Posted tagged ‘Military force’

Haley on North Korean Missile Test: ‘Action is Required. The World is on Notice.’

July 5, 2017

Haley on North Korean Missile Test: ‘Action is Required. The World is on Notice’, Washington Free Beacon via YouTube, July 5, 2017

 

Why Middle Eastern Leaders Are Talking to Putin, Not Obama

May 9, 2016

Why Middle Eastern Leaders Are Talking to Putin, Not Obama, Politico, Dennis Ross, May 8, 2016

John Hinderaker at Power Line writes,

Dennis Ross is a respected, if thoroughly conventional, expert on the Middle East. A Democrat, he has served in both Republican and Democratic administrations as an adviser and envoy. Ross served in the State Department as Hillary Clinton’s Special Advisor for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia. Subsequently, he joined President Obama’s National Security Council staff as a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region, which includes the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Asia. So when Ross writes, in Politico, that Obama’s foreign policy weakness is hurting American interests, we should take notice.

— DM)

Putin and Middle Eastern leaders understand the logic of coercion. It is time for us to reapply it.

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

The United States has significantly more military capability in the Middle East today than Russia—America has 35,000 troops and hundreds of aircraft; the Russians roughly 2,000 troops and, perhaps, 50 aircraft—and yet Middle Eastern leaders are making pilgrimages to Moscow to see Vladimir Putin these days, not rushing to Washington. Two weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to see the Russian president, his second trip to Russia since last fall, and King Salman of Saudi Arabia is planning a trip soon. Egypt’s president and other Middle Eastern leaders have also made the trek to see Putin.

Why is this happening, and why on my trips to the region am I hearing that Arabs and Israelis have pretty much given up on President Barack Obama? Because perceptions matter more than mere power: The Russians are seen as willing to use power to affect the balance of power in the region, and we are not.

Putin’s decision to intervene militarily in Syria has secured President Bashar Assad’s position and dramatically reduced the isolation imposed on Russia after the seizure of Crimea and its continuing manipulation of the fighting in Ukraine. And Putin’s worldview is completely at odds with Obama’s. Obama believes in the use of force only in circumstances where our security and homeland might be directly threatened. His mindset justifies pre-emptive action against terrorists and doing more to fight the Islamic State. But it frames U.S. interests and the use of force to support them in very narrow terms. It reflects the president’s reading of the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, and helps to explain why he has been so reluctant to do more in Syria at a time when the war has produced a humanitarian catastrophe, a refugee crisis that threatens the underpinnings of the European Union, and helped to give rise to Islamic State. And, it also explains why he thinks that Putin cannot gain—and is losing—as a result of his military intervention in Syria.

But in the Middle East it is Putin’s views on the uses of coercion, including force to achieve political objectives, that appears to be the norm, not the exception—and that is true for our friends as well as adversaries. The Saudis acted in Yemen in no small part because they feared the United States would impose no limits on Iranian expansion in the area, and they felt the need to draw their own lines. In the aftermath of the nuclear deal, Iran’s behavior in the region has been more aggressive, not less so, with regular Iranian forces joining the Revolutionary Guard now deployed to Syria, wider use of Shiite militias, arms smuggling into Bahrain and the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, and ballistic missile tests.

Russia’s presence has not helped. The Russian military intervention turned the tide in Syria and, contrary to Obama’s view, has put the Russians in a stronger position without imposing any meaningful costs on them. Not only are they not being penalized for their Syrian intervention, but the president himself is now calling Vladimir Putin and seeking his help to pressure Assad—effectively recognizing who has leverage. Middle Eastern leaders recognize it as well and realize they need to be talking to the Russians if they are to safeguard their interests. No doubt, it would be better if the rest of the world defined the nature of power the way Obama does. It would be better if, internationally, Putin were seen to be losing. But he is not.

This does not mean that we are weak and Russia is strong. Objectively, Russia is declining economically and low oil prices spell increasing financial troubles—a fact that may explain, at least in part, Putin’s desire to play up Russia’s role on the world stage and his exercise of power in the Middle East. But Obama’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia did not alter the perception of American weakness and our reluctance to affect the balance of power in the region. The Arab Gulf states fear growing Iranian strength more than they fear the Islamic State—and they are convinced that the administration is ready to acquiesce in Iran’s pursuit of regional hegemony. Immediately after the president’s meeting at the Gulf Cooperation Council summit, Abdulrahman al-Rashed, a journalist very well connected to Saudi leaders, wrote: “Washington cannot open up doors to Iran allowing it to threaten regional countries … while asking the afflicted countries to settle silently.”

