Paris, the Russian airliner, Lebanon: ISIS is enlarging the war

The center cannot hold.

The house of war comes to Paris. (Image: EPA, Etienne Laurent via UK Guardian)
The house of war comes to Paris. (Image: EPA, Etienne Laurent via UK Guardian)

his will be a quick update tonight, with less of the usual analysis, because I just don’t have time.

I have no doubt that ISIS is behind the recent attacks that have been spreading out around the Syria/Iraq theater.  ISIS has claimed responsibility for all of them, and it is credible that ISIS is behind them (although they are being executed through ISIS affiliates in each local area.  The core leadership of ISIS doesn’t have to be involved in planning or managing each attack, and I assume unless it’s proven otherwise that it is not).

But this is not a minor campaign of pinpricks from single-venue terror attacks, randomly distributed here and there.  This is a full-blown campaign: a strategy on ISIS’s part. Continue reading “Paris, the Russian airliner, Lebanon: ISIS is enlarging the war”

‘Boots on the ground’: Saigon on the Euphrates, on steroids

Vietnam was just a warm-up.

Brain trust. (Image: AP, Pablo Martinez Monsivais via nola.com)
Brain trust. (Image: AP, Pablo Martinez Monsivais via nola.com)

Regular correspondents of this space may have wondered why I haven’t been writing more recently about the events in Iraq and Syria.  (Or Afghanistan, for that matter.)

The short answer is: because it’s too depressing to watch the Obama administration repeating every mistake of Kennedy and Johnson in Vietnam, but from a posture of greater weakness, greater foolishness, and – bonus! – apparent hatred for the United States.

Who wants to write about that?

We’ve reached the point at which there is nothing positive or hopeful to say.  I think most readers realize that, even if they can’t fully articulate what the problems seem to be.  Obama is quite literally doing nothing right, in his political-military approach to these hot spots of the Middle East.  There’s nothing in his policy to work with. Continue reading “‘Boots on the ground’: Saigon on the Euphrates, on steroids”

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”

Game change: Russia can now warn Israel against IAF operations over Syria

No going back.

The game-changers. Russian air defense soldiers man their weapon system, the S-300, in a recent drill. (Image via defencerussia.wordpress.com)
The game-changers. Russian air defense soldiers man their weapon system, the S-300, in a recent drill. (Image via defencerussia.wordpress.com)

A recent report in Arabic media suggests that Israel has agreed to coordinate the IAF’s operations over Syria with Russia, and claims that Russia has warned Israel against conducting strikes in Syria in which Russian soldiers may be killed.  Israel Matzav has the story here.

The reflexive inclination is to focus on whether this particular report is accurate, and what the narrow, immediate implications are.  The big-picture implications, however, are actually much more important.

Short-term/tactical

But let’s quickly address the first questions.  The tone of the Arabic reporting, even in pidgin translations, is triumphalist against Israel, and we should exercise due skepticism of any particulars.

That said, the concerns reportedly raised by Russia are valid and reasonable, if Russia is going to be operating in Syria.  The Arabic report is by no means unrealistic. Continue reading “Game change: Russia can now warn Israel against IAF operations over Syria”

History strikes back: Turkey, Iran inevitably jockey over Syria

Interesting times.

Erdogan and Rouhani meet in modern times.  (Image via Aydanlik Daily)
Erdogan and Rouhani meet in modern times. (Image via Aydanlik Daily)

The beginnings of a dynamic are emerging, one as predictable as anything ever was.  “Turkey” and “Iran” (in their earlier as well as contemporary incarnations) have jockeyed over the disposition of Syria (and Mesopotamia) for many centuries, and now that the clamps of the post-World War I order have been released, they are going to do so again.

Michael Ledeen initiated a fresh focus on this with a short post late last week, in which he predicted that Iran would soon form a federation with Syria and Iraq, or at least with the nominal central governments that remain to them: an arrangement that would formalize the Iranian military presence for which the mullahs have big plans.  Says Ledeen: Continue reading “History strikes back: Turkey, Iran inevitably jockey over Syria”