The US wants to continue to push around the world as it has been doing, but the world is pushing back, and the US doesn’t really have a Plan B. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:
Conflict is popping up everywhere: A major portion of the Turkish army stands ready to invade parts of Syria (though invasion may have been averted for now); PM Modi may just have ignited the next round of Kashmir wars with Pakistan with his Hindu ‘nationalist’ putsch to annex Muslim majority Jammu-Kashmir; Japan has started a mini trade war with South Korea; Turkey is bracing for a face-off with Greece and Cyprus over energy exploration in the East Mediterranean; the Yemen war is heating up with the war increasingly being fought inside southern Saudi Arabia; the US-Iran and the Syria conflicts simmer, and Hong Kong has boiled-over into violence.
What is going on? Is there some unifying thread connecting this sudden outbreak of widespread global tension? Of course all these conflicts have their separate background contexts. But why so many at the same time? Well, in a word, it’s all about change — about the recognition that we are at the cusp of major changes. The world is beginning to pre-position.
Take, for example, the about-turn by the UAE (heretofore, a major agitator for an Iran confrontation) reaching out to Iran. Much of this Gulf State fervour for confrontation with Iran arose on the rebound from the Obama move to normalise with Iran (through the JCPOA). The Gulf States feared losing the umbrella of the US protection which, it was believed, inoculated these monarchies as much from repression of their internal reformists, as from Iran. Then, with the arrival of President Trump, the opportunity seemed to present itself again to lock-in that US ‘guarantee’ by inciting the new President, already obsessed with his notion of Iranian ‘malignity’ into action.
Posted in Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Military, Politics, Trade
Tagged China, Iran, President Trump, Russia, Turkey
Will the US add to its string of fruitless and costly wars in the Middle East? From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:
In October 1950, as U.S. forces were reeling from hordes of Chinese troops who had intervened massively in the Korean War, a 5,000-man Turkish brigade arrived to halt an onslaught by six Chinese divisions.
Said supreme commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur: “The Turks are the hero of heroes. There is no impossibility for the Turkish Brigade.”
President Harry Truman awarded the brigade a Presidential Unit Citation.
In 1951, Turkey ended a neutrality dating to the end of World War I and joined NATO. In the seven decades since, there has been no graver crisis in U.S.-Turkish relations than the one that erupted this week.
Turkey has just received the first components of a Russian S-400 air and missile defense system, despite U.S. warnings this would require the cancellation of Turkey’s purchase of 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
“The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” said the White House.
The sale has been canceled. The Turkish pilots and instructors training in the U.S. are being sent home. Contracts with Turkish companies producing parts for the F-35 are being terminated. Under U.S. law, the administration is also required to impose sanctions on Turkey for buying Russian weaponry.
Turkey is moving closer to Russia. Does that mean Turkey has moved away from the US? From Michel Chossudovsky at globalresearch.ca:
Turkey is taking delivery of Russia’s S 400 missile defence system. What this signifies is that Turkey and Russia are now “officially” allies. The first shipment of the S-400 landed in Ankara on July 12, according to Turkey’s Ministry of Defense. (see image below)
Two more shipments are due, with the third delivery of “over 120 anti-aircraft missiles of various types… [scheduled] tentatively at the end of the summer, by sea.”
Reports confirm that the “Turkish S-400 operators will travel to Russia for training in July and August. About 20 Turkish servicemen underwent training at a Russian training center in May and June, …”(CNN, July 12, 2019)
How will the US respond?
In all likelihood, Erdogan’s presidency will be the object of an attempted regime change, not to mention ongoing financial reprisals directed against the Turkish Lira as well as economic sanctions.
One thing really drives the Trump administration nuts: when our vassals forego our weapons systems and buy from Russia or China. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:
Turkey has just called Donald Trump’s bluff by going ahead with the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles. The outrage in Washington is volcanic. Trump is vowing to rain fire and brimstone sanctions down on the disobedient Turks.
The S-400 is Russia’s premier anti-air missile. It is believed highly effective against all forms of aircraft – including stealth planes – cruise missiles, medium range ballistic missiles, drones, and some other types of missiles. It offers the choice of a self-directing version with its own radar seeker, or a less expensive, ‘semi-active’ version that is guided by its launch-battery radar.
