4 November 2014

Counter-Terrorism: The Chechen Chronicles

November 1, 2014: Russia recently commemorated the 15th anniversary of their return to Chechnya in 1999. In the previous five years the Russians had left Chechnya alone. That did not work out as expected and the area had become a base for gangsters and Islamic terrorists who were increasingly showing up in southern Russia. There the Chechens created a major and constantly increasing crime wave. This prompted Russia to go back in. 

Russian military and police forces, over the next fifteen years, conducted over 40,000 raids, sweeps and combat patrols. This resulted in the discovery of over 5,000 hideouts or supply and weapons caches. About 10,000 Islamic terrorists, gangsters and assorted rebels were killed and 30,000 weapons and 80,000 explosive devices (roadside bombs, mines, booby traps, suicide bombs and so on) were seized. Government losses have been about half what the enemy suffered and many Russians fear that the death toll will ultimately equal the 15,000 deaths Russian forces suffered during the 1980s in Afghanistan. 

The Chechen fighting was most intense during the first five years and had been declining ever since. While most of the nationalist rebels are gone and the local gangsters have learned to cooperate or simply stay out of the way, there are still enough Islamic terrorists around to keep the security forces busy. The corruption down there makes efficient government difficult and that keeps producing more angry young men willing to fight. 

Despite this seeming success Russia is suffering a major ethnic shift in the Caucasus. Russians, and other people not native to the Caucasus, are being driven out of the region by terrorism, corruption, and a bad attitude towards outsiders. It’s been worst in Chechnya, where Russians comprised 25 percent of the population in 1989, but only two percent today. The decline has not been as great in the rest of the Caucasus, but it has been massive, with more than half the Russians who were living in the Caucasus having left in the since the 1990s. Actually, this trend began in the 1950s, right after tyrant Josef Stalin died in 1953 and Russia began to trim the power of the secret police. The departure of ethnic Russians from the Caucasus simply accelerated after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. 

Russia has been able to suppress Islamic and nationalist terrorists in Chechnya, and their half of the Caucasus in general (the rest is occupied by newly independent Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan). What Russia has not been able to suppress is the hostile attitudes towards outsiders. This is a problem with peacekeepers everywhere. In effect, Russia has been peacekeeping in the unruly Caucasus for several centuries. Until the Soviet Union (and the ancient Russian empire) collapsed in 1991, the Caucasus was more peaceful than it had ever been. This, however, was accomplished via decades of using state-sponsored terrorism, including killing anyone who became troublesome and shipping off many people, who seemed like they might become troublesome, to prison camps. It was brutal, unfair, and it worked. But these policies were unpopular throughout Russia. Ethnic Russians disliked this sort of thing as did all the “others.” So the new government got rid of the terror apparatus (prison camps, secret police, and the nasty attitudes that made it all work) in the 1990s. 

Russia: Why The Neighbors Are Nervous

October 31, 2014: In eastern Ukraine over 160 people have been killed in Donbas since the September ceasefire. Over 3,700 have died in Donbas since Russia began military operations (via pro-Russian rebels or Russian soldiers) in April. Russia has been warned by the West that if the pro-Russian rebels hold their election on November 2 nd (to establish a separate state) and Russia recognizes it, this will be a violation of international law and will bring more sanctions. Russia used the same tactics to annex Crimea from Ukraine earlier this year and parts of Georgia in 2008. Russia blames the United States for all the anti-Russian attitudes among its neighbors. President Putin and many Russians see America as continuing the Cold War by conspiring to weaken Russia. Many Russians, however, note that their neighbors don’t agree and see Russia returning to its traditional paranoia about all foreigners. These Russians realize that there are bad habits in Russia (aside from tolerance for corruption and outlaw behavior) that need to be changed before Russia can move forward. But at the moment the traditionalists are in charge and it’s paranoia as usual. The average Russian feels the impact of all this with shortages and high inflation, all brought on by the sanctions. 

The Donbas rebels demand independence for the five million people in Donbas areas that the rebels control. The Ukraine government refuses to allow that and is willing to negotiate some autonomy. Most Ukrainians, and many Russians believe the Russian government wants to annex Donbas and nothing less will do. Russia quickly discovered that seizing Donbas was going to be a lot more difficult than anticipated. Part of the problem was the unexpectedly robust resistance by Ukrainian forces. In particular the Ukrainian volunteer forces fighting in eastern Ukraine were particularly effective against Russian sponsored troops and Russian regular forces. These volunteer units comprise about 20 percent of the 50,000 armed personnel Ukraine has sent to the Donbas. 

While Israel has expressed sympathy for Ukraine in their confrontation with Russia, when Ukraine asked to purchase some Israeli UAVs, the Israeli government intervened and blocked the sale (which Israeli manufacturers were willing to make). The reason was because Israel needed good relations with Russia, especially when it came to persuading the Russians to refrain from selling Iran modern weapons or the technology that would enable Iran to do so. This was a rare win for Russia in its diplomatic and media campaign to justify their Ukraine aggression. With Israel the Russians have not won over Israeli public opinion (which sees Russia as the bad guys) but they have managed to use their diplomatic muscle to foil Ukrainian efforts to get needed military equipment. 

While Russian aggression in Ukraine gets most of the headlines, there’s plenty of Russian misbehavior against other neighbors as well. Finland reports growing Russian military activity on the border and against Finnish ships in the Baltic. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (the “Baltic States” that were long part of Russia) are receiving similar harassment, as well as Russian offers of a large discount on what they pay for Russian natural gas if they will leave NATO. None of the Baltic States sees this as a good deal and consider NATO their only real protection from Russian aggression. 

Russia’s neighbors also agree that there has been a lot more activity by Russian “diplomats” posing as spies since the Ukrainian crises began in late 2013. East Europeans have been openly comparing Putin’s aggression to that of Stalin and Hitler before World War II. Russians get very upset at these comparisons, insisting that they are only seeking to regain territory that is really theirs’ and lost due to foreign conspiracies. At that point Russian logic introduces imaginary plots by NATO and the United States which strike Westerners as absurd but appeal to a lot of Russians. That’s what makes Russia’s neighbors nervous because it is a repeat of previous instances of Russian aggression. Russian neighbors, particularly Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are increasing defense spending and getting their military forces ready for Russian aggression. 

