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Russian Troops Ukraine

Periodic World Craziness Update # 29

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.

 Crimea referendum: Voters ‘back Russia union’:  Yep, That had to be a fair election.  It’s not like the Russians don’t have armed troops all over the place there.  I stand by my prediction that the US and EU will meekly submit to whatever Russia wants and go no farther than sanctions despite the Western Guarantee of Ukrainian sovereignty from the 90′s.  Ukraine will probably continue to dominate the news this month as well.

NATO general warns of further Russian aggression:  So, what led NATO’s commander to just now acknowledge the danger that the Crimea will not be enough for Putin?  I would be very curious to see one of his daily intel updates.

Turkish PM defiant after Syrian plane shot down:  We should not forget that the Syrian civil war has not ended.  It is not in the news but the fighting continues and as far as i can tell the government forces are winning.

NATO’s Military Decline:  This is an opinion piece but it brings up a very valid point about some of the main reasons behind the tepid Western response to Russian actions in the Crimea.  The West is largely incapable of mounting an effective military response to Russian aggression if one were required.  Shades of 1938 anyone?

Russian military holds exercises in breakaway Moldova region: Personally, I don’t think Russia will go after Trans-Dnistria next.  I see Russia agitating for the amalgamation of the majority ethnic Russia eastern Ukraine and then seeking Anschluss with Belorussian before they look farther afield.  I also assume the endgame is a reconstitution of Greater Russia along the lines of the pre-Bolshevik borders.

Armed pro-govt militias roil Venezuela protests:  How long until the demonstrators in Venezuela resort to shooting back?  Venezuela is just as volatile, if not more so, than Ukraine was in November when the demonstrations started.  Civil war could start here too as the people begin to feel they have no other choice to better there lot.

Road_RunnerRussian Buildup Stokes Worries & Fighting Words: Schäuble Says Putin’s Crimea Plans Reminiscent of Hitler:  I think the Russian buildup along the border with Ukraine is ominous to say the least.  I also find it ironic that the only political figure in the West willing to call a duck a duck and point out the historical parallels in recent events is the German Finance Minister.  It is also amazing the speed with which other German politicians are running away from his remarks.  I almost expect to see a Roadrunner like rooster tail of dust behind Merkel.

Korea’s Trade Fire; Island Residents in Shelters:  Just when we needed more tension in the world, North Korea starts getting froggy again.  I guess Kim Jong Un is feeling neglected because he has not been in the news lately.

Putin Defies Obama in Syria as Arms Fuel Assad Resurgence:  I just wonder why the writer of this news story thinks Putin should listen to Obama in the first place.  Does anybody on the world stage listen to Obama?  Certainly not North Korea, Iran, Assad, or the Muslim Brotherhood.  At best Obama is treated with fake respect and then ignored.  Russia has interests in keeping Assad in power if for nothing else then to ensure they keep their naval base.

Russia cannot afford ‘collapsing state’ in its backyard: In a display of unparalleled cluelessness the German FM announces what is obviously untrue.  Russia has no problem with a collapsing state in their backyard because Russia is busy encouraging the collapse.  It is the states of the EU that cannot afford Ukraine to collapse and the loss of the strategic buffer that state represents.  European statesmen seem to not realize that Russia is an enemy, or at least is choosing to act as one and really, what is the difference?

Japan to intercept any North Korea missile deemed a threat:  Let us not forget that all is not calm in Asia either.  The North Koreans are still pursuing their own agenda that is at odds with the interests of every nation in the region except China.

Pro-Russians seize eastern Ukraine government buildings:  Stage two of the russian dismantling of Ukraine begins.  I would guess that if Putin can keep his agitators busy he will let the unrest in eastern ukraine simmer until early June sometime after the snap elections. That is of course,  unless he wants to use the agitation as a pretext for military action.  I would guess that is not the case though and the next major Russian move will not come until autumn when he can use Russian control of western European energy supplies as a lever to discourage western intervention.

U.S. accuses Russian agents of stirring eastern Ukraine unrest:  I wonder if Putin is losing control of the agitators in Ukraine.  It would appear that now is a poor time to increase the agitation given that outside nuclear weapons Russia’s biggest strategic threat is cutting off the flow of natural gas to western europe and that is a card that has much less sting at this time of year.  I would guess that Putin just wanted to keep the pot at a low boil until the early fall and the ethnic Russians in Ukraine are forcing his hand.  It just gets more interesting all the time.

Kiev gives pro-Russian protesters 48 hours to end their occupation:  The plot thickens.  I am still convinced that events are moving out of Purin’s control as current events in Eastern Ukraine are sure to alarm the West when alarming the Western powers if the last thing Putin wants right now.  I expect Putin to stand by as Kiev puts down te protest for now but to use the quelling of incipient rebellion later on as rhetorical ammunition to argue in favor of Russian annexation of Eastern Ukraine.  A Sudeten Strategy if you will.

