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troung
11 Mar 16,, 02:33
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/04/the-obama-doctrine/471525/


The Obama Doctrine

The U.S. president talks through his hardest decisions about America’s role in the world.

By Jeffrey Goldberg

April 2016 Issue Politics

Friday, August 30, 2013, the day the feckless Barack Obama brought to a premature end America’s reign as the world’s sole indispensable superpower—or, alternatively, the day the sagacious Barack Obama peered into the Middle Eastern abyss and stepped back from the consuming void—began with a thundering speech given on Obama’s behalf by his secretary of state, John Kerry, in Washington, D.C. The subject of Kerry’s uncharacteristically Churchillian remarks, delivered in the Treaty Room at the State Department, was the gassing of civilians by the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad.

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The current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, who is the most dispositionally interventionist among Obama’s senior advisers, had argued early for arming Syria’s rebels. Power, who during this period served on the National Security Council staff, is the author of a celebrated book excoriating a succession of U.S. presidents for their failures to prevent genocide. The book, A Problem From Hell, published in 2002, drew Obama to Power while he was in the U.S. Senate, though the two were not an obvious ideological match. Power is a partisan of the doctrine known as “responsibility to protect,” which holds that sovereignty should not be considered inviolate when a country is slaughtering its own citizens. She lobbied him to endorse this doctrine in the speech he delivered when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, but he declined. Obama generally does not believe a president should place American soldiers at great risk in order to prevent humanitarian disasters, unless those disasters pose a direct security threat to the United States.

Power sometimes argued with Obama in front of other National Security Council officials, to the point where he could no longer conceal his frustration. “Samantha, enough, I’ve already read your book,” he once snapped.

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Obama, unlike liberal interventionists, is an admirer of the foreign-policy realism of President George H. W. Bush and, in particular, of Bush’s national-security adviser, Brent Scowcroft (“I love that guy,” Obama once told me). Bush and Scowcroft removed Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait in 1991, and they deftly managed the disintegration of the Soviet Union; Scowcroft also, on Bush’s behalf, toasted the leaders of China shortly after the slaughter in Tiananmen Square. As Obama was writing his campaign manifesto, The Audacity of Hope, in 2006, Susan Rice, then an informal adviser, felt it necessary to remind him to include at least one line of praise for the foreign policy of President Bill Clinton, to partially balance the praise he showered on Bush and Scowcroft.

At the outset of the Syrian uprising, in early 2011, Power argued that the rebels, drawn from the ranks of ordinary citizens, deserved America’s enthusiastic support. Others noted that the rebels were farmers and doctors and carpenters, comparing these revolutionaries to the men who won America’s war for independence.
Related Story

Obama on the World

Obama flipped this plea on its head. “When you have a professional army,” he once told me, “that is well armed and sponsored by two large states”—Iran and Russia—“who have huge stakes in this, and they are fighting against a farmer, a carpenter, an engineer who started out as protesters and suddenly now see themselves in the midst of a civil conflict …” He paused. “The notion that we could have—in a clean way that didn’t commit U.S. military forces—changed the equation on the ground there was never true.” The message Obama telegraphed in speeches and interviews was clear: He would not end up like the second President Bush—a president who became tragically overextended in the Middle East, whose decisions filled the wards of Walter Reed with grievously wounded soldiers, who was helpless to stop the obliteration of his reputation, even when he recalibrated his policies in his second term. Obama would say privately that the first task of an American president in the post-Bush international arena was “Don’t do stupid shit.”

Obama’s reticence frustrated Power and others on his national-security team who had a preference for action. Hillary Clinton, when she was Obama’s secretary of state, argued for an early and assertive response to Assad’s violence. In 2014, after she left office, Clinton told me that “the failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad … left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.” When The Atlantic published this statement, and also published Clinton’s assessment that “great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” Obama became “rip-shit angry,” according to one of his senior advisers. The president did not understand how “Don’t do stupid shit” could be considered a controversial slogan. Ben Rhodes recalls that “the questions we were asking in the White House were ‘Who exactly is in the stupid-shit caucus? Who is pro–stupid shit?’ ” The Iraq invasion, Obama believed, should have taught Democratic interventionists like Clinton, who had voted for its authorization, the dangers of doing stupid shit. (Clinton quickly apologized to Obama for her comments, and a Clinton spokesman announced that the two would “hug it out” on Martha’s Vineyard when they crossed paths there later.)

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Obama knew his decision not to bomb Syria would likely upset America’s allies. It did. The prime minister of France, Manuel Valls, told me that his government was already worried about the consequences of earlier inaction in Syria when word came of the stand-down. “By not intervening early, we have created a monster,” Valls told me. “We were absolutely certain that the U.S. administration would say yes. Working with the Americans, we had already seen the targets. It was a great surprise. If we had bombed as was planned, I think things would be different today.” The crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who was already upset with Obama for “abandoning” Hosni Mubarak, the former president of Egypt, fumed to American visitors that the U.S. was led by an “untrustworthy” president. The king of Jordan, Abdullah II—already dismayed by what he saw as Obama’s illogical desire to distance the U.S. from its traditional Sunni Arab allies and create a new alliance with Iran, Assad’s Shia sponsor—complained privately, “I think I believe in American power more than Obama does.” The Saudis, too, were infuriated. They had never trusted Obama—he had, long before he became president, referred to them as a “so-called ally” of the U.S. “Iran is the new great power of the Middle East, and the U.S. is the old,” Jubeir, the Saudi ambassador in Washington, told his superiors in Riyadh.

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I have come to believe that, in Obama’s mind, August 30, 2013, was his liberation day, the day he defied not only the foreign-policy establishment and its cruise-missile playbook, but also the demands of America’s frustrating, high-maintenance allies in the Middle East—countries, he complains privately to friends and advisers, that seek to exploit American “muscle” for their own narrow and sectarian ends. By 2013, Obama’s resentments were well developed. He resented military leaders who believed they could fix any problem if the commander in chief would simply give them what they wanted, and he resented the foreign-policy think-tank complex. A widely held sentiment inside the White House is that many of the most prominent foreign-policy think tanks in Washington are doing the bidding of their Arab and pro-Israel funders. I’ve heard one administration official refer to Massachusetts Avenue, the home of many of these think tanks, as “Arab-occupied territory.”

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For some foreign-policy experts, even within his own administration, Obama’s about-face on enforcing the red line was a dispiriting moment in which he displayed irresolution and na´vetÚ, and did lasting damage to America’s standing in the world. “Once the commander in chief draws that red line,” Leon Panetta, who served as CIA director and then as secretary of defense in Obama’s first term, told me recently, “then I think the credibility of the commander in chief and this nation is at stake if he doesn’t enforce it.” Right after Obama’s reversal, Hillary Clinton said privately, “If you say you’re going to strike, you have to strike. There’s no choice.”

“Assad is effectively being rewarded for the use of chemical weapons, rather than ‘punished’ as originally planned.” Shadi Hamid, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, wrote for The Atlantic at the time. “He has managed to remove the threat of U.S. military action while giving very little up in return.”

Even commentators who have been broadly sympathetic to Obama’s policies saw this episode as calamitous. Gideon Rose, the editor of Foreign Affairs, wrote recently that Obama’s handling of this crisis—“first casually announcing a major commitment, then dithering about living up to it, then frantically tossing the ball to Congress for a decision—was a case study in embarrassingly amateurish improvisation.”

Obama’s defenders, however, argue that he did no damage to U.S. credibility, citing Assad’s subsequent agreement to have his chemical weapons removed. “The threat of force was credible enough for them to give up their chemical weapons,” Tim Kaine, a Democratic senator from Virginia, told me. “We threatened military action and they responded. That’s deterrent credibility.”

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If a crisis, or a humanitarian catastrophe, does not meet his stringent standard for what constitutes a direct national-security threat, Obama said, he doesn’t believe that he should be forced into silence. He is not so much the realist, he suggested, that he won’t pass judgment on other leaders. Though he has so far ruled out the use of direct American power to depose Assad, he was not wrong, he argued, to call on Assad to go. “Oftentimes when you get critics of our Syria policy, one of the things that they’ll point out is ‘You called for Assad to go, but you didn’t force him to go. You did not invade.’ And the notion is that if you weren’t going to overthrow the regime, you shouldn’t have said anything. That’s a weird argument to me, the notion that if we use our moral authority to say ‘This is a brutal regime, and this is not how a leader should treat his people,’ once you do that, you are obliged to invade the country and install a government you prefer.”

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The contradictions do not end there. Though he has a reputation for prudence, he has also been eager to question some of the long-standing assumptions undergirding traditional U.S. foreign-policy thinking. To a remarkable degree, he is willing to question why America’s enemies are its enemies, or why some of its friends are its friends. He overthrew half a century of bipartisan consensus in order to reestablish ties with Cuba. He questioned why the U.S. should avoid sending its forces into Pakistan to kill al-Qaeda leaders, and he privately questions why Pakistan, which he believes is a disastrously dysfunctional country, should be considered an ally of the U.S. at all. According to Leon Panetta, he has questioned why the U.S. should maintain Israel’s so-called qualitative military edge, which grants it access to more sophisticated weapons systems than America’s Arab allies receive; but he has also questioned, often harshly, the role that America’s Sunni Arab allies play in fomenting anti-American terrorism. He is clearly irritated that foreign-policy orthodoxy compels him to treat Saudi Arabia as an ally. And of course he decided early on, in the face of great criticism, that he wanted to reach out to America’s most ardent Middle Eastern foe, Iran. The nuclear deal he struck with Iran proves, if nothing else, that Obama is not risk-averse. He has bet global security and his own legacy that one of the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism will adhere to an agreement to curtail its nuclear program.

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But over the next three years, as the Arab Spring gave up its early promise, and brutality and dysfunction overwhelmed the Middle East, the president grew disillusioned. Some of his deepest disappointments concern Middle Eastern leaders themselves. Benjamin Netanyahu is in his own category: Obama has long believed that Netanyahu could bring about a two-state solution that would protect Israel’s status as a Jewish-majority democracy, but is too fearful and politically paralyzed to do so. Obama has also not had much patience for Netanyahu and other Middle Eastern leaders who question his understanding of the region. In one of Netanyahu’s meetings with the president, the Israeli prime minister launched into something of a lecture about the dangers of the brutal region in which he lives, and Obama felt that Netanyahu was behaving in a condescending fashion, and was also avoiding the subject at hand: peace negotiations. Finally, the president interrupted the prime minister: “Bibi, you have to understand something,” he said. “I’m the African American son of a single mother, and I live here, in this house. I live in the White House. I managed to get elected president of the United States. You think I don’t understand what you’re talking about, but I do.” Other leaders also frustrate him immensely. Early on, Obama saw Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey, as the sort of moderate Muslim leader who would bridge the divide between East and West—but Obama now considers him a failure and an authoritarian, one who refuses to use his enormous army to bring stability to Syria. And on the sidelines of a nato summit in Wales in 2014, Obama pulled aside King Abdullah II of Jordan. Obama said he had heard that Abdullah had complained to friends in the U.S. Congress about his leadership, and told the king that if he had complaints, he should raise them directly. The king denied that he had spoken ill of him.