Procurement: For Old Friend Iraq, Russia Delivers

November 3, 2014: Responding to appeals from Iraq for more rapid delivery of military equipment Russia has, as of early November, delivered 12 of 28 Mi-35M armed transport helicopters and three of fifteen MI-28NA helicopter gunships. Some self-propelled rocket launchers were also sent early. Less urgently needed, but delivered early anyway, were some twin launchers for SA-16/18 anti-aircraft missiles (which were also delivered) and several of the Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft vehicles. 

All this is part of a large order that was originally expected to take several years to deliver. In late 2012 Iraq agreed to buy $4.2 billion worth of Russian weapons and military equipment. The deal was later cancelled for several months because of corruption allegations but by early 2013 the deal was back on and that some of the major items, like 30 Mi-28NE attack helicopters and up to fifty Pantsir-S1 (SA-22) mobile anti-aircraft systems will be delivered before the end of 2013. Iraq favors Russian equipment for several reasons. There is the obvious one that the Russians are “corruption friendly”. But Iraq has been using Russian weapons for decades and there are many Iraqis familiar with it. Most importantly Russian gear is simple to use and more tolerant of poor maintenance. While Western gear is safer to use and more reliable, it is also more expensive and requires more skilled operators and maintainers. 

The Mi-28N "Night Hunter" is an all-weather, night attack version of the 1980s era Mi-28A, with added FLIR (night vision sensor), night fighting optics, and a two man crew. The basic Mi-28 is an 11.6 ton helicopter that can carry 1.6 tons of rockets and missiles. The aircraft also has a 30mm cannon. The cockpit for the two man crew is armored and the helicopter has missile countermeasures (chaff and flares), GPS, head up display, laser designator, and other gadgets. The Mi-28N has a top speed of 300 kilometers an hour and a one way range of 1,100 kilometers. Sorties usually last two hours or so. It can carry up to 16 anti-tank missiles (with a range of up to eight kilometers). The helicopter can also carry 80mm rockets, bombs, or fuel for additional range. The Mi-28 has been around in small quantities for two decades but the Mi-28N is the most advanced model, on par with the American AH-64D gunship (which is a little lighter). The first version of the Mi-28N was shown in 1996, although the manufacturer, Mil, wasn't ready to offer for sale until 2004. 

The Mi-35 is the export version of the most recent version of the Mi-24 helicopter gunship. This is a twelve ton helicopter gunship that also has a cargo area that can hold up to eight people or four stretchers. The Mi-24/35 can carry rockets, missiles bombs, and automatic cannon. It is used by over thirty countries and has a pretty good reputation for reliability. The design is based on the earlier Mi-8 transport helicopter. 

Also delivered were several TOS-1 mobile rocket launchers. These are armored 220mm rocket launchers mounted on a T-72 tank chassis. The 24 rocket armored box for the 220mm missiles replaces the turret. Max range of the 220mm missiles is 6,000 meters and these rockets can carry high explosive or FAE (Fuel Air Explosive) warheads. TOS-1 has a crew of three. For every two or three TOS-1s there is a TZM-T resupply vehicle that is similar to the TOS-1 but carries 24 rockets and 400 liters (100 gallons) of fuel with which to resupply a TOS-1, using an onboard crane. The TZM-T also has a crew of three. 

The Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft system entered service in 2008 after more than a decade in development. Pantsir-S1 Development began in the 1990s, but was sporadic for nearly a decade because there was no money. Meanwhile, several Arab nations have been persuaded to order over 200 Pantsir-S1 vehicles. Pantsir-S1 is a mobile system, each vehicle carries radar, two 30mm cannon, and twelve Tunguska missiles. The 90 kg (198 pound) missiles have a twenty kilometer range, the radar a 30 kilometer range. The missile can hit targets at up to 8,400 meters (26,000 feet). The 30mm cannon is effective up to 3,200 meters (10,000 feet). The vehicle can vary but the most common one carrying all this weighs 20 tons and has a crew of three. Each Pantsir-S1 vehicle costs about $15 million. 

Iraq hopes to have the helicopters in action by the end of the year, along with the rocket launchers.

Yedizis of Sanjar: Victims of US, Sunni Allies & Gulf Gas pumps

US Stirred –up Muslims Still Carry on Mayhem around the World

When questioned if he had any regrets in supporting Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan during 1980s, Zbigniew Brzezinski in a January 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, replied, "What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?"." Nonsense--" responded Brzezinski when asked "If Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today." Brzezinski was President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser

In 1977, I was somewhat puzzled when a Shah era high-powered Iranian delegation I was associated with left behind a Silver Peacock gift for me at a time when newly rich petro-Arabs gifted themselves and others gold Swiss watches. I had no idea what the Silver Peacock signified .I forgot all about it, but carried it around with me to Africa, Europe, Middle East and Turkey. Now it is with my granddaughter Tara Breuer in Brussels.

When I was posted to Turkey a second time in 1992, I learnt about the religious symbolism of Peacock (Melek Taus ) a figure of utter reverence and worship by a somewhat obscure and not so known religious sect of Yedizis /Yadizis. Although I had travelled extensively in Turkey during my first tenure in 1969- 73, the overall impression given was that Turkey's population was mostly composed of Turks from Central Asia, although when I visited East and South-East Turkey in places like Diyarbakir, Bingol, Lake Van etc it was quite clear that there were other nationalities and sub-nationalities apart from Turks; like Kurds ,Laz ( along east Black Sea coast) , and even miniscule Armenians mostly hidden in north east or in Istanbul and of course the Jews. Not all the inhabitants of Turkey are Sunnis; there are Alevis, Alawites, Suryanis and other ancient Christians. Asia Minor /Anatolia were the crucible of earlier Christianity and a bridge to Europe.

Very little material was available on Turkic Central Asia, which was then part of the Soviet Union. In fact, a prominent Turkish leader, late Col Alp Aslan Turkesh, told me that he met with Turks from Central Asia for the first time only when posted in New Delhi and invited by Indira Gandhi for receptions for delegations from Soviet Union, which invariably had members from Turkic speaking Central Asian republics like Uzbekistan etc. Turks from Turkey and Central Asian Soviet republics could not meet each other because of rigid restrictions. Many Turkic republic Soviet members of delegations or diplomats always replied that they were from Moscow.

