your will on another nation (or group of nations). The only way to win a war is to override what the enemy wants.

    We have been unusually reluctant to go around imposing our will with military force, and that’s a good thing. We should get whatever we can done with negotiation and cooperation with other nations. We might even have gotten more done without a resort to arms in the past, if we had been more credible to vicious thugs in Asia and Latin America BEFORE they took their actions (e.g., if the US had warned Saddam strenuously against invading Kuwait, rather than telling him we really didn’t care what happened there, which is what our ambassador said).

    The world will never be a place in which everyone just wants to get along. China and Russia don’t just want to get along; they want to gain contol of all the natural resources. China in particular wants to close off certain international waterways to the world — or, more correctly, wants to wield a veto over the passage of other nations, so she can extort the rest of us for the privilege of transit. China and Russia settle nothing through negotiation with smaller nations. They seek to establish ownership or control through purchase and/or intimidation.

    They do not want the same things the United States does. They do not want free, unfettered global commerce. They want commerce controlled by them. They are happy to get what they can out of the American-guaranteed regime of free global commerce, but they WILL NOT seek to keep it in place or reestablish it if we fail. There is no one else who will do that. There is only America.

    There are very few things in which we ought to impose our will, but freedom of the seas is one of them. None of the Asian nations will observe the niceties of the Law of the Sea if we are not enforcing them. We either force it all “open,” or it starts to close, and becomes a basis for extortion and intimidation. There is no middle ground. In the matter of free use of the seas, the US must impose our will. It’s good for everyone, and no one else will do it.

    In just about all other things — except, of course, defense of our territory — it is far better to operate through alliances, influence, and negotiation. We keep the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans quiescent through our alliances on the other side of each. It didn’t use to be so. The Atlantic and Pacific were very dangerous for centuries, and certainly were in the first half of the last century. No navy on earth could patrol all of either ocean, but these two great oceans are bastions for US security now because of our alliances: with NATO, with the OAS, with Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, and Australia. An alliance is worth a whole army and navy, and we have some very good ones, which we ought to tend vigorously.

    We can’t protect liberty if we don’t keep the defense perimeter of the United States broad and stable. We’ve been able to do a lot through alliance and negotiation. Enforcing freedom of the seas will always require imposing our will, I’m afraid, although only in a few selected places at any given times. It has to be done.

  17. “There are very few things in which we ought to impose our will, but freedom of the seas is one of them. None of the Asian nations will observe the niceties of the Law of the Sea if we are not enforcing them.”

    It would be a little more convincing if if we had ratified the treaty you bring up Optcon. My humble apologes

    • Sorry, but ratifying this treaty is not the answer. Enforcing the right to use the ocean for proper commerce is.

      rafa

  18. Actually, what’s convincing is a naval task force plying the relevant seas.

    The US isn’t violating any provision of UNCLOS. But we are right to refrain from ratifying it because it contains provisions that would be prejudicial to our interests regarding seabed resources in international waters. Those matters should be negotiated between the nations that border the oceans and seas. It is bad policy for a nation like the United States to sign up to an international prescription on how they are to be handled. Such a prescription would constrain only us — none of China, Russia, or dozens of smaller non-Western nations would adhere to it.

    Nothing is accomplished for the US by signing this treaty anyway. Without the enforcement mechanism of the US Navy, it is not possible to enforce any part of the treaty on an unwilling nation. China and Russia have maritime claims that violate the treaty’s provisions (we don’t), and they don’t propose to make any changes to their national policy, no matter how many nations sign up to UNCLOS.

    The US has been the enforcer, and without our enforcement, this treaty is laughable. We already effectively enforce its useful provisions. Moreover, we don’t need to do sign up to it because there is nothing in our maritime behavior that needs to be constrained by it, and if we need others to be constrained, the only thing that will work is our force. Nothing but countervailing force will ever constrain China’s maritime behavior — or Russia’s or Turkey’s for that matter.

    The treaty could be modified so that the US would agree to sign it. America declines to participate in bad agreements because she can. If the day comes when she can’t, the death warrant will be signed for freedom over the entire earth.

    • List of nations that have not signed UNCLOS :Andorra, Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Eritrea, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, San Marino, South Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United States, Uzbekistan, Venezuela.

      Congratulations Optcon, with the exception of Israel (which will sign soon, it’s the Gaza thing holding it up), we are in great company in terms of this treaty. Again my humble apologies , and it ain’t gonna be the end of the world if we sign.

