There were plenty of proxy wars during the Cold War only back then the principals had enough sense to avoid direct clashes. That was then, this is Syria where today we find the rival superpowers circling each other inside the same phone booth.
You could search the world over and never find one place where so many players are gathered as Syria.
First up is the Alawite government of Bashar Assad.
Then there’s the original rebels, Syrian Sunnis.
Then we have the Sunni Islamists – the ‘moderate’ al Nusra, an affiliate of al Qaeda, and the far nastier Islamic State, (Read more…)
Great mysteries of empire are always shrouded in mystery. One idea that I have lifted from terrible military fiction is the concept of the 6P’s.
Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
Can you guess which imperialistic nation didn’t do their homework?
“Sky said the United States led the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to oust a dictator, Saddam Hussein, and to help establish a democratic beachhead in the Middle East. But after the invasion, it was the military that was left with the job of trying to keep the country together.
“They had been told to go in and take care of (Read more…)
All 54 Republicans in the US Senate will vote against ratification of the Iran nuclear pact negotiated between Tehran and the P6 nations. They’ll need 13 Democrats to vote with them and the deal is effectively stillborn. Democratic senator Chuck Schumer could deliver the Republicans the votes they need.
Israeli prime minister Netanyahu has shamelessly lobbied Congress to reject the deal, arguing it leaves Israel in peril. No surprise there. But what if Netanyahu gets his way and his US minions sabotage the deal? James Traub from the Center for International Cooperation says failure at this point could wreck relations (Read more…)
I’m regularly astonished at the reaction I receive when I mention the militant nationalism flourishing within China’s military establishment, stoked by the perceived need to avenge what they call China’s “century of humiliation.”
Few in the West have the slightest idea of how Britain and her allies suppressed the Chinese and laid low their once powerful nation (along with India).
Eduardo Galeano, who died a few months ago, wrote this very eloquent summation of what China endured at the hands of the West that helps explain the bellicosity of China’s military leadership today. We ignore this at our peril. (Read more…)
The concluding paragraphs from Michael Klare’s Essay on the Coming Cold War 2.0.
“For those of us residing outside Washington, this choice may appear to have few immediate consequences. The defense budget will rise in either case; troops will, as now, be shuttled desperately around the hot spots of the planet, and so on. Over the long run, however, don’t think for a second that the choice won’t matter.
A stepped-up drive to counter Russia will inevitably produce a grim, unpredictable Cold War-like atmosphere of suspicion, muscle-flexing, and periodic crises. More U.S. troops will be deployed to (Read more…)
The latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine is devoted to espionage, spying, and the magazine reports that today’s Ground Zero of spying is the Arctic.
For the countries that border the Arctic Ocean— Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway, and Denmark (through its territory of Greenland)—an accessible ocean means new opportunities. And for the states that have their sights set on the Lomonosov Ridge—possibly all five Arctic Ocean neighbors but the United States—an open ocean means access to much of the North Pole’s largesse. First, though, they must prove to the United Nations that the access is rightfully theirs. Because that (Read more…)
“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.” Those thoughts from the US president who launched postwar America on the path to building the greatest middle class the world has ever known, the same president (Read more…)
We tell ourselves the stories we need to hear. This is excerpt details American involvement in Afghanistan, but from a non-embedded reporters point of view and analysis.
“The central thesis of the American failure in Afghanistan — the one you’ll hear from politicians and pundits and even scholars — was succinctly propounded by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage: “The war in Iraq drained resources from Afghanistan before things were under control.” In this view, the American invasion of Iraq became a crucial distraction from stabilization efforts in Afghanistan, and in the resulting security vacuum the (Read more…)
Well, if nothing else, Stephen Harper might just have earned Canada a ringside seat to the outbreak of a Middle East regional war. The way the International Crisis Group sees it, the Saudi air war on Shiite Yemeni rebels might just be the burning fuze that explodes the Sunni-Shia powder keg.
