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. executing weak-hand troop reset in Iraq

Got an uncomfortable feeling about this.

At first glance, this might not sound to some observers like it’s that bad a move.  But it’s worrisome, and the reason is stated simply.  It leaves U.S. troops in Iraq, some still at the remote bases, but with less security than they had before the “drawdown.”

It’s also being done as the result of attacks on the U.S. and other Coalition troops at the Iraqi bases earlier in 2021.  Such a prelude inevitably creates a sense that the Iran-backed “militias” that launched the attacks have the U.S. on the run.  That’s not a useful basis for security expectations going forward.

It isn’t getting much media attention in the U.S., but an 18 December article indicates the Iraqi army has announced that “foreign combat troops” have left Al-Asad air base in Anbar Province, and that the base is now under the full control of the Iraqi army. Continue reading “U.S. executing weak-hand troop reset in Iraq”

TOC Ready Room 15 Dec 2021: Contra-indicative speech; Trump’s F-bomb; military notes

What’s wrong and right with the world.

The strangeness of this hour has crossed a line in recent days.  It’s a line between some level of fealty to demonstrable reality, and none.

Over the last few years, we have repeatedly witnessed the media, and many politicians pushing a far-left agenda, twisting their speech into knots in order to not quite be lying when they present an untruthful picture of events.

In the last few days, they have liberated themselves from the constraint to not quite be lying.  One of the most noticeable instances of this is Rep. Liz Cheney’s dramatic reading on 13 December of text messages that flew on 6 January 2021 during the Capitol riot.  The text messages were turned over to the committee by Trump’s then-chief of staff, Mark Meadows.  (*Update*:  See new reporting from Wednesday, at the end of this section, on doctoring of a Jim Jordan text message by Adam Schiff.) Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 15 Dec 2021: Contra-indicative speech; Trump’s F-bomb; military notes”

TOC Ready Room 5 Dec 2021: Iran, nukes, Turkey, Ommy-cron – and DeSantis, oh my

What’s wrong and right with the world.

This Ready Room installment will be a little different, functioning more as a way of getting some headlines out there than as a more select batch of analyses.  Events are flying thick and fast, and in some ways it isn’t useful to keep going over the same old ground with them (e.g., “Iran nuclear negotiations,” which are lame and tired and haven’t changed in character for at least 18 years).

Nothing has changed with Iran negotiations, except the level of uranium enrichment

In fact, let’s just start with that.  Back in 2013, when the pre-JCPOA “Petunia” was being negotiated with Iran – what became known as the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) – I pointed out that Iran was participating in talks in order to delay decision points for the West. Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 5 Dec 2021: Iran, nukes, Turkey, Ommy-cron – and DeSantis, oh my”

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”