Posted tagged ‘Allies’

The China Test

August 26, 2016

The China Test, Washington Free Beacon, August 26, 2016

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, prepares to shake hands with China's Vice President Xi Jinping during a meeting at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, May 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason Lee, Pool)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, prepares to shake hands with China’s Vice President Xi Jinping during a meeting at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, May 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason Lee, Pool)

TOKYO—Anyone paying even passing attention to the news from East Asia knows that the rise of China has taken a bad turn in recent years, and that our closest allies in the region feel threatened by the increasingly belligerent policies of President Xi. It’s not clear, however, that even well informed Americans realize how dire the situation is. It’s time they paid better attention, because China’s lawless pursuit of resources and territory is coming to resemble nothing else so much as the behavior of the Japanese empire before World War Two—a disconcerting comparison I have heard more than once from analysts and government officials here, where I have been traveling with a group of journalists and policy experts on a trip arranged by the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Xi’s strategic vision holds that much of the western Pacific—the area within the so-called “first island chain” that stretches south from the Japanese archipelago through the Philippines and Malaysia, and which includes the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea—is effectively a Chinese lake. The other sovereign countries that border this critical part of the world reside, in this view, within a Chinese version of Putin’s “near-abroad.” They must be taught to accept Chinese hegemony, and interlopers like the United States must be compelled to retreat to the “second island chain,” which stretches south from Japan through the Mariana Islands, which include Guam.

This deeply illiberal vision isn’t just talk. China is taking step after aggressive step to turn it into a de facto reality. In the East China Sea, China in 2013 declared an Air Defense Identification Zone that includes Japan’s Senkaku islands—a small chain to which China laid a belated claim after undersea natural resources were discovered nearby in the seventies. The U.S. government does not take a position on which country exercises sovereignty over the islands, but has made clear that because the islands are under Japanese administrative control, America is obligated to join its ally Japan in defending them.

Since the air defense zone has been declared, incursions by fleets of Chinese fishing boats—some of which appear to be crewed by ad hoc Chinese maritime militiamen—accompanied by armed vessels of the Chinese coast guard have skyrocketed in number. In the first week of this August alone, there were 18 intrusions into Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkakus by Chinese coast guard vessels, according to figures provided by the Japanese government.

In the South China Sea, Beijing has been more aggressive, seizing disputed islands and reefs, expanding its footprint with land reclamation projects, and building military installations atop the artificial terrain. Having learned a lesson by declaring an air defense zone in the East China Sea before they had the capacity to enforce it, the Chinese have held off with that step in this region. But that won’t last if China proceeds as expected with seizing and building a military facility atop Scarborough Shoal, an uninhabited piece of key terrain that, once built up, will complete a triangle of such installations in the area. After that, an enforceable air defense zone would likely be declared, assets of the U.S. military would operate at greatly increased risk, and Chinese ballistic missile submarines would sail with a lowered threat of U.S. monitoring, armed with missiles that could strike the U.S. mainland.

Everywhere that China is operating, affairs trend in the wrong direction for a rules-based international order. China’s goal is hegemony in the western Pacific. Once the U.S. is forced from the region and China’s neighbors have accommodated Beijing, it is not too hard to imagine that the People’s Republic will look to seize Taiwan.

Such developments are still in the future, but the coming year will be especially dangerous. Even though the Chinese military cannot yet defeat America in a conflict, China’s politburo is about to undergo a reshuffle. The possible instability incentivizes Chinese leaders to be provocative, in order to harness nationalist sentiment and stave off domestic threats to the regime. Moreover, the Chinese are very much aware that the Obama administration has little appetite for confrontation, and also that a new president, if tested aggressively shortly after taking office, could easily fail her exam.

The good news is that it is still not too late for China to be stopped without a war. The bad news is that this result will require unfaltering American resolve and leadership. Though America’s friends in the region have been pleased with the idea of the so-called “rebalancing” of U.S. military forces to reinforce assets in the Asia Pacific, they have been dismayed by how long it has taken the Obama administration to get serious about the Chinese test—and are worried that the White House itself still may not be serious enough to pass it. That President Obama has been considering declaring a policy of “No First Use” for America’s nuclear weapons dismays even the current leaders of Japan, who guide a country with a deeply ingrained anti-nuclear tradition but one that also relies on the U.S. nuclear umbrella for its survival.

