Lose the ‘quagmire’ theme; Russia can’t fall into one in Syria

Interesting times.

Putin confers with his senior military officials. (Image: Kremlin/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin via Newsweek)
Putin confers with his senior military officials. (Image: Kremlin/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin via Newsweek)

We’re going to keep this one (relatively) short.  I’ve written about Russia’s goals in Syria elsewhere (see here as well).

A Bloomberg article from Monday commendably recognizes that Russia’s goals in Syria are “far broader” than the official goal of fighting Salafi terrorists.  The authors fall short of “getting” what the Russian involvement there is about, but they’re on the right track.

The problem is that they, like almost everyone else, are still framing the situation in the terms of a U.S.-style expeditionary intervention.  This leads the authors to say something like this: Continue reading “Lose the ‘quagmire’ theme; Russia can’t fall into one in Syria”

Obama demonstrates geostrategic incomprehension in webcast with Jewish groups

Uncomprehending.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the march. (Image: AFP via Der Spiegel)
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the march. (Image: AFP via Der Spiegel)

There was a lot to reject in the comments made by President Obama on Friday to the leaders of the Jewish Federations of North America, in a webcast sponsored by JFNA.  That’s putting it in the mildest possible way.

But we can gain invaluable perspective from focusing on one particular passage in the Q&A session.  It illuminates everything else that’s going on, and exposes the brittle emptiness of Obama’s rhetoric – because it betrays the anachronism of his view of the Middle East and Israeli security.  It’s as if Obama doesn’t realize it’s not 2009 anymore.

The topic is the security relationship of the U.S. with Israel: how strong it is, and how it can be reenergized.  Here’s Michael Siegal, Chairman of Jewish Federations of North America, asking Obama the question (from the White House transcript emailed after the webcast, which the Chicago Sun-Times has here): Continue reading “Obama demonstrates geostrategic incomprehension in webcast with Jewish groups”

The Maersk Tigris game change: Iran’s big little maneuver in the Strait of Hormuz

Interesting times.

Superbad.  An Iranian speedboat and Kayvan patrol boat, the new law in the SOH. (Image: Fars via Uskowi on Iran)
Superbad. An Iranian speedboat and Kayvan patrol boat, the new law in the SOH. (Image: Fars via Uskowi on Iran)

The game of international power dynamics has just shifted in a major way.  It will take a little time for the consequences to be visible to the public eye.  But I don’t think it will take that much time.  We’re talking months, at most, if not weeks.  Iran is getting no pushback from the “international community,” and is moving quickly now.

Two points to take this forward on.  First, the Maersk Tigris, the Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship detained by Iran on Tuesday, is still being held by Iran.  The situation remains unresolved.

Second, the U.S. Navy will begin accompanying U.S.-flagged commercial ships through the Strait of Hormuz (SOH).  This is not the robust use of force it may seem to be, nor is it a repeat of the tanker-escort operation (Earnest Will)* in 1987-88, during the Iran-Iraq war.  It’s a tacit surrender, in fact. Continue reading “The Maersk Tigris game change: Iran’s big little maneuver in the Strait of Hormuz”

All stop: Pentagon denies report that Iranian convoy has “turned around”

Interesting times.

USS Theodore Roosevelt (foreground) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) turn over in the Persian Gulf, 13 April 2015. (Image: USN, MC2 Scott Fenaroli)
USS Theodore Roosevelt (foreground) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) turn over in the Persian Gulf, 13 April 2015. (Image: USN, MC2 Scott Fenaroli)

New post up at Liberty Unyielding.  Enjoy!

For Russia and NATO, the year of maneuvering dangerously continues

Peace in our time.

Tu-22M3 Backfire, on the loose again. (Image: Alex Beltyukov via the Aviationist)
Tu-22M3 Backfire, on the loose again. (Image: Alex Beltyukov via the Aviationist)

New post up at Liberty Unyielding.  Enjoy!