So…what should we be doing in foreign policy now?

Doing less with less.

The pessimism out there is palpable, and for good reason.  They’re all right.  Richard Fernandez: Olympus has fallen.  Bryan Preston: We are so screwed.  Stephen Green (VodkaPundit): Pastis in our timeNational Review: On Syria, from bad to worse.  Victor Davis Hanson: Putin – Saruman Come Alive.*  Peggy Noonan: Team Obama, people who know nothing – really nothing – about history.  Kori Schake (Foreign Policy): Obama speech remarkably – alarmingly – flabby.  Ann Coulter: Syrial losers.  Jackie Gingrich Cushman: Obama on Syria: Following from behind.  Hal G.P. Colebatch (American Spectator): Obama as Queeg: A few cruise missiles short in the leadership arsenal.

On it goes. Continue reading “So…what should we be doing in foreign policy now?”

Seas without a sheriff

No sheriff in town.

Now, in 2011, would be the worst of times for the US Senate to ratify the UN Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS; or, “Law of the Sea Treaty”: LOST).

Ratification would presuppose an internationally agreed maritime order into which the US was buying.  The nature of that order is tacitly supposed to be one of agreements, definitions, and legalities; in essence, the form of international order to which the United Nations was intended to give impetus.

Realities of maritime order

But no such order exists, nor has it ever.  There is no overarching order for the US to buy into: Continue reading “Seas without a sheriff”

EASTMED: US carrying Turkey’s water?

Turkey’s BFF.

Cry havoc! – and let loose the frigates of war

The ante is being upped in the Eastern Mediterranean as the crisis south of Cyprus bubbles along.  Turkish news outlet Today’s Zaman reports that on Monday, the Turkish government announced a deployment of special forces along with the four frigates and naval helicopters maintaining a “security” presence in the undersea drilling area off Cyprus’ southern coast.  The special forces include a Special Underwater Defense Unit and a Special Underwater Attack Unit.

Reporting the deployment of the Underwater Attack Unit is obviously a political move. Continue reading “EASTMED: US carrying Turkey’s water?”

Peace in our time watch: Rumble off Cyprus

The sea! The sea!

The good news is that so far, everyone is containing himself in the Eastern Mediterranean, at least in terms of actual confrontation or shooting.

The rest of the story can be summarized as follows.  On 19 September, Houston-based Noble Energy “spudded” an exploration well with its Noble Homer Ferrington drilling rig in the “Aphrodite” oil-and-gas field off Cyprus’ southern coast (you can’t make this stuff up).

Shortly thereafter, Turkey concluded an overnight agreement with the “nation” of Northern Cyprus – created by the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and recognized by Turkey – for Turkey to begin seismic exploration south of Northern Cyprus’ coast, in the waters next to the Noble Energy drilling area.

The Turks got their seismic exploration vessel, the K. Piri Reis, underway, and dispatched three naval ships for escort.  Piri Reis has reached her operating area and begun exploration. Continue reading “Peace in our time watch: Rumble off Cyprus”

Great news: Turks to change IFF designation for Israel so they can shoot faster

Ready, fire, aim.

Calm down, calm down.  The Turks can already shoot at Israeli planes.  It just takes longer and requires consciously overriding the objections of the IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) system in the cockpit.

According to Turkish press, as quoted by Ynet, the Turkish air force will be fitting its F-16 fighter jets with new IFF systems, which will not treat the signal from an Israeli IFF transponder as friendly, and will thus facilitate more efficient attack.  The F-16’s original IFF system is made to US/NATO specifications, and identifies an Israeli IFF response as friendly.  This creates an inconvenient requirement to override the system’s restrictions preventing engagement of friendly aircraft, in order to fire on an Israeli plane.  (A serious inconvenience when both the shooter and the target are traveling at 500 knots or more.)

The difference to Turkey’s air combat posture is neither inconsequential nor militarily earth-shattering.  But announcing it to the public has no military function.  It’s a political move. Continue reading “Great news: Turks to change IFF designation for Israel so they can shoot faster”