Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dark Horse

Oh! The Humannity!!

Ebberdobby knows bout the easily excited and often unhinged elements betwixt Atlas Mountains and Indus.

And now so does Great Satan's fav singing hoochie - Katy Perry

Her latest tune features a vid showing a guy getting all vaporized while wearing a necklace with the word "Allah" in Arabic.

And instantly hurt the feelings of several thousand cats who are unable to stop watching it

You Tube instantly digitally scrubbed out the offending necklace melting bit, but really? 

Pic




Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Panty Raid!


Little Satan's panty raid into Syria - the 2nd one since August - sheds some interesting light.

Then, Little Satan raided bunches of Russian Yakhount anti ship missiles headed for Hiz'B'Allah in Lebanon after being purchased by Syria.

The recent 4 jet raid on the HbA missile base at Janta seems to be a repeat.

Middle East Military Balance Project at the Institute for National Security Studies LOLs that all the Commonwealth weaprony Russia is selling to Syria - bunches of it defies logic.

As the Syrian rebels have no airforce, SA-17 or “Buk” surface-to-air missiles are a curious outrageous expense. The rebels do not have a navy either, so why do Assad’s forces need Russian-made P800 Yakhont supersonic antiship missiles?

Soooo...are the Russians knowingly selling chiz to al Assad for redistribution to HbA?

Pic - "We will not allow the transfer of advanced weapons to Hizballah"

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

All Or Nothing

One of the most suspect via truthiness in 44's Posse of Rivals (which, obvay, is a heck of a hello - considering cats like AG eric the Red Holder and former Madame Sec HRC) was on some telly show Sunday.

Dispencing disingenious discombobulation, NSC cat Ambassador Susan Rice continued her arc of disbelief.

Susan Rice ought to stay off "Meet the Press." The last time she was on she misrepresented what led to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi. On Sunday, she was back, this time misrepresenting critics of the administration's Syria policy. Last time her misrepresentation was unintentional. This time it wasn't. More preferred, though, when she doesn't know what she's talking about.

In a frustrating colloquy, Rice initially said all the right things about Syria. She called the war there "horrific," which indeed it is. She said it has "spilled over and infused the neighboring states," which indeed it has. And she said the U.S. has "every interest in trying to bring this conflict to a conclusion." Yes. Yes, indeed.

But if the alternative here is to intervene with American boots on the ground, as some have argued, I think that the judgment Great Satan has made and the president of the United States has made is that is not in Great Satan's interests," she continued.

Who, precisely, advocates boots on the ground? Name just one prominent critic or to wonder why this is "the alternative" when there are so many others.

Rice, who is the president's national security adviser, got away with rebutting an argument that has not been made.

She did, though, exhibit an administration mindset -- all or nothing -- that in practice amounts to nothing.

Pic -"From Ukraine to Syria to the Pacific, a hands-off foreign policy invites more trouble!"

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cut Rate Army


Whoa!

DefSec H just unleashed his guide to cutting back Great Satan's military to like 1939 levels.

See, fighting land wars is sooo last millennium and we'll never have to do another one!!

Or so it seems - partic when the "This We'll Defend" Cats are concerned

We seek a highly ready and capable Army, able to dominate any opponent across the full spectrum of operations. To achieve this, the Army must accelerate the pace and increase the scale of its post-war drawdown. Today, there are about 520,000 active-duty soldiers, which the Army had planned to reduce to 490,000. However, the Strategic Choices and Management Review and the QDR both determined that since we are no longer sizing the force for prolonged stability operations, an Army of this size is larger than required to meet the demands of our defense strategy. Given reduced budgets, it is also larger than we can afford to modernize and keep ready. We have decided to further reduce active-duty Army end-strength to a range of 440-450,[000] soldiers.

I have also accepted the Army’s recommendations to terminate the current Ground Combat Vehicle program and re-direct the funds toward developing a next-generation platform. I have asked the leadership of the Army and the Marine Corps to deliver new, realistic visions for avehicle modernization by the end of this fiscalyear.

The changes to end strength would result in a smaller Army, but would help ensure the Army remains well-trained and clearly superior in arms and equipment. While this smaller capacity entails some added risk, even if we execute extended or simultaneous ground operations, our analysis showed that this force would be capable of decisively defeating aggression in one major combat theater – as it must be – while also defending the homeland and supporting air and naval forces engaged in another theater against an adversary. If sequestration-level cuts are re-imposed in 2016, the active dutyArmy would have to draw down to an end strength of 420,000 soldiers.

The Army National Guard and Reserves will also draw down in order to maintain a balanced force. Today, the Army National Guard numbers about 355,000 soldiers and the Reserves about 205,000 soldiers. By 2017, under our recommendations, there would be 335,000 soldiers in the Army National Guard force structure and 195,000 in the Reserves. If sequestration returns in 2016, the Army National Guard would continue drawing down further, to 315,000. Army Reserves would draw down to 185,000.

We have protected the National Guard and Reserves from cuts to the extent possible, but to maintain a ready and capable force at a time of fiscal constraints, no component of DoD can be entirely exempted from reductions.

This five percent recommended reduction in Guard and Reserve soldiers is smaller than the 13 percent reduction in active-duty soldiers. I’m mindful that many in the Guard and Reserve community and in Congress have argued that the reserve component should be protected from cuts because they provide more troops at lower cost. If our priority was having the largest possible force in the event of a large-scale, prolonged war, that would be reasonable. However, our defense strategy calls for more than that. Surge capacity is just one factor, as we must prioritize readiness, capability, and agility. And while it is true that reserve units are less expensive when they are not mobilized, our analysis shows that a reserve unit is roughly the same cost as an active duty unit when mobilized and deployed.

Guardsmen and Reservists performed well in Iraq and Afghanistan. We could not have achieved what we did in either place without them. But experience shows that specialties requiring greater collective training to achieve combat proficiency and service integrationshould reside in the full-time force, where these capabilities will be more ready and available to commanders. What best serves our national security is when Guard and Reserve units complement the active force.

