With the recent departure of General Michael Flynn, under suspicious of misleading or outright lying to the Vice President, and under accusations by the media of being a Russian operative, it’s important to re-examine the leadership at the helm of our National Security and Defense. Continue reading
So in my last major paper at school, I wrote a minor summary of Russian space history and made allusions to the theory of sea power when discussing space power.
I had the assistance of a good friend, and he is the co-author on this paper, and assisted me with converting the technical ideas into something easier to explain. I am posting it on this blog to be seen, as nothing I wrote in the paper is anything from classified or secretive sources, its all public information. Feel free to share it if you like. We realize that this paper is not a full review of the subject in that a book could be written on the subject. I think for future efforts, there is a wealth of knowledge to discuss Russian successes and failures, American successes and failures, current Space Policy of Russia, and the current (or rather lack thereof) Space Policy of America.
There is also plenty more to write on comparisons to Mahan’s theory, and the history that created Mahan’s theory, and how comparisons between sea power and space power
show that a need for a focus on the weaponization of space by rival states, such as Russia and China, is vital for the security of the American people.
For those interested, the link below is the PDF of the paper.
Space Power Theory
Having done record retention while I worked at the State Department, I can state that the system was just beginning to be digitized, and I was helping the Logistics Management group, and the Chief of Contracts begin that move. It wasn’t the branch office’s fault, specifications on what would be required to do the move were never fully provided because the set of credentials to meet the specifications were and are INCREDIBLY VAGUE. (I had a Unclassified but Sensitive Information Ban on me, if I seem vague, its because my Patriotism and Nationalism prevent me from possibly hurting the government, or getting in trouble with it. I love America, and I loved the State Department. At least my branch office, A/LM/OPS/TTM/TM. Shameless plug)
I spent a lot of time with old documents, because prior to the digitization policy, there wasn’t even a specified limitation on how long files must be retained. Some branches and administrations inside the State Department used 5 years, some 10, some didn’t even have an amount.
The reality is, it wouldn’t be unusual that the Secretary would have physical printouts of emails brought to her, or that she accessed her email off site. And sometimes, it would be even plausible that she used her private email, as some of the staff I worked with would do so when dealing with issues officially on days they were sick and could not telecommute. (due to State Department policy on what constituted telecommuting)
I see the fears and worries that perhaps her internet and priority or sensitive information could have been leaked. That being said, that’s a security dilemma across the agency as they begin this digitization switch because if they don’t possess the football, who does? All options have hazards of access.
Was she jeopardizing national security by doing this? Maybe, but I feel that this is a particularly murky area, and one that I spent 3 months doing for an entire office group. I’m sorry, but for once and maybe the last time in my life, I won’t give Hillary a whopping here. Why? The environment isn’t filled with IT or Computer Specialists, its accountants and bureaucrats. There were several policies that dealt with “10 things smart people don’t do with computers.”
I had to work with my boss for two months on figuring these things out. It was in the last month that I actually began the process of digitization, and that’s because the Obama administration did not create a clear set of definitions for the carryout of the process. It was vague, unsatisfying, and my boss who didn’t like unsafe technology, was especially worried and rightly so, about the security of the government information.
Is Secretary Clinton not guilty of accidental leaks and the wrong eyes seeing sensitive, priority, classified, and secret information? No…but at the same time, anyone in the State Department who wasn’t an IT expert to do the digitization carryover would be guilty of the same. The problem here is that the process showcased an endemic issue of bureaucracies: They are slow to change, slow to progress, and failing in optimization. Anyone who expected a different result when the Obama Administration released a set of vague guidelines would be insane. And anyone who thought the Administration could create a comprehensive set of guidelines to follow without an IT expert leading the change would also be insane.
Basically, Secretary Clinton may be guilty of a crime, but the crime was committed because there might have not been anyway to carry out the process without the crime occurring. Meaning, there would be a possibility of information being vulnerable during this process, even if she was in her office getting her own documents. I am not saying let it slide, but rather than crucifying the former State Secretary, why not use this as impetus to create a set of guidelines that make sense, and use corporate and internet standards, and then work with those companies to achieve the digitization policy.