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“When I go back and I ask myself what went wrong,” Obama said, “there’s room for criticism, because I had more faith in the Europeans, given Libya’s proximity, being invested in the follow-up,” he said. He noted that Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, lost his job the following year. And he said that British Prime Minister David Cameron soon stopped paying attention, becoming “distracted by a range of other things.” Of France, he said, “Sarkozy wanted to trumpet the flights he was taking in the air campaign, despite the fact that we had wiped out all the air defenses and essentially set up the entire infrastructure” for the intervention. This sort of bragging was fine, Obama said, because it allowed the U.S. to “purchase France’s involvement in a way that made it less expensive for us and less risky for us.” In other words, giving France extra credit in exchange for less risk and cost to the United States was a useful trade-off—except that “from the perspective of a lot of the folks in the foreign-policy establishment, well, that was terrible. If we’re going to do something, obviously we’ve got to be up front, and nobody else is sharing in the spotlight.”

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Obama’s patience with Saudi Arabia has always been limited. In his first foreign-policy commentary of note, that 2002 speech at the antiwar rally in Chicago, he said, “You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East—the Saudis and the Egyptians—stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality.” In the White House these days, one occasionally hears Obama’s National Security Council officials pointedly reminding visitors that the large majority of 9/11 hijackers were not Iranian, but Saudi—and Obama himself rails against Saudi Arabia’s state-sanctioned misogyny, arguing in private that “a country cannot function in the modern world when it is repressing half of its population.” In meetings with foreign leaders, Obama has said, “You can gauge the success of a society by how it treats its women.”

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Obama didn’t much like my line of inquiry. “Look, this theory is so easily disposed of that I’m always puzzled by how people make the argument. I don’t think anybody thought that George W. Bush was overly rational or cautious in his use of military force. And as I recall, because apparently nobody in this town does, Putin went into Georgia on Bush’s watch, right smack dab in the middle of us having over 100,000 troops deployed in Iraq.” Obama was referring to Putin’s 2008 invasion of Georgia, a former Soviet republic, which was undertaken for many of the same reasons Putin later invaded Ukraine—to keep an ex–Soviet republic in Russia’s sphere of influence.

“Putin acted in Ukraine in response to a client state that was about to slip out of his grasp. And he improvised in a way to hang on to his control there,” he said. “He’s done the exact same thing in Syria, at enormous cost to the well-being of his own country. And the notion that somehow Russia is in a stronger position now, in Syria or in Ukraine, than they were before they invaded Ukraine or before he had to deploy military forces to Syria is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of power in foreign affairs or in the world generally. Real power means you can get what you want without having to exert violence. Russia was much more powerful when Ukraine looked like an independent country but was a kleptocracy that he could pull the strings on.”

Obama’s theory here is simple: Ukraine is a core Russian interest but not an American one, so Russia will always be able to maintain escalatory dominance there.

“The fact is that Ukraine, which is a non-nato country, is going to be vulnerable to military domination by Russia no matter what we do,” he said.

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Over the past year, John Kerry has visited the White House regularly to ask Obama to violate Syria’s sovereignty. On several occasions, Kerry has asked Obama to launch missiles at specific regime targets, under cover of night, to “send a message” to the regime. The goal, Kerry has said, is not to overthrow Assad but to encourage him, and Iran and Russia, to negotiate peace. When the Assad alliance has had the upper hand on the battlefield, as it has these past several months, it has shown no inclination to take seriously Kerry’s entreaties to negotiate in good faith. A few cruise missiles, Kerry has argued, might concentrate the attention of Assad and his backers. “Kerry’s looking like a chump with the Russians, because he has no leverage,” a senior administration official told me.

The U.S. wouldn’t have to claim credit for the attacks, Kerry has told Obama—but Assad would surely know the missiles’ return address.

Obama has steadfastly resisted Kerry’s requests, and seems to have grown impatient with his lobbying. Recently, when Kerry handed Obama a written outline of new steps to bring more pressure to bear on Assad, Obama said, “Oh, another proposal?” Administration officials have told me that Vice President Biden, too, has become frustrated with Kerry’s demands for action. He has said privately to the secretary of state, “John, remember Vietnam? Remember how that started?” At a National Security Council meeting held at the Pentagon in December, Obama announced that no one except the secretary of defense should bring him proposals for military action. Pentagon officials understood Obama’s announcement to be a brushback pitch directed at Kerry.

SteveDaPirate
11 Mar 16,, 07:41
To a remarkable degree, he is willing to question why America’s enemies are its enemies, or why some of its friends are its friends. He overthrew half a century of bipartisan consensus in order to reestablish ties with Cuba. He questioned why the U.S. should avoid sending its forces into Pakistan to kill al-Qaeda leaders, and he privately questions why Pakistan, which he believes is a disastrously dysfunctional country, should be considered an ally of the U.S. at all. According to Leon Panetta, he has questioned why the U.S. should maintain Israel’s so-called qualitative military edge, which grants it access to more sophisticated weapons systems than America’s Arab allies receive; but he has also questioned, often harshly, the role that America’s Sunni Arab allies play in fomenting anti-American terrorism. He is clearly irritated that foreign-policy orthodoxy compels him to treat Saudi Arabia as an ally.

I'm inclined to agree with a lot of this thinking. Relations with Cuba were overdue for a reset and frankly I think Iran and India would make much better long term partners than Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. It's never a good sign when your "Ally" constantly uses you as the scapegoat for their internal problems, and harbors the people that attacked you. Even Israel, whom we lavishly equip and defend has a habit of selling US military secrets to the Chinese.

Too many of our cold war relationships became ossified and are carried on by momentum when they are really overdue for reevaluation to determine if the juice is still worth the squeeze.

tantalus
11 Mar 16,, 16:29
Really interesting article.

Hard to argue from an american perspective that major military involvement in the middle east is in your interest. The region, by and large, is not capable of making use of the opportunities provided to it in a way that clearly proves it's worth the cost. An objective, neutral perspective would favour heavy american investment and involvement in the regions due to what you can achieve with the technology and values america possesses, but from a subjective, american perspective, it's fair to say fuck em is a reasonable response.

It seems clear that Obama did make a mistake with the red line syrian position. If America is to remain a force for good, than the threat of military action needs to remain real, that's difficult to achieve if you also know in your heart and follow in policy Obama's doctrine of soft power and his reluctance to put american blood on the line with no clear tangible benefits in the long term.

I am at this point a bit disillusioned myself about the region, although state interests can change and a more caluculated, it's the undercurrent of religious extremism, sharia, the cultural clash of values (this is more fundamental than simply discussing the region at the level of hierarchy of it's various state actors) that would lead me to embrace Obama's perspective that western military forces should be used sparingly. Personally, I have held contrary positions in the past.

astralis
11 Mar 16,, 16:54
tantalus,


It seems clear that Obama did make a mistake with the red line syrian position. If America is to remain a force for good, than the threat of military action needs to remain real, that's difficult to achieve if you also know in your heart and follow in policy Obama's doctrine of soft power and his reluctance to put american blood on the line with no clear tangible benefits in the long term.

the interesting thing of the article is it ends with the statement, "Obama is a gambler, not a bluffer." but it seems to me those are not mutually exclusive positions. from my POV, Obama viewed the whole red-line situation as a successful bluff-- he got what he wanted (removal of Assad's chem warfare capabilities) without having to expend munitions...or risk actually removing Assad and turning the free-for-all even worse.

and he made decent arguments (that I don't -wholly- agree with) that historically, arguments of US credibility usually are seen later as futile anyways (Vietnam/Nixon scenario, Reagan's withdrawal from Lebanon following Beirut, Dubya and Putin's invasion of Georgia).

regardless, I do appreciate his obvious command over theory, opposing viewpoints, strategy, and international affairs in general, even when I don't agree with his viewpoint. one of my main criticisms of George W Bush administration-- particularly the first iteration-- was that Bush lost grasp of US grand strategy and hinged, in a very Germanic fashion, a lot of decisions on...HOPE, ironically.

for instance, the idea that the US would remake the Middle East was predicated wholly upon the idea that Saddam Hussein would be removed and Iraq rehabilitated as a US-friendly democratic state at low cost. when that did not come to pass, the entire strategy fell apart, and huge amounts of capital (political, money, people) was spent just to ensure that the end result would not be worse than where it was in the beginning. and the jury's still out on that one. and that expenditure left the administration flailing for a grand strategy, and actually adopting the "don't do stupid sh*t" mantra long before Obama appeared on the scene.

at the very least, Obama has been consistent in keeping to a thought-out strategy, in this case the rebalance to Asia. and he should get credit for that, even as the Middle East continues to burn. (Mostly out of Obama's control, but undoubtedly in part due to some of the decisions that he has made-- most notably in underestimating the growth of ISIS.)

snapper
11 Mar 16,, 17:22
What total BS... Blaming Cameron and Sarkozy for Libya doesn't let Hilary off the hook for Benghazi nor frankly should he go around blaming his allies in public; guess who is laughing... it ain't your allies. He hasn't had a policy or a doctrine. The 'red line' was a mistake to draw - it was a total disaster to withdraw from and let Putin in to murder at will 'militarising refugees' as I believe Breedlove said... He has been consistently hopeless only.

Red Team
11 Mar 16,, 17:37
Snapper,

So do you think things in Syria would be more peaceful with US/NATO forces on the ground? And who exactly would be the target of our aid--Assad? Or the dozens of rebel factions whose true motives are, at best, muddled?

snapper
11 Mar 16,, 18:32
You misunderstand me... It was wrong to draw a 'Red line' in the first place. This is school level Foreign Policy - or it is for most people in most countries. You keep/reserve you right to take any action you deem fit, "keep all options on the table" etc... You do not go around passing out spurious "Reset" buttons (which they even managed to spell wrong in Russian) which any half experienced hoodlum or spook can only regard as a sign of weakness - you will be less harsh on them and they don't have do anything, or draw 'Red lines'. You do NOT publicly announce you are going to "pivot to Asia" or that you won't put "boots on the ground" in Ukraine or anywhere else. I do not mean that you might not decide to "pivot to Asia" or not commit "boots on the ground" privately but you do NOT announce that news to the world and it's Wife. You judge each action as it deserves and reserve your right to respond in any way you deem fit or necessary.

As for Assad when he started using chemical weapons on his on his own people he clearly put himself beyond the pale. He should have been taken out and the whole lot passed over to the Arab League or some other regional body or alliance of the willing locally. Today they are trying to organise just this but because Assad has been allowed - with Muscovite help - to barrel bomb, murder and torture his own people so long it should surprise no one that some of his people have become extremist nutcases. You allow people to be abused long enough you must expect them to retaliate in kind. Without Assad no Daesh but now you have both and they are as bad as each other. This is because of a clear lack of Western policy - not to mention doctrine.