Obama and the Euros are trying to calm the situation, urging a negotiated peace between Yemen’s Sunni government and the Houthi rebels but, according to the ICG, the mixed up gaggle of players aren’t in the mood for talking.
No major party seems truly to want to halt what (Read more…)
After half a century of persistent fudging the Pentagon has officially admitted the undeniable – Israel has an arsenal of nuclear weapons and all the high tech gear to best use them.
That revelation might not matter much to most of us but, to the US government, it has serious military and foreign policy ramifications.
…the confirmation of this poorly kept secret opens a troublesome can of worms for both the US government and our closest ally in the Middle East. Official acknowledgement poses questions and contradictions that cry out for closer inspection. For many years, the United States collaborated (Read more…)
Iran has told the U.S. that it’s prepared to get rid of all of its nuclear hardware, down to the last nut and bolt, if only the U.S. complies with the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“The Iranian people can no longer withstand the sanctions,” Mr. Iqhal said. “We have thrown in the towel. All the Americans have to do is follow a treaty they helped write back in the Beatles era. It should be simple.”
US diplomats refused to confirm or deny having received the Iranian proposal. Senate Republicans immediately denounced it as treaty-mongering that threatens (Read more…)
Some are calling it the “Francis effect” after the forceful statements the Pope has made about the need to address climate change.
A significant majority of Americans say combating climate change is a moral issue that obligates them – and world leaders – to reduce carbon emissions, a Reuters/IPSOS poll has found.
The poll of 2,827 Americans was conducted in February to measure the impact of moral language, including interventions by Pope Francis, on the climate change debate. In recent months, the pope has warned about the moral consequences of failing to act on rising global temperatures, which are expected (Read more…)
What if America became a theocracy? Apparently a survey of Republicans found 57 per cent in favour of making Christianity the official religion of the United States.
Younger Republicans in the 18 – 45 age group were more favorable to the idea, with 63 percent of that cohort affirming that Christianity should be our national faith. Majorities of the older age groups still agreed, but in slightly smaller proportions. Among self-proclaimed Tea Partiers, 58 percent wished to establish Christianity as a state faith; and among those favoring former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in the Republican primary, 94 percent would support (Read more…)
Barack Obama may have had enough of Benjamin Netanyahu’s stunts. It might just be time for Bibi to go. Foreign Policy’s Aaron David Miller writes that Obama is pursuing regime change in the upcoming Israeli elections.
Welcome to regime change, Obama-style. There are few opportunities to change the mullahcracy in Tehran. But Jerusalem may be another story. By accepting Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to address a joint meeting of Congress — now widely seen as a real bungle — the prime minister has given the Obama administration an opening. And you can bet the White House is taking (Read more…)
This guest blog post has been written by Louis-Philippe Rochon.
You can follow him on Twitter @Lprochon
Harper’s recent incarnation as an anti-terrorist crusader has caught many Canadians by surprise. Harper is spending considerable political energy beating the drums of war against terrorists, and introducing a far-reaching, and much condemned, bill aimed at restricting free speech, and increasing police powers. But could this move hide a more cynical purpose? Can there be an ulterior motive?
I think there is, and the reason is quite simple. It’s the economy. Seven years after the beginning of the crisis, and 4 years (Read more…)
Now that Washington and Havana appear to be on the road to kissing and making up, it’s worth considering whether the timing is really that spontaneous?
Cuba was always the Soviet’s toe hold in the Americas. It was over Soviet designs in Cuba that the world was brought to the brink of nuclear Armageddon.
The Soviets propped up Fidel Castro by buying Cuba’s sugar crop at premium prices. With the collapse of the USSR, Cuba’s economy took a big hit as Moscow withdrew. Since then Cuba has been mainly important to American foreign policy for the Cuban exile vote in (Read more…)
Salon.com pundit Andrew O’Hehir looks at the week’s revelations on American torture and sees in it the demise of American democracy. O’Hehir asks, “Can we quit pretending torture is some huge aberration? It fits into a larger pattern of America’s imperial decay.” He says it’s convenient to blame this on Cheney and his consorts but “that’s bullshit.”
