Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pilot Error

Now that a few air strikes seem to have blunted the ISIS appetite for continuing the attack on refugees in Kurdistan, the even bigger problem emerges.
The refugees (in what numbers? reports range from 50,000 to 1+ million) cannot continue to live in the wilderness where they now squat.  There is no food, water or shelter. A representative from the Department of State said, “We are looking at every possible solution.” Truth is, there are really only four.
1) Avoid the problem. Get somebody else (Iraq, the Kurds, the French, anybody) to belly up to the problem, while the US "leads from behind."  Or more precisely, leads from Martha’s Vineyard.
2) Continue to supply the refugees by air where they are, indefinitely. This might be technically possible, but it is not really sustainable in the long run. Imagine moving 100,000 city-dwellers (complete with children, pregnant women, hospital patients, and their elderly) to a scorching desert mountain without any food, shelter or medicine. Now imagine supplying everything they need by air, when the nearest friendly runway is a five hour flight away.
3) Return them to their homes.  Perfect solution. Except it would require eliminating a hostile army, one pickup truck at a time, while that army mixes in with a civilian population.   This would require a ground offensive. And someone would have to do the actual fighting – suffer casualties against  the ISIS army and their US provided equipment, in order to regain somebody else’s homeland. Good luck with that. 
4) Evacuate the refugees to somewhere else.  Just finding and collecting the refugees  would be a massive operation – maybe 5000 aircraft sorties of many hours each, through hostile airspace. The logistical tail (fuel, maintenance, medical help, etc.)  would be enormous, as would the security umbrella.  And movement to where? Who would take perhaps as many as a quarter million refugees?
Breaking news reports suggest that US “State Department officials and USAID” are working to find such a location.
Hum-m-m-m-.  DOS and USAID.  I am reminded that the recent plan to send Department of State officials to Honduras to screen potential illegal immigrants was called a “pilot  program." The idea was to "pre-qualify" selected people as legal immigrants, and grant them access by Executive Order.  Once they were granted formal refugees status, they would be guaranteed admission.  And the US would help to transport them. 
What is a "pilot program?"  It is an experiment to sort out the kinks for a larger program later. 
            Well, now it is later.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fire on the Mountain, Run Boys Run

The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Or maybe the Ukraine.

I am worried.  Really worried.  Here is what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff just said:

“If I have a fear about this,” General Dempsey told the Aspen Security Forum over the weekend, “it’s that Putin may actually light a fire that he loses control of.”  

            I agree – this is a dangerous situation -- but for a different reason.  WE lit the fire and are stoking it. 

            Putin is a KGB thug. I wish him a short life and unhappy death.  But he did not create this crisis.  We did – over loans the Ukraine could not repay to Western banks. We engineered a removal of an elected president by a mob, and arranged to pay the bankers with money borrowed from the US and European governments. And in the process laid the groundwork for replacing Russian gas with US oil making some US companies very happy. AND we talked about pulling Ukraine into NATO, after we promised we would not, back when the USSR broke up.

Putin has not talked about marching into Europe or reestablishing the Soviet Union.  That has come from our officials, speculating about what he “might” do. 

Putin took the Crimea without a shot and from people who wanted to be incorporated. He secured the bases RUSSIA BUILT, and the ships RUSSIA PAID FOR.  The big mistake here was the US Dept of State (and western bankers) thinking Russia was too weak to respond.   Of course they did – we threatened a vital interest.

Our media reports Russia is firing artillery into the Ukraine.  If true, that means at targets 20 MILES FROM THEIR BORDER. Meanwhile, NATO  is talking about operations in the Ukraine, 700 miles from the old NATO borders. And about 5,000 miles from Washington, DC. Who sounds like the aggressor?

Two months ago the Ukrainian army could not find its helmet and both boots.  Now it is conducting a double envelopment of two Separatist cities by well supplied mechanized forces. The Ukrainian air force, which could not land in a cross wind, is providing precision close air support.  And the US CJCS is saying “an ‘active process’ is underway to determine what help the US could provide Ukraine.”  (See Dempsey link above.)

Last time we saw something like this it was in Croatia and coordinated by retired US military advisers, contracted by the US from MPRI  (a DC based body shop for military retires). When the going got tough later in Kosovo, the US effort was backed up by strikes from the USAF – all coordinated by former NATO Commander, US General Wesley Clark.

I suspect something similar is happening in the Ukraine.  Right on the Russian border.  Closer than the 90 miles that drove JFK to risk nuclear war in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Oh yes – and the Dept of State is openly speculating that new sanctions might push the Russian rich guys to oust Putin – something Dick Cheney used to call regime change.  Wonder how Putin will react to that?

Again, I a no fan of Putin, and no supporter of Russia in world affairs.  But the first question any strategist should ask is, “If I pursue my current strategy, what will happen next?”

