The Iran Nuclear Agreement is Unfixable

Emad IRBM at launch

Iranian Emad IRBM at launch
Photo Credit: Wikimedia commons/Tasnimnews/Mohammad Agah

Much has been said recently  about President Trump’s decertification of Iran’s compliance to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the JCPOA. The Europeans are uniformly opposed to what Trump has done, and of course Democrats consider Trump’s action to be a great blunder. Yet, the most accurate evaluation is probably from a former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton. His view is the JCPOA is completely flawed and fundamentally unfixable.

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What Democrats Are Ignoring About Russia

Vladimir Putin, President (for life?) of the Russian Federation

Vladimir Putin, President (for life?) of the Russian Federation
DailyPnut.com

While Democrats continue to obsess  over imaginary connections between Donald Trump and the Russian Federation, they seem to pay little attention to what the Russians actually are doing, and what their motivations might be. Yet, as current events involving North Korea and China remind us, allowing wishful thinking about our foreign adversaries to blind us to their very real threats is the height of folly. Chickens almost always come home to roost

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Past US Weakness Creates Heightened Tensions With China and North Korea

Launch of a North Korean Taepodong 2 ICBM
MissileThreat.csis.org

Just this Tuesday,  China’s minion North Korea claimed to have made its first fully successful test launch of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). By doing so, North Korea underlined the precarious U.S. position in the orient, created by the past eight years of the Obama administration’s foreign policy and national security weakness.

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U.S. Railgun Systems Proliferate

Railgun projectile bursting through a metal plate in a Navy test system.

Railgun projectile bursting through a metal plate in a Navy test system. The projectile is the dark metal bar in the center-right of the image.
Image courtesy of the Office of Naval Research

U.S. naval and military planners are salivating  at the possibilities of railguns.  Railguns are electromagnetic artillery weapons whose projectiles have muzzle velocities not limited by the speed of propellant gasses, but are limited only by the amount of electrical current used to propel them. Traveling at hypersonic speeds in excess of mach 5, the projectiles do not require an explosive filler to effect their damage. It is simply their very high kinetic energy that gives them their killing power. Also because of their very high speeds, railguns are suitable for terminal point antimissile defense, conceivably even against Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).

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How Should the U.S. React to Foreign Challenges?

Aspects of U.S. Foreign Relations
Top (Left to Right):
U.S. Army soldiers in Ramadi, August 2006   Wikimedia Commons / Air Force Tech Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock
Container ship from Asia     Flickr.com / Peter Kaminsky
Center: U.N. General Assembly Hall    Wikimedia Commons / Flickr (Patrick Gruben)
Bottom (Left to Right):
Russian Sukhoi Su-24M: Russian workhorse in Syria  Wikimedia Commons / Alexander Mishin, © A. Mishin
Obama discussing Syria and ISIS with Putin, 9/29/2015   Wikimedia Commons / Kremlin.ru

In my last post,  The U.S. Interactions With Other Nations, I presented the case for why the United States should remain fully engaged with the rest of the world, whether by trade, military alliances, or by actual combat against lethal adversaries. Such engagements should not and need not be for the cause of imposing our own ideologies or values on others, but to protect against hostile enemies or to enrich our own country by trade. Neither do we have to abandon our altruism in dealing with other countries, as we can certainly offer trade, knowledge and technology that would be as useful to other countries as they are for us.

Assuming the case for international engagement has been made, I wish in this post to offer a neoliberal (i.e. conservative) vision of how such engagements should proceed.

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The U.S. Interactions With Other Nations

United Nations Headquarters in New York City

United Nations Headquarters in New York City
Wikimedia Commons / Neptuul

Very little divides American citizens more  than questions about how the U.S. should interact with other nations. This has always been true about questions of national security for most of my not inconsiderable lifetime of 70 years. Lately, it has also become true about questions of international trade. What general rules should the U.S. follow in reacting and adapting to the challenges of other nations? It might be popular nowadays to assert the U.S. should not engage in nation building, but should that always be the case?

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U.S. Detente With Russia?

Secretary of State Designate Rex Tillerson, then ExxonMobil CEO, with President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation on April 16, 2012

Secretary of State Designate Rex Tillerson, then ExxonMobil CEO, with President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation on April 16, 2012
Wikimedia Commons / premier.gov.ru

The Democratic Party  has found a new enemy in Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation. The Russian hacking of Hillary Clinton’s email server along with that of the Democratic Party, which supplied Wikileaks with damaging information about Hillary Clinton and her campaign, provided Democrats with a convenient narrative for why Clinton lost the election.  More than that, when coupled with Donald Trump’s many ill-considered approving remarks about Putin, this narrative gives Democrats such as Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) an excuse to declare Trump’s presidency to be illegitimate.

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A Nervous Face-off Against Chinese Imperialism

Naval vessel of the the People's Liberation Army Navy.

Naval vessel of the the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
Center for Security Policy

In the United States over the past eight years, China has found its perfect enemy, more concerned with appeasing the People’s Republic of China than in confronting it. After the United States withdrew from the Philippines in 1992, China saw the opportunity to fill the power vacuum by claiming the entire South China Sea, a project discussed in the posts Is China a Threat?, The Weakening of U.S. Alliances and National Security, and Probability of War with China Increasing?. Despite some U.S. Navy “freedom of navigation” operations recently in the South China Sea, the Obama administration has consistently ignored Chinese provocations as much as it possibly could in hopes they could engage China and ultimately convert them into friends — an approach identical to the one they adopted with Iran.