      Respectfully yours

      • No apologies needed, jgets. We can agree to disagree on this one.

      • Oh, and the other nations are, of course, in company with us. Thus raising their stock. :-)

        • It’s a deal dear, and keep up the good work :)

    • Indeed!

      rafa

  19. The latest development in the region; Islamist takeover complete: Morsi Fires Top Defense Brass

    “Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi has sacked the entire leadership of the country’s defense establishment.”

    Keep watching the region, as the dominoes fall. Within five years, less if Obama is reelected and, the entire region will be in the hands of the Islamists.

  20. Thanks, GB. I had seen the report on that earlier today. I suspect this will inaugurate a tense internal struggle. I may be misreading the situation, but I don’t think the military will just sit still for this.

    If it does, Egypt is pretty far gone. Morsi didn’t win with a majority; he got a plurality in a very tight race. A whole lot of Egyptians voted for the ex-Mubarak guy (can’t remember his name). Those folks have been counting on the military to rein Morsi in. They are not signed up to a sharia autocracy. Morsi may have to trim his sails somewhat — may even get soundly put in his place by the military.

    Or not. If he prevails right now, over the next few days, I don’t think Egypt is just going to peacefully accept his radical plans. He may share the fate of Salvador Allende, another radical who got into office with a narrow plurality in the polling, and then started jacking around with the traditions of government on which the people relied.

    He’s moving quickly. May or may not be too quickly for Egypt’s traditionalists and the military.

    It would be lovely to think the US government had an opinion and might be offering stabilizing counsel and incentives to the Egyptians. But if we were going to do that, it should have started 18 months ago.

    • I hope your optimism is not misplaced. Unfortunately, I believe it to be. The officers just sacked were those best positioned to resist and they relied on the country’s constitutional protections to be sufficient. Morsi’s action is a clear demonstration that he believes he can get away with this move. Short of clear rejection by Egypt’s highest court or a military coup, Morsi now has a clear path to control of the military.

      I suspect that Egypt’s military is not nearly as constitutionally principled as is ours. Morsi has already replaced those he sacked with those more amenable to Morsi’s views.

      Those individuals will move to entrench themselves within the new power structure, favoring for promotion those who support them and demoting and neutralizing any who don’t enthusiastically support the new regime.

      If principled opposition is insufficient, retaining their power, privileges and financial ‘considerations’ will be the primary motivation for most of Egypt’s middle and upper level officer core. That type of individual is extremely sensitive to any ‘winds of change’ and always seeks to position themselves for maximum personal advantage. If that means accommodating the Muslim Brotherhood…they will happily do so.

      The Muslim Brotherhood won 46% of the Parliament this year and despite Parliaments dismissal that percentage only partially reflects the level of support they enjoy. The 84% of the Egyptian electorate who support the death penalty for apostasy is also an indication that the public theologically agrees with the Muslim Brotherhood.

      I suspect that only a percentage of the western educated elite support western values. IMHO, democracy and western values have no chance whatsoever of prevailing.

    • I don’t believe the Egyptian MB hasn’t thought this move out. They are consulting with various international parties and they must have internal support within the military as well.. The fact that Qatar is giving them $2bn to tide them over is telling. DC and Doha see eye to eye on most regional issues (for good or ill). The MB has the initiative, they are applying a modified Turkish AKP policy in Egypt (the Arab version) by using democratic tools to undermine (the type we are familiar with) democracy itself. It’s key for them to decapitate/defang the military’s Western supported old guard. If the AKP is any example they will accomplish this by duping Western well wishers into supporting them in the name of democratic values. We are incredibly naive. This is one of the main reasons I believe neutralizing Sunni extremism (even in it’s “milder” manifestations, MB, AKP, is a higher priority than a yet to be developed Iranian nuclear bomb. Unfortunately DC believes we can “tame the Sunni beast”, bad move. If we see more financial support for the MB-run government in Egypt, or an upward turn in the Egyptian economy, we will know that they will succeed. Again, following the AKP example, duping the West with theories of broader democracy coupled with business contracts (a form of Muslim’s bribing the infidels to control them ) for Western companies profits, is the one two punch that will give them the breathing space to implement and entrench their radical Islamist agenda. All the while, with Washington nodding happily along, as foolishly as only a fool can..