Finally blaming your allies publicly for the mess in Libya is total lunacy; we didn't have a policy so it's Britain and France's fault? The Italians offered to send in a peace keeping force! They were eager to go as they have oil links with Libya. I imagine it would have required use of some US assets and course Obama wanted nothing to do with it...

astralis
11 Mar 16,, 19:25
snapper,


You do NOT publicly announce you are going to "pivot to Asia" or that you won't put "boots on the ground" in Ukraine or anywhere else. I do not mean that you might not decide to "pivot to Asia" or not commit "boots on the ground" privately but you do NOT announce that news to the world and it's Wife. You judge each action as it deserves and reserve your right to respond in any way you deem fit or necessary.


diplomacy is a balance between keeping flexibility and underscoring positions/bottom-lines. depending on the situation, one may be more appropriate than the other. IE, the pivot to Asia/rebalance is a strategy, and involves a significant level of buy-in from US partners and allies. thus, announcing to the world what it is makes complete sense.

same thing with Ukraine-- assuring the US public that we were not going to wage WWIII, either accidentally or on purpose, for Ukraine is important.

i do disagree with Obama having publicly announced a red-line re: Syria, even if the point was to run a bluff.


He should have been taken out and the whole lot passed over to the Arab League or some other regional body or alliance of the willing locally.

lol, that was never going to happen. no one wants that sh*thole. it'd be like what happened to Iraq after Saddam died, a bunch of tribal and ethnic groups were going to take over the place. which is exactly what they did in the areas outside of Assad's purview.


Without Assad no Daesh but now you have both and they are as bad as each other

both of this is untrue. daesh arose from AQI. moreover, ISIS is a multinational terror organization, Assad just terrorizes his own people.



Finally blaming your allies publicly for the mess in Libya is total lunacy; we didn't have a policy so it's Britain and France's fault? The Italians offered to send in a peace keeping force! They were eager to go as they have oil links with Libya. I imagine it would have required use of some US assets and course Obama wanted nothing to do with it...

why is it? Libya was always more important to Europe than the US, and both UK and France were positively chomping at the bit to demonstrate this.

re: the Italians, they've said that MAYBE they will comprise PART of a UN peacekeeping force AFTER "end of hostilities", whenever that may be. yeah, they're really eager to go.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/faced-with-questions-on-migrants-italys-renzi-points-fingers-about-libya/2015/04/22/3fdde6a2-e7a4-11e4-aae1-d642717d8afa_story.html


But Renzi also said that the fault lies with the foreign powers that had helped overthrow Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi. “If you decide to move to remove a dictator — and he was a terrible dictator — you must think about, step by step, what institutional structures will remain,” he said in an interview at The Washington Post on Friday.

Yes, he was pointing fingers. One Italian official in Washington said last week that Renzi was upset about the leading role that France, under then-President Nicolas Sarkozy, and Qatar played in overthrowing Gaddafi and leaving behind a humanitarian crisis.

The U.S. role? In early 2011, the United States was still bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq; there was little appetite for sending U.S. troops to North Africa. A New Yorker article published then quoted an unnamed administration official describing President Obama’s approach to foreign policy as “leading from behind,” a phrase Republicans seized upon to charge the president with abdicating international leadership and handing it to European and Middle Eastern nations that had rallied to topple Gaddafi.

But Renzi wants Europe especially, and the United States, to share responsibility for repairing Libya. “The only problem with the rest of Europe is it doesn’t look to the south,” he said at The Post. He said he had discussed the crisis with Obama.

Asked whether he would be willing to send Italian peacekeepers to Libya, Renzi said that was impossible. “Peacekeeping is for keeping the peace, and today it is not possible to find peace. There is not peace, so it is impossible to keep the peace,” he said.

gunnut
11 Mar 16,, 20:16
1. Blame someone else
2. Repeat #1

Parihaka
11 Mar 16,, 20:40
That he's been reluctant to get involved and reactive rather than proactive in the ME is obvious and has merit. Libya is most definitely at France and the UK's door, Obama made it plain that he wanted at most a background role. I would argue for a lot more assistance to both Egypt and Jordan but then I'm not aware of how much is happening now so it's a known unknown for me.
The thing is, a pivot to Asia. Apart from the Marines in Oz and now the Stennis targeting the Sth China sea, what evidence is there that he'll take any action when push comes to shove? When you play timid, your opponents see you that way.

astralis
11 Mar 16,, 23:04
pari,


The thing is, a pivot to Asia. Apart from the Marines in Oz and now the Stennis targeting the Sth China sea, what evidence is there that he'll take any action when push comes to shove? When you play timid, your opponents see you that way.

the rebalance to Asia is not directed AT China, in fact, Obama has made it very clear through both speech and action that he wants to encourage China to actively work with the US in upholding the international order.

however, it's undeniable there is a hedging element, both economically and militarily. economically, there's the TPP; militarily, ensure US partners have an enhanced deterrence capability themselves (again, to avoid the free-rider issue mentioned). and in that, note the huge expansion of US arms sales (and assistance) to Asia in the last five years.

also note that US official talking points to the Chinese ALWAYS mention rock-solid US support to our allies, period stop. if the Chinese pick on the Philippines, for instance, there is (deliberately) no wiggle room that there is for somewhere like the Ukraine.

snapper
11 Mar 16,, 23:10
snapper,
diplomacy is a balance between keeping flexibility and underscoring positions/bottom-lines. depending on the situation, one may be more appropriate than the other. IE, the pivot to Asia/rebalance is a strategy, and involves a significant level of buy-in from US partners and allies. thus, announcing to the world what it is makes complete sense.
My friend you seem to contradict yourself... You speak of diplomacy and strategy in the same breath. They are not the same. You do NOT need to announce publicly a "Pivot to Asia" which is neither but a foreign policy by public confession almost. If you wish to "Pivot to Asia" fine, that is strategy I agree. Diplomacy is discussing this or other issues behind closed doors with your allies but announcing it to the world is neither and only forewarning your potential adversaries.

same thing with Ukraine-- assuring the US public that we were not going to wage WWIII, either accidentally or on purpose, for Ukraine is important.
Again you are mistaken in believing that somehow foreign policy should be a matter of public confession. Say nothing; we keep all options open at most. It's fine to decide not to put "boots on the ground" and frankly the Ukrainian Government never asked for them but to announce it publicly is neither strategy nor diplomacy but merely playing into the enemies hands.

lol, that was never going to happen. no one wants that sh*thole. it'd be like what happened to Iraq after Saddam died, a bunch of tribal and ethnic groups were going to take over the place. which is exactly what they did in the areas outside of Assad's purview.
You clearly do not understand the gas alternatives that were on hand before the war in Syrian war started and which we have now compounded with a fankly meaningless agreement with Iran. The Qataris wanted to build a gas pipeline to Turkey and then Europe. Iran pressured Assad to refuse this - though Syria would have benefitted from transit fees. The demonstrations started and Assad started shooting his own people. If you do not take out him once he starts committing war crimes on his own people and allow the Muscovites to broker a deal after he has done so and you have drawn a 'Red Line' any bluff has failed and you have by implication let them both off the hook.

both of this is untrue. daesh arose from AQI. moreover, ISIS is a multinational terror organization, Assad just terrorizes his own people.
Don't be a fool. Assad has been Daesh's greatest recruiter. If he had been removed early on - and really it wouldn't have mattered who did and could easily have been 'outsourced' the war would have largely ended and the opposition not become so extremist.

why is it? Libya was always more important to Europe than the US, and both UK and France were positively chomping at the bit to demonstrate this.
So what was the US Mediterranean fleet doing getting involved? It is still neither diplomatic nor strategically wise to slag off your allies in public. Neither foreign policy nor strategy should be conducted in such a fashion that your potential enemies have any inkling of what might or might not do. Policy by public confession is nothing but pre advising your potential adversaries who would be better left guessing.

re: the Italians, they've said that MAYBE they will comprise PART of a UN peacekeeping force AFTER "end of hostilities", whenever that may be. yeah, they're really eager to go.
And of course you do not answer the question why it was not done...
Obama has consistently misunderstood the role of diplomacy, strategy and foreign policy in general. It is not a public confessional routine for domestic votes but a deadly serious game. It has cost lives both in Syria and in Ukraine. You do not forewarn your potential enemies of your intentions is basic rule of thumb.

astralis
11 Mar 16,, 23:31
snapper,


You speak of diplomacy and strategy in the same breath. They are not the same. You do NOT need to announce publicly a "Pivot to Asia" which is neither but a foreign policy by public confession almost. If you wish to "Pivot to Asia" fine, that is strategy I agree. Diplomacy is discussing this or other issues behind closed doors with your allies but announcing it to the world is neither and only forewarning your potential adversaries.

diplomacy is -part- of the execution of a strategy. a strategy does NOT -need- to be secret squirrelly at all times, and in fact quite often shouldn't be. there can be value in predictability. that's why there's a thing called public diplomacy and a State Department.

that's why for major initiatives we announce things, like the way Reagan announced the Star Wars program, or Truman announced the Marshall Plan. or how Monroe announced the Monroe Doctrine. shall i go on?


Again you are mistaken in believing that somehow foreign policy should be a matter of public confession.

it should not be that difficult to understand that there ARE aspects of foreign policy that should be loudly announced, and other aspects that should not be discussed at all with outsiders.


If you do not take out him once he starts committing war crimes on his own people and allow the Muscovites to broker a deal after he has done so and you have drawn a 'Red Line' any bluff has failed and you have by implication let them both off the hook

i'd say removing chems from Syria is a pretty successful bluff, although I do agree that the red line rhetoric shouldn't have been used publicly.

having said that, any decision to remove Assad by the US should be done on the basis of US interests, and not just because Assad was a monster to his people.


Don't be a fool. Assad has been Daesh's greatest recruiter. If he had been removed early on - and really it wouldn't have mattered who did and could easily have been 'outsourced' the war would have largely ended and the opposition not become so extremist.

lol, and the removal of Saddam Hussein/Gaddafi largely ended the internal divisions within Iraq/Libya and the opposition wasn't so extremist afterwards?

seriously, READ UP on the establishment of ISIS. it grew from AQI and it largely started due to insurgent cross-mix at Camp Bucca. Gen Odierno assessed back in 2010 that ISIS was 80% Iraqi, and the reason why it exploded was because they leveraged the considerable wealth they captured following the fall of Mosul.

moreover i'm still curious as to whom would the occupation of Syria be "outsourced" to, considering that no one is jumping to occupy Libya.


And of course you do not answer the question why it was not done...

if the Italians wanted to do it, they would have. they assuredly have the capability, just as the French had the capability to execute Operation Unicorn, or how both the French and the Germans intervened in Mali. blaming Italian non-intervention because the US wasn't on board is ridiculous.

tbm3fan
11 Mar 16,, 23:40
Someone sounds a little bitter as though the US has not done enough or should do more. Luckily you can only have an opinion...