Pick Your Battles Ending America’s Era of Permanent War

Worn out: a U.S. soldier in eastern Afghanistan, April 2009. (Liu Jin / AFP / Getty)

For more than a decade now, U.S. soldiers have been laboring under a sad paradox: even though the United States enjoys unprecedented global military dominance that should cow enemies mightily, it has found itself in constant combat for longer than ever before in its history, and without much to show for it. Of the U.S. military actions in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, only the first can be counted a success.

Assessing this record is a particularly crucial task now, with U.S. defense policy caught between powerful opposing pressures. Frustration with unending war and with strong fiscal constraints has pushed public opinion sharply toward retrenchment. At the same time, frightening challenges in three critical regions are demanding yet more action: Islamic extremists have seized large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, Russia has intervened in Ukraine, and China is flexing its muscles in East Asia. Washington faces a choice: Should it leave these endangered areas to their own fates, or double down on intervention to set them right?

In deciding when to expend blood and treasure abroad, U.S. policymakers should learn from the United States’ recent experience of war, but they must take care not to learn the lessons too well. Overconfidence from success can breed failure, and becoming gun-shy from failure can cause paralysis. For example, the U.S. military’s stunningly quick, cheap, and sweeping victory in the 1991 Gulf War raised policymakers’ expectations about what force could accomplish at low cost, causing them to underprepare and overreach when the United States invaded Iraq a second time. In a similar way, most American leaders have drawn too firm a lesson from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: never put boots on the ground. With the deployment of regular army units effectively ruled out, U.S. policymakers who still want to use force have been driven to options that involve airpower alone. That approach may make sense in places where the United States wants only to nudge a conflict in the right direction. But when the goal is to determine its outcome, airpower alone is insufficient.

Risky as pulling any lessons from recent experience may be, policymakers should start with the following. First, the United States should fight wars less frequently but more decisively, erring, when combat is necessary, on the side of committing too many forces rather than too few. Second, the country should avoid fighting in places where victory depends on controlling the politics of chaotic countries, since local politicians will rarely do what Americans want when that differs from their own aims. And third, Washington should give priority to first-order challenges, focusing its military planning on fighting wars with great powers and focusing its diplomacy on preventing them.


Principle, Rigor and Execution Matter in U.S. Foreign Policy

By George Friedman


U.S. President Barack Obama has come under intense criticism for his foreign policy, along with many other things. This is not unprecedented. Former President George W. Bush was similarly attacked. Stratfor has always maintained that the behavior of nations has much to do with the impersonal forces driving it, and little to do with the leaders who are currently passing through office. To what extent should American presidents be held accountable for events in the world, and what should they be held accountable for?

Expectations and Reality

I have always been amazed when presidents take credit for creating jobs or are blamed for high interest rates. Under our Constitution, and in practice, presidents have precious little influence on either. They cannot act without Congress or the Federal Reserve concurring, and both are outside presidential control. Nor can presidents overcome the realities of the market. They are prisoners of institutional constraints and the realities of the world.

Nevertheless, we endow presidents with magical powers and impose extraordinary expectations. The president creates jobs, manages Ebola and solves the problems of the world -- or so he should. This particular president came into office with preposterous expectations from his supporters that he could not possibly fulfill. The normal campaign promises of a normal politician were taken to be prophecy. This told us more about his supporters than about him. Similarly, his enemies, at the extremes, have painted him as the devil incarnate, destroying the Republic for fiendish reasons.

He is neither savior nor demon. He is a politician. As a politician, he governs not by what he wants, nor by what he promised in the election. He governs by the reality he was handed by history and his predecessor. Obama came into office with a financial crisis well underway, along with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. His followers might have thought that he would take a magic wand and make them go away, and his enemies might think that he would use them to destroy the country, but in point of fact he did pretty much what Bush had been doing: He hung on for dear life and guessed at the right course.

Bush came into office thinking of economic reforms and a foreign policy that would get away from nation-building. The last thing he expected was that he would invade Afghanistan during his first year in office. But it really wasn't up to him. His predecessor, Bill Clinton, and al Qaeda set his agenda. Had Clinton been more aggressive against al Qaeda, Bush might have had a different presidency. But al Qaeda did not seem to need that level of effort, and Clinton came into office as heir to the collapse of the Soviet Union. And so on back to George Washington.

Presidents are constrained by the reality they find themselves in and the limits that institutions place on them. Foreign policy is what a president wishes would happen; foreign affairs are what actually happen. The United States is enormously powerful. It is not omnipotent. There are not only limits to that power, but unexpected and undesirable consequences of its use. I have in mind the idea that had the United States not purged the Baathists in Iraq, the Sunnis might not have risen. That is possible. But had the Baathists, the party of the hated Saddam Hussein, remained in power, the sense of betrayal felt by Shiites and Kurds at the sight of the United States now supporting Baathists might have led to a greater explosion. The constraints in Iraq were such that having invaded, there was no choice that did not have a likely repercussion.

Remember What They Died for on the Maidan

NOVEMBER 3, 2014
Yes, the fight for democratic values is hard -- especially now. But that's no reason to give up.

Recently there has been growing and justified skepticism about the idea of democracy promotion, particularly in light of the unfulfilled hopes of the Arab Spring, the rise of ISIS, and the re-election of Turkish leader Erdogan despite widespread protests. Without trying to calculate the gains of democracy in places like Tunisia or the growing authoritarianism in places like Egypt, this a good moment to look at the role of democracy promotion in this new, shaky world landscape. To date, the West does not have a very good record when it comes to intervening in the democratization efforts of countries around the world. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya are the skeletons in the closets of countries like the United States, which, despite their best efforts, have actually pushed these nations onto a backwards trajectory, away from freedom and the rule of law. This is not for a lack of good intentions or resources; the West has a stake in a free and stable world, and has committed more than enough money and manpower toward this goal. Nonetheless, these resources have been misdirected, hampered by an outdated understanding of what it takes to bring about real democracy. This is the result of five key gaps in the Western understanding of democracy promotion.

First, decision-makers in the United States need to give up the idea that bombs can bring democracy. If you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Military spending in the United States is higher than in the next 10 highest-spending nations combined, so there is a natural inclination to want to use this might in struggles for democracy.

