TOC Ready Room 2 Nov 2021: Election 2021; geopolitics heat up in Middle East; sub said to collide with seamount

What’s wrong and right with the world.

Here comes Tuesday 2 November 2021, general election day this year, and there’s no stopping it.

As mentioned in the TOC football forum, we plan to be watching the Toledo game.

But we’ll check in with the election results.  New Jersey’s not looking good for turning, but Virginia is a live prospect with the latest poll showing Republican Glenn Youngkin up on Democrat Terry McAuliffe 53%-45%.

…and this is us, checking in with the election in Virginia. Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 2 Nov 2021: Election 2021; geopolitics heat up in Middle East; sub said to collide with seamount”

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”

Obama blocks U.S. pilots from bombing ISIS; Iranian fighters escort Russian bombers

Interesting times.

USAF F-15E Strike Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing (RAF Lakenheath) arrives at Incirlik in Nov 2015. (Image: USAF, Tech Sgt. Taylor Worley)
USAF F-15E Strike Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing (RAF Lakenheath) arrives at Incirlik in Nov 2015. (Image: USAF, Tech Sgt. Taylor Worley)

It’s essential to have the big picture on this.  The war in Syria is turning into something bigger, with substantially bigger implications than what happens to ISIS.

But ISIS remains the handy pretext for Russia’s and Iran’s growing intervention in both Syria and Iraq.  That intervention is changing their posture, and the correlation of both military and political forces across the region, almost by the day.  They are not there for ISIS, and they’re not there for Assad.  They’re there – putting down stakes from the Caspian and the Caucasus to the Horn of Africa – because they intend to be in charge of carving up the rapidly fragmenting ruins of the post-World War I Middle East.

ISIS will get something of a vote in this conflict.  But America won’t.  The reason for these two realities is that Obama has limited the use of U.S. force – limited it to such an extent that ISIS is still a very viable entity.  Obama’s “restraint” is also the reason Russia and Iran keep having ISIS as a handy, open-ended pretext for arranging to occupy Iraq and Syria.  Which is what they’re actually doing.

Obama has in fact restrained the use of U.S. force to an unnatural degree.  We’ve known for a while now that 75% of the strike sorties flown against ISIS by our aircraft return to base without bombing anything.  U.S. Central Command reported that in operational statistics months ago, and it was picked up by stateside media as early as May 2015. Continue reading “Obama blocks U.S. pilots from bombing ISIS; Iranian fighters escort Russian bombers”

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”

Obama demonstrates geostrategic incomprehension in webcast with Jewish groups

Uncomprehending.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the march. (Image: AFP via Der Spiegel)
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the march. (Image: AFP via Der Spiegel)

There was a lot to reject in the comments made by President Obama on Friday to the leaders of the Jewish Federations of North America, in a webcast sponsored by JFNA.  That’s putting it in the mildest possible way.

But we can gain invaluable perspective from focusing on one particular passage in the Q&A session.  It illuminates everything else that’s going on, and exposes the brittle emptiness of Obama’s rhetoric – because it betrays the anachronism of his view of the Middle East and Israeli security.  It’s as if Obama doesn’t realize it’s not 2009 anymore.

The topic is the security relationship of the U.S. with Israel: how strong it is, and how it can be reenergized.  Here’s Michael Siegal, Chairman of Jewish Federations of North America, asking Obama the question (from the White House transcript emailed after the webcast, which the Chicago Sun-Times has here): Continue reading “Obama demonstrates geostrategic incomprehension in webcast with Jewish groups”