China has a habit of testing American presidents soon after they take office. George W. Bush faced the issue of an American surveillance plane being forced down on Hainan Island in 2001, and Obama had to deal with an attempt by Chinese ships to block the passage of the U.S.S. Impeccable in international waters in 2009. The next president will certainly face another provocation in 2017, and a robust menu of responses must be planned now, before the crisis arrives.

There is a long list of American policies that stop short of armed action but that could also impose pain on the Chinese government and—most importantly—cause it to lose face before its own population, a matter of great concern to Chinese leaders. These could include U.S. recognition of Japan’s sovereignty over the Senkakus and allowing American general officers to travel to Taiwan, which is currently forbidden in an effort to avoid offending Beijing.

Most importantly, the next president must be prepared to draw the line on Chinese territorial expansions, none of which can now be rolled back, but which cannot be allowed to grow. A bold move worth considering is informing China that any effort to reclaim land on Scarborough will trigger a U.S. blockade of the shoal.

If the new administration passes its test and succeeds in deterring the Chinese from further expansionism in the short term, its long term strategy should focus on strengthening the network of America’s regional allies, building up their militaries, and encouraging them to work with one another—a devilishly complex task given the difficult and painful historical disputes among these countries. All of this will be difficult, and some of it quite risky, but the cost of inaction will be the dismantling of the international liberal order and its replacement by a new age of empires. The next American president will decide what the future holds.

Anti-Americanism is the Foreign Policy of Fools

May 13, 2016

Anti-Americanism is the Foreign Policy of Fools, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, May 13, 2016

Go to hell America

The New York Times profile of Ben Rhodes, Obama’s foreign policy guru, had plenty of shocking moments from his attempt to cover up Iran’s abduction of US sailors to his blatant gloating over the stupidity of the journalists whom he manipulated into spreading his lies in support of the Iran deal.

But the larger revelation is also simpler. Ben Rhodes knows next to nothing about foreign policy. He has no idea whether Iran will get nukes and couldn’t care less whether it’s moderate or not. He’s a failed fiction writer whose goal is “radically reorienting American policy in the Middle East in order to make the prospect of American involvement in the region’s future wars a lot less likely”.

That’s another way of describing a foreign policy built on isolationism.

Obama’s interviews are liberally spiced with contempt for the Europeans, whose foreign policy he adopted, and even former Islamist allies like Turkey are being treated with disdain. He despises both traditional US allies such as the UK and Israel, but he also has little use for the enemies, such as Russia and the Sunni Islamists, whom he tried to court. About the only enemy nation he still likes is Iran.

The first wave of Democratic backlash to the Iraq War was to champion diplomacy over military intervention. But diplomacy without intervention proved toothless. All that’s left now is a warped isolationism in which the US still pays the bills, signs all sorts of meaningless international accords that compromise our interests, but completely abandons its leadership role as a world power.

Rhodes sneers at the reporters whom he manipulated as knowing nothing. And he’s right. But he also doesn’t know anything. The condition is typical of an American left which has no foreign policy. It only has an anti-American domestic policy which it projects internationally without regard to its relevance.

The Iran deal had to happen to defeat “neo-conservatives”, the “war lobby” and whatever other leftist boogeyman was lurking around the premises. The men and women doing the defeating, like Rhodes, had zero interest in what was actually happening in Iran or what its leaders might do with nuclear weapons. They would tell any lie to help sell the deal because they were fighting a domestic battle of narratives. Iran wasn’t a real place. It was a fictional counter in a domestic ideological battle.

This problem did not begin yesterday.

Senator Ted Kennedy’s infamous letter to the Soviet leadership was seen as treasonous. But as a practical matter it revealed that an aspiring president had no interest in the USSR except to use it in a domestic battle against Reagan. Democrats had similarly supported and then turned against the Iraq War over domestic politics. Not only had they backed the removal of Saddam Hussein in the past, but Obama’s regime change in Libya showed that they did not believe any of their own critiques of regime change or unilateral intervention. Their foreign policy was based entirely on a domestic agenda.

Earlier generations of Democrats did have a comprehensive foreign policy based on ideas. It might be wrong, but it did exist. The Clinton-Kerry generation was very interested in talking about foreign policy, but viewed it purely in terms of opposing the Vietnam War as a critique of American power.