Kiev Government to Deploy Troops in Ukraine’s East‘Russia is waging war against Ukraine’:  It would appear that Ukraine is stealing a march on the separatists and Russia and attempting to seize the initiative as they should have done a month ago.  The question now is a two-parter; will the West support Ukraine to the hilt and will Russia escalate.  If the West supports Ukraine’s efforts to quash the separatists and affirms the sovereignty of Ukraine with concrete measures Russia has no choice but to de-escalate.  If however, the West does not support Ukraine then Russia has nothing to lose by tossing around threats and escalating the war of words and perhaps adding in undeniable military measures inside the territory of a sovereign neighboring state.  I think we are entering a new phase of the Black Sea Crisis.

Remains of a prematurely detonated Car Bomb (VCIED) outside of Ad-Daw, Iraq in January 2005

Periodic World Craziness Update # 27

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.

Suicide Bomb Instructor Accidentally Detonates, Kills 21 Students In Iraq:  I just about fell out of my chair laughing when I read this story.  I was reminded of the moron one afternoon in January 2005 who came out of a side road racing towards me and my wingman’s Bradley’s as we were driving into Ad Dawr, Iraq.  As he got to about 300m from our two vehicles his car suddenly disintegrated.  Stuff like this is why Arabs make horrible fighters.

Remains of a prematurely detonated Car Bomb (VCIED) outside of Ad-Daw, Iraq in January 2005

Remains of a prematurely detonated Car Bomb (VCIED) outside of Ad-Daw, Iraq in January 2005

 

North Korea warns South and U.S. over “provocative” drills:  I start to get the feeling that at some point either the US or more likely, South Korea is going to call North Korea’s bluff.

Ukraine protests turn into fiery street battles:  The brewing conflict in Ukraine bears watching.  Ever since the Orange Revolution and the 2010-2011 politically charged ouster and criminal prosecution of former president Yulia Tymoshenko I have been convinced that a day of reckoning is coming in Ukraine between the pro-Western and pro-Russian factions.  It appears that day is here.  The question now is whether the violence will escalate or if a peaceful solution will be found.  I am not sure enough to make a call one way or the other.

Iranian official on nuke deal: ‘We did not agree to dismantle anything’:  I am pretty sure that in the end we will fin out that the only people who benefited from this deal with Iran is Iran.  They probably already have enough enriched Uranium for their needs.  Thus any ‘deal’ with the West is a win-win for them.

Kiev Truce Falls Apart, and Unrest Resurges:  The question I have now is not if but when the situation in the Ukraine will degenerate into civil war and if Russia will send troops to “assist” the regime.  If Russia sends troops will the EU sit idly by and watch the rebellion be crushed is the next question at the top of my list and I am afraid the answer to that one will probably be yes.  I simply cannot envision any European country being willing to risk soldiers lives to help themselves much less the Ukraine.  The only countries I can see helping Ukraine are Poland, Czech, and maybe France or Britain.

North Korea envoy warns on US-South Korea military exercise:  The DPRK begin pounding on the war drums yet again loudly screeching that they are relevant.  The war scares NK generates are rapidly becoming the modern version of the “boy who cried wolf.”

Iraqi army clashes with militants near Fallujah:  based on my personal experience daling with what Iraqis call soldiers I expect that any Iraqi Army attempt to recapture Fallujah and Ramadi will turn into bloody failures.  Arabs in particular are the stereotype of incompetent soldiers as the history of Arab Wars against Israel show.

Germany preparing third financial rescue for Greece:  On the geopolitical front the EU is apparently preparing to get Greece to triple down on the so-far failed policies of their efforts to save the Greeks from themselves.  I just wonder if the EU power brokers seriously think they will ever really get their money back or if they are just playing sops to the northern tier of EU countries.  The continual support to Greece shows that the Eu is in fact a suicide pact, at least as far as Greece is concerned.

Periodic World Craziness Update # 26

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.

 China’s State Media Blame U.S. for Near Collision of Warships:  I start to wonder how far and how fast China is willing to ratchet up tensions over the Senkaku’s?  It seems that China is not unwilling to provoke an incident.  What happens if they pull something like this in the future and the US retaliates by sinking a Chinese ship, maybe even their beloved waste of a carrier?  Never mind that this whole incident is akin to Hitler blaming Poland for WWII.

India-US row over arrest of diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York escalates:  though this piece is not strictly military it begs the question of what the US thinks it is accomplishing in the realm of international relations.  The Obama administration and State Department seem to have a positive talent for making enemies of friends and making enemies hold the US in even more contempt than had hitherto been the case.  From the “reset” with Russia, bowing to the Saudi king, Benghazi, to weakness against Iran American foreign policy has been one set of disasters and mistakes after another under the current president.  One thing is certain, the next president can just about only make things better.

