Periodic World Craziness Update # 14

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

Mali & Central Africa – West faces ‘decades’ of conflict in N Africa, Death Toll Climbs Past 80 in Siege in the Sahara:  My only question is when are we going to get serious about stamping out terrorism?  My guess is never because a true solution would cause most Westerners to blanch in disgust.  It will take several attacks similar in scale to 9/11 in most Western countries for people to really come to grips with the threat of terrorism and then develop the resolve to do something effectual.

Why Algeria Didn’t Warn the U.S. About Its Hostage Raid:  We are supposed to wonder why any 3rd World Country distrusts the US?  The wonder is that any do.  I love America but am honest enough to admit that the US often has only its own interests in mind in its dealings with other countries.  Then again, our own interests is what we are supposed to be looking out for anyway.  The question is do our “partners” get something out of exchanges as well?  

Mali-based Islamists pledge attacks on French soil; French widen bombing campaign, enter Central Mali:  I have not paid as much attention to the events in Sub-Saharan Africa as I maybe should have.  I have assumed that the Islamic rebels in Mali would be crushed by local forces as the Muslims are outnumbered by Christians and native pagans south of the desert.  What I have not counted on is the fact that their fanaticism gives the Islamists an edge against their opponents who are not necessarily ready to be as brutal as they need to be.  I don’t see the French support as being waged as part of a wider War on Terror so much as the French taking care of traditional sphere of influence geopolitics. On a secondary note:  The Islamists are threatening attacks in Metropolitan France.  If that happens, and happens with the likely support of one of the members of the current large Muslim minority in France.  What will be the French reaction?  That bears watching, for academic interest if nothing else.  If a terror campaign starts in Metropolitan France I think we get to see what happens when post-modern fantasy meets reality.

Exclusive: Secret State Department cable: Chemical weapons used in Syria:  Supposedly the agent in question is a severe incapacitating agent and not a lethal agent.  Something like a super CS gas.  That does not mean it cannot be deadly, especially to people who are old or have underlying health problems.  I will be interested to see if this alleged incident generates anymore press than his and what the Western response, if any, will be.

Revolutionary Japan is suddenly the centre of world affairs:  This story/analysis/editorial piece is interesting as it raises the specter of a war in East Asia sooner rather than later. I and many others have been saying for years that China is the existential threat that most Western Policymakers are ignoring.  I have read or heard nothing recently that makes me question that conclusion.  China’s manufacturing and financial dominance are already staggering to anyone who thinks about it and they have been quietly reforming and modernizing their military for at least the last fifteen years.  What keeps most people from thinking a war is possible is China’s possession of nuclear weapons and I think that is a false premise at a minimum.  I can see China making a bigger play for regional influence and even hegemony if they think they can get away with it.  I am almost of a mind to think a war would better sooner until I realize most Western Armies have squandered their institutional knowledge of how to fight conventional wars over the past decade as they have refused to decisively deal with the Islamist threat.  Interesting times are ahead in the South China Sea and the area bears watching.

Israel warns of possible pre-emptive chemical weapons strike in Syria: First, talk about an imprecise headline, at first I thought Israel was threatening to use chemical weapons.  It turns out that Israel is threatening to attack and destroy Syrian chemical weapon stockpiles to stop anybody from getting their hands on them.  The Syrian crisis is not going  away anytime soon.  It is stable right now but it will heat up again as soon as Spring comes on and the weather improves.

Ahmadinejad: Muslims should mobilize resources to uproot Zionism:  Ahmadinejad is up to his old tricks again.  He had been muzzled pretty effectively by Khameini.  I wonder if the fact that he is opening his mouth again and spewing forth garbage means that he has completed his penance and now Iran is going to take an even harder line in foreign relations than they have since his muzzling.  I also wonder if his reappearance means the Mullahs have found some way of weaseling around their own fatwah declaring the pursuit of nuclear weapons wrong and are thus ready to be more aggressive on the world stage?

Morsi declares state of emergency:  Step two of the Muslim brotherhood’s takeover of an Arab state.  The really bad part is that the West (US) has been busy giving our best weapons to Egypt for the past 20+ years and we did not even stop after a known Islamist came to power.  The Arab Spring continues and just gets more interesting.

Timbuktu mayor: Mali rebels torched library of historic manuscripts:  The French seem to be moving right along in their effort to eject the AQ affiliated Islamist rebels from Northern Mali.  The question is how permanent is any reconquest going to be.  Let us all remember that in both Iraq & Afghanistan the US and Allies quickly rolled over the conventional opposition yet that did mean an end to the fighting.  I hope the French are ready for the long haul because they seem to be driving the insurgents like cattle instead of killing them. Experience over the past decade has shown that driving them out does not work, they have to be killed or imprisoned. The burning of the library in Timbuktu is just further evidence of Islamist barbarity and is akin to the Taliban destruction of the statues of Buddha at Bamiyan in 2001.  Update:  Apparently the townspeople managed to save a majority of the manuscripts, score one for civilization.

Egypt Liberals, Islamists add Pressure on Morsi:  For some reason I do not see Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood giving up power because of some riots and protests.  I do, however, think we might see some serious repression go on.  I do not think it will be giving the rioters/protesters a “whiff of grapeshot” though.  I think it is more likely to be midnight knocks and a bullet to the back of the head or a garrote.  Time will tell though.

Israeli Jets Blast Arms Shipment Inside Syria: I would not make too much of this airstrike by the Israelis inside Syria.  It is likely in my opinion that this attack is the equivalent of the naval “shot across the bow” to both the Syrian Government, the Syrian opposition, and Hezbollah that Israel is watching and will defend their interests if they feel the need to do so.  This strike is a warning to all the players in the region that Israel is prepared and keep of delivering some object lessons in deportment if any of them decide they are feeling froggy and want to do something contrary to Israeli interests.

Polish dismay over CIA ‘torture’ papers:  This is kind of political but what is it with the Left and trying to demonize those that try to protect them from terrorists.  I am really starting to think that the left could care less about Human Rights, they object to torture because they know it works.  They know that it works especially if it is applied correctly.  It just surprises me that at times the Left seems more intent on protecting those seeking to do us harm than  on protecting those they supposedly share a society and culture with.

Japan Accuses China of Using Weapons Radar on Ship: More games and provocations from China.  The Chinese should be careful as merely targeting another’s countries vessel with actively emitting targetry radar or sonar can be considered an act of war.  The Japanese would have been well within their rights in firing on the Chinese vessel as targeting emissions can be seen as presaging an imminent threat of attack.  The Simmering Sino-Japanese conflict in the South China Sea is not going to go away any time soon.

Muslim Brotherhood want aide as top Egypt cleric:  Is anybody really surprise that the Muslim Brotherhood is solidifying their grip on power in Egypt?  They have only been dreaming of this for 70+ years, they are not going to give up easily.  What will make it doubly hard to get rid of them are the plethora of modern weapons the US has been busy giving them for years.

North Korea conducts third nuclear test, sparks condemnation: Although the North will be and has been roundly condemned for conducting another test, the fact they have demonstrated continued possession of nuclear arms actually gives them leverage in any talks.  The DPRK is a threat to the ROK and regional countries but I am not sure what, if anything, the West and Asia can do to rein them in.  I am not sure there is anything we can do short of an invasion, and that is politically impossible.  I think the DPRK gets the better of this round of brinksmanship because all we will hear from the rest of the world is words.