That’s why we’ve recommended Army Guard Apache attack helicopters be transferred to active-duty units. The Active Army will transfer Blackhawk helicopters to the National Guard, where they will bolster the Guard’s needed capabilities in areas like disaster relief and emergency response.

These changes to the Guard’s helicopter fleet are part of a broader realignment of Army aviation designed to modernize its fleet and make it highly capable and more affordable. The force will retire its Kiowas, and the “JetRanger” training helicopters used at Fort Rucker. The Active Army’s overall fleet would decrease by about 25 percent, but it would be significantly modernized under the President’s budget plan.

The Guard’s fleet of helicopters would decline by eight percent, but it would gain new Blackhawks and the Army will sustain the Guard’s fleet of Light Utility Helicopters. If sequestration-level cuts are re-imposed in 2016, the Army would have to cut 50 of these helicopters from the Guard force.

While any force reduction has some risk, the future Guard helicopter force will still serve as an important operational and strategic complement to our active duty force, while also being equipped for state and federal requirements for homeland defense, disaster relief, and support to civil authorities.

In making these difficult decisions on the Guard and Reserves, we affirmed the value of a highly capable reserve component, while keeping the focus on how our military can best meet future demands given fiscal constraints. We made choices based on strategic priorities, clear facts, unbiased analysis, and fiscal realities… and with the bottom line focus on how best we can defend the United States.

Pic - "The larger mistake, though, is being made by a political system that seems to think land warfare won’t occur for the next couple of decades."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ukrainia


Russia's premier bit of Near Abroad is totally in the What Next file...

President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital, Kiev, for an unknown destination. The riot police and other security guards vanished from the streets. Protesters who only hours earlier had been dodging sniper bullets found themselves guarding the presidential palace and other government buildings. Now big questions are burning holes in policymakers’ desks.

First, what happened to Mr Yanukovych? The most likely explanation is that he simply lost his nerve. He had promised Vladimir Putin that he would deal with the protesters, as part-price of the deal to salvage the Ukrainian economy with loans and cheap gas, rather than accepting the EU’s reform-for-cash deal. He was willing to dip his hands in blood. But not deep enough. Faced with the protesters’ resistance, and the splintering of his own camp, he broke and fled.

One reason is that the deal brokered by the EU involved early presidential elections. That would be a fatal blow to his presidential authority. Whatever Ukrainians think about the EU, history, language and economic reform, the detestation of Mr Yanukovych’s authoritarian, corrupt and incompetent rule is all but universal. He was able to win the last presidential election only as a result of the spectacular failure of the country’s previous “Orange” rulers. As the likely loser in December (or earlier) he would be a lame-duck president.

Already, on the day of the talks, Mr Yanukovych had lost his parliamentary majority. His grip on the country was slipping. His Russian allies had signalled their desire for a deal, not a showdown. Even a substantial and resilient figure would have quailed in such a situation. For a man of notoriously limited mental and emotional resources, it must have seemed overwhelming.

The second question is why the security forces stood down with such remarkable speed and comprehensiveness, within 45 minutes of the deal being signed. Was that a gesture of goodwill by the regime? Was it because the power ministries scented Mr Yanukovych’s exit and feared retribution from the protesters? Or is it part of a “Plan B” from the Yanukovych camp? Their top man may be gone, but their huge financial interests remain. Their ties with Russia are deep. They may have decided that the best thing for now is to retreat in the hope that the opposition will be unable to control its radical fringe. For now, Ukrainians and the West want change more than stability. But looting and mayhem in Kiev and elsewhere might change that, making it possible for elements of the old regime (and their Russian friends) to stage a comeback.

The third question is: Who runs the country now? A BBC correspondent said on Saturday morning that “power is lying on the street in Kiev—the question is who will pick it up”. That is a bit of an exaggeration. Parliament is in charge. That is better than nothing, though Ukraine’s Rada is a motley crew: many legislators have struggled to dispel the suspicion that their political careers have been an extension of their business interests.

An interim government will be formed imminently, with some “babysitting” from the EU (a special envoy is likely to be nominated soon, and more foreign ministers and other bigwigs will be packing their bags for Kiev). America has signalled that it will support emergency IMF intervention.

But keeping Ukraine afloat will be a major task. Will the Russian bail-out package, which had been drip-feeding cash to the Yanukovych regime, now be withdrawn? What will the gas price be? The West will find that supporting a large, heavily indebted country in the throes of a chaotic political transformation is a costly business (though far less costly, it should be noted, than dealing with that country’s disintegration and civil war). Will the EU now have the guts to say clearly that when Ukraine reaches the right standards, it has a real chance and choice of membership?

And what of the oligarchs? People such as Rinat Akhmetov and Viktor Pinchuk have made clear their distaste for Mr Yanukovych’s sticky-fingered approach and for his failed crackdown, and for Russia’s asset grabs. But what do they want now? Presumably they and the old regime’s cronies will now be haggling over who gets what in the new order. And what about Yulia Timoshenko, a politician whose erratic and idiosyncratic rule is responsible for much of the mess that Ukraine is now in? In struggles over billions of dollars, clean outcomes are unlikely.

Equally uncertain is how the protesters will cope with the messy tedium of normal democratic politics. Once you have gained a taste for adrenaline-flavoured simplicity, it can become addictive. Ukraine needs a decade of hard work on reform to recover the chances squandered in the past 25 years, building the institutions, habits and attitudes needed for honest, lawful government. That will require patience and expertise, not courage and barricades.

Then there is the question of Russia’s role. Many have blamed Russia for escalating the crisis, forcing Mr Yanukovych into a corner, and insisting on seeing Ukraine’s future as a zero-sum game, in which any integration with the EU means a defeat for Russia’s geopolitical interests.