Because I don’t have a Computer Science Degree, and I don’t have qualifications in System Administration or Security. But I acquired the experience of it because of this situation. At best, I had Information Technology experience, and I could help with computer software and standard Windows issues. I am actually a Subject Matter Expert on Information Retention and Security thanks to a 3-month Internship at A/LM/OPS/TTM/TM. That symbol, as the State Department calls it, stands for “Administration/Logistics Management/Operations/Transportation and Travel Management/and Travel Management.” Basically, we got cargo to and from places, and we took care of your cargo in case of problems. There were contractors, State Department employees, government agencies, and frustrations were rampant in the branch office because the branch office is the bad guy of the State Department. They were the “NO” department.
DIALOGUE DURING THE SPEECH I THINK IS IMPORTANT
Operations in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq
Combat mission will end later this year in Afghanistan, because America is safer
Evil exists, and groups have the capacity to do harm, before and after 9/11.
Radical groups in Africa/Middle East are threats.
Yemen operations have gone poorly, We didn’t do many operations in Iraq until recently, Afghanistan is turning south on us, and Somalia was just a pirate expedition and a propping up of one Warlord as “President of Somalia.”
ISIL/ISIS is NOT Islamic. It has been targeting Muslims.
ISIL/ISIS is NOT a State. It is a former terrorist government.
It isn’t recognized by other states or by its own citizens.
Merciless killers and executors of children. Slavers and Rapers of Women.
Commit Genocide on populations and executed two American journalists.
Obama is stating that ISIS/ISIL is an illegitimate government, a terror to everyone, as instability in the Middle East will affect Europe, Africa, and Asia. This will in turn affect Economic, Financial, Corporate, and American interests abroad, but also at home.
Threat to all Middle East; can grow to greater threat internationally. (Actual intention of ISIS/ISIL)
Thousands of foreigners and Americans have joined ISIS/ISIL. They could return home to do harm domestically. Many Americans are considered by them.
What are we going to do about these citizens who will do harm to us, Mr. President? No mention of action against them…also, there is a horrifying map on the Internet of ISIS/ISIL desired Caliphate. Ten Regions under it, from Morocco to India, from Ethiopia all the way to Crimea, and also containing possibly Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
Promises to meet these with strength.
Air Strikes have been done as the only military operation to this point. Have saved lives, seems to be the predominant reason to use air strikes.
Cannot use our own military force, because the President doesn’t want to use Hard Military Power. Claiming to meet with Congress and Allies. Wants to use Arab allies to fight. “Broad Coalition”
No mention of coalition partners or allied states with us. Iran isn’t Arab, its Persian, completely different ethnic groups. Air Strikes without combined arms of infantry or cavalry isn’t strength, it’s a stall tactic. Its true however, that stalling ISIS/ISIL advances will save lives, and allow for greater amounts of refugees to live, but also creates larger costs on Iraqi population because ISIS/ISIL will harm someone while being stalled in expansion.
Systematic Campaign of Air Strikes with Cooperation with Iraqi Government.
Hunt down any and all terrorists, meaning operations in Syria and Iraq. “No Safe Haven”
Increase support for allied combating forces. 200 + 475, so 675 military advisors to Iraqis and Kurds.
Deliberate difference between Kurdish and Iraqi forces. Emphasis on helping Sunni Populations.
I point out the difference between Kurd and Iraqi, because a two-state solution seems to be in the President’s sights. So apparently this is where the red line is, when Americans get executed. Good to know, for future terrorists during the remainder of the Obama administration. Still coming off as a diplomatic recovery from the last blundering on Syria. Aren’t all or most of the good guy Syrians dead in Aleppo, cause you know, they were bombed into high-heaven by the Syrian Air Force? Also, where will the military forces come from, if not from America? If we are truly focused on rescuing Sunni Muslims, we wouldn’t be using Iran, would we?
Calls on Congress to give permission to aid forces. Will not use Assad, because he has lost his legitimacy/credibility in his state and the region.
Continue to use counter-terrorism to prevent ISIL/ISIS attacks. Cut funding, fight the ideology, and curb the rise of foreigner fighters in the region.
Humanitarian assistance for refugees and displaced populations. For Sunnis, Shias, and Christians.
“Joined by a broad coalition of partners”
“Sharing intelligence and billions of dollars in humanitarian aid”
“Helping Syrian rebels and the Iraqi government”
“American leadership: We stand for those who fight for their own freedom by rousing for a common humanity and common cause.”