What do you think will happen if we back Putin and Russia into a corner, ultimately placing NATO troops right on their border, astride the invasion route the Nazis took on the way to Mother Russia?

Yeah -- somebody has definitely lit a fire that might burn out of control.  But I don’t think the arsonist was Vladimir Putin.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

America Switches Sides

I like Stratfor.  I am not a worshiper at their strategic alter, but I think they have about as good a network of global contacts as is available in open source literature. And they make a serious effort to produce politically objective analysis.  They are about the only source to take the threat of transnational crime seriously.  However, in some areas they draw heavily from the thinking of the traditional foreign policy elite and so are sometimes blinded by the same hubris. They focus on rational actions and actors, and have a hard time coming to grips with the realities of religious belief -- which is increasingly the central motivator of important actions world wide.
At the risk of my own hubris, I suggest that it misses one important point -- a point I have been arguing for more than a year. It misses the reality that this Administration has led the United States to change sides in the war currently raging between "Traditional Islam Influenced" states (like Mubarak's Egypt), and "Emerging Islam Dominated" states and organizations (like the Muslim Brotherhood’s Egypt).
In its modern incarnation, this war has been ongoing for decades -- since even before the Muslim Brotherhood gave it a face and organizing concept in the 1920's.  The West was able to largely ignore the war for decades because the "Traditional Islam Influenced" states (mostly dictators with a few royal families thrown in) had enough power to keep the "Emerging Islam Dominated" radicals down. With the end of the Cold War and the increasing flow of weapons and technology to the radicals, that balance of power began to shift. Today the simmering war has broken into the open in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Gaza, etc. etc. etc.
Bin Laden (remember  him?) was different from other radicals because he saw that the Traditional Islamic Influenced states drew much of their power from a position in the world order, dominated and supported by the United States.  So Bin Laden (and Al Qaeda) set out to break the link between the US and the "Traditional Islam Influenced" states by violence -- striking the US physically and economically and forcing it back inside its own borders.  They miscalculated badly, and were largely disassembled for their efforts.
But a different approach -- mounted by some in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, in the US, and elsewhere -- has been more effective. That approach has sought influence inside the Western "Holy of Holies" -- academia, and the foreign policy elite it produces.  And when possible in the halls of political power. 
President Obama and his Administration officials represent the greatest success to date of this approach. Over the last six years, they have guided the United States (and other parts of the Western World -- but especially the US) in switching sides in the war.  NOT the war against the US, but the war between states influenced by Islam, and organizations dominated by Islam.  Obama's military, intelligence, economic and foreign policy machine called the challenges to the Traditional Islam Influenced states "The Arab Spring." The US supported the supposed "moderates" in the Spring, by undermining and helping to overthrow the bad Traditional Islam Influenced leaders. Then the US threw its weight behind what has turned out to be the even worse Emerging Islam Dominated leaders.
And so we find ourselves:
·       Standing aside silently while the American creation-by-inaction, the Islamic State, conducts ethnic cleansing of Christians who predate Muslims in Iraq by 700 years;
·       Scolding Israel for taking the only action possible to reduce attacks on civilians by rockets and assassins smuggled in through tunnels;
·       Looking politely away while US embassy and intelligence officials run for their lives in Libya;
·       Hoping no one will notice while radical groups take heart and prepare to seize other states from Turkey to the Mideast to Africa.
Obama and company played a risky game. They bet they could align themselves with the Emerging Islam Dominated forces, show good will, and bring the radicals into the community of nations.  Surprise, surprise.  That's not the way radical religion works. 
And so here we are -- holding Hamas' coat while an astonished Israel says, "Whose side are you on, anyway!"  Well, as it turns out, the Emerging Islam Dominated forces don't want us on their side -- they just want us neutralized.  And they have largely gotten what they wanted.  
So thanks to clever maneuvering by the Administration and the US foreign policy aristocracy (to include inside academia), as the world burns and the fire spreads, we are not on anybody's side.  Not even our own.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Plot Thickens – 10 Questions about the Border Crisis

Last week I posted 10 facts about the border crisis leading to an unhappy conclusion. At best the US government saw this “invasion of innocents” building, and let it happen in order to create political momentum for a “comprehensive immigration solution.” (Read amnesty)  At worse, it actually colluded with the governments and cartels to our south to make this happen.  The combination of inaction, counterproductive action, and secret action over the last week raises some serious follow-on questions.

1) Who created the story that all these children are running from a spike in violence in Central America? Federal officials have pushed the story, and the Main Stream Media (MSM) embraced it as a reason to offer asylum. In fact, a redacted version of what appears to be a recent report from the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC)  – charged with tracking exactly this sort of issue --  concludes that violence in Central America is in fact DOWN. In interviews, most immigrants listed the reason for the wave of new assaults on the border as stories about the end of US deportation activities, based on President Obama’s recent actions, as the reason for their travel across the US border. US embassies in the region could not have missed these local press reports, or the likely result. But they did nothing to counter them.   

