Iran, Russia, Syria, Iraq form joint war room
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
A senior Iranian military leader warned this weekend that “all U.S. military bases in the Middle East are within the range of” Iran’s missiles and emphasized that the Islamic Republic will continue to break international bans on the construction of ballistic missiles.
Much of this missile work, like the details of Iran’s advanced arsenal, remains secret, according to Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force. Continue reading
Barack Obama’s presidency has empowered the adversaries of the United States
by Matthew Continetti • Washington Free Beacon
This week President Obama won the 34th vote in support of his nuclear deal with Iran. The vote, from Senator Barbara Mikulski, guarantees that the deal will survive a rejection by Congress. The fact that the deal will be made despite such opposition—something a few of us predicted months ago—is, in the words of the AP, a “landmark Obama victory.” It is worth asking how many more of these victories our country can withstand.
The president and his supporters, of course, say their foreign policy has improved the world. “Like George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton,” writes Gideon Rose of Foreign Affairs, “Obama will likely pass on to his successor an overall foreign policy agenda and national power position in better shape than when he entered office, ones that the next administration can build on to improve things further.”
I’m not convinced. Rather than trying to predict how things will look when Obama leaves office, rather than contemplating abstractions such as our “overall foreign policy agenda” and “national power position,” why not examine the actual results of Obama’s policies, as they exist now, in the real world before our eyes? Continue reading
By Editorial Board • Washington Post
In July, President Obama said he had been “encouraged” by a telephone call Russian President Vladimir Putin had initiated to discuss Syria. The Russians, Mr. Obama confidently declared, “get a sense that the Assad regime is losing a grip over greater and greater swaths of territory” and “that offers us an opportunity to have a serious conversation with them.” Not for the first time, Mr. Obama was supposing that Mr. Putin could be enlisted in a diplomatic settlement to the Syrian civil war along lines Washington and its Arab allies support. Not for the first time, the president appears to have badly misread the Russian ruler.
Far from abandoning its support for the Assad regime, Moscow appears to be doubling down. According to numerous reports, Russia is establishing a base at an airfield near an Assad stronghold on the Mediterranean coast and has filed military overflight requests with neighboring countries. Analysts believe Russia may be preparing to deploy 1,000 or more military personnel to Syria and to carry out air operations in support of Assad forces. Syrian rebels already have reported seeing Russian aircraft over territory they control. Continue reading
By Charles Krauthammer • Washington Post
On September 5, 2014, two days after President Obama visited Estonia to symbolize America’s commitment to its security, Russian agents crossed into Estonia and kidnapped an Estonian security official. Last week, after a closed trial, Russia sentenced him to 15 years.
The reaction? The State Department issued a statement. The NATO secretary-general issued a tweet. Neither did anything. The European Union (reports the Wall Street Journal) said it was too early to discuss any possible action.
The timing of this brazen violation of NATO territory — immediately after Obama’s visit — is testimony to Vladimir Putin’s contempt for the American president. He knows Obama would do nothing. Why should he think otherwise? Continue reading
by Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi • Washington Times
The failure of Soviet totalitarianism ultimately brought down the Soviet Union itself in 1991. In the years following its collapse, the new Russian Federation struggled with a different problem: the seemingly terminal atrophy of the state and its authority. The so-called neo-liberals who came to power with Boris Yeltsin tried, but failed to deliver on their political and economic promises.
Instead of developing the free market economy they envisioned, Russia morphed into a sort of mafia state with a crony based economy run by a government that allowed its political allies to plunder state enterprises in the name of “privatization.” The new state delivered little to the average Russian, but enriched those with ties to the Kremlin.
Opponents of Yeltsin’s neo-liberals, led by Aleksandr Soygu, head of the Ministry of Emergency Management, argued that Russia needed an anti-Yeltsin to reestablish order in Russian society through the restoration of a powerful, perhaps all-powerful, state. Continue reading
Nothing can work without tough inspections and enforcement. And for that we must rely on … Vladimir Putin.
By Charles Duelfer • Politico Magazine
We don’t yet know all the details of the nuclear agreement that Iran, the United States and five other world powers announced Thursday they are aiming to complete by June 30. What we do know is that any acceptable final deal will depend on a strong weapons inspection element. In his remarks in the Rose Garden, President Obama declared Tehran had agreed to precisely that. “If Iran cheats, the world will know,” he said.
Yet weapons inspectors can be no tougher than the body that empowers them—in this instance the UN Security Council. And herein lies the agreement’s fundamental weakness—and perhaps its fatal flaw. Do we really want to depend on Vladimir Putin? Because Russia will be able to decide what to enforce in any deal—and what not to.
Like so many things in in life, one can learn a lot from Saddam Hussein. Certainly Tehran will have learned from Saddam’ s experience in trying to evade the scrutiny of the UN Security Council, weapons inspectors, sanctions, and individual governments. Continue reading
by Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
Russia conducted a flight test of a new intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this month that some U.S. officials and security analysts say is a new violation of Moscow’s arms control treaty commitments.
The March 18 flight test of a new RS-26 missile is part of a large-scale nuclear arms buildup by Russia and is raising concerns about treaty compliance, said U.S. officials familiar with details of the missile test.
The RS-26 missile carried a dummy warhead from Russia’s Kapustin Yar missile facility, located about 80 miles south of Volgograd in southern Russia, to an impact range at Sary Shagan in Kazakhstan.
The distance between the launch facility and the impact area is approximately 1,248 miles, far less than the threshold of 3,417 miles required by the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Continue reading
by Peter Huessy
Conventional wisdom in our nation’s Capital mistakenly holds that nuclear weapons are not useful in deterring our adversaries, not relevant to meeting new terrorist threats, and not valuable tools of overall American and allied statecraft.