“Strongest as a nation when Congress and President work together.” This means he is invoking the War Powers Act as a possible dodge.
Every President until Obama called the War Powers Act (enacted after Vietnam) unconstitutional. This is a first step as it is a willful dereliction of responsibility in terms of the military by the Commander-in-Chief. Its one thing to stipulate you need Congress’ approval for war, but for even the 90 day sanctioned missions? Seems more like hesitancy to actually operate rather than a “FIRM COMMITMENT.” Also, who is this coalition, I mean Bush ruined the surprise for us back in dealing with Iraq, but the suspense is killing me. Also American Leadership is no longer Alexander the Great/Caesar style where we ride with our soldiers and allies, but is now the German General Staff version, where we sit in musty rooms and plot strategy, without regard to the brutality of the front. (That was a terrible jab) I guess I always liked my military commanders being brazen and not fearing the enemy.
How it will be different from Gulf War II: No American troops; use air power to eliminate ISIL/ISIS and support coalition forces (like in Yemen, Libya, and Somalia).
So we recognize that OCCUPATION isn’t a choice; but we aren’t sure as to what we want yet, so will just bomb everything…in a place where everything is getting bombed. Seems like a reliable strategy.
“Time of Great Change; 13 years since 9/11; 6 years since Great Recession; America is better positioned to seize the future. (Claims of Academic Excellence, Business Growth, and Strong Capitalism)
“Broad American leadership is the one constant in a chaotic world. Mobilize the will against terrorism, against Russian aggression, and for Ukrainian self-determination. Can use our know-how to fight Ebola; our knowledge to eliminate the Syrian chemical weapon supply; fighting for opportunity, tolerance, and hope.”
“Welcome responsibility to lead. We stand for freedom, dignity, and justice. Guiding values since founding.” (Commander-in-Chief evocation, despite insisting on Congressional action to operate this mission.)
“Our Security is dependent on doing what it takes to protect the nation, and standing for our values, and opposing those who foment hate.”
Trying to use the Nationalist urge of 9/11 and the Great Recession. However, seems hilarious coming from a very non-Nationalist President. Once again, broad leadership from behind the frontlines will carry the day. Especially against Russia in Ukraine (WHAT?), against Ebola (WHAT?), against Syria and its Chemical Weapons (WHAT?). I say what, because Stone Cold Steve Austin would do it when he smelled a BS-line from another wrestler. Yes it’s a mocking of the President, but he hasn’t operated in much in Ukraine or Syria, and Ebola has been being mostly fought by doctors, not necessarily the American government. Also, those dirty Russians proposed the chemical weapons deal in Syria, and the ceasefire in Ukraine, meaning Obama didn’t seize the initiative on them. The Founder’s Line is true, we have those as national values, but also when taking the responsibility to lead, we plan strategies, develop tactics on the battlefield, and also fight the wars. Otherwise, it looks conceited of us to simply claim the ability and position to ONLY plan strategy and not have to contribute to the war or battlefield tactics. The last line about Security is interesting, because it seems more like a domestic jab than an international one. Maybe intentional.
OVERALL APPRAISAL/CRITIQUE OF SPEECH
Overall, he seemed energetic in this speech, or at least interested in the dilemma. It’s a nice counter to the man who didn’t want to interrupt his game of golf. However, I think two things could have sold the speech better. Giving the Speech from Baghdad, or in Cairo; second, using the phrase “Radical Islam” not just Radicals. Because the ISIS/ISIL are not subscribing to Hadiths like many others are, it puts them more in the camp of “Quran centered theology.” The use of Jizya, which was an accepted practice in the Golden Horde (Tatar Russia), Cordoba (Moorish Spain), and the Abbasid Caliphate (Middle East minus Turkey and Iran), allowed for a taxation on all non-Muslims for their continuous to be heathens, heretics, or infidels. Executions for converting or spreading those faiths were also practiced in all these former historically MUSLIM/ISLAMIC states.
