On Hiatus

No surprise to any one who still checks in here. There’s simply no free time…and no interest to be honest. At least for now.

I’m deployed again, and have been for a bit now. The Iranians and their proxies demand just about all of my attention…which further compels me to wonder why the hell we’re still over here. That we’re here to defend Iraq against ISIS, is a canard that is well past it’s expiration date. We’re here to keep the eastern Syrian oil fields out of the hands of the Syrians themselves [how’s that for respecting someone’s national sovereignty?]. Remember that if we [or a certain ‘third party’] attack Iran in the waning days of the Trump Regime….or if they strike first. If it happens, remember why our sons and daughters were sacrificed…..

At home, the Leftists and the Trump Cultists continue to try and out-stupid themselves in the race to see who can destroy the Republic and piss on the Constitution more, or quicker. Snowflakes and beta-boi’s on both sides….some dressed in black and some in their airsoft finery….all trying to compensate for poor life choices and low self-esteem….make me glad that I can retreat to my homestead upon my departure from one shithole country to return to an emerging shithole country.

Yep, my country is becoming an embarrassing example on par with so many others…..’exceptionalism’ my ass. And, I’ve earned the right to think such.

Another “Endless War” on the Horizon? Part II

Some additional context regarding our inevitable(?) clash with Iran.

As Iran counts down the minutes to the end of an arms embargo so that it can begin importing much-needed technology and dual-use equipment for weapons, a senior US official alleged that it is resuming work with North Korea on long-range missiles. Iran also could have enough material for a nuclear weapon by the end of the year. The report was part of a larger Reuters report about new US sanctions against up to two dozen people and entities that will be slapped onto Iran. The US has urged the UN to snap back sanctions on Iran after Washington says Iran violated a 2015 deal.Iran has circled the wagons and brought in the Russians, China, Turkey, the EU and many other countries to oppose the US attempts to put more sanctions on. The US allegation about the long-range missile work is linked to other US claims that Iran has violated agreements linked to ballistic missile development. Iran says it can build whatever it wants. It recently put a military satellite into space. – Link

So, great. We helped accelerate Iran ‘s nuclear program.

With the announcement earlier this month that the United States will withdraw thousands of its troops from Iraq, Iran and its Shia Islamist proxies have hailed the decision as a victory of their “Axis of Resistance”. 

Undoubtedly, this will mean that the Iraqi Shia militias who work hand-in-glove with Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) will feel emboldened by a reduction of capable enemies on their doorstep, and will seek to expand their power and influence even further.

However, this also raises a question of the relevance of the Shia militias in Iraqi politics, particularly those who serve under the banner of the Baghdad-sanctioned but Tehran-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).

A large part of their existence is based upon their rhetoric of resisting a foreign occupier and combating the Islamic State (IS) group which has been formally declared as defeated since 2017.

With their raison d’être now undermined, and early elections called for 2021, fears are growing that the PMF and Iran are simply seeking to entrench a pro-Tehran regime in Baghdad, completely undermining Iraqi self-determination and sovereignty. – Link

Interesting times lay ahead for Iraq, and our involvement within, until China supersedes our shaky ‘alliance’ anyway. Our forces inside Iraq and Syria have defensive capability, but are not remotely configured for the offense. Which fuels my inclination that force drawdowns in Iraq could be part of the war with Iran equation….to not leave them sitting as targets when things go sideways. No such drawdown in Syria however, where both IRGC and PMF forces are also present [IRGC in greater numbers than Iraq].

And then we have competing visions about our policy vis-a-vis naval presence in the gulf specifically. From the excellent USNI Blog:

Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told House lawmakers that the aircraft carrier “has a profound deterring affect principally upon Iran.”

“They know what the carrier is. They track the presence of the carrier. And I view a carrier as a critical part of a deterrent posture effective against Iran,” he said.

McKenzie went on to tell lawmakers he believes that the reduction in Navy carrier presence in early 2019 and years prior may have contributed to the latest cycle of escalation from Iran that came to a head with the U.S. assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani and a retaliatory strike from Iran on U.S. bases in Iraq.