So why did Russia back off? The swaggering bombast of recent days has vanished. It sent to the talks one of the few figures in Russian public life likely to be acceptable to the protesters and the West—the human-rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin. He came as a witness, not as a participant to the deal reached on Friday; Russia says through diplomatic channels that though it is not a party to that agreement, it will not sabotage it. The Kremlin seems to have stood down its separatists in Crimea, a stronghold of Russian interests (and home to a large Russian naval base). Does it prize Ukrainian territorial integrity more than the chance to meddle?

One explanation is that Mr Putin, not for the first time, misread the situation. The Orange Revolution of 2004-5 was sparked by Mr Yanukovych’s election-rigging—enthusiastically supported and advised by Russia. Perhaps the Kremlin had been fooled by its own propaganda, in which the protesters were merely a unrepresentative bunch of Western-financed anarchists and fascists. Perhaps it was worried by the prospect of chaos in its largest European neighbour. In the event of collapse or upheaval, refugees would be heading north as well as west.

Perhaps too it was impressed by the West’s belated but impressive intervention. As the crisis deepened, America stepped up its engagement notably, with lengthy phone calls from Vice-President Joe Biden to Mr Yanukovch, and from 44 to Mr Putin. The three EU foreign ministers, Radek Sikorski of Poland, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany and Laurent Fabius of France, were Europe's diplomatic equivalent to a carrier battle group of the US Navy. Mr Putin may have realised that the outside world was blaming him, not the West, for meddling in Ukraine. At the very least it was time for a tactical retreat.

But what will Russia do now? Most likely it will sit on the sidelines for a while. It can leave the West to try to manage the deal it has brokered. It will take years before Ukraine’s economy and public administration are strong enough to withstand Kremlin mischief. That gives plenty of time. Some would say that even the presence of the sensible and sympathetic Mr Lukin as a witness to the deal has established something of a precedent for formal Russian involvement in Ukrainian domestic affairs.

These are troubling questions and it would be naïve to say that the future looks sunny. Yet it is worth noting that the outlook this weekend is hugely brighter than at any time for months. Mr Yanukovych, one of the worst European leaders in decades, is down. Russia, at least for now, is out. We don't know who is in. But it might even be possible to argue that the high tide of the Putinist revanche was reached in Kiev last week, and that it is now in retreat.

Pic - "Geopolitical Chess"

WoW!!


The Watchers Council - it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers

Thus, sans further adieu (or a don't)

Council Winners

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See you next week! And don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Thursday, February 20, 2014

WWI Lessons For Today


Beleaf it or don't - the events of a 100 years ago are like totally on it in the new millennium...

See...

World War I reminds us that even amid the worst carnage imaginable there will likely be a victor and a loser, even if both sides would usually have been far better off negotiating rather than destroying their youth over sometimes solvable differences. That sophisticated Westerners deny this fact does not make it go away, much less convince their adversaries of the futility of ideas like victory and defeat.

We can still learn lots from World War I, if only in the sense of how to avoid disasters of this nature — especially given the present age of gathering war clouds not unlike those in 1914 and 1939.

China, like the Westernized Japan of the 1930s, wants influence and power commensurate with its economic clout, and perhaps believes its growing military can obtain both at the expense of its democratic neighbors without starting a wider war. North Korea is not convinced that demanding concessions from South Korea — or simply humiliating it and the U.S. — by threats of war would not work. Iran trusts that the age of the U.S. mare nostrum in the Mediterranean is over, that the Sunni Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms are spent, that once-unquestioned Western guarantees to Israel are now negotiable, that nuclear acquisition is an agreed wink-and-nod obtainable enterprise, and that terrorist appendages can achieve political objectives in the Middle East just as effectively as carrier groups.

Putin dreams that the Russian imperial world of the 1950s can live again, through coercion, Machiavellian diplomacy, and the combined lethargy of the EU and the U.S. — and he often is willing to take some risks to refashion current realities. Failed socialist and Communist states in Latin America nonetheless believe that a distracted or uninterested U.S. no longer cares to make the argument that transparent democratic capitalism is the region’s only hope for the future. The miseries of Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are apparently no reason for them to feel that they should not extend them to other countries.

Amid all that, a minor bow and apology here, or an inadvertent pink line and empty deadline there, matters. Gratuitous talk of “reset” and “lead from behind,” coupled with serial scapegoating of past U.S. policies and presidents, massive new debt and vast cuts in defense, also sends a message to our rivals and enemies that occasional gambles and aggressive moves that would usually be seen as stupid and suicidal may not be any more.

We are reverting to our posture of 1938–40, when the United States talked very loudly of what it might do and what the Axis should not do, but had no intention of backing up such sanctimoniousness with force and was more likely to cut than augment its defenses.

War is the messy arbiter of peacetime false perceptions about relative power. Peace returns when all the nations involved have learned, after great agony, what they really could and could not do. Or as Thucydides sighed, war is “a harsh schoolmaster.”

Given that reality, the U.S. should start quieting down and stepping up, rather than stepping back while sounding off — before others come to believe that their own wild fantasies are reality, and the harsh schoolmaster of war intercedes to correct everyone’s shared false perceptions.

Pic - "German foreign policy was not well managed. And you can say the same thing today of China's foreign policy"

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Saudiland's Great Satan Problem


Hijazz!!

To be sure, fissures in the Great Satan-Saudi relationship are not sudden; both countries have been at odds with each other over the Little Satan-Palestine dispute, Saudi Arabia's nurturing of fundamentalist strains of You Know What 'slam (particularly after the 9/11 attacks), and on human rights and democracy promotion. More recently, the Great Satan's disinclination to intervene on behalf of Arab dictators and monarchs whom it once cultivated, and the 44th administration's negotiations with Iran, seem to have shaken Saudi Arabia's assumptions about regional security.