Unfortunately, we have repeatedly seen that firepower does not help establish democracy or lead to freer or more stable nations. This was definitively proven by Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth, who lookedat every civil conflict since 1900 to show that nonviolent resistance works. 

Exclusive: Top Afghan War Commander Reassessing Withdrawal Timeline

NOVEMBER 3, 2014
Source Link

The Pentagon’s man in Kabul is launching a new effort to assess whether Afghan troops will be ready to fill the void when the last American forces depart from the country in 2016. 

The top commander overseeing the international military effort in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Gen. John Campbell, is assessing whether more coalition troops should stay in the country to train Afghan troops for longer than would be allowed under the Obama administration's current plans for a complete withdrawal in 2016.

In a phone interview from Kabul, Campbell said he was "beginning now to take a hard look" at what effect delays in concluding a bilateral security agreement between the United States and Afghanistan and the months of uncertainty over the country's presidential elections have had on the preparedness of the Afghan military. Afghan forces have been taking heavy casualties in recent months while they battle the resurgent Taliban.

"Do I come back and do I alert my leadership and say we are coming down to this number, we need to hold a little bit longer to take advantage of some of the things that President [Ashraf] Ghani has put in place and we need more NATO forces in certain locations for longer?" Campbell said. "I've got to do that analysis and we're just starting that now."

President Barack Obama has said he plans to withdraw all American troops by the end of 2016 after handing over security responsibilities to the Afghans. The drawdown has already begun, with U.S. and international troops sticking to that timetable despite requests for a longer deployment from Ghani's government and reports that suggest the Taliban are gaining ground in key districts in the south and east of Afghanistan.

Ghani took power in September as part of a power-sharing agreement that installed his rival Abdullah Abdullah as the chief executive officer of a new unity government. Campbell said Ghani was trying to boost the morale of the Afghan security forces, who had been angered by former Afghan President Hamid Karzai's willingness to free captured militants and place constraints on the military's use of force.

A warmer globe~I

The Statesman, 04 Nov 2014


It was almost time for the ‘bore tide’ to hit the small river island, Chamta, located deep inside the core area in the Indian part of Sunderban Tiger Reserve. The local administration had warned of the possibility of a three-metre high wave that could pass through the channels in this delta where the Ganga meets the Bay of Bengal. Till 30 years ago, such high tides, locally known as sarasari gon, used to roll upstream of the Hooghly river with a distinct roar for almost 90 km and on their way, they crossed Kolkata. Such upsweeps, that are not often repeated these days, brought distress to riverside populations by sinking their boats and flooding the man-made dykes to inundate crop fields with saline water.

The space between the Hooghly river at the western edge and the Padma in Bangladesh across the “Bengal Fan” measures 342 km and is marked by a number of tributaries of the Ganga and Brahmaputra. This creates a labyrinth of channels and creeks. These narrow twisting and turning channels deposit huge quantities of silt on the higher grounds splitting the flow into two only to rejoin after a distance ~ thus forming tiny river islands. Sooner than one can imagine mangrove and a few other halophytic species like the salt tolerant ‘Kankra’ (Bruguiera gymnorhyza) dominate these lands and arrest passing silt in their stilt roots to help expand the new-born landmass. In due course of time, high rainfall ensures the proliferation of early “colonisers” like the endemic Dhani grass (Oryza coarctata) followed by the pioneer species Sundari (Heritiera fomes) that help stabilise the surface to create a refuge for primary consumers like the deer, wild boar and the giant Bengal monitor lizard ~ to be followed by their predator ~ the tiger.

As many as 200 such islands make up the physical profile of the Sunderbans that remains among the most dynamic land formations on earth. These low-lying muddy islands where the surface height varies between 0.9 metre and 2.11 metre above sea-level remain highly vulnerable to the constant threat from indundation by surrounding channels that, during high tide, flow at a level higher than the island surface.

Why India is a major new market for military space systems

In a first, the heads of the world’s largest democracies, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama got together to pen an op-ed declaring their commitment to a “robust, reliable and enduring” partnership amongst their respective nations. 

In a first, the heads of the world’s largest democracies, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama got together to pen an op-ed declaring their commitment to a “robust, reliable and enduring” partnership amongst their respective nations. It’s a partnership whose time has come and is of particular significance in military and economic terms. The economic significance is apparent on considering numerous reports, ranging from McKinsey to Global Policy, predicting a shift of the world’s economic center of gravity to Asia in general, and India and China in particular, by around 2025.

The military significance is apparent given that the military center of gravity, in economic terms, has already shifted to India. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute report of 2014, India accounted for 14 percent of the world’s arms imports from 2009 through 2013, more than any nation. The trend would continue into the next few decades as the India continues its modernization drive amidst a troubled and violent environment at home and in its neighborhood. The security scenario is not expected to improve anytime in the near future, India’s arms industry is yet to mature, and India’s economy is expected to continue booming with growth rates in gross domestic product that exceed the global average. Put briefly, India’s rising security needs would continue to be supported by a growing economy and the vortex of economy for the defense market would continue to be India. The potential value of Modi and Obama extending the US-India defense cooperation agreement until 2025 thus is pretty impressive.

A buyer’s market beckons, and arms sellers from across the world are already in India in a big way. However, most deals are related to conventional arms like military aircraft and ships. The competition is intense, and big bucks are being made. However, one needs to look beyond the conventional. It is here that space technology fits in. Space capabilities, particularly those related to reconnaissance, communication, and navigation, that enable militaries to perform their tasks optimally are inherent to any military modernization. They enable long distance communication, cross-border observation, precise delivery of firepower, personnel, relief material, and so on.

Apart from the military, space also affects other security agencies like the federal and state police forces, intelligence, and narcotics control, all of whom abound in India and all of whom aspire to put space to multifarious uses. For instance, observation satellites enable precise identification of cocaine plantations even in deep forest cover, making interdiction work so much easier. To put their potential demand in perspective, India has a massive standing army of over 1.5 million, another 1.5 million in paramilitary forces, and an even larger number of state police, all of whom covet space capabilities. All security modernization gravitates to space, and the acquisition and integration of space capabilities is an inherently costly affair involving lots of money.


