Missile defense, NATO, and the significance of the periphery: Three pings on Russia-Ukraine

Bad negotiating.

And there it is:  the Biden administration agrees to put missile defense in Europe up for negotiation with Moscow.

That’s not what most will acknowledge at this point, including, of course, the Biden administration.  But that’s what it is.

On Wednesday, Americans learned of communications between NATO and Russia in which Russia proposed visits to sites in Poland and Romania where the U.S. deploys our Aegis Ashore missile defense system.  (Note, however, that the site in Poland has yet to become operational and has been delayed by years due to reported “contractor performance issues.”  That can’t help having a curious sound to it.  See p. 7(11) here.)

The purpose of the visits: Continue reading “Missile defense, NATO, and the significance of the periphery: Three pings on Russia-Ukraine”

A downpayment on “Kazakhstan” and the coming perturbations

Interesting times.

There’s a better-than-even chance that the developments in Kazakhstan will have repercussions well beyond any that are currently imagined – and probably beyond the intentions of any outside actors who have been involved, as some evidence indicates.

This is not primarily because of Kazakhstan as a security issue for Russia, though that’s a factor.  It’s because there is no Pax Americana anymore; there’s been none since about 2011; the U.S. under Biden is not and will not be the guardian of stability that we’ve been since 1945; and actors like Russia, China, and Iran see now as the time to take maximum advantage of that.

The short version is that they perceive they can get away with things, and they’re going to do them.

Starting with Kazakhstan Continue reading “A downpayment on “Kazakhstan” and the coming perturbations”

U.S. officials seek to counter China move on potential naval base in Atlantic

In the Atlantic: China, persisting.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that U.S. intelligence believes China is seeking to use the port of Bata in Equatorial Guinea, on Africa’s West coast, as a forward base for naval operations in the Atlantic.

There has been speculation about such a move for some time.  I wrote in May 2021 about an earlier report at the Washington Times, which cited Army General Stephen Townsend, Commander of U.S. Africa Command, expressing concern that China was seeking a naval base in West Africa.  General Townsend didn’t mention a specific country or port, but prior information indicated Senegal, Cape Verde Islands, and Western Sahara were possibilities.  (That article also dealt with reports that China wants to make a forward base out of Kiribati in the Pacific, with the initial outfitting to support an air base.) Continue reading “U.S. officials seek to counter China move on potential naval base in Atlantic”

Iran, U.S: Pre-talks posturing ropes in Israel, trash talk, Trump administration

Signals, intentional and not so.

Iran announced in early November that it would start talks on the Iranian nuclear program with the Biden administration and other world leaders this coming week in Vienna.

In preparation for the talks, Iran and the Biden administration have been sending smoke signals.

At a superficial level, the least ambiguous of these signals is probably one sent by Iran, in which the commander of the IRGC, Hossein Salami, stated that Iran “decides for USA and runs its policy”: Continue reading “Iran, U.S: Pre-talks posturing ropes in Israel, trash talk, Trump administration”

TOC Ready Room 2 Nov 2021: Election 2021; geopolitics heat up in Middle East; sub said to collide with seamount

What’s wrong and right with the world.

Here comes Tuesday 2 November 2021, general election day this year, and there’s no stopping it.

As mentioned in the TOC football forum, we plan to be watching the Toledo game.

But we’ll check in with the election results.  New Jersey’s not looking good for turning, but Virginia is a live prospect with the latest poll showing Republican Glenn Youngkin up on Democrat Terry McAuliffe 53%-45%.

…and this is us, checking in with the election in Virginia. Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 2 Nov 2021: Election 2021; geopolitics heat up in Middle East; sub said to collide with seamount”