My father speculated that an Iran option could be in the works, which would be equivalent in the American spectrum to a Ribbentrop-Molotov Agreement. While it could be a possibility, the lack of mention for the struggle of the Shia Majority in Iraq was interesting. Also, some mention of religious Minorities, a talking point to reference the Yazidi. I am really piqued by the delineation between Kurds and Iraqis. If all else fails, I guess he or the administration broadly could propose a two-state or three-state solution. The problem is, in any situation, will an independent Kurdistan (Kurdish secular state) be tolerated by its neighbors, or it will be the Armenia/Israel of the Muslim World. The last 1000 years haven’t been particularly great for Kurds under Turkish, Persian, or Arabic rule. Not much happened during the European rule by Brits in the 1900s either. Will the Kurds continue to get beat around?
Zero mention of Israel, which is a positive thing. Zero mention of Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or Iran; meaning the Coalition with Arab “allies” isn’t concrete. That’ll slow down any operation at this point. Also, do any of these countries immediately benefit from fighting for America in the Iraq problem? And who will help the dwindling and outnumbered Syrian opposition forces?
For an interesting contrast, here is the Speech for the War on Terror, on 9/20/2001. I am not saying that Obama should sound like Bush; but I think Bush’s more critical refutation of Al-Qaeda could have been dropped on ISIS/ISIL, since that group was once associated with Al-Qaeda, but got too radical for Al-Qaeda.
I have been missing for a few weeks as I have become absorbed in ending of semester papers and finals. I will create a poll as I usually do and I am curious as to how you feel about the proposals, and if you have an idea to further this, I would suggest you comment them. In fact, if you so desire, if you have a great idea, in your opinion, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will post it up as a reply to this article.
THE WHITE HOUSE
DECISION MEMORANDUM FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
From: Michael Arthur McKinney
Subject: Options for preventing escalation of Russo-Ukrainian crisis
Summary: This memo provides options and a recommendation for addressing preventative measures against escalation of the recent Russo-Ukrainian Crisis
Goals: Establish international support for the integrity of borders of states; reaffirm the rights of individuals to self-determination of the government of their choosing; create overt and strong support for the Ukrainian government from the international community
Background: Following the recent revolution in Ukraine, unmarked armed forces began to occupy the Crimean Peninsula. While the identity of these forces is unknown, their actions coincide with Russian rhetoric. On February 27, Crimean units and the unmarked vehicles began seizing checkpoints and had armored personnel carriers, in addition to light and heavy personal weapons. These unassociated assailants forced out the Prime Minister of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and put in a pro-Russian figure, while also replacing the Ukrainian flag with a Russian flag. In addition to the unmarked and Crimean-associated forces, on February 28, Russian units moved into Rostov-on-Don, a border city. On March 1, the Russian representative to the United Nations presented a photocopy of a letter that was signed by ousted President Yanukovych calling for Russian military intervention.
The first issue is how to foster credibility and legitimacy for the new Ukrainian government. A second issue is the integrity of borders for Ukraine and the right to defend itself from military intervention. A third concern, is the transition of fair and free elections, and how one would ensure these provinces their right to self-determination. A final concern, should be the future security of Ukraine from further military occupation or annexation by Russia.
On the international stage, there are two major groups that have reacted to this situation: NATO and the European Union. NATO Secretary General Rasmussen has publicly called on Russia to de-escalate from this crisis, to pull back troops from Ukraine’s borders, to stop further destabilization operations, and establish clearly that Putin will not support violent actions by pro-Russian separatists and protestors. NATO has increased air patrols in the Baltic States and additional naval vessels to be moved closer to Ukraine. NATO has also called for military personnel to conduct military exercises in Eastern Europe. NATO has estimated nearly 40,000 Russian forces are near the border.
The European Union has stated that Russia has acted deplorably in using military force in Ukraine. It considers the military activity to be unwarranted escalation of tensions, and supports dialogue between states, while respecting Ukrainian sovereignty and international law.
The need for action has been present since Russian military intervention began on March 1. However, the Ukrainian government has recently begun a campaign to use its military to strike back against pro-Russian separatists and protestors in Eastern Ukraine. With the Ukrainians finally using military force to quell the domestic unrest, and Russians threatening greater military action if pro-Russian protestors or separatists are harmed, it is clear that previous rhetoric and actions by the United States and our allies have failed.