01 November 2014

Modi’s Cabinet has taken a welcome decision to reset India’s Chabahar policy and put a stop to the lethargic approach exhibited by the country during the last one decade. However, it needs to take better stock of the ground realities and sustain its interest to harvest huge strategic gains in future

At long last, on October 18 the BJP-led NDA Government decided to invest in the strategically important Iranian port of Chabahar. As per the Cabinet’s decision, India will invest $85.21 million in developing the port for use by India. Apart from this, the Cabinet decided to invest an annual revenue expenditure of $22.95 million to support the efforts.

The joint venture

Media reports further revealed that during the first phase of the project, an Indian joint venture (JV) company — consisting of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Kandla Port Trust (KPT) — may partner with one or more Iranian concerns, with approval from the Iranian Ports and Maritime Organisation (P&MO), to execute the project on build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis.

The JV will develop and operate the port for 10 years and transfer the port to P&MO at the end of the 10th year. The JV will build, equip two berths within a year — one of them as a container terminal and the other as a multi-purpose cargo terminal. Based on the performance of the JV during the first phase, depending on the satisfaction of both the countries, further negotiations can be conducted for continuation of the arrangement again on BOT basis. 

India: Serious but shy?

The decision to develop Chabahar as a strategic, if not commercial port, was hanging fire for quite some time. Ever since former Iranian President Khatami offered India to build and operate Chabahar during his visit to India in 2003, foreign policy mandarins in India wasted valuable time weighing the pros and cons of the project. The imposition of extensive US sanctions on Iran in 2006, and improvement in India-US relations put paid to hopes of Indian investments in the port, even if it made tremendous strategic sense for India to invest in Chabahar.


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The magnificent conduct of the Indian troops during World War I was recorded for posterity by many people, including Field Marshal John French and James Willcocks, who gave stirring accounts of the soldiers’ courage

The history of the Indian Army contains few nobler pages than that of the 28th October 1914”. Thus stated Field Marshal Sir John French, Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force, after the action that day by a mere 500 men of the Indian Army who recaptured the vital village of Neuve Chapelle in northern France from the Germans in the opening days of what has become known as the first battle of Ypres. 

The Indian Corps had arrived piece meal at Marseilles from 26 September 1914, hastily re-equipped with Lee Enfield Mk.III rifles and some warm clothing, and then rushed to northern France and Flanders to reinforce the beleaguered BEF, which faced the formidable combined German and Bavarian Armies, before the final push to capture the Channel ports and, thus, complete the capture of France. The rushing in of Indian troops into battle without proper plans or equipment had been an indication of the desperation of the situation but it could hardly be considered to be an auspicious beginning, with troops split up and pushed in piecemeal by battalions, half battalions and even companies, in a strange environment, isolated from their own Commanders and Brigades, in appalling weather conditions and facing terrible fire and attack from superior odds.


October 27, 2014 

A violent resistance movement born out of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas originated in December 1987 during the First Intifada – or peaceful Palestinian uprising.[i] Primarily operating out of the Gaza Strip, Hamas seeks the establishment of an Islamic society within historic Palestine.[ii] Tactically, Hamas uses violence to achieve broader strategic goals such as spoiling peace negotiations and diminishing Israeli commitment and complacency with the current status quo.[iii] Two years after the group’s founding, Hamas enjoyed minimal popular support – less than 3% in Gaza – as nonviolent resistance appeared to work against the Israelis.[iv] Such statistics oscillate, however, with the success and failures of Hamas’s more peaceful political foe Fatah.[v] In other words, Hamas marginally gains as Fatah – and nonviolent resistance – loses.

Through a historical analysis of Hamas vis-à-vis Fatah and the Arab-Israeli peace process, it can be argued that Hamas strategically capitalizes on Fatah’s losses in negotiations, inability to stop corruption, and failure to foster economic development by using violence to reassert its relevancy and credibility as chief Palestinian vanguard.[vi] Polling statistics find the majority of Palestinians support Fatah but waiver in the face of its losses.[vii] As such, Hamas ultimately handicaps itself by refusing to renounce violence, bounding its zenith of strength by Fatah’s weakness.

But Fatah has been losing since the failure of 1993 Oslo Accords, which later sowed the groundwork for Hamas’s ascent in the 2000 Second Intifada.[viii] Palestinian organizations – among others across the globe – gain legitimacy by providing social services to civilian populations. Hamas is no different, and their legitimacy soared when they were able to provide social services to Gazans that Fatah simply could not.[ix]

This ability to provide social services has since been jeopardized by Hamas’s excessive corruption and economic woes, which could perhaps cost them their Gazan reign. Pundits attribute the Israel-Hamas showdown during summer 2014 in large part to Hamas’s corruption bug.[x] As the Arab Spring swept the Middle East in 2011, Hamas lost many of its notable financiers: Qatar, Egypt, and Iran.[xi] Signaling this economic squeeze, Hamas was unable to pay government salaries prior to the war.[xii] This inability to provide basic needs to its civilians – combined with the group’s excessive taxing – perhaps led Hamas to choose war in hopes of diverting attention from its economic woes.[xiii] Such calculations hurt Hamas’s legitimacy. July 2014 polls found that 71% and 2/3 of Gazans respectively believe crime and corruption plague any prospects for success, demonstrating their unhappiness with Hamas governance.[xiv]

Just Say "No": Time to End the War on Drugs in Afghanistan

November 3, 2014
Source Link

"The failure of the drug war in Afghanistan is merely the latest iteration of the frustrating results so common in other regions where Washington has led campaigns to drastically curtail trafficking."

A new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) confirms that the war on drugs in that country has been a failure, although few within the Obama administration are willing to admit it publicly. After more than a decade of reconstruction, and over $7 billion spent on counternarcotic operations, opium poppy cultivation reached an all-time high in 2013, surpassing its previous peak in 2007.

And, with the United States slated to reduce its presence in Afghanistan, the problem is likely to get worse. Special Inspector General John F. Sopko, in a cover letter to the report, predicts that, given the “deteriorating security in many parts of rural Afghanistan and low levels of eradication of poppy fields, further increases in cultivation are likely in 2014.”

The situation in Afghanistan should come as a surprise to no one. For more than a decade, Afghanistan has been the leading supplier of opium (the raw ingredient for heroin), displacing Myanmar (Burma) and other once-dominant source countries.