These evolving realities may provide context to Saudi Arabia's grandstanding on the global stage. However, its actions risk causing further damage to a relationship that it needs more than the US. Although Saudi Arabia may not be in a position to dictate US policy priorities in the region as it once did, its dependence on the US as a net security provider in the region has not lessened.

Three realities confront Saudi Arabia if it continues to go down a path that could be detrimental to its own interests.

First, Saudi Arabia's proxy war with Iran in Syria will increase instability in an already volatile Middle East. For all its self-proclaimed clout, Saudi Arabia has not been able to bring about a decisive resolution to the conflict in Syria to its satisfaction. It has attempted to goad the US into direct military action against Syria without success. It also chastised US and Russia over their September 2013 agreement on the destruction and removal of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles.

However, Saudi Arabia has itself shied away from conventional military action in Syria. Instead, it has chosen to fund a proxy war in Syria against al-Assad's regime by unleashing thousands of "holy warriors" trained with Pakistan's help. Saudi Arabia is ill-prepared and ill-equipped to deal with the repercussions that a prolonged and bloody civil war in Syria will have on the rest of the region.

Second, any attempt in Saudi Arabia to make good on its threat to embark on a "major shift" in ties with the US will need to consider that the only power in the region willing and able to defend against Iranian adventurism is the US. China may have indeed replaced the US as Saudi Arabia's primary customer for oil, but is unlikely to be interested in any role as a net security provider in the Gulf.

China may supply military hardware to the Gulf's monarchies, as evidenced by news of the sale of DF-21 medium-range ballistic missiles to Saudi Arabia in 2007, or the Kingdom's interest in purchasing JF-17 fighter aircraft jointly built by China and Pakistan, but the possibility of Beijing deploying its military forces in the Gulf is remote.

Without a security guarantor and faced with a resurgence in popular uprisings against Gulf monarchies, Saudi Arabia could seek Pakistan's assistance in quelling these protests. Indeed, Al-Jazeera reported the presence of at least 2,500 soldiers from Pakistan being brought to Bahrain in 2011 and tasked with "suppressing Shia protesters." But another disproportionate response to a sectarian uprising in Bahrain will exacerbate tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and between Iran and Pakistan. Worse, if Saudi Arabia makes good on its threat to seek nuclear weapons with Pakistan's assistance, it will substantially and negatively contribute to its own insecurity.

And third, the Peninsula Shield Force (PSF), a collective defence agreement within the framework of the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) is unlikely to be an effective replacement to a US military presence in the region. While the PSF played a key role in the 2011 uprising in Bahrain, its effectiveness in being able to direct complex operations in a conventional military confrontation with Iran is questionable. For one, Oman, a member of the GCC that enjoys cordial relations with Iran and played a key role in facilitating US-Iran talks, is unlikely to participate. Two, although the PSF was created in 1982, it proved to be singularly incapable of either deterring Saddam Hussein or protecting Kuwait in 1991. And although plans are afoot to expand the PSF to 100,000 troops, its ability to act as a cohesive unit against Iran is uncertain.

Ultimately, Great Satan is the only viable security guarantor for the Gulf's monarchies in the short to mid-term and it would be unwise of Saudi Arabia to prolong its feud with the US. Some priorities may have changed as a result of evolving geopolitical realities, and Saudi Arabia should consider how to address gaps emanating from those changes in a more constructive manner.

Great Satan, for her part, not be overly concerned with Saudi Arabia's public and capricious outbursts

Pic - "The Saudis have been openly disappointed that 44 has not used force to get rid of Assad or provided more assistance to training and arming the Syrian opposition."

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

al Qaeda's Graveyard?


Suriya al Kubra!!

From the "If Only Both Sides Could Lose Department comes wonderous gossip and intell that Syria could be like the graveyard of al Qaeda!!!

There are two competing visions of radical jihadism in Syria articulated by two rival groups. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), based in western Iraq, is overtly seeking to expand as the core territory of a global caliphate. By dispatching funds and fighters to Syria’s civil war, ISIS has incorporated Syria into its dominion. It has also received pledges of allegiance from a previously unknown group in Lebanon and support from a radical formation in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. However, this centralized model is challenged by the distributed approach endorsed by the central core of al Qaeda, still led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s former lieutenant. Syria, according to Zawahiri, is the domain of the al-Nusra Front, while ISIS ought to restrict its presence to Iraq.

The reality on the ground is quite different from the bitter discord and deliberations conducted in cyberspace. Both ISIS and al-Nusra are part of a complex network of bands, gangs, and formations that have occupied territory and exert some control over local society and the economy in areas from which the Syrian regime has been evicted. Allegiance to either ISIS or al-Nusra ― or any other party, including the regime ― is a function of incentives and coercive measures applied to local groups. While some localities have succeeded in maintaining the original spirit of the revolution, large swaths of Syrian territory have devolved into a parallel Islamic order ― complete with self-styled governors who are often notorious figures with criminal backgrounds, kangaroo courts consisting of untrained judges dispensing harsh punishment at will, and shadowy “shura council” of jihadists elevated to the status of communal leaders. In reality, these are little more than groups of bandits.

Many regions under regime control have regressed into similar patterns, with cult-like expressions of devotion to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in lieu of enforced radical religiosity. This is a testimony to the Assad regime’s failure over the past four decades to create a stable socio-economic and cultural order. Still, the deplorable jihadist performance in managing territory has exposed weaknesses, including to a broader Islamist ideology. In fact, the blatant absence of an Islamist political or economic program, the ideology’s incompatibility with local religious practices, and its reductionist character have resulted in a reversion to unqualified coercion.

To no avail, Zawahiri has issued messages trying to fill the substantive void in the jihadist agenda. The competition for resources between the two rival al Qaeda-inspired groups in Syria has degenerated into a fratricidal war ― one in which the Syria-rooted al-Nusra is aligned with non-al Qaeda affiliates against its former, foreign-led incubator.