Torture is a symptom of America’s cultural and political disease, not the disease itself, and the fact that we turned to torture so rapidly and willingly after a single spectacular terrorist attack is evidence of a generalized infection. (Read more…)
Our confused, incoherent, even knee-jerk response to ISIS appears to be backfiring on us, at least in Syria. There, it’s reported, US air strikes are driving anti-Assad groups – outfits we’ve supported like the Free Syrian Army - into the arms of ISIS.
US air strikes in Syria are encouraging anti-regime fighters to forge alliances with or even defect to Islamic State (Isis), according to a series of interviews conducted by the Guardian.Fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Islamic military groups are joining forces with Isis, which has gained control of swaths of Syria and Iraq (Read more…)
A clear and usually overlooked measure of the threat posed to our global civilization by climate change and how pathetic is our response is the timeline. That’s the giveaway.
We always frame the discussion in the context of the year 2100. The target becomes to stay in existence over the remaining 85% of this century. 2100, not 2200 or 2400.
And, of course, we’re not talking about all of humanity making it through to 2100. We’re talking about us – the most advantaged and the last and least impacted. We’re not talking about “them” or their odds. No, best leave (Read more…)
Wasn’t one enough? Really?
For almost a half century we, the West, and the Russians/Soviets poured mountains of money down the drain preparing for a war none of us would have survived had it come to that.
Underground missile batteries, fleets of nuclear missile submarines, strategic (nuclear) bombers, nuclear-capable strike fighters, mobile battlefield (tactical) nuclear missiles, massive tank armies ready to mix it up in the Fulda Gap on short notice. An ocean of gasoline just looking for a match.
How many trillions of dollars were squandered on this global, nuclear make-work project?
Make no mistake, that money was squandered. (Read more…)
As excuses for war go, claiming a conflict to be “noble” is really scraping the bottom of the barrel. It’s something you resort to when there’s simply nothing left to pull out of your ass. ”Squires, attend your Lords. Summon the Heralds. To the jousts! Ah, there’s a noble scent to the air.”Perhaps Harper had to call our adventure in Iraq noble because the default option would have been “insane.” Insane in the popular sense of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It’s that sort of insane.
Over at Foreign (Read more…)
Interesting article on Stop the War coalition site this week entitled Yes it’s true, the United States really is the greatest country in the world – but in what?
The article includes stats and links to demonstrate that when it comes to “violence and preparations for violence” the USA is indeed the undisputed global leader.
In 2013, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the U.S. government accounted for 37 percent of world military expenditures, putting it far ahead of all other nations. (The two closest competitors, China and Russia, accounted for 11 percent (Read more…)
Fascinating reading about some of the circular nature of events that are playing out in the Middle East as of late. This excerpt from the Counterpunch article titled Once More, Into the Quagmire.
The Middle East Needs Our Military Might
One can hear, in the reverberating noise of mainstream justifications, a series of claims. Among them is the idea that the Middle East is united in opposition to ISIS. Indeed it is, if you confine your poll to the rotten monarchies of the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. Adding Jordan to (Read more…)
How ISIS and Syria drove a stake through the Arab Spring The rise of ISIS is a setback for reform in a region that is crying out for it
By Nahlah Ayed, CBC News Posted: Oct 03, 2014 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Oct 03, 2014 5:00 AM ET
The fact is that like it or not, the Brotherhood won the democratic election in Egypt fair and square. The West’s response? Well, uh, democracy is fine for the rest of us, but obviously, Egypt ‘doesn’t get it’ and we can’t have a fundamentalist high-jacking our attempts to ‘democratize’ Egypt..so we’ll (Read more…)