As the 2014 World Drug Report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime indicates, global consumer demand for heroin (and other illegal drugs) remains robust. With regard to heroin, modest declines in Western Europe have been largely offset by increased use throughout much of Eastern Europe and South Asia. The problem of “injectable drugs,” (primarily heroin), the report emphasizes, is “particularly stark in Eastern and Southeastern Europe.”


November 1, 2014 

The Department of Defense provided to Congress today the October 2014 “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan,” in accordance with Section 1230 and 1231 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2008 (Public Law 110-181), as amended; to include section 1221 of the NDAA for FY 2012 (Public Law 112-81); sections 1212, 1223, and 1531(d) of the NDAA for FY 2013 (Public Law 112-239); and Senate Report 113-211, to accompany H.R. 4870, the Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations Bill, 2015. This report covers April 1 to September 30, 2014.

“With the recent signing of the bilateral security agreement and NATO status of forces agreement, we can now move forward in the planning and execution of our two important military missions in Afghanistan as we transition out of our combat mission,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby. “In 2015, we will continue to train, advise, and assist the Afghan security forces as well as support counterterrorism operations against remnants of Al Qaeda.”

During the reporting period, several significant milestones set the stage for the post-2014 transition and an enduring U.S. – Afghanistan partnership. On May 27, 2014, President Barack Obama announced his decision on the post-2014 U.S. military mission in Afghanistan, contingent on a signed U.S.-Afghanistan bilateral security agreement (BSA) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-Afghan status of forces agreement (SOFA). On September 29, 2014, Dr. Ashraf Ghani was inaugurated as President and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah was sworn in as Chief Executive Officer, a new position established in the national unity government. The day following President Ghani’s inauguration, representatives of the U.S. and Afghanistan signed the BSA and representatives of NATO and Afghanistan signed the SOFA.

Needed, a new military doctrine to deter Pakistan permanently

New Delhi

India will require new techniques, tactics, weapons systems and technology that will cause heavy casualties on Pakistani forces. 

Indian Army soldiers patrol near the Line of Control in Poonch district on 7 August 2013. Troopps from both the countries exchanged heavy fire this month, inflicting casualties on both sides of the LoC.
Before the ceasefire agreement was signed in 2003 between India and Pakistan, ceasefire violations were a regular feature all along the Line of Control. During these engagements, heavy artillery fire was exchanged very frequently. Such artillery and mortar duels generally caused larger casualties among the civilians compared to the armed forces, as civilians had no overhead protection. Pakistan resorted to cross-border firing in the recent past mainly to facilitate the infiltration of militants into Jammu and Kashmir.

The numerous ceasefire violations started by Pakistan in the first half of this month along the international border were of a different genre, fire was now far more intense and heavy weapons were used to target civilian areas. The reasons for this sudden and ferocious assault were not far to seek: having failed to receive any response from the international community of Nawaz Sharif's appeal at the UNGA last month for reviving the old UN Resolutions regarding holding a plebiscite in Kashmir, Pakistan opened a new front to attract attention of the international community. The violation across the international border besides the LoC was aimed to enlarge the conflict to force India to open talks. Unfortunately for Pakistan, both these attempts failed. Whether it helped infiltration attempts in some sectors, is not known. After this major ceasefire violation and targeting of civilian areas the old ceasefire agreement is all but dead, and in future, sporadic ceasefire violations of various intensities should be expected.

Pakistan does and will continue to blame India for ceasefire violations and also claim to have suffered heavy civilian casualties from what they term as "unprovoked" firing by India. The mechanism of flag meetings between field commanders and activating of the hotline between the two Directors-General of Military Operations for holding fire, failed in this instance. It is obvious that to deter Pakistan from continuing with future ceasefire violations, India will have to take some other measures as no fool-proof method has been found to deter Pakistan from opening fire across the LoC or the international border at will.

With U.S. Help, Iraqi Military Preparing to Launch Spring Offensive to Retake Mosul and Al-Anbar Province Despite a Host of Unresolved Problems

Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt
November 3, 2014

Iraqis Prepare ISIS Offensive, With U.S. Help

WASHINGTON — Iraqi security forces, backed by American-led air power and hundreds of advisers, are planning to mount a major spring offensive against Islamic State fighters who have poured into the country from Syria, a campaign that is likely to face an array of logistical and political challenges.

The goal is to break the Islamic State’s occupation in northern and western Iraq, and establish the Iraqi government’s control over Mosul and other population centers, as well as the country’s major roads and its border with Syria by the end of 2015, according to American officials.

Iraqi and Kurdish forces have made inroads in recent weeks in securing territory threatened or captured by the Islamic State, including the Rabia border crossing with Syria, the oil refinery in Baiji north of Baghdad, the northern town of Zumar, and Jurf al-Sakhar southwest of Baghdad.

But the major push, which is being devised with the help of American military planners, will require training three new Iraqi Army divisions — more than 20,000 troops — over the coming months.

“It is a balance between letting them develop their own plan and take ownership for it, and ensuring that they don’t stretch themselves too far and outpace their capability,” said one United States military official, who asked not to be identified because he was discussing war planning.

Though the United States began to carry out airstrikes to protect Erbil in August, the longer-term campaign plan has remained under wraps. Now that the planning has advanced, more than a dozen Iraqi and American officials provided details about a strategy that is certain to become increasingly visible.

The basic strategy calls for attacking fighters from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, with a goal of isolating them in major strongholds like Mosul.

That could enable Iraqi troops, Kurdish pesh merga units and fighters that have been recruited from Sunni tribes to take on a weakened foe that has been cut off from its supply lines and reinforcements in Syria, which are subject to American airstrikes.

America’s Unfinished Prison in Afghanistan Is a Filthy Nightmare

Renovations incomplete after five years and $20 million 

Pul E Charkhi Prison, on the eastern outskirts of Kabul, is a place you don’t want to be. Once a notorious dungeon during the Soviet occupation, the prison emerged as one of the principal jails for Taliban prisoners captured by the United States.

The State Department attempted to renovate the prison, but it’s still monumentally terrible. Corruption involving the contractors is the chief culprit for the prison’s problems, according to a recent report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction—a congressionally-mandated watchdog agency. Worse, graft became such a problem, the department halted work in 2010.