Parihaka
12 Mar 16,, 02:31
But over the next three years, as the Arab Spring gave up its early promise, and brutality and dysfunction overwhelmed the Middle East, the president grew disillusioned. Some of his deepest disappointments concern Middle Eastern leaders themselves. Benjamin Netanyahu is in his own category: Obama has long believed that Netanyahu could bring about a two-state solution that would protect Israel’s status as a Jewish-majority democracy, but is too fearful and politically paralyzed to do so. Obama has also not had much patience for Netanyahu and other Middle Eastern leaders who question his understanding of the region. In one of Netanyahu’s meetings with the president, the Israeli prime minister launched into something of a lecture about the dangers of the brutal region in which he lives, and Obama felt that Netanyahu was behaving in a condescending fashion, and was also avoiding the subject at hand: peace negotiations. Finally, the president interrupted the prime minister: “Bibi, you have to understand something,” he said. “I’m the African American son of a single mother, and I live here, in this house. I live in the White House. I managed to get elected president of the United States. You think I don’t understand what you’re talking about, but I do.” Other leaders also frustrate him immensely.
This bit however is pure idiocy. To allow his personal dislike of Netanyahu to infer Bibi is the very worst of the current (Obama's term) leaders is absurd. i'm trying to think of anyone in the middle east who isn't at least totalitarian let alone megolomanical and Bibi's in a category of his own? Well yes, but not what the big O is meaning.

Parihaka
12 Mar 16,, 02:40
pari,



the rebalance to Asia is not directed AT China, in fact, Obama has made it very clear through both speech and action that he wants to encourage China to actively work with the US in upholding the international order.

however, it's undeniable there is a hedging element, both economically and militarily. economically, there's the TPP; militarily, ensure US partners have an enhanced deterrence capability themselves (again, to avoid the free-rider issue mentioned). and in that, note the huge expansion of US arms sales (and assistance) to Asia in the last five years.

also note that US official talking points to the Chinese ALWAYS mention rock-solid US support to our allies, period stop. if the Chinese pick on the Philippines, for instance, there is (deliberately) no wiggle room that there is for somewhere like the Ukraine.
I agree, I just don't think China does, which seemed entirely likely to me at the time. They've moved since the announcement to making the China Sea into China's Sea.

astralis
12 Mar 16,, 05:55
pari,


I agree, I just don't think China does, which seemed entirely likely to me at the time. They've moved since the announcement to making the China Sea into China's Sea.

from a US perspective, China's bullheadedness in this regard is strategically wonderful. (the US does not have a dog in the South China Sea territorial disputes past the insistence that freedom of navigation be upheld and that land reclamation will not be recognized.) the Chinese are sinking (bad pun intended) significant sums of money into their SCS ventures...and as a result, korea, philippines, japan, and vietnam have all moved significantly closer to the US orbit in the last five years.

as for making it "China's Sea", well:

http://thediplomat.com/2016/01/us-south-china-sea-fonops-to-increase-in-scope-complexity-commander/

Officer of Engineers
12 Mar 16,, 06:52
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/04/the-obama-doctrine/471525/I read the whole thing and the thing that jumps out is that Obama is spineless. He lost his nerve the night of the attack on Assad's chems and the facts on the ground did not change. His justification is political (UK Parliament voted no and American polls disdain another war) that overruled his own personal convictions that Assad must not be allowed to get away with using chems.

He was elected to make the tough decisions, not to run a popularity contest.

And if he was a fan of Bush Sr and his team, he should have known that there these war veterans had an end game in mind. Democracy wasn't it.

And how quickly the author and Obama forget why we went into Afghanistan in the first place. It ain't to bring the ballot box to Khandahar.

citanon
12 Mar 16,, 07:24
i read the whole thing and the thing that jumps out is that obama is spineless. He lost his nerve the night of the attack on assad's chems and the facts on the ground did not change. His justification is political (uk parliament voted no and american polls disdain another war) that overruled his own personal convictions that assad must not be allowed to get away with using chems.

He was elected to make the tough decisions, not to run a popularity contest.

And if he was a fan of bush sr and his team, he should have known that there these war veterans had an end game in mind. Democracy wasn't it.

And how quickly the author and obama forget why we went into afghanistan in the first place. It ain't to bring the ballot box to khandahar.

*like*

Parihaka
12 Mar 16,, 11:30
as for making it "China's Sea", well:

http://thediplomat.com/2016/01/us-south-china-sea-fonops-to-increase-in-scope-complexity-commander/
Yup
http://www.defensenews.com/story/military/2016/03/03/stennis-strike-group-deployed-to-south-china-sea/81270736/


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Emdzsz_XvfA

snapper
12 Mar 16,, 14:29
snapper,
diplomacy is -part- of the execution of a strategy. a strategy does NOT -need- to be secret squirrelly at all times, and in fact quite often shouldn't be. there can be value in predictability. that's why there's a thing called public diplomacy and a State Department.
that's why for major initiatives we announce things, like the way Reagan announced the Star Wars program, or Truman announced the Marshall Plan. or how Monroe announced the Monroe Doctrine. shall i go on?

I understand that and can understand why to some degree a public announcement of "pivot to Asia" or anywhere else might serve as warning; "back off" as it were. I suppose it could be argued that that particular signal worked to some extent though of course had the 'pivot' been done without public confession it could be argued the same might be accomplished and the deterrent effect elsewhere continued. These are "what ifs" of course but do you not think that was some encouragement to the criminal regimes sitting in Moscow and Damascus? When announcing a strategy you must consider who you encourage as well as deter and in this case I think a strong argument could be made it that it was misguided. Certainly I would never have advised such a public statement and I know many of my elders who would agree with me in this regard.


it should not be that difficult to understand that there ARE aspects of foreign policy that should be loudly announced, and other aspects that should not be discussed at all with outsiders.

Like Russia will target Denmark with nukes if they do x? I forget it what it was offhand - something to do with their Navy I think. Not defensive and public. See the difference? Now that might rightly be called a bluff.


i'd say removing chems from Syria is a pretty successful bluff, although I do agree that the red line rhetoric shouldn't have been used publicly.

It was a called bluff and not responded to. The murder continued and the Muscovites joined in. We lost the controlling hand. Idiotic and fail Foreign Policy Basic. If your bluff gets called you have to back up your threats or nobody will believe any future bluff. Obama's bluff was called and he chickened. But he should never have tried to bluff if he wasn't prepared to back it up if called.


having said that, any decision to remove Assad by the US should be done on the basis of US interests, and not just because Assad was a monster to his people.

I think it would be in everyone's interests not to have Daesh no? Well apart from Kadyrov perhaps who I am told has plans for them.

lol, and the removal of Saddam Hussein/Gaddafi largely ended the internal divisions within Iraq/Libya and the opposition wasn't so extremist afterwards?

As I said the Italians in particular were keen to put "boots on the ground" in Libya immediately post Qadaffi. Why were they not backed? Because US Naval assets would have been required and Obama wasn't interested. To blame your allies for it when many were willing to organise a 'Roman Legion' as it were is sheer hypocrisy and to do it publicly sheer stupidity. You simply do not conduct foreign policy that way; Putin is laughing at it.


seriously, READ UP on the establishment of ISIS. it grew from AQI and it largely started due to insurgent cross-mix at Camp Bucca. Gen Odierno assessed back in 2010 that ISIS was 80% Iraqi, and the reason why it exploded was because they leveraged the considerable wealth they captured following the fall of Mosul.

I must admit I have not read much on on the establishment of Daesh, my attention being elsewhere. However I hold to the view that the barbarism of Assad is critical in the evolvement of the extremist opposition. I am not alone in this view.


moreover i'm still curious as to whom would the occupation of Syria be "outsourced" to, considering that no one is jumping to occupy Libya.

I think these are two separate questions... Well on the 'outsourcing' of Syria they are trying to get people involved now so why not before once Assad was gone and not having driven his people to Europe or gone bonkers? As to Libya it goes back to the shilly - shallying over the 'Egyptian Spring' about which I am freely admit I was wrong. The whole Egyptian question raises alot of moral and standards questions (much the same as Turkey does now for the EU). As I understand it the Egyptians were willing to go in to Libya as part of the UN force but someone turned off the taps to Mubarak when the Libyan 'Spring' spread to Tahrir Square. Guess who was in Washington right then? He was then the Egyptian Chief Of Staff, now he's the President. The Europeans would have backed a peace keeping force in Libya with Egyptian involvement and it is possible that all may have run alot easier for the Libyans. I recall some arguing for an entirely European Force but others arguing it required an Arab contingent etc even in the papers at the time.
The answer reason why it was not done (I believe) is that US Naval assets would have been required to sustain a long term peace keeping force. I was told by a friend at the time that the Italians were preparing their troops and that the majority of European nations supported a peace keeping operation but the US wasn't interested.


if the Italians wanted to do it, they would have. they assuredly have the capability, just as the French had the capability to execute Operation Unicorn, or how both the French and the Germans intervened in Mali. blaming Italian non-intervention because the US wasn't on board is ridiculous.

I won't rehash the Libya business but why didn't the world super power propose a UN resolution is a random question that comes to mind? Obama simply wasn't interested. You can argue that he was right not to be interested perhaps but blaming us for his lack of interest does not make it our fault.

Your social worker President has presided over farce after farce because he never had a policy nor a Foreign Policy 'doctrine' and now you attempt to wrap up eight years of misjudgement and confusion and call it a 'doctrine'; you are not fooling anyone outside the US. Tell me with the benefit of hindsight if the Russian "Reset" was a success? The "Red Line" in Syria? The defence cuts? Who do you think benefits from him publicly criticing Britain and France? We know this is not because all the US personnel in the field are useless - some of them are brilliant but their advice is not accepted by the Obama administration. An unmitigated disaster for the West in general and a Lady who spills Classified Information in her emails because she refuses to conform to the standards and obligations of an everyday staff level employee, lies consistently and blames all on bi partisanship bias ain't likely to do better sadly. When you get it wrong a strong person owns up and doesn't blame others. I suppose this is 'legacy' laying though... what a prat Obama is. I could count twenty colleagues in a minute who have more sense, balls and honour than this clueless President.

"Someone sounds a little bitter as though the US has not done enough or should do more. Luckily you can only have an opinion..."

Many of us in Europe are very aware that we should and must do alot more to maintain our own security but when you claim to be the world super power - and in fact are - having a social worker run your foreign policy is not a recipe for success. You may not like it but there are serious bastards in this world; go look at a Syrian/Ukrainian hospital ward. Sure they are not near you at present and you can be thankful for that but if you imagine they do not exist and "Reset"/draw "Red lines" which you fail to back up you are giving them encouragement and sooner or later they will come knocking on your door if you don't knock on theirs first. Si vis parem, para bellum and do NOT inform the bastards of your intentions.

Gun Grape
12 Mar 16,, 16:16
I read the whole thing and the thing that jumps out is that Obama is spineless.


Not spineless. Just refuses to do the bidding of our "Allies" that have continued to cut their defense budgets to the point that they can no longer do things alone. Then complain that the US isn't doing their bidding.

"____ has a chance of destabilizing Europe" The US needs to step in and stop them" The American people are tired of it. We say "No, You need to stop it. We will provide support but its in your neighborhood, not ours.

We finally have a post cold war President that puts the American People before the rest of the world. Thats what he was elected to do



He was elected to make the tough decisions, not to run a popularity contest.

To make the tough decisions That are for the good of the United States.






And how quickly the author and Obama forget why we went into Afghanistan in the first place. It ain't to bring the ballot box to Khandahar.

We went to get Bin Laden. Obama did that

Officer of Engineers
12 Mar 16,, 16:23
GS, that wasn't my point. My point was he made a decision based on his own convictions that Assad should be punished. He backed down from it because it was unpopular. That was the tough decision I was referring to. Hell, no one in his cabinet even thought of punishing Assad. He did.

