Friday, July 18, 2014

Has the White House's attention been turned once again?

SA-11 "Gadfly" (credit: Air Power Australia)

The SA-11 is the most likely suspect of the downing of the Malaysian 777 airliner as well as a AN-26.  The "Gadfly" or "Buk" in Russia, is a medium range surface-to-air (SAM) mobile system.  The Malaysian airliner was flying at an altitude of around 33,000 feet.  The AN-26 was flying around 22,000 feet.  Aircraft at those altitudes can only be brought down with radar guided, medium or long range systems.

The SA-11 has a built in radar which is normally used to guide the missile to the target, however the radar can also be used to acquire a target.  Typically they work in batteries with one radar serving as the target acquisition radar feeding coordinates to the other launchers that have their radars in stand-by mode.  The tactic gives aircraft less time to engage countermeasures.  Civilian airliners stand no chance against this system.

It seems fairly certain that the airliner was shot down intentionally, why still remains elusive.  It does make one wonder if Malaysian Flight 370 didn't meet a similar fate.

Taking a page from his old running mate, Senator McCain was quick to make an inflammatory statement.  Promising, "There will be Hell to pay" McCain seemed to be talking to no one but himself.  It has forced the State Department to remain silent on how many Americans were on board the Malaysian airliner.  For a retired Naval officer, especially one that go shot down, he should recognize a trap more than others.  Shooting down that airliner was calculated to elicit a response.  Team Obama has miscalculated foreign leaders too many times already to rush in as McCain would like.

Whether it is world events or just how the media likes to focus on the latest crisis, the White House seems squarely in reaction mode these days.  It was only two years ago that Mr. Obama and then Secretary of State Clinton formulated their China Containment Policy otherwise know as the "Pivot to Asia".  The policy recognize the growth of China and that if left unchecked, it could pose a major power imbalance in the region.

Obama and Clinton based their policy on the three-legged stool; Seoul, Tokyo and Washington.  Herein lies the biggest inherent weakness of the policy, Seoul and Tokyo don't like each other.  There is also much animosity between Tokyo and Beijing.  If the Washing becomes distracted, as it has in the last few months with Iraq, the three-legged stool topples over.

As I wrote about yesterday, China and Russia make a very powerful bloc (Brazil, India and South Africa see it and want in).  Russia needs China's economic power but China needs Russia's military might (at least for now).  Putin is ready-made to antagonize the United States and can keep a lightweight like Obama off-balance.  That's all China needs to grow and expand throughout Asia without the US meddling in their affairs.  Seoul and Tokyo pose no real threat as without the US, they will squabble amongst themselves.

Throw into all of this Netanyahu who is hellbent on wiping out Hamas and launching ground forces.  This could drag Egypt and Syria into the conflict as well, especially now the White House has seemingly turned their attentions (again!) elsewhere to Ukraine.  Iraq seems to be a lost cause that the US no longer is interested in.  Syria and Iran could end up squabbling over who gets what to rule which parts of Iraq.

So to Senator McCain, I politely say shut-up!  The United States is in a high stake poker match against Russia and our President looks like he can't even win at checkers.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Russia, BRICS and Disease

A Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people has crashed in east Ukraine on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, amid allegations it was shot down.--BBC News
Now comes the real question, if it was shot down then who did it? According to the BBC, the likely suspects are the pro-Russian separatists. However, it could just as easily have been the Ukrainians attempting to discredit Moscow.

While the US turned its myopic eyes to Iraq, the situation in Ukraine continued to escalate despite Mr. Obama's reliance on economic sanctions. Russia may no longer care about sanctions because of recent energy deal with China as well as the news about BRICS;

"The leaders of the Brics countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – have signed a treaty in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza to launch a Brics development bank.

The bank will rival the US- and European-led World Bank and its private lending affiliate, the International Finance Corporation, which have dominated development finance since the second world war. The Brics bank is positioned as a financial institution that will provide developing countries with alternative funding minus the punishing strings attached to World Bank lending, which strip recipient countries of the power to make their own policies. It also promises to make lending processes for developing countries faster, simpler and cheaper."--The Guardian

Russia has solidly partnered with China and though the other BRICS members may be small, Russia might be able to stem the effects of US imposed economic sanctions.  At least until a new US President gets elected.