The result is a prison that has improved in some areas, but remains overcrowded and lacking basic infrastructure.

SIGAR also released photographs showing the bleak, filthy and crowded conditions. There’s also moments of the darkly absurd—such as a sign illustrated in comic style instructing illiterate guards not to beat their prisoners.

The Soviet Union funded Pul E Charkhi in 1973. It was—and still is—the largest prison in Afghanistan. Originally built to hold 5,000 inmates, today it houses 7,400. Space is so limited that prisoners sleep in the halls.


October 27, 2014 

America is partnering with Iran to fight the Islamic State, whether the U.S. admits it or not.

President Obama’s strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS has become the target of heated criticism, not only from partisan opponents but from many of his supporters as well. Categorically ruling out American boots on the ground, while subcontracting the bloody job of house-to-house fighting to the Iraqi military, Free Syrian Army, and Kurdish Peshmerga, can only assure failure, critics argue.

These assessments fall into a familiar trap: assuming that what has been announced is the sum of the matter. Especially for admirers of the diplomatic sleights of hand practiced by Henry Kissinger or Jim Baker, neglecting the obvious when assessing the current strategy is unfair.

Americans know, as the saying goes, that politics makes strange bedfellows. Most forget, however, that wars can produce even more perverse partners. Facing Hitler’s Germany in World War II, what did the U.S. and Britain do? They allied with Stalin’s Communist Soviet Union. As British Prime Minister Winston Churchill explained, against Hitler he would make a pact with the Devil.

Is the U.S. now counting on devils to help defeat ISIS? The answer is unquestionably yes.

The Problem With Bombing ISIS

Brute facts are hard to deny. Unstated, and perhaps un-stateable, is the expectation among U.S. officials that two of America’s leading adversaries-Bashar al-Assad’s Syria and Iran-will intensify their war against ISIS. Neither Assad nor Iran is fighting as a favor to the United States. Both rightly see ISIS as an imminent or even existential threat to themselves. As uncomfortable as it may be to say, it is Iran-affiliated fighters who are doing the most to kill ISIS militants on the ground in Iraq and Syria at this point.


Foreign Jihadists Flocking To Iraq And Syria On ‘Unprecedented Scale’ – Says United Nations

London newspaper, The Guardian is reporting this morning that “foreign jihadists are swarming into to Iraq and Syria on an ‘unprecedented scale,'” to join with the Islamic State to establish an Islamic caliphate on NATO’s doorstep. Spencer Ackerman reports that “a U.N. report obtained by The Guardian, finds that 15,000 people have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the Islamic State and similar extremist groups. They come from 80 countries, the report states, “including a tail of countries that have not previously faced challenges relating to al-Qaeda.”

Mr. Ackerman writes that “the U.N.’s numbers bolster recent estimates from U.S. Intelligence, about the scope of the foreign fighter problem, which the U.N. reports finds to have spread despite the Obama administration’s aggressive counter-terrorism strikes and global surveillance dragnets.” I do know anyone other than The Guardian, and other liberal publications that would characterize U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State — as ‘aggressive.’

“Numbers since 2010 are now many times the size of the cumulative numbers of foreign terrorists fighters between 1990 – 2010; and, are growing,” exponentially, says the U.N report produced by a U.N. Security Council Committee that monitors al Qaeda.” “In recent months,” Mr. Ackerman notes, “ISIS supporters have appeared in places as unlikely as the Maldives; and, its videos proudly display jihadists with Chilean-Norwegian, and other diverse backgrounds.” Other open-source reporting indicates that in addition to Norway, Chile, the U.S. and Great Britain, foreign fighters or recruits are also coming from Canada, Somalia, South Korea, China, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Germany, Turkey and France. Britain roughly accounts for about one in every four European foreign recruits joining ISIS.

“There are instances of foreign terrorist fighters from France, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland operating together,” the report states. More than 500 British citizens are believed to have traveled to the region since 2011,” Mr. Ackerman wrote.

“With revenues just from its oil smuggling now estimated at $1M per day, ISIS controls territory in Iraq and Syria — home to between five and six million people, a population the size of Finland. Bolstering ISIS’s treasury is up to $45M in money from kidnapping for ransom, the U.N. report finds.

Recent U.S. Intelligence estimates suggest that the Islamic State “could muster between 20,000 to nearly 32,000 fighters; though, ISIS has clearly suffered hundreds of casualties — if not more — since the beginning of U.S. and coalition airstrikes. But, it would seem the numbers of new recruits flocking to join ISIS may exceed the losses the Islamic State has suffered to date — but, probably a majority of these new fighters are inexperienced, and lack a tactical and strategic understanding of the big-picture battle taking place. Of course, the U.S has also suffered from a lack of strategic acumen, as the Battle for Kobani did not become important to Washington until it was clear that the city was a major strategic and propaganda target for the Islamic State. The adversary gets a vote. V/R, RCP

Terrorism Defies Definition

by Daniel Pipes and Teri Blumenfeld
October 24, 2014

Defining terrorism has practical implications because formally certifying an act of violence asterrorist has important consequences in U.S. law.

Terrorism suspects can be held longer than criminal suspects after arrest without an indictmentThey can be interrogated without a lawyer present. They receive longer prison sentences. "Terrorist inmates" are subject to many extra restrictions known as Special Administrative Measures, or SAMs. The "Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002" gives corporate victims of terrorism special breaks (it is currently up for renewal) and protects owners of buildings from certain lawsuits. When terrorism is invoked, families of victims, such as of the 2009 Ft. Hood attack, win extra benefits such as tax breaks, life insurance, and combat-related pay. They can even be handed a New York City skyscraper.

Despite the legal power of this term, however, terrorism remains undefined beyond a vaguesense of "a non-state actor attacking civilian targets to spread fear for some putative political goal." One study, Political Terrorism, lists 109 definitions. American security specialist David Tucker wryly remarks that "Above the gates of hell is the warning that all that who enter should abandon hope. Less dire but to the same effect is the warning given to those who try to define terrorism." The Israeli counterterrorism specialist Boaz Ganor jokes that "The struggle to define terrorism is sometimes as hard as the struggle against terrorism itself."

This lack of specificity wreaks chaos, especially among police, prosecutors, politicians, press, and professors.


Farhan Zahid

Farhan Zahid (Pakistan) is a PhD student (Counter Terrorism) at Vrije University Brussels (Belgium).