They had no other ideas to offer and it showed.

Without the Cold War, the Clinton era reduced foreign policy to multilateral diplomacy that existed to resolve conflicts and prevent genocide. But diplomacy proved useless in Rwanda and Bosnia. So Clinton ignored the former and used ruthless force casually for the latter. Meanwhile his foreign policy couldn’t process the rise of Al Qaeda and the growing threat of Islamic terrorism which led inevitably to 9/11.

Hillary Clinton is offering up a freezer fresh version of the same thing. The policies that failed her badly in Syria, Libya and across the Middle East are the only foreign policy offerings that she has for sale.

Bill Clinton had no foreign policy. Like Obama, he viewed foreign policy in terms of his domestic conflicts with Republicans. He tried to engage diplomatically while retreating militarily. His botched intervention in Yugoslavia had strong similarities to Obama’s disastrous intervention in Libya.

And a Clinton was behind both.

Hillary Clinton took the Secretary of State position to build up credibility for a presidential run. The invasion of Libya was a platform to take her to the White House. Libya did not matter to her. While the State Department blew through fortunes to finance her self-promotion, the Benghazi mission lacked basic security. Even the Jihadists who were hired on to provide security weren’t getting paid.

And that led to the murder of four Americans.

It’s a short distance from Ted Kennedy trying to figure out how he could use Soviet officials to undermine Reagan and become president to Hillary Clinton seeing regime change in Libya as a campaign commercial right down to the punchy media-friendly slogan, “We came, We saw, He died.”

Democratic foreign policy is animated by political careerism and the conviction that American power is the problem. Beyond that lies a deep and abiding ignorance of the actual conflicts and issues abroad.

The left’s reflexive anti-Americanism makes it easy to be ignorant while appearing knowledgeable. It allows the conflation of domestic policy critiques with foreign policy by blaming America for everything. Anything that doesn’t fit into the neat anti-American box can be waved away with some clichés about the importance of global communication, global poverty, trade policies, global warming and reform.

Democrats didn’t have to understand Iraq. They just had to know it was Bush’s fault. First it was Bush I’s fault for not removing Saddam Hussein, as Democrats and the media instead he should have. Then it was Bush II’s fault for removing Saddam, which Democrats and the media had now decided he shouldn’t have. But blaming Bush I and II didn’t actually teach them anything about Iraq. And so they had no idea what to do about it.

Bill Clinton ricocheted from bombing Iraq to trying to trying to ignore it. Obama followed the same course, first trying to ignore it and then bombing it. Neither of them understood anything about Iraq. While Obama still boasts of having gotten Iraq right, that’s because no one reminds him that back in the Senate he was insisting that Iraqis would achieve a political solution once American soldiers had left.

The political solution they achieved was a bloody civil war culminating in ISIS.

But Obama’s understanding of Iraq was limited to blaming America for its problems. He didn’t know anything else and he didn’t feel that he had to.

The rise of ISIS happened because Democrats didn’t feel they had to know anything about Iraq except that it was Bush’s fault. When Bush tried to get Assad to cut off the flow of Al Qaeda terrorists into Iraq, leading Democrats, including Pelosi and Kerry, rushed to support Assad against President Bush.

That flow of terrorists from Syria into Iraq eventually became the basis for ISIS.

It’s no wonder that Obama has never been able to come up with a working plan for Syria. Blaming Bush is not a plan. And it’s a particularly bad plan in this case.

Anti-Americanism, like most prejudices, is a license for ignorance. By embracing a prejudice against their own country, Democrats have lost any skill at foreign policy that they once had. Instead of learning anything about the world, they resort to the easy answer of turning away from the confusing problems of other countries to blame them all on us. Anti-Americanism is the only foreign policy that they need.

Anti-Americanism is the foreign policy of fools. It’s not smart power. It’s ignorance and prejudice with a dictionary.

A policy of hypocrisy

April 25, 2016

A policy of hypocrisy, Israel Hayom, Dr. Haim Shine, April 25, 2016

Judging by his approach to complex national and international issues, U.S. President Barack Obama is very frustrated. The frustration is natural for someone who made big promises, almost messianic ones, and is now leaving behind nothing more than a trail of shattered dreams. During his eight years in office, the United States has gone from being a leading superpower, a pillar of Western civilization, to a state that is hesitant, indecisive and alarmingly slow to respond. Its domestic economy is faltering, sowing uncertainty and insecurity among the large middle class.