Now, with the approaching administration of Donald Trump no doubt weighing heavily on their minds, the Chinese are finding increasing reasons to be nervous about Asian pushback against their imperial ambitions. One can only hope in the face of all this nervousness that the Chinese do not allow their trigger fingers to get itchy.

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Iran Stretches Its Offensive Cyber Muscles

The flags of bitter enemies: Iran left, Saudi Arabia right

The flags of bitter enemies: Iran left, Saudi Arabia right
Wikimedia Commons

Sometime in the middle of this last November,  someone, almost certainly the Islamic Republic of Iran, conducted destructive cyber attacks on key, vital computer systems of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The blowback is likely to be considerable and is also likely to be a considerable headache for the incoming Trump administration. Indeed, the potential for a military confrontation involving the United States should Iran and the Saudis come to blows is not at all negligible.

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The Ruins of Obama’s Catastrophic Foreign Policy

President Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss Syria and ISIS, September 29, 2015

President Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss Syria and ISIS, September 29, 2015
Wikimedia Commons/Kremlin.ru

No American president in my lifetime has had a foreign policy that has been as complete and total a failure as that of Barack Obama. Every foreign affair problem he has touched has turned to worms. The failures have mounted to such an extent that the very existence of our country is threatened. Most Americans would probably consider my last sentence to be extreme hyperbole, but taking a look at each of the threats against us, I can not see how the threats against us could be judged as anything less than existential.

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Clinton and Trump on Foreign Policy

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton take the stage at the third and final Presidential debate.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton take the stage at the third and final Presidential debate.

The differences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on foreign policy appear to be more than they actually are. However, this fact has been muddled by the necessity for Clinton to appear to agree with President Obama’s failing foreign policy, together with the need to look different from Trump. Nevertheless, one has to question Clinton’s competence from her own record as Secretary of State.  Continue Reading…

Russia Stable in the Short Term; The Long Term Is Something Else

Russia and its western "Near Abroad"

Russia and its western  “Near Abroad”
Map courtesy of Google Maps

Russia is becoming a major danger to the rest of the world on a par with ISIS because of their “Russian World” project. The term “Russian World” should be understood to mean that part of the world  culturally dominated by Russian civilization. Unfortunately, in the view of the Russian Federation’s President, Vladimir Putin, and a great many other Russians, Russia lost governmental control over a very large portion of the Russian World with the dissolution of the Soviet Union on the day after Christmas in 1991. What seemed like a Christmas gift to NATO and the West, was a chilling humiliation for the new Russian Federation.  Continue Reading…

Is the U.S. Becoming a Banana Republic?

Screen Shot of James Comey swearing-in at House Oversight Committee meeting on why he did not recommend seeking an indictment for Hillary Clinton on July 7, 2016.

Screen Shot of James Comey swearing-in at House Judiciary Committee meeting on why he did not recommend seeking an indictment for Hillary Clinton on July 7, 2016.

James Comey has sullied his reputation. That seems to be the opinion of a growing number of people taking a closer look at aspects of the FBI’s investigation into the Hillary Clinton email scandal. Even more troubling is the thought that James Comey’s actions presage a decay of the United States into a mere banana republic. Continue Reading…

Is Putin Secure?

The headquarters for the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) at Lubyanka Square in Moscow in the same building that used to be the HQ of the KGB.
Wikimedia Commons/NVO

There is some doubt about whether Vladimir Putin will remain President of the Russian Federation, effectively Russia’s dictator, for much longer. In a post on The American Interest website entitled The Siloviki Coup in Russia,  Ms. Karina Orlova informs us a very slow moving coup is proceeding in Russia. It is being conducted by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, often referred to by the Latin alphabet initials of its Russian name as the FSB. (using the Cyrillic alphabet the initials are ФСБ. Remember that when you are looking at photos of Russian police in action. If they are wearing flack jackets with that on the back, you know they are FSB, the main successors of the old KGB.

Russian FSB officers at the Domodedovo airport

Russian FSB officers at the Domodedovo airport blast caused by suicide bombers linked to the al-Qaeda-linked Caucasus Emirate.
Wikimedia Commons/RIA Novosti archive/Andrey Stenin / Андрей Стенин

Orlova calls this slow coup the Siloviki coup ( silovik, siloviki plural, is the Russian word for a government official) because high ranking Russian officials are being taken out of their positions, sometimes by forced retirements and sometimes by accusations of criminal acts and imprisonments.      Continue Reading…

Iran: Existential Enemy of the West (among others)

On top, Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on January 23, 2016. On bottom, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 13, 2013. Iran, China, and Russia are all strategic allies.

On top, Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on January 23, 2016. On bottom, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 13, 2013. Iran, China, and Russia are all strategic allies.
Photo Credits: Top: Wikimedia Commons/Khamenei.ir , Bottom: Wikimedia Commons/Kremlin.ru

Despite President Barack Obama’s fondest hopes, after Iran secured its nuclear agreement with the West, it began to show itself as a particularly virulent enemy of the West. As noted in the illustrations above, Iran is an informal strategic ally of two other militarily powerful states generally hostile to U.S. and Western interests: Russia and China.  Continue Reading…

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