NATO Option: In order for NATO to effectively act on this issue, NATO members must reconsider their defense to be a priority. It can no longer be stressed that American resources can fight and defend NATO’s interests. To push this idea, in states where defense is limited, we must create opportunities for them to expand their arsenal, and be able to effectively guard themselves. As this crisis has unfolded, it is quite clear that expectations on America are far too high and outside of reality. Nations such as Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, or Hungary, which share a border with either Russia or Ukraine have made statements of concern that their current defenses are not enough, and they seek to expand their arsenal, though their own options to build and increase them are limited.
There are currently military exercises occurring in Poland with NATO forces, in part training the various member states’ armies. This program should be kept up until the situation is fully de-escalated. Using this as a premise, and under consideration of the border member states, missile bases can and should be built, along with creation of joint NATO bases close to the Russian-shared borders. Air patrols should be doubled in size and commitment, and American personnel should begin advisory roles in the Baltic States on further air coordination and training. Finally, coordination to build NATO-sponsored hospital ships in the Baltic and Black Sea should begin.
The expected result from this is that Russia will see our commitment to border integrity. These numbers will also show that we not only speak of supporting fellow NATO states, but ensuring them through physical displays our support for fellow NATO member states. The real goal of this is to rekindle positive attitudes to the integrity of NATO and strengthen the alliance, after several recent remarks by NATO members. These remarks while not directly suggestive of a break in the alliance, can be seen as a weak point, and if not corrected, as failed diplomacy by NATO and America to its allies.
Resources Required: A large amount resources will be required in the immediate period. A full operation by the Combat Commander in the region along, with increased NATO commitment will expend resources. It is encouraged to seek State and USAID support for the hospital ships as well, as these will not be operated by the United States, but by NATO. Clearly NATO cooperation is necessary, but specifically the cooperation of Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Bulgaria, as well as any other state seeking to invest in these endeavors. I estimate that at least an American contribution of $500 Million dollars for the building of the two hospital ships. For at least the Polish missile defense system, it would cost at least $5 Billion to build.
Pros: Re-alignment of the NATO alliance to trusting each other and rebuilding a perceived lack of commitment and resolve by the United States as well as Western European states. Poland would be quite pleased as this would be consenting to its recent request for increased NATO infrastructure and defensive capabilities.
Cons: The Russian will see this as a direct challenge and have expressed before that it would be perceived as such.
Metrics: Success in this plan is dependent on preventing further Russian expansionism. This plan does not address the current Russian invasion, but is about preventing actions Westward by the Russians. In the immediate, success would be Poland approving of NATO military bases and a missile defense system. Another piece of this success is dependent on the costs that America expends. If other member states can at least meet half the costs for the operations, cooperation will show the alliance is still strong, and that will be important in showing that NATO is still a strong alliance against aggression.
Level of Overtness/Covertness: Highly Overt
Level of Confidence of Success: Medium-Low Confidence
Risks of this approach: The Russia Leader, Putin, will see this as an escalation on the matter of Ukraine, rather than a de-escalatory tactic. Ukraine may also see this, if done solely, as a sign of complacency on their current political situation. Finally, citizens of various NATO states have expressed in some manner a desire to not interfere. This could have unintended political consequences that might severely affect the process mid-term financially or in manpower.
European plan I: With the crisis in the Ukraine, it’s become quite clear that the European Union is still far too dependent on one source, Russia, for all of its petrochemicals, including natural gas and oil. This energy dependency needs to end, and it will alleviate some of the diplomatic power the Russian government has when dealing with the European Union.
As part of our own government subsidies that assist the oil industry, we should place pressure on our companies to give lower and better deals with the European states. This strategy will be used to undercut the Russian hold on the European natural gas and oil market. We can also utilize the suspension on various military deals to sell or buy the different military deals that EU members have currently tied to the Russians.
Another piece of the cooperation between the EU in regards to the Russo-Ukraine Crisis should be the furthering of the diplomatic and economic talks that the European Union had prior to the crisis. These talks should not only be between the European Union and Ukraine, but should also include Moldova and Georgia, and be interested in helping these countries be able to stand on their own. Together with the European Union, an economic aid package should be designed, so as to alleviate the struggling economic situation the Ukrainian people find themselves in.
Resources Required: In this option, the IMF and USAID, along with European Union members will have to draft an aid package that will adequately assist the Ukraine. Gas company subsidies will have to be convinced to carry this change through, which leads to changing the bureaucracy.