I was against going into Libya and I was surprised that Obama went in but he took the leadership role without thinking how to hand that off. And Indeed, we had to choose a Canadian to take over. Real good leadership hand off there.

GVChamp
12 Mar 16,, 16:24
"we got Bin Laden" is a campaign slogan, not a foreign policy.

Gun Grape
12 Mar 16,, 16:27
"we got Bin Laden" is a campaign slogan, not a foreign policy.

It was the reason Bush gave for invading Afghanistan after 9/11. To kill him and destroy his support base the Taliban.

GVChamp
12 Mar 16,, 16:45
What happened to the second part of that mission? (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/12/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-united-nations.html?_r=1)

snapper
12 Mar 16,, 16:47
Not a foreign policy though.

Gun Grape
12 Mar 16,, 17:12
What happened to the second part of that mission? (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/12/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-united-nations.html?_r=1)

And a reason we should have never gone there and defiantly a reason to get out and not send troops back.

The country that you are trying to instill democracy in has to want it. And want it more than you want them to have it. They don't want it, never wanted it.

F*6k them. Not another American should die there

snapper
12 Mar 16,, 17:20
The country that you are trying to instill democracy in has to want it. And want it more than you want them to have it. They don't want it, never wanted it.

Hmm and Ukraine? The European missile shield? Supporting your allies and not publicly criticising them?

Gun Grape
12 Mar 16,, 17:33
Hmm and Ukraine? The European missile shield? Supporting your allies and not publicly criticising them?

What about Ukraine? We don't care. For decades they badmouthed the US, now all of a sudden we need to step in and help them? If the Ukraine had spent money on defense, if their soldiers hadn't deserted in droves then maybe they wouldn't be in the position they are in now. Not our problem. Solve your problem with urkraine blood not American.

Being a superpower means that we can interfere in other countries policies/actions when its in OUR best interest. Ukraine doesn't meet that standard.


Our "Allies" have had no problem criticizing us for decades. Why should we keep our mouths shut?

Gun Grape
12 Mar 16,, 17:37
The European missile shield is there. Its just not land based. We chose a better option. Sea Based using US ships that are SM-6 armed and have the BMD updates.

Better capability, cost less for us.

snapper
12 Mar 16,, 18:05
What about Ukraine? We don't care. For decades they badmouthed the US, now all of a sudden we need to step in and help them? If the Ukraine had spent money on defense, if their soldiers hadn't deserted in droves then maybe they wouldn't be in the position they are in now. Not our problem. Solve your problem with urkraine blood not American.

So this stuff about democracy is only when it suits your purposes? This does not seem to fit with your previous statement. You are a super power whether you like it or not. You therefore have to behave responsibly and with some consistency so that both your allies and and potential adversaries know where you stand.

GVChamp
12 Mar 16,, 18:08
My quote functions don't seem to work right now...

No real disagreement about the importance of Afghanistan. Fuck those assholes. I think that's more a Trump view of foreign policy than an Obama view of foreign policy, though. :P

Re: Ukraine. Also agreed. Fuck those assholes, too. (Generally this is my view on most non-American places) On the other hand, if they are willing to kill Russians, they should be well-armed. I've made views known elsewhere: Europe is weak and ripe for pressure on the periphery in the coming decades. Every dollar Russia spends in a pointless Syria/Ukraine fight now is an investment in protecting the periphery in 2040.

Gun Grape
12 Mar 16,, 18:14
Then our allies have to step up. NATO set a requirement that 2% of a members budget being allotted to defense spending in 2002. Only 5 NATO countries have met that requirement. And this (2015) was the best year yet. (US, UK, Poland, Greece and Estonia)

Like I said you have to want democracy in your country more than we want you to have democracy.

If you want us to do more, you need to do more..

Snapper, We are the superpower. You DON"T get to decide what our responsibilities are. You also don't get to set the goalpost on what we need to be doing based on what you want.

Gun Grape
12 Mar 16,, 18:18
Every dollar Russia spends in a pointless Syria/Ukraine fight now is an investment in protecting the periphery in 2040.

And every dollar we don't spent in those places helps us down the road

astralis
12 Mar 16,, 18:25
snapper,


These are "what ifs" of course but do you not think that was some encouragement to the criminal regimes sitting in Moscow and Damascus? When announcing a strategy you must consider who you encourage as well as deter and in this case I think a strong argument could be made it that it was misguided. Certainly I would never have advised such a public statement and I know many of my elders who would agree with me in this regard.

i never found the credibility argument to be a very strong one. yes, it IS a consideration, but less so than many people would think. for instance, Saddam's fall was supposed to be a credibility argument; "this is what happens to you if you try to develop WMDs". that didn't deter North Korea or Iran from continuing with their programs.

similarly, LBJ and then Nixon tried to send "messages" to Hanoi about US determination through bombing-- little indication that it worked.

well, i am getting off my main point, and i'm glad you agree that there can be a benefit to public announcements dependent on situation.


It was a called bluff and not responded to. The murder continued and the Muscovites joined in. We lost the controlling hand

US primary interest was elimination of Assad's chems, not the murder of his people. the US achieved her primary interest.


I think it would be in everyone's interests not to have Daesh no? Well apart from Kadyrov perhaps who I am told has plans for them.

elimination of daesh is an interest, yes. whether or not it's worth wholesale US involvement to include ground troops is another matter.


Because US Naval assets would have been required and Obama wasn't interested. To blame your allies for it when many were willing to organise a 'Roman Legion' as it were is sheer hypocrisy and to do it publicly sheer stupidity. You simply do not conduct foreign policy that way; Putin is laughing at it.

i'm really unsure where you're getting this info that Italy was ready to supply peacekeepers if only Obama was interested in a naval presence. source? we HAD and DO have a naval presence in the region...as do other NATO allies. considering for the 2011 intervention, the US provided 95% of the intel-gathering aircraft, a huge majority of the RPAs, a huge majority of the refueling aircraft, and had to resupply smart bombs to all the allies multiple times from her own stock...despite all this talk of leading from behind, the US in the end was singularly instrumental in the Libya operation.


However I hold to the view that the barbarism of Assad is critical in the evolvement of the extremist opposition. I am not alone in this view.

yes, the unrest in Syria and Assad's policies helped daesh and other extremists developed, but daesh was and largely is an Iraqi problem.


The answer reason why it was not done (I believe) is that US Naval assets would have been required to sustain a long term peace keeping force. I was told by a friend at the time that the Italians were preparing their troops and that the majority of European nations supported a peace keeping operation but the US wasn't interested.

i think the US would have been quite happy to see european peacekeepers with a US naval presence...because there already IS a US presence, ie the US sixth fleet. i'm not aware that this was ever seriously on the table...not least because the Libyans themselves opposed it.

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Backchannels/2011/0831/Libyan-rebels-reject-UN-proposal-for-peacekeepers

finally, when it comes to strategy, recall that the enemy has a vote as well. seriously, for all the talk about Obama being a social worker, at least -he- didn't get the US involved in two generationally-draining wars. I'll take what's going on in Syria now over the disaster that was the Iraq War any day.

astralis
12 Mar 16,, 18:37
GG,


Then our allies have to step up. NATO set a requirement that 2% of a members budget being allotted to defense spending in 2002. Only 5 NATO countries have met that requirement. And this (2015) was the best year yet. (US, UK, Poland, Greece and Estonia)

seriously. let's see, Ukraine is in a state of undeclared war with Russia and its puppet Donetsk state, and spends 5% of GDP on her military.

which is considerably less as a percentage of GDP than Singapore, or Israel.

yet is far better than other European states. the US apparently is more concerned with European security than Europeans themselves. it's a hell of a thing when a center-left US president has to browbeat a CONSERVATIVE UK PM into spending more on her own military.

snapper
12 Mar 16,, 18:40
Then our allies have to step up. NATO set a requirement that 2% of a members budget being allotted to defense spending in 2002. Only 5 NATO countries have met that requirement. And this (2015) was the best year yet. (US, UK, Poland, Greece and Estonia)

I totally agree and have consistently said so. I would prefer it Polish defence spending were increased more similar to the 5% of GDP that Ukraine plans for the foreseeable future. How do you think publicly blaming your allies helps to keep you safe?


Like I said you have to want democracy in your country more than we want you to have democracy.

Certainly true but then please do not quote spurious BS about supporting democracy or the country wanting democracy as a theme of foreign policy.


If you want us to do more, you need to do more..

How many dead do you need? Must Poles and Lithuanians die too? Is the Oder-Neisse line ok?


Snapper, We are the superpower. You DON"T get to decide what our responsibilities are. You also don't get to set the goalpost on what we need to be doing based on what you want.
Nor do you but I didn't realise I also needed an American to ok my criticism of Western leadership. I am equally critcal of the European mess and the Ukrainian not to mention the Polish but all are your allies so don't take it personally.

Officer of Engineers
12 Mar 16,, 18:49
And a reason we should have never gone there and defiantly a reason to get out and not send troops back.The reason why we went and stuck around was to make sure bin Laden didn't come back and re-use Afghanistan as their base of operations. He launched 11 Sept from there. Hell, he launched the USS COLE from there. The US hit a few tents and allowed him to do 11 Sept from there. It would be damned idiotic to let him do it a 3rd time.

Come to think of it, he also launched the attacks on the US Embassies in Africa from there. He did so with the protection and support of the Taliban.

We don't have the stomach for this but the only real solution was a Genghis Khan.

snapper
12 Mar 16,, 18:50
I'll take what's going on in Syria now over the disaster that was the Iraq War any day.

You have boots on the ground still in the ongoing Iraq war. The Georgians were there in 2008 as was Nadiya Savchenko. Granted it may have been a mistake in retrospect but when you called the allies came to your side. Reciprocity?


it's a hell of a thing when a center-left US president has to browbeat a CONSERVATIVE UK PM into spending more on her own military.

Agreed.

Parihaka
12 Mar 16,, 19:15
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/mar/11/obama-did-not-mean-to-criticise-cameron-over-libya-says-white-house

Officer of Engineers
12 Mar 16,, 19:34
You have boots on the ground still in the ongoing Iraq war. The Georgians were there in 2008 as was Nadiya Savchenko. Granted it may have been a mistake in retrospect but when you called the allies came to your side. Reciprocity?What allies? We have no Syrian allies. Rebels or government.

Officer of Engineers
12 Mar 16,, 19:40
Re-reading this piece again, it really sounds like Obama's attempt to shine on the fact that he had no foreign policy disaster (Benghazi conveniently forgotten) instead of foreign policy successes.

Eric, Obama also conveniently ignored that he had to go begging to Putin to get his ass out of the Assad chem mess that he lead the charge with.

This is the thing that gets me. It was Obama who lead the charge against Assad's chems. No one in his cabinet was enthusiastic and certainly no ally, European or otherwise, were readying military assets until Obama screamed "Charge."

He was the one who backed down when it became unpopular. The facts on the ground didn't change. Popular support wasn't there. If it was the right decision before the polls, why was it a wrong decision after the polls?