News isn't looking much better elsewhere for Team Obama.  Reports are coming in that the US advisors in Iraq haven't really been able to do much and the violence there continues. Less we forget, the same thing is happening in Nigeria were many of the school girls that were kidnapped are still missing. US advisors have discovered that the Nigerians really don't have a system for receiving and disseminating intelligence that might help locate the missing girls.

And of course matters are really getting our of hand in the Gaza Strip. Many experts now see a ground war breaking out.

Finally there was the news that Assad was re-elected for another 7-year term even though there is much evidence that he used chemical weapons on his own troops.  So much for infamous "red-line".

But Mr. Obama may not have to worry too much about matters overseas as there is a major catastrophe brewing right here in the US.  Unlike the situations abroad, this one is silent yet has the potential of wiping out ten of thousands of Americans.

The illegal immigrants that have been flooding the southwest border from Central America and Mexico are all being housed tightly together, many on US military bases.  As fans of "The Walking Dead" already know, when you house a large group of strangers together (who are already suffering malnutrition, stress and undiagnosed illnesses) you run the risk of an epidemic.

The number of immigrants (mostly young kids) crossing the border is overwhelming the medical personnel's ability to screen the incoming.  Children are showing up and being housed before medical personnel get to see them, allowing the potential for communicable diseases to be introduced into the general population.  In turn, staff and visitors will also face exposure.  The diseases run the gamut antibiotic resistant TB to the more mundane (but equally deadly) flu.  As an example, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 3-5 percent of the world's population.

What makes the situation on the border so dangerous is the huge population.  Any outbreak would spread faster than medical personnel could diagnose and treat.  Anyone coming into contact with an infectious person, especially one that has not been diagnosed, could spread the disease beyond just the immigrant population.  We also need to think about all of the children that are being sent back.  What diseases had they been exposed to?  Will we create a pandemic back in their home country?

Events are overwhelming Team Obama and are happening faster than they can spin the story.  War is going to break out somewhere, be it Ukraine and Russia or Israel and Hamas and there is nothing this White House can do about it.  They may not even have any troops to send if a pandemic occurs.  Our military may be too sick to fight.

Update:  After I posted this the Twitter-verse was reporting that Israeli ground troops had been sent into Gaza.  And just for good measure, the White House was locked down due to a suspicious package.

Friday, July 11, 2014

What doe Netanyahu know that Obama doesn't?

Netanyahu has reaffirmed his/Israel's resolve to continue to bomb Hamas in the Gaza Strip despite President Obama's assurance (and one would assume Secretary of State Kerry) to help negotiate things.        Obviously the lack of diplomatic success by Obama and his team in Syria and Iraq (as well as the border situation in the United States) probably has left Tel Aviv impressed to say the least.

The real answer as to why Israel has taken matters into their own hands lies not in Washington nor even Tel Aviv but in Cairo.  The area known as the Gaza Strip borders Egypt (for about 7 miles) and Israel for around 32 miles.  Control of the Gaza Strip was first by Palestine (under Egyptian military authority) in 1948.  Israel then captured the Gaza Strip in Six Day War (1967).  Pursuant to the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, the Palestinian Authority became the administrative body that governed Palestinian population centers while Israel maintained control of the airspace, territorial waters and border crossings with the exception of the land border with Egypt. In 2005, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip under their unilateral disengagement plan.  Hamas became de-facto government of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

But for further answers we need to go all the way back to 1979 and the Camp David Accords.  Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt signed the famous peace agreement (with much assistance from President Jimmy Carter).  Just two years later, Sadat would be assassinated allowing Hosni Mubarak to become President of Egypt.  Mubarak, like Sadat, kept the peace between Egypt and Israel.  Egypt was one of the main players in keeping the Sunnis of the Middle East happy even though the US made no pretenses in favoring Israel over Muslims.

Mubarak, like so many that remain in power for too long, started to use his secret police and torture as a way of keeping in power.  Although contrary to the beliefs and values of the United States, Mubarak's expertise in this area would prove beneficial after 9-11.  Suspected terrorists caught under rendition would be sent to Egypt to be interrogated (tortured).  Mubarak and his cronies didn't perfect their art by watching videos, they of course learned by torturing Egyptians.  This lead to Mubarak's ouster as part of the Arab Spring.