Saudi Arabia warns it will act against West’s policy in Middle East:  It has only taken Saudi 3 years to realize that Saudi and Western intentions in Syria are not the same?  I am actually surprised that they figured it out this early.  Then again, I fully expect Saudi financed arms to end up disproportionately in the hands of Muslim extremist groups as well.  I also expect Saudi to express dismay at such thoughts but continue to buy arms anyway.

Russian city hit by suicide bombing for second straight day:  I will not be surprised in the slightest is Chechen rebels make more than one attempt to attack the olympics.  Expect more attacks as the games approach as terrorists try to scare off people and teams from the games.

Al-Qaeda-linked force captures Fallujah amid rise in violence in Iraq:  Further proof that the US accomplished exactly nothing besides killing Saddam Hussein with the 2003 invasion.  Modern geopolitics is wonderful.

U.S. troops prevented from helping even as al Qaeda overruns Iraqi cities:  Kerry says war no longer belongs to Americans:  Of course, what would anyone expect to hear from the waste of oxygen that Kerry is?  This is the guy that dishonored himself and his comrades from his own war after all.

General: Strategic Military Satellites Vulnerable to Attack in Future Space War:  Does anyone seriously think that space assets won;t be the first thing destroyed in any future war between reasonably developed countries.  If the US dos not have plans to knock down opponent’s satellites in the case of conflict then we have some pretty big morons running our nation’s defenses.

Security alert in southern Russia as bodies found in bomb-rigged cars:  Anybody willing to take bets on some kind of terrorist attack at the Winter Olympics next month?  I am not.  Russia’s Muslim terrorists are even more rabid than those elsewhere.  Remember, it was Caucasian Muslims that perpetrated the Beslan attack in 2004 that killed 380 and the Moscow Theater Siege that in 2002 in which 133 hostages were killed.

The misuse of American might, and the price it pays:  One the best analysis pieces I have read about the failure of American strategy in Iraq in a good long while.  Well worth reading.

Periodic World Craziness Update # 25

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.  

Syrian Regime Chokes Off Food to Town That Was Gassed:  What is the point of a siege if food is allowed through the siege lines? I will never understand modern bleeding hearts.  They should be happy the government forces are not catapulting disease ridden corpses into the besieged area or trying to poison the water supply.  Since when is war supposed to bloodless and not affect non-combatants? Update: Starving rebels eat lion from a Damascus zoo - Apparently the siege is doing what a siege is intended to do.  I am not shocked.  Further, the guys in the picture look anything but starved.

COIN Doctrine Under Fire:  Wow, now after the manifest failure of COIN doctrine everywhere it has been tried somebody found the courage to say it out loud and that is news.  With warfighting strategies like COIN it is no wonder terrorists are not afraid of America.  Of course, stories like this are not helpful in making our enemies fear us either.

Endless Afghanistan? US-Afghan agreement would keep troops in place and funds flowing, perhaps indefinitely:  Who has not seen this coming?  since apparently we are unable or unwilling to achieve our stated victory conditions in Afghanistan we are now negotiating an endless presence.  Does this mean they can always claim progress?  Watch the metrics used to judge effectiveness get more and more divorced from any reality as time passes.  Update-US and Karzai agree on language for pact  Update again- Oh wait, they don’t agree.  Karzai tacks on additional demands to previously agreed on language  Yet another Update- Iran’s President determined to maintain uranium enrichment sites: The only change after the deal is that Iran’s position has not changed  Update: Saying no to Karzai: I am becoming increasingly convinced that the US will be leaving Afghanistan next year.  I am not sad.

Norwegian army goes vegetarian… to fight global warming:  While this story does not speak to any current conflicts it does speak to the the current state of Western militaries.  Apparently, it is not just the US military who spends as much time thinking about and implementing postmodern policies as fighting wars.  This is one of those stories that if you think about if it was not so funny you would break down in tears.

China creates air defence zone over Japan-controlled islands:  Will these islands or other similar disputes serve as a pretext for the next shooting war in Asia?  The lengths to which China will go in its hunt for regional prestige are truly startling.  I am not certain they would not risk a shooting war if they think they get too much pushback from Japan on these islands. Update- China sends warplanes to newly declared air zone: I wonder how far China is willing to go to provoke an incident and if they are willing to start a war at this time.  They are certainly going out of their way to start an incident over matters of prestige.

New Law in Egypt Effectively Bans Street Protests:  I don’t quite know what to make of this.  I expect it is the military trying to clamp down even harder on the MB.  The question is whether enough MB leadership was rounded up this past summer.  I expect we will find out when we see if the insurgency in the Sinai spreads across Suez Canal to the rest of the country.