Gun Grape
12 Mar 16,, 20:07
I totally agree and have consistently said so. I would prefer it Polish defence spending were increased more similar to the 5% of GDP that Ukraine plans for the foreseeable future. How do you think publicly blaming your allies helps to keep you safe?

5% ? And you want help? Let me see, during WW2, the last time the US was really threatened, we spent 41% of our GDP on defense. During the Cold War, to deter aggression we spent 10%. Your country has foreign troops inside its borders, a break away area under rebel rule and the best you can do is to plan on 5%. then bitch about why no one wants to help?




Certainly true but then please do not quote spurious BS about supporting democracy or the country wanting democracy as a theme of foreign policy.

We do support Democracy in other countries. But as I said, the country that we support must support it for their country more than we do.




How many dead do you need? Must Poles and Lithuanians die too? Is the Oder-Neisse line ok?

It has nothing to do with how many of your people die. Its how much support your country is willing to spend to get back their country Spending almost 5% and having more independent (foreign/civilian) units fighting for you then you have Ukraine Army units shows that your government doesn't have the heart to stand up for itself. So why should the US spend material and blood for them?

The line is drawn at a place where it effects US interest


Nor do you but I didn't realise I also needed an American to ok my criticism of Western leadership. I am equally critcal of the European mess and the Ukrainian not to mention the Polish but all are your allies so don't take it personally.

The You was referencing the governments not individuals. You can say what you want.

astralis
12 Mar 16,, 20:36
col,


Re-reading this piece again, it really sounds like Obama's attempt to shine on the fact that he had no foreign policy disaster (Benghazi conveniently forgotten) instead of foreign policy successes.


the US is a status-quo power, so avoiding disaster IS a success. Benghazi was unfortunate but it certainly isn't anywhere close to "Iraq War" in terms of foreign policy disaster, or even the Khobar Towers bombing. actually, the rise of ISIS is probably the worst thing that happened during the Obama Administration, and for the most part ISIS has been contained-- i expect Mosul to be retaken sometime this year, and with it goes ISIS's main power base.

http://www.defenseone.com/threats/2016/02/battle-mosul-has-begun/126304/


Eric, Obama also conveniently ignored that he had to go begging to Putin to get his ass out of the Assad chem mess that he lead the charge with.

i'm not defending the rather clumsy handling of the red line, but I really don't see Obama begging to Putin. the goal of the US was to eliminate Assad's chems, this was done. Putin kept his ally, which the US wasn't particularly enthusiastic about removing anyways...otherwise Obama would have carried out the bombing.


certainly no ally, European or otherwise, were readying military assets until Obama screamed "Charge."

actually, France regarded removal of chems as an even higher priority than the US, which is why France screamed bloody murder when the expected US bombing didn't go through.


He was the one who backed down when it became unpopular.

i really don't think it was an issue of popularity-- in the article, Obama said that NOT attacking would cost him:


“I’m very proud of this moment,” he told me. “The overwhelming weight of conventional wisdom and the machinery of our national-security apparatus had gone fairly far. The perception was that my credibility was at stake, that America’s credibility was at stake. And so for me to press the pause button at that moment, I knew, would cost me politically. And the fact that I was able to pull back from the immediate pressures and think through in my own mind what was in America’s interest, not only with respect to Syria but also with respect to our democracy, was as tough a decision as I’ve made—and I believe ultimately it was the right decision to make.”

the easier thing to do at the moment would have been to bomb, but he chose not to. i don't think it was due to a failure of nerve; how is ordering the bombing of Assad a harder decision to make than, say, ordering the US to violate the sovereignty of a nuclear-armed country to take out Bin Laden?

this is not to state that Obama necessarily made the right decision, but to simply state that bombing was the politically expedient decision, not the other way around.

troung
12 Mar 16,, 20:42
What is great is the number of paid shills in think tanks and foreigners who are mad at Obama for doing what the public put him into office to do. The anger that "Obama isn't letting the Europeans and Wahhabis use the US armed forces as their own private military to do their aims" is amazing. I hope the next President also gives these allies the respect and deference they are due.

Terrorist exporting saudis are in a rage right now. This paid saudi shill never once touches on the criticism of the Saudis and instead is mad at the suggestion that the arab world somehow turns out murderous wahabbi thugs unlike other regions...
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2016/03/12/Thus-spake-Obama-with-malice-toward-Arabs-.html



But while Lincoln displayed strong leadership and saw himself and acted decisively as a war President, fighting his own rearguard battles against his reluctant and indecisive Generals in the first phase of the war, Obama eschewed decisive action, resented the wars he inherited as well as his ostensible allies, acted as a reluctant Commander-in-Chief, and avoided risks because he did not want to own his decisions. Obama is a war president, in as much as the war is limited to the safe use of drones and small scale special operations.
....
The so-called Obama Doctrine is not predicated on the conviction that animated American Presidents since the Second World War, that the US is still capable of achieving great goals on its own, i.e. the Marshal Plan, the Peace Corps, and space exploration as well as providing strong leadership for the post-war strategic and economic architectures; the establishment of the NATO alliance, the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, all of which the U.S. used effectively in the Cold War against the Soviet Union. It is ironic, that King Abdullah of Jordan is quoted as saying “I think I believe in American power more than Obama does”.
...
Obama sees no ray of hope in the immediate future of the Arab world, only an endless bleak desolation. While one could accept most of Obama’s gloomy diagnosis of the ills most Arab states suffer from, i.e. authoritarianism, fanaticism, and denial of basic rights, but what makes his remarks particularly jarring is their categorical nature, his implicit generalizations about the Sunni Arabs, and his lack of empathy. He speaks of authoritarianism in the Arab world, but spares Iran, which executes more people than any of its neighbors, and is the most rampaging state in the region.

...
He contrasts the forbidden world of the Arabs with the promising future of Southeast Asia, a region brimming with ambitious and energetic people driven by their desire to build businesses, get education and employment. In Asia, Latin America and in Africa, Obama sees young people yearning for modernity, self-improvement and material wealth. Then Obama turns incendiary “They are not thinking about how to kill Americans. What they’re thinking about is how do I get a better education? How do I create something of value?” Obama, continues his shocking comparison of young Asians and young Arabs “If we’re not talking to them,” he said, “because the only thing we’re doing is figuring out how to destroy or cordon off or control the malicious, nihilistic, violent parts of humanity, then we’re missing the boat.”

Obama’s words, will alienate many in the Arab world, and will reinforce the prevailing view that the United States is retreating from most of the region, now that it secured a nuclear deal with Iran, one of Obama’s main objectives in the region from day one. Many Arabs will look with trepidation for Obama’s remaining months at the White House. His contemptuous words will be reciprocated, and he will make it extremely hard for his successor to navigate through the wreckage he and some of his regional counterparts have created in the last few years.



I love the tears from terrorist exporting dead weight. If he can alienate every piece of garbage who thinks America is the wahhabi errand boy then he has done the lords work.

Officer of Engineers
12 Mar 16,, 20:43
i really don't think it was an issue of popularity-- in the article, Obama said that NOT attacking would cost him:But that is not what he said. He said he came to the decision to bomb on his own and his cabinet was surprised.

So, he set himself up for a strawman arguement. He decided on bombing and then said he fucked the establishment when he decided not to bomb, ignoring the fact that he was the one who ordered and lead the charge.

troung
12 Mar 16,, 20:49
5% ? And you want help? Let me see, during WW2, the last time the US was really threatened, we spent 41% of our GDP on defense. During the Cold War, to deter aggression we spent 10%. Your country has foreign troops inside its borders, a break away area under rebel rule and the best you can do is to plan on 5%. then bitch on why no one wants to help?[/PHP]

10%?!??! They gotta have money to skim off the top, from the sides, and through the bottom; right? They gotta eat right?

The idea that people can sell their arms stockpiles to murderous dictators and militias in the developing world, try to profit from Russia and the west, be generally more corrupt then Russia, and despite still having extensive military stocks left still cry that they need free stuff and money and to be backed by American troops is amazing. A few more months to unlearn them from that behavior.

astralis
12 Mar 16,, 21:26
So, he set himself up for a strawman arguement. He decided on bombing and then said he fucked the establishment when he decided not to bomb, ignoring the fact that he was the one who ordered and lead the charge.

yes, my biggest criticism was that Obama hastily drew up a red line without having gone through his advisors first-- and it was only AFTER he consulted his advisors that he found out 1.) “our assessment that while we could inflict some damage on Assad, we could not, through a missile strike, eliminate the chemical weapons themselves, and what I would then face was the prospect of Assad having survived the strike and claiming he had successfully defied the United States, that the United States had acted unlawfully in the absence of a UN mandate, and that that would have potentially strengthened his hand rather than weakened it.” and 2.) "the threat report Obama receives each morning from Clapper’s analysts, to make clear that the intelligence on Syria’s use of sarin gas, while robust, was not a “slam dunk.”

having said that, though, it's important to note that despite this mistake-- the end result was still that Assad lost his chems, at little cost to the United States.

Officer of Engineers
12 Mar 16,, 21:33
having said that, though, it's important to note that despite this mistake-- It was a strawman argument that had nothing to do with the establishment. He "broke" the establishment when the establishment was "him and him alone."


the end result was still that Assad lost his chems,Not a result of his efforts.


at little cost to the United States.Surrendering the entire region to Moscow and Tehran and increasing instability to Turkey and Israel is a little cost?

The thought of a Russo-Turkish War has just gone off the theoretical and gone onto war gaming it out.

astralis
12 Mar 16,, 21:42
Surrendering the entire region to Moscow and Tehran is a little cost?

i wasn't aware that Putin and Khamenei now call the shots in the entire Middle East...or even Syria.

if Moscow wants to spend its money propping up Assad, that's Moscow's lookout. this affair certainly didn't change things.

in any case, oil is at almost all-time lows, Hezbollah is busy fighting Sunni jihadists and not Israel, Assad is busy fighting his own people and does't have chems, ISIS is slowly getting crushed between US airpower and the Iraqi Army, and the Saudis now have less money to spend on their stinking Wahhabi madrassas-- not bad all told.

Officer of Engineers
12 Mar 16,, 21:56
i wasn't aware that Putin and Khamenei now call the shots in the entire Middle East...or even Syria.Most certainly Syria and extensions into Iraq. Moscow has reasserted herself as a military power in the region and it's back to the Cold War Days when she had a go-no-go say.


if Moscow wants to spend its money propping up Assad, that's Moscow's lookout. this affair certainly didn't change things.Again, the prospects of a Russo-Turkish shooting war has gone from just a paper exercise to an active contingent. That is not good no matter how much you want to tout Obama's strategic insight which frankly is lacking. He's more a reactor and a proponent.


in any case, oil is at almost all-time lows, Hezbollah is busy fighting Sunni jihadists and not Israel, Assad is busy fighting his own people and does't have chems, ISIS is slowly getting crushed between US airpower and the Iraqi Army, and the Saudis now have less money to spend on their stinking Wahhabi madrassas-- not bad all told.Which is good if you're the one orchestrating this but this is just pure luck instead of by design and luck changes.

citanon
13 Mar 16,, 03:44
Most certainly Syria and extensions into Iraq. Moscow has reasserted herself as a military power in the region and it's back to the Cold War Days when she had a go-no-go say.