While it was easy to see the connection between the Sadat and Anwar regimes to the US, what gets lost in translation is the relationship Morsi (Mubarak's successor) had with the US.  Hillary Clinton recognized Morsi's value as a Sunni but could not quite spin his membership in the Muslim Brotherhood as a positive so she kept the relationship from being publicized.  As long as Morsi remained in office, the US had a means of keeping the Sunnis from trying to usurp Maliki in Iraq. Once Morsi was replaced with Sisi, the US no longer had any means for communicating with the Sunnis.  Hence the ISIL moved into Iraq, Maliki is on the ropes and the US had to turn to their old enemy, Iran. Hence Netanyahu's realization that Obama doesn't have any means of communicating with the Sunnis so his promise to help broker a peace was hollow.

One other thing, none of this should be come as a surprise if you pay attention to the flags.  First, here is the flag of Gaza Strip (Palestine);

Next up is Syria;

Next is Iraq;


And Iran;

Notice the similarities, those colors are not by accident.  The colors in all of these flags are of the Pan-Arab colors (black, white, green, red), each representing a different Caliphate.  The black was the color of the banner of Muhammad; white was used by the Umayyad Caliphate; green was used by the Fatimid Caliphate; and red was the flag held by the Khawarij.  These are also the colors of the Arab Revolt of 1916.

Israel has always understood the game and knows they are surrounded.  Netanyahu gets the US doesn't have clue and is taking steps to stop Hamas from lobbing missiles.  Hamas, which gets its support from Syria, sees the situation in Iraq being an excellent opportunity to split the attention of a weak White House that no longer has a way of reaching the Sunnis (other than through Iran, and who's side do we really think they are on?).

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Obama's War of Words

Words are an interesting thing.  In religion, words bind you to your faith.  In law, words bind you to legal commitments.  In politics, words are used to invoke emotions to persuade people to follow their political leaders.

Last month, President Obama said the following words "no boots on the ground" to promise no troops would be sent into Iraq.  Those words weren't chosen haphazardly.  The words were meant to invoke emotions of trust that no more troops would be sent into harms way.  The words also made no sense.

After failing to keep their word to the Iraqi people, the White House pulled out the US troops (the only thing keeping stability in a traditionally unstable area) leaving Maliki high and dry.  Once ISIS troops entered Iraq, it took away the ability of the White House to keep their "words".  Contrary to what the Col Chuck Horner fanboys would have you believe, you can't win wars or conflicts by airpower alone.  The only way to stop troops from occupying territory is by having other troops kick them out and taking over that same territory.  It is a basic principle of warfare dating back to the most ancient times yet one that modern war planners and politicians pretend is no longer applicable.  ISIS put boots on the ground and they only way to stop them is by having different boots on the ground to either push them or at least re-occupy territory ISIS took over.

The troop pull-out in Iraq greatly exacerbated, if not outright created, the situations were ISIS (now the Islamic State or ISIL) saw an opportunity to come in and topple an already unpopular Maliki.   In theory, the boots to counter ISIL should belong to the Iraqi Army but they have been unable to handle the job.  The US and Maliki have been trying to coax Iran into providing those needed boots on the ground.  Iran has an interest in not seeing the separatist movement in Iraq spread, however they are even more interested in not having their military forces involved in a full blown war.

So now if you are the National Security Council and want to keep your options open in Iraq but not contradict the President's words of "no boots on the ground", what do you do?  Well you can position nine (9) US Navy warships in the Persian Gulf.  The USS George H. W. Bush is on-station accompanied by one cruiser and five destroyers (carrier strike group), the USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44) and the USS Mesa Verde (LPC-19).  Now add the USS Bataan (LHD-5) with 1,000 Marines and you see that the White House has many options for striking targets in Iraq without "boots on the ground." (Source:  USNI)  But nothing is ever easy, especially for this White House.

Having all of that firepower on-station in the Persian Gulf does not mean the White House has a strategy.  Republicans as well as Democrats are bemoaning the lack of a strategy for Iraq.  The lack of strategy is perhaps why Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has come out on video as the leader of ISIL.  He may end-up stopping a Hellfire missile at some point but for now he is leading a very popular movement.  His words carry more weight than the President right now.  Why do I say that?

The success of ISIL in Iraq has rekindled fears of another al-Qaeda led attack on the United States.  In response to this "impending threat", the TSA has instituted a ban on all uncharged mobile devices.  The paranoia has gone global.  Uncharged mobile devices are now what liquid explosives were just a few years ago.  The problem is not with what is perceived as a viable threat, rather the "one-size fits all" way that the ban has been instituted.  Security agencies around the world are now more concerned with the potential weapon versus the behavior.