Pros: The separation of the European Union from the dependency on Russian gas and oil will lead to a more diplomatically independent and stalwart Europe, meaning that organizations such as NATO and the United Nations will have more credibility through the EU being economically stronger.
Cons: Exposes the US market to sharper fluctuation as oil companies provide less oil and natural gas supply to the domestic market. A chance that Ukraine will not make a budget in which the debt of their state will be adequately resolved and an economic aid package will therefore be moot in assisting Ukraine.
Metrics: One metric we could account for would the overall dependence on Russian natural gas and oil out of the total European Union consumption. If we can even reduce the consumption by 2% on average between the member states, success as a whole could be considered. Also, as a long-term goal to consider, success would be a budget in Ukraine in which at least a $1 Billion reduction in the deficit and at least a 2% reduction in the % of the GDP that the debt covers.
Level of Overtness/Covertness: This plan can have covert options, especially through the oil companies. However, as a whole, this plan is still at a high level of overtness.
Level of Confidence of Success: Low confidence of success due too many moving parts
Risks of this approach: This will be seen as a direct challenge by the United States from the Russia. Relying on one, the European Union making economic long-term changes, and two, relying on cooperation from the oil companies places this plan in a position of really being outside the United States control.
European Plan II: Utilizing the overall package of the previous plan, rather than pressuring oil and natural gas companies in the United States to reduce prices, pressure will be placed on other oil-exporting and natural gas-exporting states to provide cheaper prices to the European Union. Organizations such as the Arab League, as well as Canada and Norway should be considered for this. Nations that are willing to offer cheaper than Russian prices to the Russians will receive cheaper military prices, as well as creation of various exchanges between states.
This strategy will be used to undercut the Russian hold on the European natural gas and oil market. We can also utilize the suspension on various military deals to sell or buy the different military deals that EU members have currently tied to the Russians. In consideration with the Canadian exporting, we could officially approve and begin construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Another piece of the cooperation between the EU in regards to the Russo-Ukraine Crisis should be the furthering of the diplomatic and economic talks that the European Union had prior to the crisis. These talks should not only be between the European Union and Ukraine, but should also include Moldova and Georgia, and be interested in helping these countries be able to stand on their own. Together with the European Union, an economic aid package should be designed, so as to alleviate the struggling economic situation the Ukrainian people find
Resources Required: In this option, the IMF and USAID, along with European Union members will have to draft an aid package that will adequately assist the Ukraine. At the same time, cultural and educational exchanges will be established between these states and the United States. Plans to sell military equipment, such as aircraft, and other necessary devices will also be laid with these nations, at cheaper prices through military grants to help these cooperating nations sell to the European Union.
Pros: First this option places the brunt of the Russian irritation on the international community as a whole, rather than the United States. Second, it will allow for some revenue to the American government as we sell supplies from our currently-being reduced military. Thirdly, we create opportunities for soft power to affect change and cooperation in states that would ordinarily have a hostile attitude to the United States. Finally, the opportunity to increase our own access to natural gas and oil.
Cons: The United States might pass through this plan without ever being directly acknowledged as having done some good. We may also suffer some at-home political backlash for being unwilling to use our own natural gas and oil exporting capacity. Finally, this plan will not make up for the loss face we have suffered during the Russo-Ukraine crisis. Some minor political backlash to approving Keystone XL pipeline, as legalists and environmentalists have tried to foster opposition to its passage and building.
Metrics: One metric we could account for would the overall dependence on Russian natural gas and oil out of the total European Union consumption. If we can even reduce the importing of Russian petro products by 2% on average between the member states, success as a whole could be considered. Also, as a long-term goal to consider, success would be a budget in Ukraine in which at least a $1 Billion reduction in the deficit and at least a 2% reduction in the % of the GDP that the debt covers is achieved.
Level of Overtness/Covertness: Low level covert opportunities to influence Muslim states through non-direct means. Medium Level overtness through the IMF and USAID economic aid packages.
Level of Confidence of Success: Medium level of success as less bureaucracy to face and greater opportunities to show direct benefit for American participation in the crisis.
Risks of this approach: Continues an intentional effort to reduce our own military capacity. Can be seen as paying non-allies for something that doesn’t immediately help the taxpayers. Over-reliance on outside, non-aligned states to keep their agreements.
