Rock, hard place, Syria

Force depth: all gone.

Through his latest action, calling for a vote of Congress on a strike against the Assad regime – but not trying to make it happen quickly – Obama has crystallized the Syria dilemma to the fullest extent.

It is no longer necessary to predict that failure to make good on his promise about a “red line” will be fatal to American credibility.  The die is cast.  We have reached the limit of fate’s tolerance for indecision, and the verdict is in: Obama, and the West, couldn’t handle this one.

But hold that thought for a moment – call it the rock in this scenario – and let us consider the hard place, which has its own argument to make.  Those who have continued to press for a military response in Syria seem not to understand that the situation of the U.S. military is severely compromised, due to the very real effects of not spending on readiness.  We literally do not have the forces available to expand on any limited strikes we might undertake. Continue reading “Rock, hard place, Syria”

Dead in the water: Obama’s military and the Iran nuclear threat

Promises we can’t keep.

Two to three years ago, the United States Department of Defense had enough military forces on station in, or readily deployable to, the Persian Gulf region (the “CENTCOM AOR” – area of responsibility – or Southwest Asia, as it is called in the military) to execute a limited strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities without asking Congress for special funding.  The military could have performed such an operation “out of hide,” as quickly and seamlessly as the president wanted it to.

Four to five years ago, moreover, the U.S. had the regional political capital to use our bases in the local nations (e.g., Qatar and Bahrain) to launch and direct such a strike campaign.

Both of these conditions have now changed. Continue reading “Dead in the water: Obama’s military and the Iran nuclear threat”