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”

So…what should we be doing in foreign policy now?

Doing less with less.

The pessimism out there is palpable, and for good reason.  They’re all right.  Richard Fernandez: Olympus has fallen.  Bryan Preston: We are so screwed.  Stephen Green (VodkaPundit): Pastis in our timeNational Review: On Syria, from bad to worse.  Victor Davis Hanson: Putin – Saruman Come Alive.*  Peggy Noonan: Team Obama, people who know nothing – really nothing – about history.  Kori Schake (Foreign Policy): Obama speech remarkably – alarmingly – flabby.  Ann Coulter: Syrial losers.  Jackie Gingrich Cushman: Obama on Syria: Following from behind.  Hal G.P. Colebatch (American Spectator): Obama as Queeg: A few cruise missiles short in the leadership arsenal.

On it goes. Continue reading “So…what should we be doing in foreign policy now?”

Syria: Now, the run-up to whatever “it” will or won’t be

Fuse, lit?

What the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has voted to authorize is a military operation not to exceed 90 days in duration, and without U.S. troops in a ground role.  The purpose, per the “stronger language” amendment demanded by John McCain (R-AZ), is to “change the momentum on the ground”; i.e., shift it against Assad and in favor of “moderate” opposition forces.

Who knows what might actually be done based on this authorization – if anything.  What would Congressional votes mean, in the end?  Has the McCain amendment made the beefed-up resolution harder to pass in the full Senate?  Is there a realistic chance that the House will pass a resolution authorizing military action at all?  Will Obama refrain from mounting a strike if Congress doesn’t agree?

Does anyone else notice the inanity of Continue reading “Syria: Now, the run-up to whatever “it” will or won’t be”

A “Johnny Football suspension” for Assad; *UPDATE*

Cynical toddlers in the White House.

My colleague Howard Portnoy highlighted yesterday the report that a U.S. official who had been briefed on the planning for a strike on Syria characterized the objective as “a level of intensity ‘just muscular enough not to get mocked’ but not so devastating that it would prompt a response from Syrian allies Iran and Russia.”

As Howard says, it’s too late for the “not getting mocked” objective.  The mocking, moreover, is not because people don’t like Obama; it’s because watching him and his administration burble and leak their way through this exciting national-security moment is like watching a toddler try to be devious. Continue reading “A “Johnny Football suspension” for Assad; *UPDATE*”

The unbearable passivity of triangulated policies that require “slam dunk” intelligence

Got policy?

It’s a percussion symphony out there.  The drumbeat of stalwart European readiness to strike Syria has become unsteady – boy, that was quick – but now comes the drumbeat of doubt about whether Assad, his actual self, actually ordered the actual chemical attack on 21 August (along with an apparently less urgent doubt that it was the regime in the first place).

FWIW, and up front, I think it was the regime that mounted the attack, and that that’s what matters.  (Whether that means we need to bomb air-defense installations and empty weapons storehouses is another question.)  Achieving the concentration and scope of toxic effects that we have seen, in both gruesome video and eyewitness reporting, is something the Assad regime is well capable of doing.

The rebels, less so.  At least some of the rebels have the capability Continue reading “The unbearable passivity of triangulated policies that require “slam dunk” intelligence”