FBI warns about Americans joining Islamic fighters in Syria:  Didn’t we hear warnings similar to this at the height of the Iraq War?  The wonder is not that naturalized citizens return home and radicalize, it is that the US continues to allow such security threats to reside in the US and naturalize in the first place.

Syria: US and UK suspend aid after Islamist fighters seize weapons stores:  I wonder this has not been a bigger story in the West.  It is essentially what many have been calling for.  Perhaps the story is being buried because conservatives want no aid going to the rebels while liberals are in live with them?

Periodic World Craziness Update # 24

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.

Syria: Al-Qaida group changes shape of civil war - It seems increasingly clear that the Syrian Civil War is starting to morph into a more regional conflict.  I would expect that before next summer we will star to see more overt regional alignments and the conflict will start to spread.  Give it another 18 months and we may very well start to see the fighting spread outside of Syria.  I would expect that Lebanon would be the first foreign country to see significant fighting spread onto it’s territory although I can picture a scenario where Iraq is also the new battleground given the weakness of the Iraqi government and their inability to control the violence there.

Israeli Strike Coming?:  Absent serious movement on getting Iran to open its nuclear program to IAEA scrutiny and given the apparent seriousness with which Israel takes the threat of Iranian possession of nukes.  It is not out of the realm of the possible that Israel will conduct a preemptive strike to stop or slow down Iran’s march to being a nuclear state.  Israel must be careful though and have very evidence to back up their claims or they risk losing international support.  Then again, I am convinced that most western countries would be glad to see Israel do something that they are unable to do themselves because of domestic political considerations.

Assassination pushes Libya towards civil war two years after Gaddafi death:  Libya, who everyone liked to think was squared away, is not, as many of us warned when Gaddafi fell.  Radical Muslims are not going to just allow the establishment of anything approaching western style democracy unless they can be the power behind a democratic facade.  We are seeing that again and again in the Muslim world.

Afghan special forces commander defects with guns to insurgents:  I wonder how much Schadenfreude the Russians are feeling right now as they watch American and Western strategy collapse in Afghanistan?  I also wonder when the political and chattering class will understand that you cannot win in in the traditional sense in Afghanistan.  The best we can achieve is to reduce the threat posed by Afghans and Afghanistan based radical and be prepared to go in their for another short term ass-whipping as the situation dictates.  To eliminate the possibility of threats emanating from that god-forsaken country would require a Carthaginian solution.  As in a “they made a desert and called it peace” type solution.

Saudi Arabia severs diplomatic ties with US over response to conflict in Syria:  If nothing else this is an interesting development.  It also begs the question of what exactly the house of Sad is doing in regards to Syria.  I have heard of them supporting several “initiatives” but not of them doing anything concrete.  To paraphrase, methinks the Saudis doth protest too much.  Syria is their backyard and if they want a mes cleaned up there then they should by god build a coalition to do so.  The US is no longer in the position to play World’s Policeman, a fact many on the world and the US seem very reluctant to accept.

 Report: Iran may be month from a bomb:  The question is not when can Iran build a bomb, it is when can Iran build a miniaturized bomb?  Just having the bomb signifies ability but development of a small device, and it does not have to be high-yield, signifies intent to use it.  I don’t think any serious strategic thinker believes for a minute that Iran’s intent is only to develop a nuclear weapon but also to have the plausible ability to use such weapons as bargaining chips to strengthen their position in the Middle East and pursue their long-term goal of regional hegemon.  I also think that they would use on if they calculated that the benefit or destruction caused by one outweighed the risks of retaliation.  The biggest problem with nuclear weapons is that the major Nuclear powers are afraid to use them.  This fear of using them, which the US telescopes, emboldens rogue states.  The Iranians have no reasonable expectation that someone like Obama would really nuke them if they used an atomic weapon.  Talk is cheap, and they know it.

Car bombs kill scores in Baghdad, in sign of crisis in Iraq:  The war in Iraq has never stopped.  It just fell out of the news because American troops were not dying there anymore.  Figure the conflict there to last another 10-15 years at a minimum or until another strongman comes to power who is ruthless enough to his boot to everyone’s necks.

Obama orders curbs on NSA spying on U.N. headquarters:  What was all that in 2008 about if Obama is elected the whole world will like us again?  It certainly appears appears that he has made enemies out of countries that were once our friends with no good reason for doing so.  It is a binary solution set, either Obama is stupid and incompetent or he is deliberately going out of his way to be a disaster.  I have not figured out which yet.

Iran blames France for failure of nuclear talks:  Perhaps the West should be thankful that France is not following the lead of the US in trying to achieve an agreement at seemingly any price.  I have the distinct impression that the US Administration will settle for even a very flawed agreement if it means they can use such an agreement domestically to distract from the raft of problems facing Obama at home.  History has shown that appeasement is at best porr policy and at worst disastrous.