  21. Per the Jerusalem Post:

    Photo by: Asmaa Waguih / Reuters
    Gunmen kill Egyptian tribal leader and son in Sinai
    By REUTERS
    13/08/2012
    Violence escalates in military crackdown on Islamists; source says Islamists discussing response to killing of suspected terrorists.

    EL-ARISH, Egypt – A group of armed men shot dead a tribal leader and his son on Monday in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula on the border with Israel, a security source said, as violence escalated on the sixth day of a military crackdown on Islamists in the area.

    “Tribal leader Khalaf Al-Menahy and his son were shot dead by militants on their way back from a conference organized by tribal leaders to denounce militancy,” said the security source in Sinai.

    The attack occurred during a security sweep that began on Wednesday after the killing of 16 Egyptian border guards on Aug. 5, which Egypt blamed on militants.

    The military operation is the biggest in the region since Egypt’s 1973 war with Israel.

    Lawlessness has been growing in Sinai, a region awash with guns and bristling with resentment against Cairo, since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in an uprising last year. Parts of northern Sinai have been controlled by Bedouin tribes since police deserted the area during the uprising.

    Another source close to Islamists in Sinai said hundreds of them had organized a secret meeting on Sunday night to discuss their response to the killing of five suspected terrorists by Egyptian soldiers earlier on Sunday.

    “They agreed that the reaction will be harsh,” the source said.

    The military crackdown in the Sinai peninsula is seen as an early test for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy – a moderate Islamist elected in June- to prove he can rein in the militants whose activity near the border worries both Egyptians and Israel.

    Morsy dismissed two top generals on Sunday, quashing a military order that had ruled the transition period after Mubarak and curbed Morsy’s presidential powers. Last week, he fired North Sinai’s governor and Egypt’s intelligence chief.

    Morsy’s critics say the Islamist leader risks being seen as soft on jihadists because he is from the Muslim Brotherhood, a political movement that has ties to the Hamas government in Gaza.

    • Reuter’s typical ‘reportage’, useful only for wiping off ones excrement. The ‘report’ is rife with contradiction and inaccuracy.

      Morsi is no ‘moderate’, he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

      Morsi didn’t send the military to crack down on jihadists. The military officers he just sacked were the ones who initiated the crackdown.

      Morsi fired the Sinai’s Governor and Intelligence Chief to assist the jihadist militants. The Governor and Intelligence Chief were holdovers from Mubarak’s regime and resisting opening the border to jihadists.

      The tribal leader and son were returning home from a conference denouncing militancy, which means that the Bedouin tribes, who actually live in the Sinai, oppose the militants traveling through their region (without permission and due deference) to infiltrate across the border into Israel.

      The militants killed the tribal leader and son in a highly significant message to the tribes leaders not to impede their operations.

      Morsi is reining in the military so as to give the Muslim Brotherhood’s jihadists free rein…and Reuters is not only not reporting the real story but actively distorting what is actually happening.

  22. GB, you may be right. As things develop, it begins to look more like Morsi has a comprehensive plan. The Egyptian military — which I don’t, in fact, mistake for a “constitutionalist” entity like the Turkish General Staff of yore — may simply not be prepared for Morsi’s strategy. That matters, because I believe the military would fight back if it could see a way to. Its own survival with its long-held privileges is at stake — and, its leaders know they would have the support of much of the populace.

    The Egyptian military may not be “constitutionalist,” but it would see at this point only a future of purges and negative transformation under Morsi. We don’t know the full situation, such as whom the armor and infantry commanders, and the air assault commanders, are loyal to. Morsi may have this wrapped up, but the possibility remains that the military will mount a coup of sorts. They have a very great deal to lose.

    I would expand on the distinction between Morsi and the military regarding crackdowns in the SInai. Morsi has no interest whatsoever in continuing with a militant-controlled Sinai. He is going to control it himself. He will fight Islamists if he has to, to establish his control of the peninsula.

    Erdogan has done something similar under the radar in the last few months, putting IHH members on trial. Erdogan himself is a member of IHH (the Islamist radicals who joined the Mavi Marmara flotilla in 2010 and opened fire on the Israeli special forces troops as they boarded the ship. IHH has also supported Hezbollah and Hamas). But Erdogan will establish that he and no other is the leader of the Islamist controlling authority in Turkey. He won’t have IHH publicly dissenting with him.

    State Islamism is going to look a lot like Bolshevism. Never be surprised when its heads of government attack those who would seem to be on their side. Assuming he remains in power, Morsi will establish control of the Sinai, make no mistake. He’ll kill whoever he has to to do it.