Recommendation:The recommendation is that you approve European Plan II and also consider approving the NATO option as well. By using our own military capacity that is being currently reduced, and leasing or selling it to strategic partners near or bordering Russia, we can reduce the military budget without permanently destroying the tools we have access to. The options combined also allows for re-affirmation of support to worried allies in the region, as well as increasing cooperation with other states that we have limited or tense relations with right now. Also, with the availability to Canadian natural gas and oil, we may be able to create incentive for lower petro prices in our domestic market and thus gain public approval. If we are going to intervene, we need to convince the American public that there is some benefit that they will experience.
Ukraine: Why the hour has passed for Western Military Showmanship
Last week I put together a timeline displaying the transformation of protests into violent actions in Ukraine. This week has ended with reports that the Russian Black Sea Fleet had landed in Crimea. The article is an account given by a professor who wrote papers on the Russian military in the post-Soviet era. The real major concern in moving forward for Ukraine lies in its political functioning.
Unlike the Syrian conflict or the possibility of a Venezuelan one, the protesters have theoretically beaten back the government forces. They have established an interim government, which is looking to enact austerity measures and put Ukraine back on the path to fixing its economy, so that way it can receive financial aid from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, and other Western outlets. By far, the best statesman quote of this lifetime, “To be in this government is to commit political suicide and we need to be very frank and open.”
So why the title then? Because all the financial support in the world does very little good when the Russia’s Man of the Hour, Vladimir Putin had promised a $15 billion bailout in exchange for decreased relations with the West. This is even more pronounced in that deposed leader Viktor Yakunovych is still free and is rallying his pro-Russian followers. And having been reported in the last few hours, the Russian Parliament has granted Putin the right to use military force in Ukraine.
How should the West respond to militarization by Putin and Russia?
Opinion of Michael McKinney: Okay, so KGB Putin, President and Sexiest Man Alive in Russia, wants to rebuild the Russian Empire. That’s not surprising, he’s simply collecting all the pieces of the former USSR states that have Russian populations in them. I think at this point it would be better to plebiscite the individual territories of Ukraine. Plebiscite is a 20s-50s term where the popular sovereignty of the province determines what to do with the state. Have each of the provinces of Ukraine vote on whether they want to integrate with Russia, or remain with the Ukraine. Then peacefully let the ones who decide to join Russia, secede and integrate with Russia. THEN, after the concessions made, place a guarantee of protection on Ukraine, like we should do with Georgia, Poland, Estonia, Livonia, and Lithuania. I would purchase a sum of land from each of the states for a small military base, mostly for training these nations’ military forces in national defense. The money would be under $10 billion to each state, and with the ending of most operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the budget should be able to handle such small, limited-scope missions. It’s more about ensuring that these nations can adequately defend themselves from Russian Imperialism than outright American Imperialism.
Opinion of Michael Tagan: I take your military project and take it one step forward. Let’s make some military grants out to these states so they can buy missile defense systems and better war materials. Maybe offer inclusion in NATO if they don’t already have it. It’s not about outright opposing Russia, so much as showing that we will not tolerate the former oppressions of Communism and Russian Imperialism that occurred. If they want to Empire, They’ll have to consider the strong defensive coalition of NATO as opposed to that.
Though I admit, that in this day and age, good old American Warrior philosophy is typically looked down upon. But I cannot see the current leadership actually having enough of a spine to do anything. It literally would take the Showmanship of Theodore Roosevelt’s White Fleet to deter the Russians and maybe that’s still not strong enough. How can you adequate threaten a nuclear nation bent on rebuilding the Empire when you’ve set precedent you’ll sell democracy for flimsy UN observation missions?
Syria: Why a Crackdown Must be Fierce for a Dictatorship to Survive
So protests have been occurring in Syria since 2011. It all began with the waves of peaceful protests induced by the “Jade Spring” or the “Arab Spring”. These wave of pro-political freedoms protests began in Hama in May 2011, and the initial reaction by Bashar al-Assad was to send in the military and crackdown slightly on the protesters. In that same time period, protests occurred in the cities of Homs and Baniyas. HOWEVER, violence had already begun in the battleground of the city of Deraa. In the period of the Siege of Deraa, at least 120 people were initially killed in the first days of battle and by the end of the battle, 4th Armored Corps of the Syrian Army had taken the city.