Needless to say, the success enjoyed by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is an expression of a great number of Americans who grew up hearing about how their flag was raised on Japan’s Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima toward the end of World War II, and who are now watching with heartache as their beloved flag is being lowered to half-mast before being taken down altogether.

In an effort to gather up the pieces of his crumbling legacy, Obama set out on his final trip to the Middle East and Europe. America’s long-time allies feel betrayed. Their resentment is clear. Relationships between countries are not disposable. The Obama administration’s deference to Iran has had major implications on its ties with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. A divided Egypt is still paying the price for Obama’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

The state of Israel, which has led the struggle against a nuclear Iran for a long time, has by now come to terms with the fact that the United States was duped by the fake smiles of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his friends in Tehran. Singing Passover songs in Hebrew won’t change the fact that Obama has not changed, after having sided entirely with the mendacious Palestinian narrative of victimhood.

Leaders in the Middle East cannot decide whether Obama is a naive president or one who is willing to sacrifice his fundamental values and his credibility just so he can leave behind what he sees as a positive sentence in the books of history — a sentence that will be erased with record speed.

Europe is also discouraged by the United States. Obama’s indecisiveness regarding the madness in Syria has allowed Russia to take significant steps in the Middle East and Europe. The failed efforts to confront the Syrian problem have contributed to the tsunami of migrants flooding Europe and all the resulting consequences for European society and its security. Add to this, of course, the financial crisis currently threatening to destroy the European Union, the seeds of which were sown in 1992 with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.

It is against this backdrop that the British are expected to decide via referendum whether or not to remain a part of the European Union. During his recent visit to England, Obama spoke out strongly against Britain’s potential separation from the EU. This was a crude and disproportionate effort to meddle in another state’s affairs — an expression of his desire to evade blame for the collapse of the European Union. In his mind, British citizens are expected to forgo their opinions and best interests in favor of his legacy.

It is therefore unclear why Obama unleashed his fury at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the latter made tireless efforts to convince Congress and the American public not be deceived by the dangerous nuclear deal. How much hypocrisy does it take to allow yourself to do things that you reprimand others for doing? Immanuel Kant saw this kind of behavior as a basic moral failure. Luckily for Britain’s citizens, Obama cannot veto their decision.

Our enemies are on the ballot today as well and remember, they have a vote.

November 4, 2014

Our enemies are on the ballot today as well and remember, they have a vote. LTC Allen B. West (U.S. Army, ret.), November 4, 2014

(Not even the force of Obama’s character, honed during his time as a community organizer, is degrading or destroying the Islamic State. Is he is the one for whom IS had been waiting?– DM)

isis_flag-300x180

[T[his is what happens when you have a cast of amateurs masquerading as national security experts or advisors — such as Susan Rice, Dan Pfeiffer or Ben Rhoades. This is what happens when you have a truly inept Secretary of Defense in Chuck Hagel, and a lack of trust and belief in the combined experience of the senior U.S. military generals. And all comes back to the desk of Valerie Jarrett.

*********************

Today is the critical 2014 midterm Election Day and I won’t beleaguer you with many posts today, but here’s something about which we need be aware.

As President Obama touted, his policies are on the ballot today – but I haven’t heard any candidates or incumbents discussing his foreign policies at length.

Obama’s solution to the ISIS crisis was to arm the Free Syrian Army — we have written often about how that is a flawed strategy. As former Commandant of the Marine Corps General James T. Conway stated, it didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding — and it only took three months, from August 8th, for that prediction to come to fruition.

As reported by the UK Guardian, “The U.S. plan to rally proxy ground forces to complement its air strikes against ISIS militants in Syria is in tatters after jihadis ousted Washington’s main ally from its stronghold in the north over the weekend. The attack on the Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF) by the al-Qaida-aligned Jabhat al-Nusra came after weeks of clashes between the two groups around the city of Idlib, which has remained one of the last bastions of regime control in northern Syria throughout the civil war. Militants overran the command center of the SRF’s leader, Jamal Maarouf, in Deir Sonbol in a humiliating rout that came as U.S. and Arab air forces continued to attack ISIS in the Kurdish town of Kobani, 300 miles east, in an effort to prevent the town from falling.”

