TOC Ready Room 22 July 2022: Biden returns from MidEast, with prejudice; CNN v. Bannon; Bonus tag

What’s wrong and right with the world.

We’re on deck with a full-up Ready Room today, after a relatively extended blogging hiatus.  Strap in for some serious (if selective) situational awareness.

Biden’s Middle East adventure

It turns out to be a good thing I didn’t get the segment on President Biden’s Middle East trip posted on Sunday, as originally planned.  Quite a bit has ensued since Sunday, all of it fallout from the essential failure of Biden’s junket, and the fallout is significant.  It’s what needs to be highlighted up front.

Here’s the short list of fallout items.  We’ll look at a few implications with each topic.

On Sunday, a senior Iranian official made a rare statement about nuclear weapons, and baldly averred that Iran is capable of producing them. Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 22 July 2022: Biden returns from MidEast, with prejudice; CNN v. Bannon; Bonus tag”

TOC Ready Room 24 June 2022: Flawed court ruling overturned; Escalation in Russia-NATO confrontation; Gates ag-buy pushback

What’s wrong and right with the world.

Until the Supreme Court ruled Friday morning on Dobbs v. Jackson, this edition of Ready Room was going to lead with the “Russia-NATO escalation” segment.  But such a momentous ruling, which basically overturned Roe v. Wade, obviously merits comment, however brief.

The Dobbs ruling is good law, unlike Roe (and some other landmark rulings including Obergefell, the same-sex marriage case).  It’s good law because it recognizes that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t confer a “right” to abortion on which states cannot impose limits.

It’s good law because it doesn’t overturn any state laws, like those of New York and California, that are as consistent with the Constitution as any state law that puts limits on the conditions in which abortion is permissible.  Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 24 June 2022: Flawed court ruling overturned; Escalation in Russia-NATO confrontation; Gates ag-buy pushback”

Provocation: Sailor seen with MANPAD on Russian warship transiting Bosporus

Peace in our time.

Shoulder-fired peace cruises in the Bosporus: Russian sailor on the deck of Russian landing ship Tsesar Kunikov, 4 Dec 2015. (Image: Emre Dagdeviren via Twitter, UK Express)
Shoulder-fired peace cruises in the Bosporus: Russian sailor on the deck of Russian landing ship Tsesar Kunikov, 4 Dec 2015. (Image: Emre Dagdeviren via Twitter, UK Express)

This incident reportedly occurred the morning of 4 December.

The Ropucha-class tank landing ship Tsesar Kunikov (BDK-158) was heading from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, conducting a southbound transit of the Turkish Straits.  (As documented at the excellent Bosphorus Naval News blog, BDK-158 has been back and forth through the Turkish Straits several times over the last few months.  The ship was most recently off Syria in November, and returned to the Black Sea on 25 November before Friday’s southbound transit.)

Turkish media reported that a Russian sailor was photographed on the deck with a shoulder-fired missile launcher in the firing position during the transit. … Continue reading “Provocation: Sailor seen with MANPAD on Russian warship transiting Bosporus”

Russia defines Arctic intentions with supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles

Peace in our time.

St. Nicholas presides over the Russian military base at Nargurskoye, on Alexandra Island, Franz Josef Land, which is undergoing a major expansion by Russia.
St. Nicholas presides over the Russian military base at Nargurskoye, on Alexandra Island, Franz Josef Land, which is undergoing a major expansion by Russia.

If it wasn’t clear before that Russia intends to be prepared to “fight the Arctic,” it should be now.  A report from last week indicates that the Russians plan to put “Bastion” anti-ship missile systems at their Arctic bases in 2015, to go along with airfield improvements, aircraft deployments, and installation of mobile anti-air missile systems and early warning radars for a network of bases that extends from one end of Russia’s Arctic coast to the other, and well into the Arctic Ocean.

There is certainly a question as to what “threat” Russia imagines herself to be countering with the deployment of the cruise missile systems.

But that’s really asking the wrong question.  Given the dearth of non-Russian surface ship traffic through the area in question (maps 1 and 2), and the certainty that other nations with Arctic claims have no motive to put ships in that area against Russia’s will, a more accurate interpretation of this move is that Russia seeks to hold a geomilitary veto over the sea-lanes, in a manner similar to the veto sought by China over the South China Sea. Continue reading “Russia defines Arctic intentions with supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles”

Iran tries to undermine Saudi embargo by diverting ship to Djibouti for ‘inspection’

Interesting times.

(Image via Nader Uskowi, Twitter)
(Image via Nader Uskowi, Twitter)

When we left our story on Monday, the Iran Shahed was in the Gulf of Aden heading for the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, and was expected to arrive at Hodeidah, Yemen on Thursday, 21 May.  A U.S. military spokesman had encouraged Iran to have the ship offload its cargo in Djibouti and let the UN transport it to Yemen.  But the Iranians were having none of that.

By Wednesday morning, however, Iran had decided to allow the ship to be inspected by the UN in Djibouti, before it continued on to Hodeidah.  That is significantly different from what the low-level U.S. military spokesman — the only person who made an official U.S. suggestion — proposed. Continue reading “Iran tries to undermine Saudi embargo by diverting ship to Djibouti for ‘inspection’”