So what has happened since the beginning? On July 29, 2011, officers of the Syrian Army defected, forming the Free Syrian Army and began defending and taking grounds in the names of the protesters after weeks of participating in violent killings of the protesters in various cities. By October of 2012, the violence had finally reached Damascus and Aleppo, both significant cities of historical and governmental importance to the Syrian state. By April of 2013, rebels were bombarding Damascus, and due to the military leadership of the Free Syrian Army had seized several military bases, commandeering tanks, heavy weapons, and large supplies of munitions.
At the point when the rebels looked strongest, Islamist forces, Hezbollah, began offensives into Syria from the Lebanon border to aid the Syrian government. Through the training by Iranian military advisors and terrorist Hezbollah camps, the Syrian army started forming pro-government militias as they took towns back from the rebels. These militias would commit most of the human rights violations, as they would use knives to commit a massacre in the rebel-controlled town of Bayda, and leaving at least 100 dead.
Wikipedia has a live and updating map with the progress by government, Hezbollah and rebel forces here.
What should the United States do, if anything in Syria?
Opinion of Michael Tagan & Michael McKinney: Back in 2011, the first thing I thought we should do during the Arab Spring was advocate in each of these protests was 1 year, $5 billion deal for each state that would allow foreign observers and limiting voter intimidation in parliamentary elections. Many of the states had dictatorships or dynastic powers, but the establishment of some Upper and Lower House of legislative power would have been enough of a reform for most. Instead, Tunis is the only surviving democracy of the spring states. Algeria is murky, as it always has been; Libya is another quagmire; Egypt is better off with a military controlled interim government for enacting reforms to rebuild itself; Bahrain cracked down on its protests and kept power; Iranians did similar things; finally Assad also tried to crackdown. The problem was Bashar al-Assad is slightly incompetent on handling domestic issues.
Thus Assad was weak and exposed to a successful revolution, rather than the minor democratic reform I would typically offer. Protests formed, and violence began, but the minute those military officials switched sides, my America would have stepped in. We would have sent through the CIA heavy weapons and munitions for the Syrians to fight against the Assad tyranny. We would have been sending through the military into Turkey, Israel, and Jordan supplies to build adequate refugee camps and providing resources and aid to those states in order to keep order in those camps. We would have urged the United Nations to establish a peace-keeping zone in Damascus, where neutral location talks could occur between Free Syrian Army Forces and Assad supporting forces. And the minute that Hezbollah intervened, a terrorist group, I would have given carte blanche to Israel to strike out on an assault on Hezbollah along the Lebanon-Israeli border. That would have kept the extremist taint out of the conflict longer. And the minute Al-Qaeda showed up on the insurgency side, I would have established that military aid would end for the protesters if they didn’t purge the extremism as well.
But hey, I’m your American Imperialist, and I see that the stability of the Middle East hangs on Syria, as all of its neighbors but Israel are in poor positions themselves. I don’t want the dominos to fall the wrong way, and Syria and its neighbors to being back to proxies of Iran. I don’t personally care if the future governments distance themselves from America afterwards, I might even encourage it.
However, at this stage…there’s no possible American solution that can effectively seize the momentum back. It would be more like trying to fight the Korean War at this point. The best anyone could hope for is a permanent truce, much like the unofficial one between Syria and Israel. And after some time, perhaps party talks could be done to implement minor reforms to reintegrate Syria with its other half.
But what do we do at this point, Michael? We wait, that’s what we’ve done for 3 years and that’s all we can do. We as Americans and humans failed to act in good conscious when an evil man began to commit human rights violations upon his citizens. We failed in good conscious to ensure religious freedom in the region, when the protestors began to kill Christians and Jews located in the region. But if we admit these failures, there is something we can do. Start over, and establish a UN neutral zone where Opposition and Government forces can have peace talks. Establish a cease-fire, and in that time profile the opposition. To the forces that are still moderate, and secular in seeking democracy for Syria, we arm in that time and grant food, building materials, and munitions. And should the Russians do the same with the Syrians, as they are already doing, then the moderate forces will have a chance to fight back effectively in the region.