The threats from Ukraine, Ebola and the ISIS are mistakenly used to make the case that nuclear weapons cannot deter most threats to the United States. We are assured the only role our nuclear weapons should play is to stop another country from attacking the United States with nuclear weapons.
From this mistaken idea flows the further conclusion the US needs only a very small deterrent of nuclear warheads for deterrence, some seventy to eighty percent less than what we have deployed today.* Continue reading
By Charles Krauthammer • The Washington Post
His secretary of defense says, “The world is exploding all over.” His attorney general says that the threat of terror “keeps me up at night.” The world bears them out. On Tuesday, American hostage Kayla Mueller is confirmed dead. On Wednesday, the U.S. evacuates its embassy in Yemen, a country cited by President Obama last September as an American success in fighting terrorism.
Yet Obama’s reaction to, shall we say, turmoil abroad has been one of alarming lassitude and passivity. Continue reading
by Peter Huessy
In 2012, Robert Kaplan wrote in the “The Revenge of Geography” that countries of the “Heartland” and “Rimland”, stretching from North Korea southward through South Asia and into the Middle East were locked into a “deathly geographical embrace of overlapping missile ranges” as they seek to bolster their military capability by building long range rockets capable of coercing, terrorizing or blackmailing their neighbors. [ (1) “Kaplan Elevates the Place” by Alan Cate, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, on September 18, 2012.]
In the past year, we have seen Hamas, an agent of Iran, try a new kind of diplomacy, if you will, while launching over 4500 rockets at Israel. [ (2) “The hidden intelligence agendas behind Hamas’ 1,000-rocket barrage”, July 14, 2014 DEBKAfile, Exclusive Report.] Continue reading
Executives at a Bermudan firm funneling money to U.S. environmentalists run investment funds with Russian
by Lachlan Markay • Washington Free Beacon
A shadowy Bermudan company that has funneled tens of millions of dollars to anti-fracking environmentalist groups in the United States is run by executives with deep ties to Russian oil interests and offshore money laundering schemes involving members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
One of those executives, Nicholas Hoskins, is a director at a hedge fund management firm that has invested heavily in Russian oil and gas. He is also senior counsel at the Bermudan law firm Wakefield Quin and the vice president of a London-based investment firm whose president until recently chaired the board of the state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft.
In addition to those roles, Hoskins is a director at a company called Klein Ltd. No one knows where that firm’s money comes from. Its only publicly documented activities have been transfers of $23 million to U.S. environmentalist groups that push policies that would hamstring surging American oil and gas production, which has hurt Russia’s energy-reliant economy. Continue reading
Despite Ukraine’s September 5 cease-fire, a “protracted conflict” continues in the East, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights warned Wednesday. Over 3,600 people have been killed in fighting since April, with nearly 10% of those fatalities occurring since the cease-fire. Rebels continue to fight for control of key sites, including the Donetsk airport, while Russian forces have increased their presence east of Mariupol, raising concern that rebels plan to launch a new offensive against that strategic port city or even to establish a land bridge to Crimea. Meanwhile, the separatists are using the relative lull to solidify their hold over their self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, replete with their own nascent KGB. As the U.N. noted, “Armed groups continued to terrorize the population in areas under their control, pursuing killings, abductions, torture, ill-treatment and other serious human rights abuses.” Continue reading
by George Landrith • Townhall
Late one Friday afternoon, the Obama Administration announced its plans to cut the Internet loose from U.S. government oversight, giving control to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private corporation created by the U.S. to manage the web. Since then both ICANN and the administration have gone to great pains to explain that the change would have little practical effect, be largely benign, and that the current U.S. role would not be taken over by other governments like China, Russia, Iran, or the European Union. Sadly, however, these assurances are the Internet equivalent of “If you like the health insurance plan you have now, you can keep it. Period.”
Most Americans know the Internet won’t improve if dictators from around the world are given a bigger role in its governance. Many countries — even those not run by dictators — have engaged in censorship, silenced dissent, and selectively shut the Internet down for authoritarian political reasons. Continue reading
by Peter Huessy • Family Security Matters
It has become a common assertion that future planned strategic modernization of the United States is unaffordable. The latest such claim was made by National Public Radio in a July story asserting that over the next three decades the United States is planning to spend $1 trillion in upgrading our entire nuclear deterrent.
Unfortunately, NPR’s assertion relies largely upon a mistakenly done Congressional Budget Office report earlier this year and some subsequent statistical gymnastics by a number of anti-nuclear organizations.
A central theme of the NPR report was how easy it would be for America to jettison the cheapest part of its nuclear Triad of forces–the ICBM leg–in order to save money, enhance stability and better manage our national security affairs. NPR got it wrong in every respect. Continue reading
To understand Vladimir Putin’s wars, the key is to understand the final two decades of the Soviet Union, not the first two decades of the new Russia.
by Tom Nichols • The Federalist
Americans have been grasping to find explanations for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s serial aggressions in Europe. We keep searching for bumper stickers we can understand, so we gravitate to simple explanations like “geopolitics” or “nationalism,” not least because such notions promise solutions. (If it’s about geopolitics, cutting a deal with Putin will stop this; if it’s about nationalism, it’ll burn itself out when Putin has recaptured enough ethnic Russians around his borders.)
And, of course, there’s always “realism.” In this month’s Foreign Affairs, John Mearsheimer argues the Russo-Ukraine war is basically the West’s fault. (We expanded NATO, we supported the Maidan protesters, we were generally just mean to Russia, etc.) Continue reading