As I hear on my visits to the region, Arabs and Israelis alike are looking to the next administration. They know the Russians are not a force for stability; they count on the United States to play that role. Ironically, because Obama has conveyed a reluctance to exercise American power in the region, many of our traditional partners in the area realize they may have to do more themselves. That’s not necessarily a bad thing unless it drives them to act in ways that might be counterproductive. For example, had the Saudis been more confident about our readiness to counter the Iranian-backed threats in the region, would they have chosen to go to war in Yemen—a costly war that not surprisingly is very difficult to win and that has imposed a terrible price? Obama has been right to believe that the regional parties must play a larger role in fighting the Islamic State. He has, unfortunately, been wrong to believe they would do so if they thought we failed to see the bigger threat they saw and they doubted our credibility.

Indeed, so long as they question American reliability, there will be limits to how much they will expose themselves—whether in fighting the Islamic State, not responding to Russian entreaties, or even thinking about assuming a role of greater responsibility for Palestinian compromises on making peace with Israel. To take advantage of their recognition that they may need to run more risks and assume more responsibility in the region, they will want to know that America’s word is good and there will be no more “red lines” declared but unfulfilled; that we see the same threats they do; and that U.S. leaders understand that power affects the landscape in the region and will not hesitate to reassert it.

Several steps would help convey such an impression:

⧫ Toughen our declaratory policy toward Iran about the consequences of cheating on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to include blunt, explicit language on employing force, not sanctions, should the Iranians violate their commitment not to pursue or acquire a nuclear weapon;

⧫ Launch contingency planning with GCC states and Israel—who themselves are now talking—to generate specific options for countering Iran’s growing use of Shiite militias to undermine regimes in the region. (A readiness to host quiet three-way discussions with Arab and Israeli military planners would signal we recognize the shared threat perceptions, the new strategic realities, and the potentially new means to counter both radical Shiite and Sunni threats.)

⧫ Be prepared to arm the Sunni tribes in Iraq if Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi continues to be blocked from doing so by the Iranians and the leading militias;

⧫ In Syria, make clear that if the Russians continue to back Assad and do not force him to accept the Vienna principles (a cease-fire, opening humanitarian corridors, negotiations and a political transition), they will leave us no choice but to work with our partners to develop safe havens with no-fly zones.

Putin and Middle Eastern leaders understand the logic of coercion. It is time for us to reapply it.

 

The Great Western Retreat

May 4, 2016

The Great Western Retreat, Gatestone InstituteGiulio Meotti, May 4, 2016

♦ Of all French soldiers currently engaged in military operations, half of them are deployed inside France. And half of those are assigned to protect 717 Jewish schools.

♦ This massive deployment of armed forces in our own cities is a departure from history. It is a moral disarmament, before a military one.

♦ Why does anyone choose to fight in a war? Civilized nations go to war so that members of today’s generation may sacrifice themselves to protect future generations. But if there are no future generations, there is no reason whatever for today’s young men to die in war. It is “demography, stupid.”

On March 11, 2004, 192 people were killed and 1,400 wounded in a series of terrorist attacks in Madrid. Three days later, Spain’s Socialist leader, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, was elected prime minister. Just 24 hours after being sworn in, Zapatero ordered Spanish troops to leave Iraq “as soon as possible.”

The directive was a monumental political victory for extremist Islam. Since then, Europe’s boots on the ground have not been dispatched outside Europe to fight jihadism; instead, they have been deployed inside the European countries to protect monuments and civilians.

Opération Sentinelle” is the first new large-scale military operation within France. The army is now protecting synagogues, art galleries, schools, newspapers, public offices and underground stations. Of all French soldiers currently engaged in military operations, half of them are deployed inside France. And half of those are assigned to protect 717 Jewish schools. Meanwhile, French paralysis before ISIS is immortalized by the image of police running away from the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during the massacre there.