TSA especially has always taken the approach of everyone is a potential threat until proven otherwise.  Such an approach has a number of weaknesses.  First, all of the emphasis is placed on passengers boarding.  Little to none is placed on airport employees who could be compromised into hiding a weapon or explosive device on the aircraft.  Second, the TSA approach is a public relations nightmare. By summarily treating every passenger to increasingly more invasive screenings, you are in effect going against the most basic tenet of American law that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  This is why whenever a screener abuses their position of authority it results in a maelstrom of public outcry.  TSA basically has yet to find the words to create belief amongst Americans.  Even if they finally do, TSA is still is only looking at a small part of the problem.

If ISIL or some other al-Qaeda cell is activated, I submit they won't have to travel here (a basic premise of TSA is that potential terrorists will use the airlines to travel or as weapons).  More than likely, there are cells already in place and may not need to move by commercial airliners.  TSA may be thwarting the use of airliners as weapons but what about other potential weapons?  For example, according to a Cincinnati Enquirer article Ohio leads the country in hazardous materials transportation spills with over 25 percent of the spills in Ohio occurring in the Greater Cincinnati area.  Our railroad infrastructure is outdated and crumbling before our eyes, it would not take much for a terrorist cell cause a train hauling hazardous waste (to include spent nuclear fuel) to crash in a major metropolitan area.

Thanks to Micheal Bay and J.J. Abrahams (pictures instead of words), we tend to think of a terrorist attack as involving massive explosions resulting in huge numbers of casualties.  But who is to say that the next terrorist attack needs to look like something out of summer blockbuster movie?  Our power grids are extremely vulnerable to malware attacks and it would not take much to bring the Eastern Seaboard down.  Just imagine what few weeks without power to run refrigerators would do to the price of food and medicine!

Reports are coming out of West Africa that Ebola is spreading rapidly.  All it will take is one case of that to get on a plane and land here in the US.  How hard would it be for an al-Qaeda operative to arrange something like while we are busy making sure all mobile devices are charged?  Of course it is easier to use words to create a threat (uncharged mobile devices) which can then be portrayed as being neutralized by other words.

Words by the President who calls the situation on the Southwest border a "humanitarian issue" even though anywhere else illegal border crossings would constitute a state of emergency.  And words we don't hear, such as where are those immigrants being housed? (Answer, on military bases.  Out of sight, out of mind don't you know)

Words by a former President declaring a "war on drugs".  We still have troops and other clandestine operatives deployed throughout Colombia yet the flow of cocaine and now heroin are as strong as ever.  The war on drugs did produce some tangible results by increasing the number of Americans in prison for drug related crimes.  So many are in prison that Louisiana (of all places) is looking at reforming drug conviction laws (such as mandatory sentencing for possession) to address prison overcrowding.  The sale of illegal drugs produce such huge profits that the drug cartels are able to out-pay and out-finance most governments (even the US).  Terrorist groups need funding and what has always been obvious, but not spoken of much, is the relationship between the two groups.  Afghani poppy growers produce the raw materials for heroin.  Colombian and Mexican drug cartels have the infrastructure to move the heroin along with cocaine and marijuana.  If you can smuggle drugs, you can smuggle weapons.  Apparently, we don't have words for this potential threat.

President Obama lost a war of words with Syria, then Crimea and now Iraq.  He also lost a war of words with Central Americans seeking amnesty in the United States.  Now he has lost a war of words with the American people.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Arms Dealing

There is money to be made in war or at least in sale of arms.  The US has pledged not to put boots on the ground in Iraq, however there are already 650 of the 770 troop authorization already in-country forcing the Pentagon to deny charges of mission-creep.  Those troops are going to need weapons and ammunition, plus food and other supplies.  The price of those troops pales in comparison to big ticket items like missiles and aircraft.

Those troops in Iraq are there to protect US personnel and act as advisors.  Hardly enough to begging to turn back ISIS.  What the Iraqis need though is better air support and the US had promised to sell them more F-16s and drones.  The aircraft are tied up in bureaucratic nonsense which allowed Russia to once again beat the US to the punch.

