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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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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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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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…

The Legacy of 9/11/2001

The North face of the Two World Trade Center (south tower) immediately after being struck by United Airlines Flight 175

The North Face of Two World Trade Center (south tower) immediately after being struck by United Airlines Flight 175.
Wikimedia Commons/Robert on Flickr

It has been fifteen years to the day since the brutal attacks by Islamic jihadists on the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon across the river from Washington, DC, and the aborted attack  on the nation’s Capitol that ended in an aircraft crash in a deserted field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The civilian toll of dead (2,977) exceeded all the casualties suffered by U.S. armed forces and civilians (2,403) in the Japanese attack on Pearl harbor, 60 years before.

The remains of 6, 7, and 1 World Trade Center on September 17, 2001

The remains of 6, 7, and 1 World Trade Center on September 17, 2001
Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Navy, Chief Photographer’s Mate Eric J. Tilford

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The Fermenting of the West’s Discontents: Crisis of Ideology

The three witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

The three witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Act 4, scene 1
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Johann Heinrich Füssli 1783

The Western World’s political and economic elites, standing in for Macbeth’s witches, have certainly been fermenting Western discontent in their magic cauldrons. All over Europe and North America, electorates are seething with anger, frustration, and fear. Could this be the end of … what? It is hard to see exactly how the Western World will change its many world-views, but change them we must if we are to continue existing. If reality is actually different from our views of it, it has a tendency to remind us of the difference in generally unpleasant ways.

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The Decay of U.S. Armed Forces

U.S. soldiers in Ramadi, Iraq, 16 August 2006

U.S. Army soldiers in Ramadi, August 2006
Wikimedia Commons/Air Force Tech Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock

One of the major reasons for the weakening of U.S. alliances has been the decay of U.S. armed forces throughout President Obama’s administration. Indeed, if the U.S. ends up with insufficient strength to honor treaty commitments, there is no point to the alliances anyway.  Continue Reading…

The Weakening of U.S. Alliances and National Security

People's Liberation Army contingent at 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade

People’s Liberation Army contingent at 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade
Wikimedia Commons/Kremlin.ru

Probing of the U.S. alliance periphery is being done by more than just Russia and ISIS. In my last post I described the isolationist bent of President Obama’s administration and of the American electorate, together with the encouragement this has given to an expansionist Russia to probe NATO defenses. Russia, however, is a member of a de facto alliance along with the People’s Republic of China and Iran. All three are cooperating to find how malleable the U.S. assurances of allies’ security are. As related in my last post, Russia is mainly interested in re-aquiring the possessions they lost with the dissolution of the Soviet Union: the states of Eastern Europe and the Baltic States of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.      Continue Reading…

U.S. Alliances: Will They Last?

U.S. Military Relations

States with U.S. military relationships: Dark Blue are the NATO members, Purple are major non-NATO allies, and Pale Blue are signatories of Partnership for Peace with NATO
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Sesmith

The short-sighted Obama administration seems absolutely determined to allow our foreign alliances, NATO in particular, to wither away through neglect. It would seem the only threat keeping us from withdrawing into a complete isolationist shell is the jihadist threat from ISIS, al-Qaeda, Iran, and other jihadist organizations. Recoiling from the costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American electorate, along with the Obama administration, would like nothing better than if the world would just go away and leave us alone.      Continue Reading…

More on HGV Defenses

YAL-1A Airborne Laser with mirror unstowed

YAL-1A airborne laser in flight with the mirror unstowed
Photo Credit:Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Missile Defense Agency

This is the third post in a series on the threat of Chinese and Russian Hypersonic Glide Vehicles (HGVs), and prospective U.S. defenses against them. Traveling at Mach 10 (ten times the speed of sound, approximately 7000 mph) and maneuverable on reentry into the atmosphere, HGVs pose unique problems for defensive systems attempting to shoot them down. Continue Reading…

What Is Russia’s Game in Syria?

Russian Sukhoi Su-24M

Sukhoi Su-24M: Russian workhorse in Syria    
Wikimedia Commons/Alexander Mishin, © A. Mishin

If you have been paying much attention to what is going on in the Middle East, you have almost certainly heard Vladimir Putin last Monday ordered a partial Russian pullout from Syria. This is after more than seven months since Russia made a significant commitment of troops,  aircraft, and naval assets keeping Bashar al-Assad in power. Yet ISIS is far from defeated in Syria and Iraq. What exactly can Putin be thinking?      Continue Reading…

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