Al Qaeda’s claim to be at the vanguard of an "Slamist order has been put to the test and has failed woefully in Syria. Yet, judging by its record, the ability of this organization to redefine and reposition itself cannot be easily dismissed. Only a proactive opposition plan to resolve the Syrian conflict, one that asserts a vision of a pluralistic democratic state, can turn al Qaeda’s current setback into a defeat of radicalism. In addition to stemming the flow of jihadists, friends of Syria in the region and in the transatlantic community need to help a hesitant opposition take serious steps toward articulating such a bold new vision for Syria.

Pic - "The old al Qaeda was wussy compared to the new cats"

Monday, February 17, 2014

Jordan's Coming Crash

Oh snap!

Is Hashemite Jordan fixing to go all the way - the other way?

Long a friend of the West and the conservative monarchies of the Middle East, Jordan's continuing failure to democratize its politics, reform its economy and properly plan for the thousands of refugees that daily cross its borders have led to increasing tensions in the country.

Jordan has a population of more than 6 million, contains few natural resources and is overly reliant on aid and loans from rich neighbors in the Persian Gulf and long-standing allies in the West. Following its loss of the West Bank during the 1967 war with Little Satan, Jordan has slowly abandoned its longtime claims of sovereignty over it.

It has remained largely neutral in regional politics, though it allied strategically with Saddam Hussein's Iraq on more than one occasion and cultivated increasingly friendly ties with President Bashar Assad's regime before the outbreak of conflict in Syria in 2011.

Although Western audiences often regard Abdullah and his equally charismatic late father as exemplars of moderation and rationality in a sea of religious extremism, weekly protests today show that Jordanians are growing weary of the palace's hollow democracy talk. Frustrated and discouraged by the ever-shifting Cabinets that rarely deliver on their promises, reform-hungry Jordanians increasingly view the pandering monarch with a skeptical eye.

And the global financial crisis, waves of refugees from neighboring Iraq and Syria and failed economic reforms have hit the country hard. Food prices have skyrocketed, economic growth has been halved and unemployment stands officially at 12%, and unofficially hovers around 30%.

 So far, public outrage has been limited to weekly Friday protests in cities such as Amman, Maan and Karak.

But the disastrous revolutionary examples in Syria and Egypt, coupled with the continuing influx of refugees, have left the country in a tense stalemate. What seemed like the inevitable march of the
Arab Spring three years ago is now a cause for pause and deliberation among local activists, and a nationwide protest movement is unlikely.

 Abdullah thus far has successfully persuaded many of his citizens to obey the dictates of living for God, king and country. But he and the coterie that surrounds him have little to offer those Jordanians who desire a greater voice in politics and different approaches to governance. To what degree the palace and its allies can continue to rule a fractious citizenry while appeasing external supporters is the crucial question that shapes short-term political dynamics in Jordan.

  The persistence or deterioration of Jordanian stability will not only have inescapable repercussions for the country's citizenry but also for the geopolitics of a region that continues to confound American policymakers.
 Pic - "Jordan’s future NEVER looked certain!"


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Reap The Whirlwind

One of sev memes preachers, "rents and Me Maw/Paw Paws enjoy endlessly looping on is the semi sorta true tale 'bout reaping what ya sow.

And if ya sow the wind - whale - look out bay bee!

May such chiz designed to scare grrls away from behaving unlike ladies in a world of hoochies, hotties and hoes be applied like "kini wax to history l'guerre? 

Oui oui m'suer!!

Warsaw, Rotterdam, London. 3rd Reich's flying artillery - nom d'voyage"d Luftwaffe brought devastation, destruction and misery on a new scale into warfare.

 "They sowed the wind and now they are going to reap the whirlwind."

Royal Air Force's Lord Bomber Harris made good on that blood chilling promise. Taking Lord Cherwell's fact finding thingy about carpet bombing centers of German industry to impose Allied will   - not so much the factories  - but to hit the workers in their homes to make them scream "God! Please! Stop!"

The aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive...should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilised life throughout Germany.
The destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories.
By February 1945 - 3rd Reich had less than a 100 days to live. Kicking and screaming, she was  crashing down in an orgy of pulverized, burning cities and a river of blood — civilian and military, German and non-German. Massive Allied Armies were fixing to strike on the Fatherland's turf on multiple fronts and sides. Unconditional Surrender was the safe word.  Military history knows no year quite like 1944 -45 and if lucky, will never see another.

On February 13th - Lord Bomber Harris dispatched a massive raid with one aim - destroy Dresden. The ancient postcard pretty city fully crunk with wooden houses, loaded to the gunwhales with refugees from Red Army's juggernauting nastiness and lucky enough to make the target profile  
Dresden, the seventh largest city in the Reich and not much smaller than Manchester is also the largest unbombed builtup area the enemy has got. In the midst of winter with refugees pouring westward and troops to be rested, roofs are at a premium, not only to give shelter to workers, refugees, and troops alike, but to house the administrative services displaced from other areas. At one time well known for its china, Dresden has developed into an industrial city of first-class importance.... 
The intentions of the attack are to hit the enemy where he will feel it most, behind an already partially collapsed front... and incidentally to show the Russians when they arrive what Bomber Command can do 
Over a thousand American and British bombers hit Dresden on February 13th...
"The horror and terror on the ground was indescribable, destruction was extensive, and the loss of life was frightful. That beautiful little city, its population swollen be an influx of refugees from thew east fleeing before the Russians bent upon revenge, pillage and rape, and its predominantly wooden buildings, ideal for incendiaries, all but vanished in a whirl wind of incineration" 

Pic - "We saw terrible things. Fire everywhere, everywhere fire, and all the time the hot wind of the firestorm drew people back into the burning houses they were trying to escape from." 

Friday, February 14, 2014

WoW!!