Again, the prospects of a Russo-Turkish shooting war has gone from just a paper exercise to an active contingent. That is not good no matter how much you want to tout Obama's strategic insight which frankly is lacking. He's more a reactor and a proponent.

Which is good if you're the one orchestrating this but this is just pure luck instead of by design and luck changes.

Again, LIKE.

astralis
13 Mar 16,, 17:44
Most certainly Syria and extensions into Iraq. Moscow has reasserted herself as a military power in the region and it's back to the Cold War Days when she had a go-no-go say.

but that wasn't a function of the red-line event. that was Assad finding himself on the ropes. the red-line affair happened in 2013; Russian intervention happened in 2015.

unless you're using the credibility argument, to which obama did correctly note that Putin intervened on a far greater scale when it came to Georgia back when we were demonstrating our credibility in Iraq with 100,000 troops.


Again, the prospects of a Russo-Turkish shooting war has gone from just a paper exercise to an active contingent. That is not good no matter how much you want to tout Obama's strategic insight which frankly is lacking. He's more a reactor and a proponent.

actually, I think the threat of Russian hybrid warfare in Eastern Europe is a greater threat and possibility than a Russo-Turkish shooting war. Russo-Turkish shooting war? could happen, but there's a lot of other contingencies with far greater likelihoods and of more immediate threat to the US.

that's not to tout Obama's strategic acumen-- considering I am in DoD, I find it's too much deliberation, not enough action for my tastes, even when it comes to relatively low-threat actions. his OVERALL strategy of a rebalance to the pacific IS correct, however, as well as the observation that for a status-quo power, it is usually better to err on the side of caution than engage in high-risk, high-payoff activities.


Which is good if you're the one orchestrating this but this is just pure luck instead of by design and luck changes.

i don't think it's all luck. the oil thing certainly was (particularly Saudis shooting themselves in the foot), but Assad losing his chems certainly wasn't, and neither is ISIS getting crushed. in the asia-pacific, Obama's played a good hand against Chinese aggression, where US partners and allies are now closer to the US than they have been for a long, long time.

let's put it this way. earlier you mentioned George W Bush as a leader. it's damned hard to argue that the US was in a better strategic position in 2008 than she was in 2001. coming into the last year of Obama's presidency, I don't think it's biased for me to state that the US -is- in a rather better strategic situation now than she was in 2009.

snapper
13 Mar 16,, 17:46
5% ? And you want help? Let me see, during WW2, the last time the US was really threatened, we spent 41% of our GDP on defense. During the Cold War, to deter aggression we spent 10%. Your country has foreign troops inside its borders, a break away area under rebel rule and the best you can do is to plan on 5%. then bitch about why no one wants to help?

You were moaning about some NATO allies not spending 2% so I do not think you can complain Ukraine spending 5%, likely to rise if the economy returns to growth this year. Of course Ukraine has some catching up do though we have fought the Muscovites pretty much to a stand still. We are of course under EU and IMF financial restraints.


We do support Democracy in other countries. But as I said, the country that we support must support it for their country more than we do.

Are you suggesting that Ukraine doesn't want democracy and the rule of law?


It has nothing to do with how many of your people die. Its how much support your country is willing to spend to get back their country Spending almost 5% and having more independent (foreign/civilian) units fighting for you then you have Ukraine Army units shows that your government doesn't have the heart to stand up for itself. So why should the US spend material and blood for them?

There are no independent units. All are National Guard Units.

Officer of Engineers
13 Mar 16,, 18:15
but that wasn't a function of the red-line event. that was Assad finding himself on the ropes. the red-line affair happened in 2013; Russian intervention happened in 2015.It was a result of Putin learning that Obama will not act in the region. A region that the US military had conquered and now given up.


unless you're using the credibility argument, to which obama did correctly note that Putin intervened on a far greater scale when it came to Georgia back when we were demonstrating our credibility in Iraq with 100,000 troops.It has nothing to do with US credibility but everything to do with Obama credibility. There is no guarantee that the next President would be as weak ass.


actually, I think the threat of Russian hybrid warfare in Eastern Europe is a greater threat and possibility than a Russo-Turkish shooting war. Russo-Turkish shooting war? could happen, but there's a lot of other contingencies with far greater likelihoods and of more immediate threat to the US.It still came off a paper exercise to an active contingent, all because Obama refuses to be in the driver seat. He's letting Ankara and Moscow doing the driving. His leadership is nowhere to be found.


that's not to tout Obama's strategic acumen-- considering I am in DoD, I find it's too much deliberation, not enough action for my tastes, even when it comes to relatively low-threat actions. his OVERALL strategy of a rebalance to the pacific IS correct, however, as well as the observation that for a status-quo power, it is usually better to err on the side of caution than engage in high-risk, high-payoff activities.Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. Not enough of the former, too much of the latter. When you're letting the likes of Putin dictate what is happening, you have no say when things don't go your way ... and they won't.


i don't think it's all luck. the oil thing certainly was (particularly Saudis shooting themselves in the foot), but Assad losing his chems certainly wasn't,That was Putin. Obama owed him one. And Putin is collecting.


and neither is ISIS getting crushed.Wait 5 years. There will be another bunch of fucks killing this bunch of fucks that is killing the ISIS fucks. Can't see how Obama is taking credit for the natural order of things. In fact, not so much as five years ago, I did predict that there would be a new bunch of fucks killing the ISIS fucks.


in the asia-pacific, Obama's played a good hand against Chinese aggression, where US partners and allies are now closer to the US than they have been for a long, long time.How close is Taipei, Seoul, and Tokyo to an alliance?


let's put it this way. earlier you mentioned George W Bush as a leader. it's damned hard to argue that the US was in a better strategic position in 2008 than she was in 2001. coming into the last year of Obama's presidency, I don't think it's biased for me to state that the US -is- in a rather better strategic situation now than she was in 2009.Only because there is a lot less on the plate and that is because the plate is damned smaller.

snapper
13 Mar 16,, 18:32
Have to largely agree with the Colonel here; to say x,y and z is not my business - even though it is clearly a concern of your allies - and then claim to have kept everything tidy is an abrogation of responsibility. I finished my meal because I chose not to put so much on plate doesn't mean others won't be eager to gobble up what you refused to put on your plate.

Officer of Engineers
13 Mar 16,, 18:43
You were moaning about some NATO allies not spending 2% so I do not think you can complain Ukraine spending 5%, likely to rise if the economy returns to growth this year. Of course Ukraine has some catching up do though we have fought the Muscovites pretty much to a stand still. We are of course under EU and IMF financial restraints.I really hate this percentage of GDP stuff. It means absolutely nothing. Bottom line is dollars. Canada's defence budget at 0.9% GDP is $14bil. Ukraine's 5% GDP is $4.4bil. The Ukraine may be buying as much guns as she can but she is nowhere close to be buying enough.

snapper
13 Mar 16,, 19:52
I really hate this percentage of GDP stuff. It means absolutely nothing. Bottom line is dollars. Canada's defence budget at 0.9% GDP is $14bil. Ukraine's 5% GDP is $4.4bil. The Ukraine may be buying as much guns as she can but she is nowhere close to be buying enough.

You are course correct Sir which is why we are all hoping that economic growth will return this year and the hryvnia strengthen this year.

troung
14 Mar 16,, 01:51
Have to largely agree with the Colonel here; to say x,y and z is not my business - even though it is clearly a concern of your allies - and then claim to have kept everything tidy is an abrogation of responsibility. I finished my meal because I chose not to put so much on plate doesn't mean others won't be eager to gobble up what you refused to put on your plate.

We are not the vassals of the Ukraine, no responsibilities have been abrogated on our end.

Gun Grape
14 Mar 16,, 11:58
You were moaning about some NATO allies not spending 2% so I do not think you can complain Ukraine spending 5%, likely to rise if the economy returns to growth this year. Of course Ukraine has some catching up do though we have fought the Muscovites pretty much to a stand still. We are of course under EU and IMF financial restraints.

Sure I can. Those NATO countries are not at war. Supposedly your country is. A country on a wartime footing, that only spends less than 5% either needs to get serious and increase their defense spending. Or stop asking others to finance their war for them.



Are you suggesting that Ukraine doesn't want democracy and the rule of law?

It doesn't seem that way. Or they want it, they just want someone else to pay for it.




There are no independent units. All are National Guard Units.

Oh so the nazis are part of the military, Not independent nutbags. And you want us to spend money, material and possibly lives for your country? No.

If I was the President, the training Battalion we have in your country teaching your army how to fight would be home on the next plane

Gun Grape
14 Mar 16,, 11:58
I really hate this percentage of GDP stuff. It means absolutely nothing. Bottom line is dollars. Canada's defence budget at 0.9% GDP is $14bil. Ukraine's 5% GDP is $4.4bil. The Ukraine may be buying as much guns as she can but she is nowhere close to be buying enough.

And at 0.9% your military is falling apart.

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 12:48
And at 0.9% your military is falling apart.More from overwork than underfunded. We have been the #2 or #3 deployed army in NATO. The reason why Washington has been kind of quiet about our funding is that we were willing to do with other armies won't - take on the hard work. The top 3 armies that saw the most combat in Afghanistan were the US, British, and Canadian.

Still, it's the RCAF and the RCN's turn at the money trough and there's not enough money being spent for replacements.

GVChamp
14 Mar 16,, 16:44
More from overwork than underfunded.

Uhhh...what's the difference between:
-Overworked (for this level of funding)
-Underfunded (for this level of work)

snapper
14 Mar 16,, 16:53
We are not the vassals of the Ukraine, no responsibilities have been abrogated on our end.

Hmm did anyone say you were? Were you British or German 'vassals' in the 1970s? Yet from all of your expressions of adoration for the Muscovite Mafiosi regime it would appear that you believe you have some right to condemn Ukrainians to Muscovite vassalage and the horrors that is known to bring.


Sure I can. Those NATO countries are not at war. Supposedly your country is. A country on a wartime footing, that only spends less than 5% either needs to get serious and increase their defense spending. Or stop asking others to finance their war for them.

To you financial constraints might mean nothing but Ukraine has given it's word and intends to keep it as not doing so would cause bankruptcy.


It doesn't seem that way. Or they want it, they just want someone else to pay for it.

Ukrainian soldiers pay for it daily and in line with IMF dictates domestic fuel bills have risen around 40% as Government subsidies have been withdrawn.


Oh so the nazis are part of the military, Not independent nutbags. And you want us to spend money, material and possibly lives for your country? No.

Maybe you should compare the 'Nazi' vote of the French Front National with that of all the far right wing Parties in Ukraine which together received less than 2% of the vote. Maybe check who funds Marine Le Pen and her antisemites as well.


If I was the President, the training Battalion we have in your country teaching your army how to fight would be home on the next plane

Probably why you'll never be President as you would then risk forfeiting all the Central European NATO allies. But then perhaps the Oder - Neisse line is acceptable to you or maybe the Atlantic seaboard?

