Tuesday, November 18, 2014

While our attention was diverted

The mid-term elections took most of the American media's attention away from the air strikes in Iraq and Syria.  The Republican win has some serious changes coming for the Armed Services Committee which means a potential end to defense cuts.  For example, the A-10 may finally be spared and its continuation means ground troops will continue to have the best close air support platform available.

After the elections, attention has continued to be focused on how the Republican controlled Congress and Senate intend to deal with a lame duck President who intends to pass the most drastic and radical immigration reforms ever.  Obama may be playing on fears that he will try to use executive power to push it through to manage an extremely hostile legislative branch (one in which he has no friends even within his own party).  The problem is becomes a game of chicken and if he blinks, it will be over.  If on the other hand if does push through immigration then there will be calls for the legislative branch to impeach the President.  If that happens, there will be no winners.

Meanwhile, while the media and pundits await this political stand-off our attention gets diverted to yet another potential flare-up in Ferguson, MO.  The grand jury will announce its decision any day and now seems more and more like no indictment.  The press has done a marvelous job of allowing this tragedy to turn into a racially divisive issue.  If no indictment is handed out, rioting is expected and the Missouri governor has already called out the National Guard to assist police.

Somehow the similarity to having armed troops called out (again) to the earlier response by the Ferguson PD (and how its response fueled rather than dampened tensions) has escaped the governor.  To make matters worse, a Navy veteran was fired from his job at Drury Suites in Chesterfield, MO when he posted photos of dozens of Department of Homeland Security SUVs parked in the hotel garage.  Chesterfield is 25 southwest of Ferguson.  It's as if matters are being deliberated handled to make matters worse. (source: Daily Mail)

Ebola continues to burn through Liberia and the Army is sending more units according to the Army Times;

•16th Engineer Brigade headquarters, Ohio National Guard

•223rd Military Intelligence Battalion (Linguist Detachment), California National Guard

•272nd Engineer Company (Vertical Construction), Texas National Guard

•294th Area Support Medical Company, Iowa National Guard

•891st Engineer Battalion, Kansas National Guard.

The Reserve units deploying are:

•96th Sustainment Brigade, of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Denver, Colorado

•313th Movement Control Battalion, Baltimore, Maryland

•324th Fire Fighting Detachment, East Point, Georgia

•324th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, Granite City, Illinois

•329th Survey and Design Team, St. Joseph, Minnesota

•387th Medical Logistics Company, Miami, Florida

•398th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Rockville, Maryland

•452nd Preventative Medicine Team, Miami, Florida

•996th Horizontal Engineer Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

•B Company, 412th Civil Affairs Battalion, Columbus, Ohio

The interesting thing is how even ebola has become a divisive issue here in the US.  Take barring passenger flights originating from ebola infected countries when the outbreak first started.  The White House claimed to cut-off those countries would do more harm then good, yet other African countries have take exactly that stance and have remained outbreak free.  Healthcare providers expected infected patients and family members to follow that they then seem to ignore themselves once they return home.

All of this takes attention away from a question that should have been bothering us for some time.  How did ISIS/ISIL/IS not only become so formidable but manage to maintain its gains even in the face of US led airstrikes?  War takes troops and weapons but most of all it takes money.  Where is ISIS/ISIL/IS getting theirs?  According to a story yesterday on RT.com, "Dozens of vehicles carrying oil leave Syria’s petroleum capital, Raqqa, currently under IS control, every hour, earning the extremist group a million dollars daily, according to an oil refinery employee in the occupied city".  The story goes on to conclude that the Islamic State has an estimated wealth of nearly $2 billion making it the richest terrorist organization in the world.  If the RT story is accurate, this means for the first time since the Cold War the US is fighting an enemy that is a financial match.

The US faces a very tough road ahead.  On one hand, the US could lose a war of attrition by simply being unable to afford enough replacement munitions and equipment (not to mention troops!) to fight IS for the long haul.  IS does not rely on expensive weapon systems such as F-22s so it is a distinct possibility.  On the other hand, should the US go after the refineries it will make others in the Muslim believe this war was only an excuse to take over resources from Syria.  We could either end-up losing a war by going bankrupt or win a war and confirm Muslim fears of US lead imperialism (and still end-up bankrupt).

One last thought to kind of tie things together, since IS has deep pocket books wouldn't a simple strategy be to recruit operatives from hotbed areas such as Ferguson and destabilize matters without ever mentioning IS?  Or IS could follow the Colombian drug cartel model of paying a third party to commit acts of terror for you?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, IS is quite possibly talking a page right out of the Ronald Reagan"how to beat your enemies by making them spend too much" handbook.