The Watchers Council - it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers

Thus, sans further adieu (or a don't)

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week! And don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Thursday, February 13, 2014

L'Etat C'est Moi


"L'Etat C'est Moi" - an ancient Canadian phrase roughly meaning "hey ya'll - look - I AM the state" is a very nice way for absolute rulers to say that whatever they say goes.

Louis XIV, der Fuhrer, Dear Leader, Saudi King, Supreme Leader, even Vlad, have all espoused despotic designer ala prose and made it perfectly clear who is large and in charge. 

Sometimes this a momentary mindset in personal relations too.

Yet not on St. Valentines Day! It's all about reaching out - dialogue, negotiations, alliances and relationships.

Is there anything that Internat'l Relations and theories can add to the mix?

Heck yeah!

"To begin with, any romantic partnership is essentially an alliance, and alliances are a core concept on international relations. Alliances bring many benefits to the members (or else why would we form them?) but as we also know, they sometimes reflect irrational passions and inevitably limit each member's autonomy. Many IR theorists believe that institutionalizing an alliance makes it more effective and enduring, but that’s also why making a relationship more formal is a significant step that needs to be carefully considered.

And then the two of you might also decide to mobilize combined resources and grow a collectivist co op and alliance network. Like sweet precious little babies.

When that happens - the opportunities to learn another set of IR theories and concepts like sanctions, coercive diplomacy, deterrence, pre emption, preventive war and regime change are totally unbound!

Yet that is a whole 'nother essay from a whole 'nother source!

Any wrought - know what all happens after Valentine's Day?


That's right - Valentine's Night!

Over 372K hits in one year from all my sweethearts -

Happy St Valentine's Day Y'all!

MwAh!

Pic - "Would you hold it against me?"

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Internat'lism And Democrazy Promo


Nothing like rebranding LOL

Debates about Great Satan's foreign policy have revolved around three main traditions--liberal internationalism, realism, and nationalism.
Now, Herr Professor accidentally (on purpose - nicht wahr?) stumbles onto the 4th Wave of neoconservatism with the puzzling nom d'guerre of something something "Conservative Internat'lism".

This approach spreads freedom, like liberal internationalism; arms diplomacy, like realism; and preserves national sovereignty, like nationalism. It targets a world of limited government or independent "sister republics," not a world of great power concerts or centralized international institutions.

See...

Conservative internationalism offers the best grand strategic framework for addressing America’s foreign policy challenges by providing a “middle way between a realist retreat to offshore defense, which spurns the advance of freedom, and a liberal internationalist commitment to open-ended diplomacy, which spurns the assertive use of force.”

The Three tenets of

1.Spread freedom disciplined by threat;
2.Respect the constraints of domestic politics and public opinion;
3.Integrate force and diplomacy.


Conservative internationalism rests on a theoretical understanding of the international system that “privileges ideas as causal factors, while liberal internationalism privileges institutions, and nationalism and realism privilege power.” Therefore, in terms of overarching goals, Great Satan should focus on promoting freedom as the key to a more secure world, because “despots are the source of repeated violence in world affairs, not anarchy as realists believe or diplomatic misunderstandings as liberal internationalists assume.” Hence, conservative internationalists aim “to change the balance of existing domestic regimes, not just manage the external balance of power or strengthen international institutions.”

How should one decide where and how to promote democracy most vigorously?

Maintaining public support requires “setting priorities to spread freedom and knowing when to compromise.”

In today’s world, the author argues that America’s efforts to strengthen democracy should focus on geopolitically important countries that border other free nations, states like Pakistan, Turkey, Ukraine, or even North Korea at some point, as opposed to Afghanistan or Iraq. In fact, Nau criticizes the second Bush administration for engaging in democracy-building projects in distant lands where the prospects of democracy were slim, instead of using a ratchet approach.

As to the main policy tools for spreading freedom, conservative internationalists use force and diplomacy in tandem rather than utilizing force as a last resort after diplomacy or economic sanctions fail. The use (or threat) of force is a


"…parallel resort that accompanies democracy at every step of the way – demonstrating resolve, creating policy options, narrowing the maneuvering room of authoritarian opponents outside negotiations, and providing bargaining chips to conclude favorable deals inside negotiations."

Backing one’s diplomacy with the threat of force is more likely to make it work, and successful conservative internationalist leaders like Reagan knew when to “cash in” their military leverage and reach diplomatic objectives by making timely compromises. Military force is thus always in the service of diplomacy and must be disciplined by compromise.
Funny thing tho - those "3 Tenets" easily fit into the daemoneoconic "5 Pillars" of Internat'lism, Primacy, Unilateralism, Militarism and Democrazy Promotion.

Pic - "Creepy unfun unfree regimes don't call us Great Satan for nothing bay bee!"

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Liaoning And Her Sister Ships


Dongfeng!!

As the most biggest ever collectivist nation state starts to get her Naval Chicanery Potential all crunk up...

The apparent confirmation that China is building its second (and first indigenous) aircraft carrier has caused quiet alarm. But it’s worth taking a ‘first principles’ look at this development, examining what China will be able to do with its new aircraft carriers. There are important limits on what Beijing would be likely to achieve with carrier-based projection of air power. But the move will provide Beijing with the ability to be more assertive, and tells us a lot about China’s sense of its role in the region.

To first get a sense of what this means for China’s future, the way the US has used their carriers in recent decades is a good place to start. Since WWII, American carriers have supported operations in larger regional wars, including Korea and Vietnam, where there was significant enemy opposition to air operations although not a huge threat to the carriers themselves. They formed an important part of the ability of the US to project hard power into heavily contested spaces. More recently they’ve been used to project air power against countries that don’t possess much in the way of either air defence and or an A2AD capability to pose a significant risk to the carriers.