And from Bryan Clark, a former senior aide to the chief of naval operations and now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute:

“The Iranians don’t perceive carriers and a threat to their ability to project power because they project power through gray zone activities and terrorism — the kinds of things that carriers aren’t very good at dealing with.”

“And when they are inside the Persian Gulf, the Iranians perceive them as being an easy target. They can range the entire gulf with shore batteries along the coast in caves and other terrain where it’s hard to root them out,” he added. “So the Iranians see the carrier as a way to get the Americans to spend a lot of money on a show of force that doesn’t really impact their strategic calculation.”

**And for extra credit, see The Iranian Coup that Led to 67 Years of Reckless Intervention**

Another “Endless War” on the Horizon? *Updated*

So, the Administration is “demanding” that the UN resume sanctions against Iran for non-compliance to the JPCOA (Iranian nuclear agreement).

There’s a glaring problem however…..this Administration removed itself from the agreement. When you remove yourself from an internationally agreed framework, you lose the right to dictate terms.

And of course, Iran was complying with the agreement until the Administration declared it null and void. Now, however, Iran is ramping up uranium enrichment…….and why not?

This is occurring against the backdrop of inserting mechanized infantry units into northeast Syria…..where Trump has simultaneously stated that “we’re not in Syria anymore”, “except for the oil, we’re there to guard the oil”. None sense.

There are several “October Surprise” scenarios being trafficked amongst speculators…….I fear another endless Middle Eastern war ranks among them……with our Armed Forces being caught in the middle as expendable cannon fodder for political gain……again.

From ZeroHedge: Things are moving fast in relation to Washington’s unilaterally imposed ‘snapback’ sanctions on Iran, which oddly enough the Trump administration is claiming the authority to imposed based on the JCPOA nuclear deal which it backed out of more than two years ago.

#BREAKING: US believes Iran may have enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb by end of the year, US official says

Will we witness a little ‘shock and awe’ in the weeks before November?

Could the stage be set for an October Surprise in the form of a Bush-style preemptive attack on Iran?

Yep, I think it’s coming, and just in time for me to be in a front row seat (again)…….

Iran and Letters of Marque and Reprisal

I’ve been supporting our military and intelligence efforts in Iraq since 2011, working for the same agency [no, not that Agency, but very much related], with multiple deployments to Iraq…..and nothing makes me happier in the offensive sense, than to see Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis [as well as others] killed with extreme prejudice. I know intimately the imminent threat that prompted the timing of this strike, and had it not been authorized, a loss of American life in a short window would have occurred that was rivaled only by 9/11. Full credit to POTUS for giving the green light, and full credit to the dedication of the teams of analysts and operators who made this happen.

Muhandis, with Soleimani’s blessing, ordered a consistent series of rocket attacks against US and Coalition locations within Iraq since April of this year….ignored by the American media; not to mention the IRGC-QF technical and operational assistance to Shi’s militia’s during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Countless American and Coalition lives were lost as a direct result of the IRGC-QF.

A 2012 Army War College paper that I’ve had in my digital library for many years, highlights a Constitutional, yet unfashionable approach to dealing with State, proxy-force and terrorist actors in the current age – Letters of Marque and Reprisal.

By the time the Constitution was ratified in 1789, the practice of privateering had been a legitimate part of Western warfare for over 500 years. Letters of marque and reprisal had been important tools for the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation during the American Revolution, and this power granted by the Constitution would maintain its significance in the years following its ratification. The Framers placed great import on the federal government’s role in protecting maritime commerce and enforcing the common law of nations. While changes in warfare and developments in international law during the last century have largely vanquished the role of privateering, the Congressional authority to issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal remains, having never been repealed.

