The real headline: Russians buy air space with cruise missile demo, as U.S. forces retreat

Cruise missile as geopolitical forcing mechanism.

Russian Caspian fleet frigate launches a long-range land attack cruise missile on 7 Oct. (Image: Russian MOD/YouTube)
Russian Caspian fleet frigate launches a long-range land attack cruise missile on 7 Oct. (Image: Russian MOD/YouTube)

The Pentagon released information Thursday that some of the cruise missiles launched by Russian warships into Syria the day before (Wednesday, 7 October) had crashed in Iran, instead of making it to their targets.  The missiles were launched from the Caspian Sea, between Iran and southern Russia.

The global audience was apt to note the point that four of the 26 missiles launched by Russia crashed.  But the more important point is that Russia launched the missiles in the first place.

The question is why.  The answer is not darkly nefarious (not particularly, anyway), but it’s not obvious from the standpoint of tactical military operations either. Continue reading “The real headline: Russians buy air space with cruise missile demo, as U.S. forces retreat”

Rohani: A “moderate” game-changer?

This changes everything.

A reader at The Optimistic Conservative pointed out that the media outlets hailing the election of Hassan Rohani, a so-called “moderate,” as the next president of Iran are the same outlets that consider the Tea Parties in America to be “radical.”

Given that most of these media outlets would agree that the clerical mullahs of Iran’s Guardian Council are radicals, the task for the Tea Parties seems clear: simply proclaim some among their membership to be “moderate.”  Send the moderate members to talk to the media and negotiate political issues.  The moderate Tea Partiers need never make a concession or give any ground; their only requirement is to serve as the self-proclaimed moderates of the Tea Party movement.  A few tweets would help too.  The media outlets should greet the Tea Party moderates with acclaim and be excited to see them elected to public office.

Election of a ringer?

If it works for the Iranian government, it should certainly work for the Tea Parties.  The fertile TOC comments section provided a preview for another significant point, which is Continue reading “Rohani: A “moderate” game-changer?”

Russian troop deployments in the south

On the move.

There are differing opinions about the exact nature of the reported deployment of Russian troops to Syria.  Some of the reporting appears to be circular, and Business Insider has picked apart the original language of a RIA Novosti report in Russian to conclude that the “Russian troops” amount to no more than an anti-terrorism security detachment for the Russian fleet tanker RFS Iman (a Black Sea-based ship deployed for support to Russia’s Horn of Africa antipiracy task force).

It’s hard to say: Iman by herself couldn’t transport very many troops into Syria (a detachment of infantry, maybe, if they were really miserable, sleeping on deck and in passageways, during the few days’ transit), but Iman is an unlikely platform for transporting Russian troops anyway.  If Russia puts a substantial number of troops in Syria, Continue reading “Russian troop deployments in the south”

Are Russia and China ready to play a new Great Game?

Not as simple as it looks.

In all the discussion of the sanctions on Iran and what effect they’re having, analysts have forgotten a major factor.  The US, Iran, and Europe aren’t the only geopolitical actors in the world.  We don’t operate in a sealed vacuum in which the interests and intentions of others have no meaning.  And from the perspective of these others – especially Russia, China, and India – what the US is doing with sanctions could well be the beginning of an attempt to destabilize Iran on their doorstep.

The strategic drivers

Once Iran is destabilized, the picture gets murkier from the standpoint of a great Asian power. Continue reading “Are Russia and China ready to play a new Great Game?”