What makes this AA missile (SS-21 in NATO terminology) particularly deadly is its remarkable 400 km range. The S-400 is said by Russia to be able to unmask stealth aircraft. I’ve been told by Soviet security officials as far back as 1990 that their radars could detect US stealth aircraft.
The US government is in the grips of a delusion that it can operate in and control other countries’ waters in far-flung corners of the globe: the Baltic Sea, the South China Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Black Sea. From Marin Sieff at strategic-culture.org:
Whom the gods would destroy, Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, they first make mad. What would Nietzsche make of the current, truly mad US and NATO obsession with charging into the Black Sea? It is a useful thought to ponder.
The Black Sea was far outside NATO’s traditional theater of operations for most of the Alliance’s history. However, Brussels and Washington have been piling up their military assets and visibility in the region like bees at a honey pot – or like a rogue herd of elephants charging off the edge of a cliff.
Yet NATO’s “In Your Face” presence in the Black Sea protects no one. On the contrary, it puts America’s allies in the region at grave risk by escalating tensions and increasing the danger that full scale war could break out by deliberately manufactured incident (Just think the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964) and or through a random error or clash that escalates out of control.
The US/NATO forward presence in the Black Sea is strategic madness. And it replicates parallel incendiary US exercises in fake macho stupidity against Beijing in the South China Sea: A region from which the Chinese people suffered invasion and societal collapse on a genocidal scale following defeats by Britain and France in the First Opium War (1839-42) and by Imperial Japan in its terrible invasion of summer 1937.
Washington seems equally intent on opening up a third front against Iran with its parallel forward policy in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
Three simultaneous wars against three major nations, two of which are the largest, most populous in the world and formidably nuclear armed? US grand strategy –insofar as there is one – seems to have national suicide as its only goal.
This is especially bizarre in the Black Sea: Washington’s strongest and most important ally in the region, Turkey is now on the brink of being expelled from NATO because of the Turkish government’s determination to buy Russia’s excellent S-400 air defense system, the best of its kind in the world.
Trump’s slithering away from full sanctions on Iran because the US can’t enforce them and it would disrupt the oil market the year before the 2020 election. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
Sanctions on Iran have failed. The weakness of the U.S. position in the oil markets is now complete. Donald Trump’s Energy Dominance strategy has failed.
The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R – The Eschaton) that no more sanctions waivers will be granted to importers of Iranian oil. Those that do so will face sanctions.
But let’s look at what is actually on the table. Waivers will be extended to a year from now during a ‘wind-down’ period. But, I thought these past six months were the ‘wind down’ period Don?
I told you these would get extended the minute they were granted. Because three of these countries — India, Turkey and China — are in open revolt over the policy.
And they have built plenty of infrastructure to get around these sanctions when or if they are ever implemented.
Three of the eight countries granted waivers — Italy, Greece and Taiwan — do not need waiver extensions as they’ve already cut their imports to zero.
The US is trapped in the Middle East by its own policymakers’ myopia and lack of understanding of the region. From Gregory R. Copley at oilprice.com:
Egyptian President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi’s visit to the White House on April 9, 2019, resulted in one of the worst setbacks for U.S. Middle Eastern policy under the Donald Trump Administration.
What was supposed to be a fence-mending exercise between the two countries essentially ended many of the meaningful strategic aspects of the U.S.-Egyptian relationship, despite the fact that the public appearances between the two presidents appeared to be cordial. There have been significant areas of difference and frustration between Egypt and the US, even since the Trump Administration came to office, but there was at least a concerted effort on both sides to work harmoniously.
The question now is who in the Washington bureaucracy will take the blame for pushing Trump to insist on actions by al-Sisi which any fundamental analysis of the situation points to being infeasible and against Egypt’s view of its own strategic interests.
That is not to say that Egypt wishes to end cordiality and cooperation between Washington and Cairo; it does not. But certain battle lines have been drawn in the greater Middle East, and Cairo and the U.S. are not altogether on the same side. Both sides will need to undertake significant, careful action to put relations back on a positive path before the break becomes calcified.
The failure on this occasion lay at the door of the U.S. for failing to realize that Washington now needs Egypt more than Egypt needs the U.S.