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.