    • Certainly Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood leadership he represents will seek unquestioned leadership and total power. Muslim culture respects only the strong horse. Any active dissension will be ruthlessly suppressed as they consolidate their power.

      However, those disparate Islamist groups who can be ‘persuaded’ to accept the Brotherhood’s dominance, will be incorporated into the Brotherhood’s strategies.

      Yes, the Egyptian military’s middle and upper level officer core is at a crossroads; it’s either a coup and seizing power, something I doubt will happen (I don’t see the conditions necessary to support for a successful coup existing) or the Brotherhood will continue to consolidate its power and control. Which I fully expect to happen. As, at this time; all of the momentum, passion, historical trends and long range planning are on the side of the Brotherhood.

      I too suspect that the Brotherhood has thought this all through, in fact did so long ago and, has continually updated its strategies as conditions dictated. I also think it highly probable that they know exactly who in the military opposes them and has various contingency plans for neutralizing every officer unsympathetic to the Brotherhood.

    • I gotta hunch the Saudi’s are setting up all their regional rivals and plan to have them eliminate each other in the crossfire. They’re setting it up so no one can directly retaliate against them, leaving the KSA dominant in the region. Their weapon of choice… Israel.

      Through their Qatari subcontractors in Egypt. The Qataris can get away with bankrolling the MB and can support all kinds of other outfits in Egypt.simultaneously The KSA wants (MB)Egypt to get a bloody nose from the Israelis, KSA just can’t be seen as the ones who set it up by stirring up the trouble in Sinai in the first place. Once the MB is humiliated by the Israelis, it will be discredited in the eyes of the Sunni Muslim populace, this is good for Sunni monarchies.

      They (KSA/Qataris) are setting up the Iranians to be taken out by the Israelis (and US) by ratcheting up the Syria situation and forcing an escalation. An increasing cycle of nervous Israelis and even more nervous Iranians due to the Syria situation will force Israel to intervene and take out Iran’s nuke capacity at some point. The Israeli’s do the KSA’s dirty work. That’s the objective.

      I believe the KSA is setting up their third main regional rival Turkey through an escalation in Syria also. But here the weapon of choice are the Kurds. Once Turkey becomes directly entangled in a Syrian escalation, the KSA/Qatar boys will open the tap to the Kurds, intensify their insurgency in SE Turkey, and weaken (if not outright breakaway from) the Turkish state.

      Just a possible scenario, from a Saudi perspective..

      • I am unaware of any evidence in support of the assertion that the Saudi’s are that subtly manipulative.

        Militarily, Israel lacks the conventional resources to conduct the sustained campaign needed to substantively derail Iran’s nuclear program. The use of nukes is a non-starter.

        Politically, Israel cannot attack Iran if it means the loss of American support. There are indications that the Obama administration has repeatedly made that it clear to Israel that is a certainty is it unilaterally attacks Iran without American acquiescence.

        Israel attacking Iran’s oil production facilities is a military option but is essentially a declaration of war.

        Conducting a war against Iran without fly over permission (currently denied) is problematic at best.

        The Obama administration will do nothing to stop the Iranian nuclear program.

        A bloody nose won’t stop the Muslim Brotherhood. At most it will simply reduce Egypt’s conventional military resources. Guerrilla warfare/terrorism/raiding, Middle Easterners preferred military methodology will be unaffected by a ‘bloody nose’.

        That sometime in the next 5 yrs the Saudi regime will be swept aside by the rising tide of jihadist militancy sweeping the region, (euphemistically known as the ‘arab spring’) is highly probable.

        • Just trying to broaden the discussion a bit GB. The Saudis(monarchy) do get a free ride much of the time, so I thought it might be a good idea to shine a light on the dark corner they hang out in. :)

  23. […] obviously pre-practiced line. But I am reminded of a brilliant – and very frightening – August 2012 article written by Commander J. E. Dyer, a retired US Naval intelligence officer who served from 1983 to […]

  24. […] antipiracy patrol have visited ports in Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Egypt, and Oman, as well as making swings through the Mediterranean on an occasional basis since 2010.  It’s still noteworthy when Chinese warships go through the […]

  25. […] shift for half a decade now.  (I wrote about this in 2009 and 2010, and specifically about the first visits by operational Chinese naval task forces to the Mediterranean, in an article in 2012.)  Navies are one of the best ways to expand your overseas influence: not […]


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