This represents the utter failure of strategy based on rhetoric, rather than the implementation of a sound strategy. Barack Hussein Obama truly believed that talk is the best means to evade a crisis — not realizing that the enemy has a vote.

We have never launched a full-scale air campaign against ISIS aimed to degrade and destroy the Islamic terrorist enemy. We continue to witness ISIS operating on multiple fronts conducting offensive operations — something we discussed here – and their main effort versus supporting efforts.

The Guardian says, “the defeat of Maarouf is a serious blow to the U.S. strategy of building a proxy coalition against Isis. It comes amid a groundswell of anger at the U.S. strikes across the opposition-held north, which have done nothing to slow the intensity of attacks from Bashar al-Assad’s air force, especially in Aleppo. “We thought the Americans were going to help us,” said an SRF spokesman. “But not only have they abandoned us, they have been helping the tyrant Bashar instead. We will move past this betrayal and get back to Jebel al-Zawiya [the group’s heartland], but it is going to take some time.”

So much for that faux alliance and promise from Obama.

According to the Guardian, “a survivor from one of the Syrian bombed refugee camps, Haithem Ahmed, who fled with his family to Turkey, said the Syrian regime had been emboldened by the U.S. attacks on a common enemy and was acting with increasing impunity. “It is obvious that the U.S. is supporting Assad,” he said. “Don’t bother trying to argue with me or anyone else about it. They are aiding the war against us. Their leaders are weak and they are liars.”

In addition, we failed to realize that the forces of Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS have bonded in an alliance — something we also reported on here. The al-Nusra front, which was supposed to be fighting against the Assad regime, decided to turn against the Free Syria Army forces, the SRF, to take away any ground options of Obama.

So Obama’s intent of outsourcing to the FSA is truly a non-viable option – as a matter of fact, it’s the option that has been degraded and destroyed. Obama’s decision not to attack ISIS but rather just support the free Syrian elements to defend their territories has been a disaster.

Confusion abounds in the Obama administration, as the Guardian reports “the U.S. defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, is reported to have warned national security adviser Susan Rice of a blowback among opposition communities in northern Syria because U.S. strategy against Assad has not been clearly defined.”

Ladies and gents, this is what happens when you have a cast of amateurs masquerading as national security experts or advisors — such as Susan Rice, Dan Pfeiffer or Ben Rhoades. This is what happens when you have a truly inept Secretary of Defense in Chuck Hagel, and a lack of trust and belief in the combined experience of the senior U.S. military generals. And all comes back to the desk of Valerie Jarrett.

But if the events in Syria are disturbing, “In Iraq, Isis has reportedly killed over 230 members of a tribe in western Anbar province in the last ten days, including dozens of women and children. The killings were some of the worst bloodshed in the country since the militants swept through northern Iraq in June.”

In this midterm election we need to realize we have no national security strategy whatsoever — not in the Middle East, not towards Iran, not towards Russia, and certainly not towards China. ISIS and Islamo-fascists are just handing the Obama administration its collective arse and embarrassing it at every turn.

The sad result is that more men, women and children are being slaughtered and sold off into slavery — yes, in the 21st century. Perhaps someone out in Colorado could tell Senator Mark Udall there’s a real “War on Women” going on — not that made up political stuff. But hopefully after tonight, it will be a moot point as far as he’s concerned.

There is much at stake in the Middle East and a lack of a determined strategic vision and resolute commitment is evident to both “allies” and foes. ISIS and the Islamists have a vision, a strategy, and developing alliances and growing recruiting numbers. This is a war of ideologies, but we have a president who refuses to acknowledge that premise — perhaps because he supports the Islamist ideology.

The Guardian says, “Kobani has become a defining struggle between ISIS and the U.S., as much as it is between the jihadis and the Kurds who, with U.S. help, beat back an advance on Irbil in August. If ISIS was able to take Kobani it could boast a significant victory. A victory over the secular Kurds would help advance its hardline interpretation of Islam, which has seen it rule areas it controls along strict medieval precepts that are rooted in an uncompromising understanding of Islamic teachings.”

The ideology must be defeated foremost. The enemy must then be destroyed in detail. The failed policy of doing neither is on the ballot today.

It is a time for choosing.