This false story used by the MSM to create a false narrative pointing away from US government culpability looks disturbingly familiar.  Have we been Benghazied again?

2) Why hasn’t the media sent reporters to check the facts of the 800 mile journey the illegal crossers are supposedly taking? They seem to be able to send reporters to the edge of conflict in Egypt, Syria, Israel, Iraq, Nigeria, and the Ukraine. Why not to the capital cities of El Salvador or Guatemala to see who is leaving and how they are traveling? Why no reporters sent to view road and rail routes in Mexico? Why can’t the media confirm the simple of question of whether thousands of children are coming from relatives or orphanages? Because of restrictions by DHS, reporters aren’t even reporting directly from the holding areas on our side of the border.  The MSM is simply repeating whatever story and pictures the US government provides. Since when is our investigative media so trusting, and willing to report government handouts as fact without secondary confirmation?

3) Why does everybody keep saying that all these children require separate hearings to determine their safety before deportation?  According to a June 23d, 2014 report by the Congressional Research Service ( ), under the law, only  Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) deserve such special treatment.  If children cross with a parent or adult guardian,  they can be deported immediately just like any other illegal invader. By extension,  if they are delivered to a parent inside the US (as current ICE policy directs) then they are no longer unaccompanied – and they qualify for immediate deportation.   Continuing to treat them as UAC AFTER LINKING THEM UP WITH A PARENT is a US POLICY – not a legal requirement.  If we end up with 65,000+ children clogging the US immigration courts with their cases, it will be because President Obama has made this policy decision with his phone and his pen – not because the law requires it.   

4) Every person suspected of wrong doing and taken into custody in most US  jurisdictions is scanned and photographed for gang tattoos, and separated out for gang activity if so identified. Is this happening with those taken into custody as part of this invasion?  If so, gang members should qualify for immediate deportation, under the President’s announced risk policies. Is that happening?  How many times?

5) Why are all these people being moved in secret and in the dead of night?  Is it to disguise who they are? Is it to prevent local people from knowing about the impact on their community?  Is it to place them in republican districts in order to change the voter balance? Before you laugh at that last question, note that the first community to stage protests about large numbers of aliens being placed with them secretly was a small republican bastion in a sea of democratic jurisdictions in California. How was the small republican town selected as a destination?

6) Why have there been no diplomatic efforts to reduce the flow of people out of Central America and through Mexico to our border?  (If in fact, that’s where the people are coming from. We have no independent confirmation of government reports.)  The President, Vice-President and Secretary of State are quick to engage leaders overseas when the sovereignty of other countries is at risk. At this moment our President has his national security team working to rally European sanctions against the prospect of a single Russian soldier setting foot in the Ukraine. But apparently no one has made a single call to the leadership of Mexico or any Central American country asking for help reducing and controlling the flow of thousands of people along an 800 mile route to our border. Why not?

7) Bravo to the reporters who have noticed that this movement is leaving large parts of the border uncovered. In military terms this would be called a feint or diversion – pull the enemy out of the way of your main attack.  Do any experts have any thoughts on how much money is being made as drugs and other contraband pour through our undefended border while the Border Patrol is changing diapers?

8) And where is all the money going? The recent level of violence in Chicago is astonishing.  It begins to remind of Juarez years ago as the quantity and value of smuggled goods began to rise, and gangs and cartels began to fight over territory, routes, and distribution points. Can our experts identify any connections between increased smuggling across our border, and increased violence in our heartland?

9) What exactly could the National Guard do if deployed as Governor Perry has requested of the President? True, Guard presence would not change the flow of illegal immigrants rushing to surrender after crossing the Rio Grande. But the Guard might cover the parts of the border abandoned by an overcommitted Border Patrol now seeking to collect and safeguard tens of thousands of children. The problem is not with sending the Texas National Guard – the governor can do that himself. The problem is with paying for their service. Since the Guard would be addressing a national problem which the Federal Government is incapable of handling, the Governor really wants the President to pay for the Guard’s deployment. If the President deploys the Guard under Title 10 of US code, they work for him, the Feds pay the bill,  and the soldiers can have no direct law enforcement role (IAW the Posse Commitatus Act).  But if the President merely authorizes the deployment under the governor’s direction, as Title 32 of US law allows, then the Federal government will pay the cost. Which is only fair as they seem to have created the problem to begin with. So why doesn’t Governor Perry specifically request this, and the President grant it, as the law allows?

10) Which take us to the big question that almost everybody is missing.  There is big money to be made here – hundreds of millions from smuggling drugs and other goods.  Who is making it?