As the U.S. and the international community contemplate a host of difficult security concerns modern extraterritorial threats such as piracy, terrorism, and cyber exploitation, U.S. policymakers and legal scholars should contemplate the conceptual merit of letters of marque and reprisal as a means of combating these threats short of “war.” This is not to say that the Constitutional power to grant letters of marque and reprisal should be taken lightly. As Thomas Jefferson explained, “The making of a reprisal on a nation is a very serious thing. Remonstrance and refusal of satisfaction ought to precede; and when reprisal follows, it is considered an act of war, and never yet failed to produce it in the case of a nation able to make war.”

Read the rest here: Resurrecting Letters of Marque and Reprisal to Address Modern Threats

It’s a concept that’s time has come to consider, again.

Still Dancing to bin Laden’s Tune

In 2001, al Qaeda consisted of only 400 ideologues in the far corners of the world. After the recent regime change wars in Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Syria, typical estimates place their membership at around 20,000. To top it all off, the American economy is out $5.6 trillion dollars for the whole failed project. This is not the legacy of a war to spread, or even protect, liberty and prosperity. Instead it is the legacy of an evil but gifted tactician, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Contrary to the popular misunderstanding of al Qaeda’s motives and strategy, bin Laden and his partner Ayman al Zawahiri were not trying to scare America away with the September 11th attacks. They were trying to provoke an overreaction. Al Qaeda’s leaders wanted the U.S. to invade Afghanistan in order to bog our military down, “bleed us to bankruptcy,” and force a worn-out, broken empire to leave the region the hard way, and permanently, just as they had done to the Soviet Union in the 1980s with American support. Only then could they hope to launch the revolutions they sought in their home countries without interference from the American superpower.

Source: Breitbart

I like me some job security, but enough is enough. When will our disastrous foreign policy ambitions be thwarted by rational Americans?

Okay…that was rhetorical. We all know that answer is never. Even as we now prop up the Saudi regime in Yemen, and enable their pursuit of war with Iran.

When will Citizens and wake the fuck up? Patriots already have….but are far too few in number, and led by charlatans like fish on a hook.

Like the Internet, the Twitterverse is forever….

While we’re on the subject of Iran

Let’s clear up a little myth – “wiping Israel off of the map”.

The statement has been bandied about like a war cry by Zionists and US hardliners alike. Even if the Iranian President [who doesn’t really wield much power in Tehran] said those exact words….is that justification for military action? Foreign policy mimics playground taunting and retaliation?

My recent comment piece explaining how Iran’s president was badly misquoted when he allegedly called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” has caused a welcome little storm. The phrase has been seized on by western and Israeli hawks to re-double suspicions of the Iranian government’s intentions, so it is important to get the truth of what he really said.

I took my translation – “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” – from the indefatigable Professor Juan Cole’s website where it has been for several weeks.

But it seems to be mainly thanks to the Guardian giving it prominence that the New York Times, which was one of the first papers to misquote Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came out on Sunday with a defensive piece attempting to justify its reporter’s original “wiped off the map” translation. (By the way, for Farsi speakers the original version is available here.)

The New York Times goes on: “The second translation issue concerns the word ‘map’. Khomeini’s words were abstract: ‘Sahneh roozgar.’ Sahneh means scene or stage, and roozgar means time. The phrase was widely interpreted as ‘map’, and for years, no one objected. In October, when Mr Ahmadinejad quoted Khomeini, he actually misquoted him, saying not ‘Sahneh roozgar’ but ‘Safheh roozgar’, meaning pages of time or history. No one noticed the change, and news agencies used the word ‘map’ again.”

This, in my view, is the crucial point and I’m glad the NYT accepts that the word “map” was not used by Ahmadinejad. (By the way, the Wikipedia entry on the controversy gets the NYT wrong, claiming falsely that Ethan Bronner “concluded that Ahmadinejad had in fact said that Israel was to be wiped off the map”.)

If the Iranian president made a mistake and used “safheh” rather than “sahneh”, that is of little moment. A native English speaker could equally confuse “stage of history” with “page of history”. The significant issue is that both phrases refer to time rather than place. As I wrote in my original post, the Iranian president was expressing a vague wish for the future. He was not threatening an Iranian-initiated war to remove Israeli control over Jerusalem.