On Monday, Russian television trumpeted the arrival of the first five of 12 promised Sukhoi Su-25 combat fighter jets to the Iraqi government, saying it had also sent “trainers” to help the Iraqis use them. Gen. Anwar Hama Ameen,the commander of the Iraqi Air Force, told The New York Times the fighter jets would enter the battle against ISIS within a few days, after which the Russian trainers would leave Iraq. He said Iraq had plenty of pilots with “long experience” flying the Su-25. The Russian ambassador to Iraq also said Russian pilots would not fly missions inside Iraq.--The Daily Beast

Given that Iraqi pilots don't know how to fly the Su-25 yet, I doubt that Russian pilots won't end up flying at least some initial sorties.  The last time Su-25s were flown by Iraq was back in 2002.  The Su-25 was the Soviet Unions answer to the A-10 Warthog.  It is a subsonic jet designed especially for close-air support (CAS) missions exactly what is needed in dealing with ISIS (now the Islamic State).  

According to the Christian Science Monitor, the sale of the Su-25s were in the works prior to the breakout of the crisis but Russia may now have accelerated the delivery of the aircraft in part to trump the United States.  Russia has successfully draw a distinction between itself and the United States which in comparison has been slow to provide minimal support.

Perhaps in an attempt to save face, the State Department announced the sale of 4,000 Hellfire missiles to Iraq;

The State Department has told lawmakers informally that the Obama administration wants to sell Iraq more than 4,000 additional Hellfire missiles for the government’s fight against Islamic insurgents, according to people familiar with the plan.--Bloomberg

Each Hellfire missile costs around $70K, so the sale is worth $280 million.  The Lockheed plant in Bethesda where the Hellfire is made has put on two shifts of workers putting the plant at full capacity.  Nothing like "Gears of War" to stimulate the economy.  

There is a small problem though for Iraq.  Hellfire missiles can't be carried on Su-25s.  Hellfire missiles are typically carried by Predators (MQ-1B) or Reapers (MQ-9) which I cannot find any mention of being sold to Iraq.  The only drones sales I can find mentioned in open-source materials are the 48 Ravens identified in the Marine Times back in December.  The RQ-11 are small hand-held drones which are obviously not capable of carrying Hellfire missiles.  

So what does Iraq have or has purchased to carry all those Hellfire missiles?  Back in January, the US agreed to the sale of six Apache helicopters with an option to buy another 24 (source:  Foreign Policy), the total price including training is $6.2 billion.  That is addition to the $1.9 billion for 36 F-16 fighters that was initiated in 2011 (source: CS Monitor).

With dollar signs like this, Russia is interested in getting their share of Iraqi oil money even more than embarrassing an already weak White House.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Islamic State or Caliphate

The Bush administration deservedly takes the blame for starting the war in Iraq.  The Obama administration wants to be credited with ending it and the US role as the world's police force.  What gets obsfucated in the political discourse about events in Iraq today is that Bush pushed for (and received) approval for the 2007 "surge" which stabilized events in Iraq.  The Obama campaign leveraged this stability to run on a platform of pulling the troops out of Iraq.

Circumstances were so improved that Vice President Joe Biden (another “surge” opponent) crowed in February 2010 that a stable, democratic Iraq was going to be “one of the great achievements of this administration.” In December 2011 President Obama doubled-down on that sentiment, praising America’s “extraordinary achievement” in helping create “a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq.”--The Daily Beast

Keep in mind that the US kept thousands of troops stationed in post-war Germany and Japan to help re-establish the infrastructure.   Neither Obama nor Bush developed a Marshall Plan for Iraq.  Even a residual troop presence would have given ISIS cause for delaying any aggressive action.  As this now becomes more apparent, the White House is once again forced into damage-control.

Well, Obama is now insisting that he actually wanted to leave behind a residual force, but Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said no. When asked by a reporter last week if he had regrets about the troop withdrawal, he said, “Keep in mind that wasn’t a decision made by me. That was a decision made by the Iraqi government.”--The Daily Beast

Even though Maliki wanted to keep a residual troop presence after 2011 (when the status of forces agreement or SOFA expired).  Political posturing caused this to fall apart when;

political aides in the White House, worried about Obama’s 2012 re-election bid, pushed back hard against Pentagon requests for roughly 15,000 residual troops, eventually convincing Obama to approve only 3,500.--The Daily Beast

Maliki and Washington were unable to come to terms so they both walked away.  For some reason, the Obama administration chose political expediency (Hey look, we pulled the troops out!) rather than long-term success for Iraq.  Is it any wonder than that this happened?