They’re also been used as symbols (for domestic and international audiences) of US military power, including for intimidation. The deployment of the USS Independence and USS Nimitz in the Third Taiwan Straits Crisis is a good example. Part of the value of carriers for the United States has been the control they give Washington over escalation in these kinds of situations; the idea is that anyone who attacks as valuable an asset as a US carrier should expect a significant response.

China won’t be much different. Their carriers will be symbols of power, and will give China coercive ability against weaker states, but not much leverage against a peer competitor. Operating against major naval powers such as the US or Japan will come with a serious risk to the carrier itself—an important consideration because of the high cost and small numbers of carriers. The most likely state of affairs for Asia’s near future is that both the US and China will possess sufficient anti-ship capabilities to make carrier operations a dicey proposition for the other.

And, on current trends, other important players in Asia (including Japan and the ROK) will also find it increasingly easy to conduct sea-denial operations, and correspondingly difficult to establish sea control. The easier the target is to see and hit, the harder it’ll be to keep it safe. And targets at sea don’t get much more visible than an aircraft carrier. Carrier battle groups are likely to be less and less able to survive concerted efforts to sink them. The risks will come from novel technologies like ballistic and hypersonic systems, but also from well-established systems like submarines, aircraft, and ‘traditional’ forms of anti-ship missiles.

Like American carriers have, China’s would be able to conduct operations or exert influence against non-peers—for example, the intimidation of China’s neighbours in the South China Sea (the Philippines for example), or even the Pacific or Indian Ocean. But if such operations turned kinetic, that might draw a strong response from the US, again raising the question of vulnerability of the platform itself.

That’s not to say that the carriers don’t carry hard-power value. There are at least two credible reasons to have them. First, Beijing could conduct operations which would be unlikely to draw a response from the United States, but which would require an aircraft carrier; for example interventions in Africa requiring air-power. Although China might wish to protect its supply of resources from far-flung places just as the US has, it’s hard to see the capacity to do that being worth the cost of five new carrier battle groups to Beijing (it’s an important question for other carrier operators too). Second, carriers will give Beijing a measure of escalation control. If a PLAN carrier group is parked off the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands the way that the US did in the Taiwan Straits—how would Washington and Tokyo respond? By committing such a valuable asset to a given situation, Beijing could raise the stakes for any adversaries, by essentially signalling a willingness to escalate. The carrier doesn’t need to be invulnerable for this approach to work.

A Chinese carrier capability will make it even harder to push Beijing around because it raises the stakes of trying to put China back in its box. But escalation in North East Asia could well move from the conventional to the nuclear domain frighteningly quickly. It’s a big topic for another time, but if China is willing to up the stakes in a conventional confrontation, it would make sense for Beijing to provide itself with a more robust capacity to respond to American nuclear dominance as well.
So for those of us in Asia, the kinetic operations China would be likely to undertake with its carriers shouldn’t be particularly concerning, at least as long as the US is around. But what should weigh on the mind of American (and Australian and Japanese) strategists is what it tells us about lack of willingness to acquiesce to American desires for a US-led future in Asia—and the complexity that a further growth in Chinese power will bring to any future crisis management.

Five carrier groups doesn’t look like a fleet for a nation comfortable with playing second fiddle

Pic - "Few issues are as important to Great Satan's national security analysts as China’s military modernization"

Monday, February 10, 2014

Code Name: Johnny Walker

 
A true story from Great Satan's gig as the Strongest Tribe during Surge time and beyond...
 
Night after night, while his homeland was being destroyed around him, he guided the U.S. Navy SEALs through Iraq's most dangerous regions. Operating under the code name "Johnny Walker," he risked his life on more than a thousand missions and became a legend in the U.S. special-ops community, many of whose members credit him with saving their lives. But in the eyes of Iraq's terrorists and insurgents, he and his family were marked for death because he worked with the Americans. . . . Then the SEALs stood up to protect the man who had watched their backs through the entire war.

Over the course of eight years, the Iraqi native traveled around the country with nearly every SEAL and special-operations unit deployed there. Using his wits to outthink the insurgency, Johnny Walker unmasked countless terrorists and helped foil an untold number of plots against Americans and their allies. He went on hundreds of missions, saved dozens of American lives—both SEAL and civilian—and risked his own life daily. He and his family lived in constant jeopardy, surviving multiple assassination attempts and a host of threats in Mosul, until a desperate escape through the desert late in the war took them to the relative safety of Baghdad.

Fearing for Johnny's long-term safety after the war, the SEALs—now as close as brothers to Johnny—took it upon themselves to bring him to Great Satan, where today he and his family live their version of the American Dream. He remains in the fight by helping train the next generation of American special-operations warriors.

For the first time ever, a "terp" tells what it was like in Iraq during the American invasion and the brutal insurgency that followed. With inside details on SEAL operations and a humane understanding of the tragic price paid by ordinary Iraqis, Code Name: Johnny Walker reveals a side of the war that has never been told before.


Pic - "Long before that conflict began, Iraq was a broken country, a place ruled more by fear than law, a place where making a decent living was for many an impossible dream. The American war brought hope to the disenfranchised Iraqis." 


WoW!!

The Watchers Council - it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers

Thus, sans further adieu (or a don't)

Non-Council Winners

See you next week! And don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Thursday, February 6, 2014

44's Risky Game

Perhaps where a New Clear Preacher Command is concerned - certain cats should be concerned...

Fearing that their negotiating leverage is visibly ebbing away, since it's hard to drive a bargain with Tehran to give up its nuclear programme when Iran is getting what they want (economic relief) anyway.