Two other well-established translation sources confirm that Ahmadinejad was referring to time, not place. The version of the October 26 2005 speech put out by the Middle East Media Research Institute, based on the Farsi text released by the official Iranian Students News Agency, says: “This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.” (NB: not “wiped”. I accept that “eliminated” is almost the same, indeed some might argue it is more sinister than “wiped”, though it is a bit more of a mouthful if you are trying to find four catchy and easily memorable words with which to incite anger against Iran.)

MEMRI (its text of the speech is available here) is headed by a former Isareli military intelligence officer and has sometimes been attacked for alleged distortion of Farsi and Arabic quotations for the benefit of Israeli foreign policy. On this occasion they supported the doveish view of what Ahmadinejad said.

Finally we come to the BBC monitoring service which every day puts out hundreds of highly respected English translations of broadcasts from all round the globe to their subscribers – mainly governments, intelligence services, thinktanks and other specialists. I approached them this week about the controversy and a spokesperson for the monitoring service’s marketing unit, who did not want his name used, told me their original version of the Ahmadinejad quote was “eliminated from the map of the world”.

A very last point. The fact that he compared his desired option – the elimination of “the regime occupying Jerusalem” – with the fall of the Shah’s regime in Iran makes it crystal clear that he is talking about regime change, not the end of Israel. As a schoolboy opponent of the Shah in the 1970’s he surely did not favour Iran’s removal from the page of time. He just wanted the Shah out.

Let me give the last word to Juan Cole, with whom I began. “I am entirely aware that Ahmadinejad is hostile to Israel. The question is whether his intentions and capabilities would lead to a military attack, and whether therefore pre-emptive warfare is prescribed. I am saying no, and the boring philology is part of the reason for the no.”

Read the rest

More on Iran……as the war drum continues to beat

Since I’m in favor of informed decision making…….Information that I’m still trying to ascertain is:

– Is safeguard non-compliance a violation of the NPT? The academic jury appears to still be out on this….at least until the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May 2010, where one would think the issue would be raised and decided.

– What is the legal presumption to take military action against Iran in the event they acquire a working weapon? There doesn’t appear to be one, yet a sizable number of people agree that that shouldn’t stop us from acting unilaterally.

– Are the second and third order effects of such a strike worth the cost compared to allowing Iran to maintain nuclear weaponry unmolested? I believe a more fruitful case could have been made for disallowing Pakistan to gain such a capability, with it’s homegrown extremist base and shaky central government.

What to do with Iran…..

The discussion continues to revolve around sanctions or air strikes, to halt Iran’s march towards acquiring nuclear weaponry.

A problem with using air strikes to halt Iran’s nuclear program is that would most certainly have the opposite effect, encouraging Iran to redouble it’s efforts in acquiring a WMD arsenal.

Further, of the 18 or so known sites, many are located near or in urban and historical areas. A strike would have to rely on a margin of overkill to be assured of effectiveness….thereby potentially causing thousands of civilian casualties. A strike conducted or condoned by the US would only serve to further damage our wounded standing among civilized nations, and further incite those who already believe that we are waging a war [or crusade] against Muslims. This of course would guarantee second and third order effects on our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan…to name but two.

Only a policy of acknowledging Iran’s role as a regional power, encouraging foreign investment, re-establishing diplomatic relations and unfreezing Iranian assets….will succeed in convincing them to halt their nuclear ambitions. This of course must be met with verifiable suspension of the enrichment of uranium and research into nuclear weaponry, with stringent inspections; and the halting of any and all support of extremist groups. While this may simply seem to the flag waving chest beaters as surrender….to our knowledge, this type of diplomacy hasn’t been offered before.

Convince Iran that a deal such as this is in their best interest, as opposed to threats, sanctions and bluster. Iran maintains suitable conditions for transforming into a democratic state in the near term….but a military strike would most certainly stall or reverse that.