ISIS has formally declared the establishment of a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the vast stretches of the Middle East that have fallen under its control, and has outlined a vision to expand into Europe.--The Daily Mail

Yes, this is the very same group that back in January was dismissed President Obama as "junior varsity basketball players".  He went on to give his full analysis;

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,”……. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”--The Blaze

ISIS has not proven to be a junior variety team, if anything the Iraqi military seems to be the junior varsity team going up against the NBA.  Pundits that are on Team Obama are trying to downplay matters and want to pretend like ISIS has no staying power and that things will work out.  Perhaps but those hopes don't seem to be why ISIS has now changed its name to the "Islamic State".  For a group that pundits have predicting will die down once Maliki is out of office, the goals of the Islamic State seem a little bit bigger.

Source: Daily Mail

The map is a textbook description of Pan-Islamism, unifying Muslims under one state (caliphate).  The map is not as far-fetched as Washington hopes.  Maghred is the Arab word for "Berber World" or what Europeans called the Barbary States.  Khruasan is the pre-Islamic name for Persia (Iran).  Anathol is from the Greek and refers to Asia Minor (modern Turkey).  Sham is the Levant region of Syria.  Hijaz means "barrier region" but unlike the map, it usually is the western coast of Saudi Arabi.  I could not find a translation for Qoqzaz but is used often by the Muslims in Chechnya.  Al-Andalus is Arabic for the Iberian Peninsula (modern Spain and Portugal).  Habasha (Habesha) are also known as the Abyssinians (the people of the Horn of Africa including Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia).

The map uses the ancient Arabic names and not the modern European names to give credence to their movement and to tell Europe and the United States what they plan to do in no uncertain terms.  Kurdistan receives their own land so they will have no interest in supporting Kerry's request that they shore up the struggling government in Iraq.  Obama's reticence of getting involved may leave a legacy now that he never anticipated, the creating of a Caliphate.  

How likely this will occur remains to be seen.  It is a big step to go from ousting Maliki to the creation of a caliphate.  However, the roots for this were sewn back in the Arab Spring which in turn was spurred by European colonization of North Africa and the Middle East (and the subsequent push for independence that often saw pro-Western leaders put in power).  

The United States and Europe are only concerned about oil.  If the Islamic State does not interrupt the flow of oil, this map could happen.  The only resistance would be the creation of "Qoqzaz" which I doubt Russia would accept without a huge war.

Bush was known for saying stupid things.  Let the record reflect that Obama is no junior-varsity player either when it comes to saying stupid things.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend, or so we hope!

Let's begin with a little symbolism for Thursday.

First, we have now all heard of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS, a Sunni Islamist group bent on overthrowing the Shiate led government of Maliki in Baghdad.  At first, it looks like any other half-assed attempt at making a catchy acronym.  However, if we look at "Isis" we learn something more.

Isis- the Egyptian goddess whose name means "seat" or "throne"firmly points to her association with sovereignty (from "The Ancient Gods Speak; A guide to Egyptian religion" by Donald A. Redford).

It appears then the the group "ISIS" coined an acronym that harkens back to ancient times to tell the adepts that they are regaining sovereignty for the Sunnis.

What do you do about a bunch of pissed-off Syrians and Iraqis then that are envying ancient deities in their cause?  If you are the current White House, you look towards cozying-up to the Persians (Iran);

With options limited, the combination of crisis and mutual interest might make possible what many foreign policy experts once thought unthinkable: that the U.S. and Iran, archenemies since the taking of 50 hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, become partners, frenemies for the sake of Iraq.

“It may be an unholy alliance to some folks but countries don’t have allies, they have interests,” said retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, a senior adviser at the National Security Network, a liberal research center. “And in this case, Iran is a natural ally of the U.S. They want a stable country around them, and that’s what we want. From a purely realpolitik, Kissinger view of the world, we may have some strange bedfellows here.”--McClatchy DC

Obama, Kerry, Hagel and Rice are about to make the same mistake that Reagan, George H. Bush, George Schhultz and Caspar Weinberger did 30 years ago.  The former group is so worried about "radical terrorism" taking over Iraq that they are willing to pretend that Iran has the same interest.  The latter group of the Reagan administration thought that the mujahideen of Afghanistan hatred of the Soviets made them friends with the US.  For those that may not know, a prominent member of the mujahideen in the 1980s was a fellow named Osama bin Laden.  (The mujahideen became the Taliban and al-Qaeda of today.)