But there is another theory – that this is precisely what the White House wants. Look at this quotation from Wendy Sherman, the US's top Iran negotiator, giving evidence to a senate committee this week in response to the French trade gambit.
"We hope people don't go to Tehran. That is our preference. But those who go raise hopes that the Rouhani administration's going to have to deliver on. And the only way they can deliver on those hopes is a comprehensive agreement that we will agree to, and that means a verifiable assurance that they are not developing, creating, will have – obtaining a nuclear weapon.  
"And so although we don't want people to go, because we think it does send the wrong message, if they do go, it puts pressure, perversely, on the Rouhani administration. Because as far as we have seen to date, there are not deals getting done, but rather people getting first in line in the hope that someday there will be a deal.
It does make you wonder if the White House is perfectly happy with what is happening. The strategy would seem to be to try and buy Tehran off with the promise of trade/money even before the deal is done.

Is this really wise? We should be careful of dangling too juicy a carrot, too close to the horse's mouth, or we might find that the horse just gobbles the carrot, and then – belly full – cannot be coaxed in the right direction?

At that point, to stretch the horse analogy, you have to resort to wielding a big stick. But in 44's case, the debacle over Syria has already taken that option off the table. The public won't wear it, and it probably wouldn't work anyway.

It is – genuinely, no cop out here – too early to say if 44's strategy will work, but make no mistake, it is highly risky.

Pic - "Well, so much for pressure on Persia's economy..."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The End Of Drones Gone Wild?


Dang it!

One of the more interesting things about Land of the Pure is her penchant for failing to do her nation/state's gig and enforce Writ of State - thus invititing rowdy Americans  to do it for her.

And now it may be the end of Drones Gone Wild

Concern about Pakistani political sensitivities provides one explanation for the absence of strikes since December, the longest pause in the CIA’s drone campaign since a six-week lull in 2011, after an errant U.S. air assault killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at a border post, triggering a diplomatic crisis.

The current pause follows a November strike that killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud just days before an initial attempt at peace talks was scheduled to begin. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government accused Great Satan of trying to sabotage the talks, and the Taliban canceled the meeting.

Rep. Mike Rogers (Mich.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that policy changes made by 44 last year to the drone program “are an utter and complete failure, and they leave Americans’ lives at risk.”

Rogers cited the spread of al-Qaeda offshoots in Yemen, Syria and Africa, and said that “individuals who would have been previously removed from the battlefield by U.S. counterterrorism operations for attacking or plotting to attack against U.S. interests remain free because of self-imposed red tape.”

While strikes in Pakistan appear to have temporarily halted, they have continued in Yemen, including recent attacks that have reportedly killed civilians.

Pic - "Drones Gone Wild!"

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Caliphate Strategy

Ebberdobby knows that certain 7th century mindsets betwixt Indus and Suez are hot to re estab a something something Caliphate.

Obvi - such a grand idea needs a Grand Strategy

And strategists

Abu Musab al-Suri, is a thinker of a higher order, one who contributes original thought.   
Al-Suri takes a comprehensive look at the last fifty years of Sunni Islamist radicalism and observes that its revolutions have repeatedly been thwarted both militarily and in terms of spreading their message. He finds that the two main modes of jihadist operations are no longer applicable. Clandestine terrorist organizations like the Egyptian Islamic Group can no longer achieve their goals given post-Cold War realities. They cannot play the two superpowers against each other and they are too weak to survive without sanctuary or support.

Meanwhile, the “open fronts” such as Afghanistan in the 1980s (or Syria today) are usually doomed to failure unless they are in far corners of the earth, because Great Satan and other high-tech powers are militarily undefeatable and willing to intervene almost anywhere. In fact, in general Al-Suri thinks that modern militaries are essentially unbeatable on their own terms, especially when they operate in concert with the local security services which know the human terrain and have excellent intelligence insights.

Al-Suri’s solution, of course, is individual jihad, or death by a thousand cuts to the enemies of Islam.

In any event, the problem with individual jihad is that—as with leaderless resistance—there is no way to translate individual uncoordinated actions into strategic success. It is a tactically virtuosic and strategically tone-deaf idea. All al-Suri’s individual and small unit terrorism accomplishes is a continuation of random terrorist acts to exhaust an enemy…unaccompanied by open-front insurrections, such acts are politically meaningless.

Abu Bakr Naji is the only one who really addresses al Qaeda’s grand strategic problem: how to build a caliphate that would encompass much of the globe.

Naji assesses the global oppression of m"Hammedists and finds Great Satan to be the linchpin of that system. He notes that the U.S., much like the USSR in its day, has global power as a result of a combination of actual military strength, a “deceptive media halo” and social cohesion. However, these determinants of power are also points of vulnerability. Successful terrorist and insurgency operations can force the United States to overstretch itself, puncture the media halo and allow the fissures in American society to widen, ultimately laying the country low.

This, Naji says, is what the mujahideen did to the Soviet Union, which he claims was twice as strong as Great Satan. Once Great Satan is brought down, then the mujahideen can use classical Maoist insurgency approaches to building the caliphate one country at a time.

There are a number of problems with Naji’s work, however. First, his prescription for bringing down Great Satan could rightly have been described as delusional when it was first written and the intervening decade has provided no reason to think otherwise. 

Second, Naji writes in excessively general terms. For instance, though he does recognize that there are various streams of Islam, he tends to think of Muslims as Muslims, full stop, not stopping to consider other sources of identity such as nationalism or ethnicity. In the real world, the al Qaeda movement has faced significant problems managing these issues, as the fraught relationship between the Arabs of Al Qaeda and Taliban before 9/11 and difficult relations between Arab and Tuareg Islamists in Mali indicate. 

More broadly, political, economic, social and geographic conditions differ radically across the Muslim world. Hence, it is difficult to imagine that a generic blueprint for revolution will work in all countries.

  In fact, every international border will be a firebreak for revolution. New technologies and social media may allow revolutionary zeal to jump borders more easily than it used to, but revolutionary forces manifest themselves differently in every country and revolutions unfold differently in every country. Compare Egypt and Jordan (for instance) since 2011 and one sees the point immediately. As a result, building the caliphate would be a slow, slow process, eminently vulnerable to counteraction.

Pic - "Decoding al Qaeda's Strategy"