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Total number of comments: 7 (since 2013-11-28 16:37:38)

John Goekler

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  • How US Grand Strategy in Syria led to the idea of Missile Strikes
    • The hope of 'quarantining' Jabhat al-Nusra (or any other group) is a pure delusion in a region awash with weapons and porous borders. (Though, alas, america does love its illusions.)

      Care to wager that before this has played out, virtually all the arbitrary, post-WWI European boundaries drawn across the region will have vanished?

      The chaos and bloodshed in such a scenario will make humanitarian and diplomatic interventions far more necessary than military interventions. Pity america is unprepared for either.

  • Has the Obama administration Given into Russia on Syria?
    • Or perhaps they just managed to buy a bit more time / maneuvering room.

      Odds are nothing whatever will come of it beyond photo ops for the new sec state, but by the time it implodes, the situation on the ground may have changed and could possibly offer better options than exist today. (Of which there currently appear to be none.)

      It gives the impression of commitment and action with no cost beyond some electrons and a bit of jet fuel, AND it keeps mccain and his whining off the front page.

      Remember, Juan, with this and every other administration, it's all about politics, not policy.

  • The Rise of the Sunnis and the Decline of Iran, Iraq and Hizbullah: The Middle East in 2013
    • Self-organizing groups are generally far more resilient than we imagine, not least because they generally only have to not lose, whereas regimes have to win.

      The Talib in AfPak are well over a decade on now and gaining momentum. Hezbollah has a win / loss record any army would be proud of. S Sudan is now a state.

      Overall, mapmakers have done very well the past few decades, redrawing lines as former colonial / imperial constructs implode and reform - generally into smaller, more homogeneous entities. (193 seats at the UN now, up from 51 at the outset.)

      The Syrian rebels now have borders and safe zones for refuge and resupply – generally considered necessary for insurgent success – as well as growing access to deep pocket external support.

      Who now will invest in the al Assad regime? How will they pay those troops and replace those armaments with what appears to be a looming cash shortage? Anybody willing to buy their paper?

      Part of the reason I see a Fragmentistan scenario as a significant probability is the retreat of the Alawi and regime diehards to the home turf when forced to do so by logistics.

    • Thanks for this piece, Juan.

      I think it will be very interesting to see what happens after the Syrian civil war.

      1. I’m not entirely sure there will be a Syria as we currently know it. It’s possible we may see yet another version of ‘Fragmentistan’, as different faiths, tribes and ethnicities attempt to create their own enclaves / republics, or attempt to ally with like groups across borders. We may ultimately see the greatest redrawing of lines in the region since the fall of the Ottomans and Sikes-Picot / partitioning.

      2. The mantle of resistance to Israel long (and fraudulently) worn by the al Assads / Syria may pass to the Saudis and Gulf states – and perhaps the wider Arab world – as they attempt to distract their growing populations from declining lifestyles and growing oppression. It’s intriguing to speculate as to what would happen in the US – and thus ultimately to israel – if the Gulf states were to begin actively to lobby / finance elections as a counter to AIPAC, AEC et al. We know who has the deeper pockets there.

      3. Hezbollah may find other patrons hoping to maintain a strategic balance to Israel in the north. (Turkey comes to mind, as well as some Gulf states.) Nasrallah will soon have to choose new partners in any case, as his support for al Assad becomes more and more untenable ethically as well as logistically. Significantly, what Hezbollah will need is not so much arms per se, but technology transfers and cash to create their own. (And in an open source world, those resources flow across borders much more easily than actual hardware.)

      4. If the US and Israel weren’t so foolish as to give the mullahs an external enemy to blame for the same declining lifestyles and growing oppression that most Arab states are experiencing, the next Iranian revolution might well be underway already. The Iranian regime is not only facing a decline in influence, but its own existential threat. Rising expectations too long unmet sooner or later lead to destabilization and revolution.

      Multiply all that by modern communications / social media and the continuing ‘evolution of lethality’ in, and access to, weaponry and you have the manifestation of the Chinese curse, ‘May you live in interesting times.’

      Happy New Year indeed.

  • History Lesson on US-Iran Relations
    • I remember coming home filled with righteous indignation during my first semester of college and telling my republican, WWII vet father about the CIA sponsored overthrow of Mossadeq, Arbenz and others.

      He told me it couldn't have happened because America didn't do that, and said I was a 'Commie dupe'.

  • Can Europe's Oil Boycott Really Sink Iran?
    • John Robb (of Global Guerrillas / Brave New War, who consults for DoD, CIA, etc.) has a piece up on his new resilient communities site discussing this.

      His conclusions:
      1. Sanctions disconnect the Iranians from the global economy which soften the impact of a war with them.
      2. Sanctions also accelerate societal and economic decay in Iran, making it highly likely that it would start a conflict.

      Bottom line: 'It will be a global train wreck, and through tight coupling, you will be along for the ride.'

      link to

  • US sees Iranian Military Spending as Threat
    • Might want to check these numbers, Juan. By my count, the chart is WAY inflated. BBC reports that China’s own number for 2011 expenditures is 601.1B Yuan – a 12.7% increase over 2010, but still only $95.5B at today’s exchange rate. SIPRI, which I would consider perhaps more objective than Global Security, estimates Chinese military spending at $119 B in 2010 compared to the US at $698B.

      And don’t forget, the US buries a lot of its military expenditures in places like the energy dept (nukes) and most intel budgeting is black. Nor do these numbers include major military operations (wars) which are funded by supplemental spending bills – like, say, the whole IrAfPak fiasco. (Which Brown University estimates ‘conservatively’ at $3 – 4T. As in Trillion.)

      BTW, SIPRI estimates Iran's total military expenditures at a bit over $8B in 2010, plus another $5.2B for the IRGC. (Which Iran keeps off the books when reporting its own military expenditures.

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