Obama and Kerry along with former Secretary of State Clinton have done everything in the power to bring sanctions and condemnation of Iran for pursuing a nuclear weapons program.  Of course they are just the most recent occupants of the White House to have jingoistic approach to Iran.  The US and UK favored the regime of Shah Pahlavi which led to the Tehran Embassy crisis.  Carter lost his re-election mainly because of the crisis (or you could say Reagan won because of it).  Since the Carter administration, Iran went from being an ally (quick, what air force still flies F-14 Tomcats?) to an enemy.

The Reagan administration supported a little known despot at the time named Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran.  This included the use of chemical weapons against the Revolutionary Guards when things got ugly for Saddam.  In only the manner in which Westerners can do, the White House has rewritten their view of this events to mean that Iran has an interest in helping them stabilize Iraq.

Iranians are Persians and I can't stress that enough.  The First Persian Empire dates back to 550 BC.  This is ancient and proud culture that hasn't survived this long by being duped by upstarts.  Tehran is not going to fall for the White House suddenly being nice.  The Iranians will capitalize on any support they offer and the US won't even see it coming.

Meanwhile, the troop drawdown in Afghanistan is having similar results as in Iraq;

Afghan government officials said Wednesday that at least 35 civilians, 40 government troops and more than 100 Taliban attackers had been killed since the offensive began Sunday in Helmand province's Sangin district. Fighting has since spread to four other districts along the restive border, driving more than 2,000 families from their homes, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi reported.--L.A. Times

First Afghanistan and then Iraq, the US track record in not compelling and I truly doubt Iran will enter into any kind of agreement without some serious concessions on the part of the US.  That or the US will end-up creating another version of al-Qaed in Iran.

Interestingly, Afghanistan could have been the exception to the rule.  A little know story has come out about a US soldier in Afghanistan, MAJ Jim Grant.  MAJ Grant was a Green Beret who used his skills and training in unconventional warfare to live amongst the Pushtan tribes to "win their hearts and minds".  He was so successful, he was dubbed "Lawrence of Afghanistan" and perhaps more than anyone else really understood what it was going to take to actually win over the people of Afghanistan.

All special forces are taught to think outside the box, known more so than Green Berets who combine the training of special forces with the knowledge of sociology, psychology and political science.  They are adept at becoming part of the culture.  Grant excelled at this and was eerily similar to the Colonel Walter Kurtz character in "Apocalypse Now".  Like Kurtz, his success was threatening to some.  In 2012, he was airlifted out of Afghanistan forced to shave off his bear and returned to Ft Bragg.  There he was stripped of his Green Beret status and reduced in rank to captain (Note, Grant appears to have been prior enlisted.  Normally prior-enlisted officers are busted back to enlisted for grievous offenses.  Busting a field grade officer back to company grade is almost unheard of).

What did Grant do to warrant this treatment?  While in Afghanistan, Grant was married.  He met and fell in love with former Washington Post report Anne Tyson (who was also married at the time).  They both fell in love and she ended living with Grant in Afghanistan clandestinely.  She became as successful as Grant at winning over the trust of the Pushtan women and children.

Grant having an affair with Tyson was a violation of the UCMJ, conduct unbecoming an officer.  Grant is not the first, not the last, officer to have an affair.  The military in general has come under intense scrutiny for the high number of sexual assaults that have occurred with commanders often reducing the charges or dismissing them altogether.  But Grant didn't assault or rape Tyson but his actions were inappropriate.  However, the Army seems to have really overreacted as well.

Grant was taught to think outside the box from day one and how to live amongst the indigenous people and become one of them.  He did that beyond all expectations.  That he had an affair with a married woman should not be ignored but to have stripped of all of his status and to call him a "disgrace" is hypocritical at best.  Gen David Petraeus did the same thing but no one stripped him of his status nor called him a disgrace.  Today he suffers from PTSD and his mental state is fragile after the events left him addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs.  Why was someone who was doing exactly what he was told to do treated so harshly?

I have a hunch that the success and status that Grant had achieved was a threat to some senior officers.  Or perhaps the fact Grant was winning a war without the use of high tech weapons and contractors was a threat to defense contractors.  Either way, to be summarily pulled out of a special operations like this and to by dealt with so summarily smacks of a hidden agenda.  Read more about MAJ Grant here.

Iran sees how we treat our own soldiers, they won't be duped into thinking they can trust the US.

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