The phenomena of Taliban came to fore in early 1990s. Today the use is so common that dictionaries of all the languages of the world contain the meanings of Taliban.

Since its inception the movement has always been Pashtun-led and Pashtun dominated. The majority of Taliban are Pashtuns. Pashtun people or the speakers of Pashtu language mostly reside in South Asia i.e. Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. The four major Pahtun tribes are : Sarbanri, Batani, Gharghasht and Karlanri

The overwhelming majority of Afghan Taliban belongs to the sub-tribe of Sarbanri called Ghalzai. The other major tribes among Afghan Taliban constitute a small portion - the core group continues to be Ghalzais. Mullah Mohammad Omar, the supreme commander of Taliban, belongs to Hotak Ghilzai tribe so as almost half of top twenty Taliban leaders. Lately the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan is tilting towards Durrani tribe, the Ghilzais continue to play important roles.

Regardless of tribal affiliation, all of them adhere to the Pashtun culture. Historically Pashtun society remains deeply divided in peace times and Pashtun tribes only join hands together in case of a foreign invasion which has occurred quite often in Pashtun history.

It makes a fascinating study as how hundreds of different sub-tribes of Pashtuns obey one single unwritten tribal code called Pasthunwali and live and die paying allegiance to that.

Pashtunwali code has its roots in their ancient cultue and not in religion as it is often misunderstood in West. It predates their conversion to Islam during seventh century.[5] It does not matter from which social strata of society a Pashtun belongs to, he has to adapt to the code if he wants to be respected in tribal ethos. They follow the code religiously and those who try to shun it away become disconnected and pariah.

Some of the salient features of the code are : 

OP-ED — America Should Shut Down Africa Command

Germany’s Left Party opposes U.S. drone war

In October 2014 in the Bundestag, the German parliament, Ali Jaber—from a remote village in Yemen—spoke about his family’s suffering. The day after his son’s wedding in August 2012, his cousin and brother-in-law left the house to talk to three alleged Al-Qaeda supporters, trying to warn them that they were on the wrong path in siding with the Islamic terrorists.

Shortly after they had left the house, his relatives were dead. An American drone killed the five men.

On his trip to Germany, Jaber is being accompanied by members of the American NGO Reprieve and the German Justice organization ECCHR, which filed a lawsuit against the German government for supporting the U.S. drone war.

Without the U.S. military air base in Germany’s Ramstein, Ali Jaber argues, the killings of two of his family members and of many other civilians in Yemen would not have occurred—and his loved ones would still be alive.

Since 2011, American drones have killed as many as 393 people in Yemen alone—58 of them civilians. This according to a 2013 U.N. report.

In this article, we wish to elucidate three reasons why the German public opposes U.S. drone attacks and the German logistical assistance that makes the attacks possible.

Above—a U.S. Air Force communications specialist at Ramstein. At top—an Air Force Reaper drone. Air Force photos

What’s the problem?


November 3, 2014 


“Every SEAL I know read a book and that’s why they became a SEAL. SEALs in Vietnam, Panama, Iraq were writing books,” Bissonnette said “So I don’t buy it when the old crusty dudes say ‘Nobody should be talking. We’re silent professionals.’ So don’t sponsor a movie where people are talking about it!” he said, his voice rising in frustration.


The SEAL community may not welcome Bissonnette back, but the American public sees him as one of the men who got Bin Laden, and if No Easy Day’s book sales are any indication, they want him to keep telling stories.

Kimberly Dozier



No Easy Time for SEAL Author From ‘SEAL Team 6-Year-Old’

The author of ‘No Easy Day’ is back with a new book, and after the Pentagon and his former teammates spurned him, he’s calling them Team SEAL Six-Year-Olds.

Former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette is sorry for publishing a tell-all book about the raid that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden-without first seeking a government security review.

He wants you to know that’s a mistake he did not repeat with his new book, No Hero.

“Yeah, it was my bad,” a contrite Bissonnette said multiple times in multiple ways in an interview with The Daily Beast of his failure to submit “No Easy Day” to be checked for classified information because of what he called “bad legal advice.” With a criminal investigation ongoing, he could still face prosecution for it.

“Do I have regret? Yes, but I gotta look at this as a lesson,” he said. “In our community, you’ve got to learn from your mistakes.”

And that’s why he said he wrote the new book, to share hard lessons learned on the battlefield, this time with the Pentagon’s permission-and to prove that he would have done it this way the first time, had he known better.

That’s still not likely to win back many of his former comrades in arms, like his former SEAL Team 6 commanding officer whom Bissonnette was told kept a mock tombstone in his headquarters office with the shunned SEAL author’s name on it.

Good Time To Get Into War Machine Stocks

Ross Gerber , Contributor 

Most political observers would agree that Barack Obama’s presidential election victory in 2008 was the product of an unprecedented alignment of factors, from his use of technology and social media, to the economy going into free fall under the Republican administration in autumn of that year.

While historians and political scientists will undoubtedly debate the specific drivers of Barack Obama’s 2008 election to the presidency for years to come, there are few experts who would disagree that, when it comes to foreign policy, Barack Obama’s administration has not been a resounding success.

The world has become far more unstable, uncertain and, in many ways, downright dangerous. We now face a Middle East multi-party conflict that started as a Syrian civil war and subsequently spiraled out of control and spilled over into bordering countries. This appalling instability was fueled in no small part by our rapid withdrawal from Iraq, and the resultant mobilization of the terrorist movement Islamic State, or ISIS, to fill the power vacuum in a spectacularly bloody way. Our haste to exit sowed the seeds for our return.

At the same time, a revanchist Russia led by a nationalist former KGB officer with a penchant for pushing the envelope at the least sign of weakness, has chosen to interpret American dovish policies towards Russia as a clear signal for becoming more aggressive with neighboring countries – Not just with nations that have historically formed a part of Russia’s sphere of influence, such as Ukraine, but with our European allies as well.

Simultaneously, China has scaled up in the growing arms race between the Middle Kingdom and America in Asia, sensing a clear signal from the Obama administration that our nation seeks to more forcefully contain China’s aspirations in the Pacific Rim, China is actively developing their military and taking a much more aggressive approach to their neighbors in the Pacific.