1578French soldiers guard a Jewish school in Strasbourg, February 2015. (Image source: Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons)

You can find the same figure in Italy: 11,000 Italian soldiers are currently engaged in military operations and more than half of them are used in operation “Safe Streets,” which, as its name reveals, keeps Italy’s cities safe. Italy’s army is also busy providing aid to migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

In 2003, Italy was one of the very few countries, along with Spain and Britain, which stood with the United States in its noble war in Iraq — a war that was successful until the infamous US pull-out on December 18, 2011.

Today, Italy, like Spain, runs away from its responsibility in the war against the Islamic State. Italy’s Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti ruled out the idea of Italy taking part in action against ISIS, after EU defense ministers unanimously backed a French request for help.

Italy’s soldiers, stationed in front of my newspaper’s office in Rome, provide a semblance of security, but the fact that half of Italy’s soldiers are engaged in domestic security, and not in offensive military strikes, should give us pause. These numbers shed a light not only on Europe’s internal terror frontlines, from the French banlieues to “Londonistan.” These numbers also shed light on the great Western retreat.

US President Barack Obama has boasted that as part of his legacy, he has withdrawn American military forces from the Middle East. His shameful departure from Iraq has been the main reason that the Islamic State rose to power — and the reason Obama postponed a military withdrawal from Afghanistan. This US retreat can only be compared to the fall of Saigon, with the picture of a helicopter evacuating the U.S. embassy.

In Europe, armies are no longer even ready for war. The German army is now useless, and Germany spends only 1.2% of GDP on defense. The German army today has the lowest number of staff at any time in its history.

In 2012, Germany’s highest court, breaking a 67-year-old taboo against using the military within Germany’s borders, allowed the military to be deployed in domestic operations. The post-Hitler nation’s fear that the army could develop again into a state-within-a-state that might impede democracy has paralyzed Europe’s largest and wealthiest country. Last January, it was revealed that German air force reconnaissance jets cannot even fly at night.

Many European states slumber in the same condition as Belgium, with its failed security apparatus. A senior U.S. intelligence officer even recently likened the Belgian security forces to “children.” And Sweden’s commander-in-chief, Sverker Göranson, said his country could only fend off an invasion for a maximum of one week.

During the past ten years, the United Kingdom has also increasingly been seen by its allies — both in the US and in Europe — as a power in retreat, focusing only on its domestic agenda. The British have become increasingly insular – a littler England.

The UK’s armed forces have been downsized; the army alone is expected to shrink from 102,000 soldiers in 2010 to 82,000 by 2020 – its smallest size since the Napoleonic wars. The former head of the Royal Navy, Admiral Nigel Essenigh, has spoken of “uncomfortable similarities” between the UK’s defenses now and those in the early 1930s, during the rise of Nazi Germany.

In Canada, military bases are now being used to host migrants from Middle East. Justin Trudeau, the new Canadian prime minister, first halted military strikes against ISIS, then refused to join the coalition against it. Terrorism has apparently never been a priority for Trudeau — not like “gender equality,” global warming, euthanasia and injustices committed against Canada’s natives.

The bigger question is: Why does anyone choose to fight in a war? Civilized nations go to war so that members of today’s generation may sacrifice themselves to protect future generations. But if there are no future generations, there is no reason whatever for today’s young men to die in war. It is “demography, stupid.”

Spain‘s fertility has fallen the most — the lowest in Western Europe over twenty years and the most extreme demographic spiral observed anywhere. Similarly, fewer babies were born in Italy in 2015 than in any year since the state was founded 154 years ago. For the first time in three decades, Italy’s population shrank. Germany, likewise, is experiencing a demographic suicide.

This massive deployment of armed forces in our own cities is a departure from history. It is a moral disarmament, before a military one. It is Europe’s new Weimar moment, from the name of the first German Republic that was dramatically dismantled by the rise of Nazism. The Weimar Republic still represents a cultural muddle, a masterpiece of unarmed democracy devoted to a mutilated pacifism, a mixture of naïve cultural, political reformism and the first highly developed welfare state.

According to the historian Walter Laqueur, Weimar was the first case of the “life and death of a permissive society.” Will Europe’s new Weimar also be brought down, this time by Islamists?