Australia and the missing Obama Doctrine

Off to see the Wizard?

I love Oz.  It’s a great place, and there’s no one I’d rather have watching my six in a military operation than the Aussies.  I still treasure the officer’s hat given to me by a visiting Australian maritime reconnaissance detachment, after I gave them a tour of USS Nimitz (CVN-68) when we were in port in Dubai years ago.  I was privileged to participate, in 1992, in the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of the Coral Sea, an occasion between longstanding allies that I will never forget.  No one could have bad memories of either working with the Australian military or visiting Australia.

So the news that the US will be stationing a detachment of 2500 Marines in northeastern Australia, for what will apparently be six-month rotations, prompts a reaction along the lines of “You lucky devil dogs!”

It also raises some questions.  The first is a general but nagging one: Continue reading “Australia and the missing Obama Doctrine”

Iran’s nuclear program: Avoiding hockey-stickery

Sanctions far from producing a hat-trick.

A widely referenced Washington Post story from Monday has got folks feeling complacent about the parlous state of Iran’s nuclear program.  The WaPo piece, crediting Stuxnet and sanctions, speaks of a “sharp decline” in the output of low-enriched uranium (LEU) at the Natanz enrichment facility, along with the aging and low-performing condition of Iran’s original Pakistani-design centrifuge cascades.  Meanwhile, sanctions have apparently made it impossible for Iran to import high-strength maraging steel, forcing the Iranians to manufacture their newest centrifuges from less reliable carbon fiber.

Sounds like cause for celebration, right?  Between Stuxnet and the sanctions, Iran’s nuclear butt is being kicked around Southwest Asia.

But there is more to the story, and a serious danger of succumbing to a Hockey Stick effect if we don’t look at all of it. Continue reading “Iran’s nuclear program: Avoiding hockey-stickery”