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 17:26
Uhhh...what's the difference between:
-Overworked (for this level of funding)
-Underfunded (for this level of work)You can't get new tanks and planes tomorrow no matter how much money you got. You used what you got and repair men and machine to the best of your abilities. Buying civilian stuff for military use just make it damned more expensive in the long run.

SteveDaPirate
14 Mar 16,, 18:00
Certainly true but then please do not quote spurious BS about supporting democracy or the country wanting democracy as a theme of foreign policy.

$3 billion in FSA assistance to promote political and economic reform and to address humanitarian needs sure sounds like the US has been trying to support democracy in Ukraine. Particularly in light of Ukraine's non-aligned status.


Probably why you'll never be President as you would then risk forfeiting all the Central European NATO allies. But then perhaps the Oder - Neisse line is acceptable to you or maybe the Atlantic seaboard?

The "acceptable" line is the NATO border. That obviously isn't prefered, and the US is providing some diplomatic and background support to Ukraine accordingly. The US has much less of a stake in Central Europe than the Central Europeans themselves however. If the Central European NATO allies thought the Russians would trespass into NATO territory, they would be the first to commit troops to Ukraine as it would be their asses on the line.

SteveDaPirate
14 Mar 16,, 18:05
the end result was still that Assad lost his chems


Not a result of his efforts.

I disagree. Syria giving up her Chems to avoid attack was certainly facilitated by the Russians, but the incident was precipitated by Obama's threat, and the actual destruction of those Chems was carried out by the US and partners. The MV Cape Ray isn't a Russian ship.

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 18:21
What other way was there beside Putin? There was a finite time to the bluff and Obama gave Assad no way out but to take the bombing. He surrenders to Obama without a fight and his own tribe would hang him from the nearest tree. An ally came and protected him which allowed Assad a way out but other than that, a brutal dictator has no other option but to go down fighting.

Only thing is we now know that Obama had no intentions of carrying through with his bluff and he went begging to Putin for help.

SteveDaPirate
14 Mar 16,, 19:43
Only thing is we now know that Obama had no intentions of carrying through with his bluff and he went begging to Putin for help.

By having the idea come from the Russians, Assad can play along and give up his Chems without losing face by backing down when confronted by the American threat. The Americans accomplished their goal and removed more Chems than the bombing would have destroyed anyway.

The idea HAD to come from the Russians in order for Assad to save face. The Russians were eager to play along because they get to "save" their ally, and lets them get some time in the international spotlight.

In short everybody wins. Except the people who wanted bombs to fall on Syria for other reasons.

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 19:47
Correction, the idea had to come from the Russians in order for Assad to survive. As I said, if he had backed down before Obama, his own tribe would hang him. Assad had no choice but to call Obama's bluff.

And I don't know if everybody won. NATO is no longer bombing any targets in Syria since the Russians put in the S400 there. I'm sure Israel just loved that. All because Putin knew that Obama would not act.

astralis
14 Mar 16,, 20:05
NATO is no longer bombing any targets in Syria since the Russians put in the S400 there.

Operation Inherent Resolve is still ongoing.

http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/2014/0814_iraq/costUpdates/February_2016_Airpower_Summary.pdf

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 20:08
http://217.218.67.231/Detail/2015/12/18/442240/Russia-US-Syria-S400

SteveDaPirate
14 Mar 16,, 20:25
Correction, the idea had to come from the Russians in order for Assad to survive.

The US objective was to take the Chems out of the equation, not to remove Assad. The Russians saved Assad from the Syrians by giving him an out, Assad saved himself from the Americans by giving up the Chems.


And I don't know if everybody won. NATO is no longer bombing any targets in Syria since the Russians put in the S400 there. I'm sure Israel just loved that.

And the Russians are pulling out.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-14/putin-orders-main-part-of-russian-army-to-start-syria-pullout-ilsa7fi5


All because Putin knew that Obama would not act.

Here's where we disagree. If Putin knew Obama wouldn't act, he had no reason to offer up Assad's Chems. The fact that he did offer up the Chems is an indication that Putin believed the US was about to blow the hell out of one of his few remaining allies.

If Putin knows Obama is bluffing, why didn't he and Assad just call him on it and keep using Chems willy nilly?

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 20:26
Operation Inherent Resolve is still ongoing.

http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/2014/0814_iraq/costUpdates/February_2016_Airpower_Summary.pdfFrom your page

41143

astralis
14 Mar 16,, 20:28
your link is Iranian media...

and the "Iraq only" part you mentioned in my link applies to the starred stats-- airlift, which makes sense. NOT bombing sorties.

http://www.stripes.com/pentagon-russian-anti-aircraft-systems-in-syria-a-concern-but-not-a-threat-1.381271

“So far it’s not had any impact on our operations, but it’s certainly something we are aware of,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Monday.

in any case, announced today, Putin is now calling for Russian forces to be withdrawn from Syria.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/14/vladimir-putin-orders-withdrawal-russian-troops-syria

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 20:29
Here's where we disagree. If Putin knew Obama wouldn't act, he had no reason to offer up Assad's Chems. The fact that he did offer up the Chems is an indication that Putin believed the US was about to blow the hell out of one of his few remaining allies.Believe it or not, Putin has as much revulsion to chems as all professional military men do.

But it was one thing to push Assad into a corner, quite another for Putin to push Obama into a corner.

SteveDaPirate
14 Mar 16,, 20:34
Believe it or not, Putin has as much revulsion to chems as all professional military men do.

But it was one thing to push Assad into a corner, quite another for Putin to push Obama into a corner.

Obama wasn't in a corner. He had two ways to accomplish his objective. Either bomb Syria to destroy the regime and as many Chems as possible, or let Syria hand them over to be destroyed.

One of those options ends up with America owning the Syrian problem and the other doesn't.

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 20:40
your link is Iranian media...

and the "Iraq only" part you mentioned in my link applies to the starred stats-- airlift, which makes sense. NOT bombing sorties.

http://www.stripes.com/pentagon-russian-anti-aircraft-systems-in-syria-a-concern-but-not-a-threat-1.381271

“So far it’s not had any impact on our operations, but it’s certainly something we are aware of,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Monday.This was in December, well before S400 deployment. I've only found 2 strikes in Syria in 2016, all at the edge of S400 range.


Obama wasn't in a corner. He had two ways to accomplish his objective. Either bomb Syria to destroy the regime and as many Chems as possible, or let Syria hand them over to be destroyed.

One of those options ends up with America owning the Syrian problem and the other doesn't.Let me rephrase. Putin had a choice, either help Obama or challenge him. Go ahead, bomb Assad. I dare you.

snapper
14 Mar 16,, 20:44
$3 billion in FSA assistance to promote political and economic reform and to address humanitarian needs sure sounds like the US has been trying to support democracy in Ukraine. Particularly in light of Ukraine's non-aligned status.

I am pretty sure the total amount is somewhat less than $3bn unless you count loan guarantees as well. I know Poland recently gave a $1bn loan guarantee and of course the EU has contributed also. Hopefully Ukraine will soon be able to stand on it's own two feet as it should. However the future long term security issue will remain, both in energy independence and in militarily. No one single Central European nation can alone stand against Moscow and thus we speak of a Central and Eastern European alliance.


The "acceptable" line is the NATO border. That obviously isn't prefered, and the US is providing some diplomatic and background support to Ukraine accordingly. The US has much less of a stake in Central Europe than the Central Europeans themselves however. If the Central European NATO allies thought the Russians would trespass into NATO territory, they would be the first to commit troops to Ukraine as it would be their asses on the line.

That actually goes back to the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest when Ukrainian and Georgian membership were on the agenda. The 'summit' was in April and the Muscovites allege that they received certain promises... the result was the invasion of Georgia in August. I understand these issues will be raised again this July at the Warsawa NATO talking shop.
As for the Central Europeans being concerned why do you think their defence spending is rising or that joint 'International Forces' such as LITPOLUKRBRIG and V4EUBAT are planned? The Poles have a problem with advancing to the Dnieper for obvious strategic and some historic reasons, the Romanians less so should they feel the need to advance to Dniester in support of Moldova - many citizens of which have Romanian nationality.


And I don't know if everybody won. NATO is no longer bombing any targets in Syria since the Russians put in the S400 there. I'm sure Israel just loved that. All because Putin knew that Obama would not act.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-russia-pullout-idUSKCN0WG23C Believe when I see it but the Geneva 'peace talks' about Syria start this week so I imagine it's a diplomatic rather than a real move.

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 21:02
in any case, announced today, Putin is now calling for Russian forces to be withdrawn from Syria.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/14/vladimir-putin-orders-withdrawal-russian-troops-syriaNot sure what you're suggesting here. The S400 are staying as are the Russian air and naval bases. Israel just lost her air superiority over Syria.

astralis
14 Mar 16,, 21:09
col,


This was in December, well before S400 deployment. I've only found 2 strikes in Syria in 2016, all at the edge of S400 range.

reading the article, the very first sentence is "An undeterred U.S.-led coalition in Syria has conducted at least 13 airstrikes against Islamic State targets since Russia deployed advanced anti-aircraft missile systems to the war-torn country last week."

and just on the 12th:

Strikes in Syria

Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted eight strikes in Syria:

-- Near Hawl, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL mortar systems.

-- Near Dayr Ar Zawr, a strike struck an ISIL gas and oil separation plant well head.

-- Near Manbij, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed five ISIL vehicles and an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Mar’a, four strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL artillery piece, two ISIL weapons caches, 10 ISIL fighting positions, and an ISIL heavy machine gun position.

http://www.defense.gov/News-Article-View/Article/692135/military-strikes-continue-against-isil-terrorists-in-syria-Iraq

looking at the figures, the arrival of the S-400 did not noticeably decrease the number of overall strikes against ISIS, although the DoD website doesn't break down it down by month for each country.

for that matter, even the -Netherlands- joined in the bombing fun in Syria this January.

http://www.bigstory.ap.org/article/19a4d772598e49be8486423d2a022881/dutch-join-us-led-airstrikes-against-syria

bottom-line, Russia didn't boot out the US/NATO from the area, we continue to strike where we deem necessary. yes, there's been some airspace deconfliction issues but nothing substantive, seeing as how Russia seems to more focused on bombing everyone except ISIS.

SteveDaPirate
14 Mar 16,, 21:15
Let me rephrase. Putin had a choice, either help Obama or challenge him. Go ahead, bomb Assad. I dare you.

It was a rare moment of diplomacy getting out into the public. Putin helps Obama get what he wants (Chems gone with minimal complications). In return, Obama calls off the attack on Putin's ally.

Did Putin really have a choice? If Obama pulls the trigger on a regime change in Syria, how long do you think Putin keeps his little Mediterranean outpost at Tartus?

This was an instance when US and Russian interests aligned, as neither man wants US troops overrunning Syria for the next decade. And as you mentioned, Chems leave a bad taste in any professional military man's mouth so Putin probably had an easier time gutting his Ally's military capability than he would in other circumstances.

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 21:17
I didn't expect the S400 to operational until January, 2016. The Russians were running an active air campaign and the rules of engagement had yet to be clearly spelled out. The last thing the Russians needed was shooting down their own aircrafts. And keeping coalition aircrafts away from Assad.

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 21:22
Did Putin really have a choice? If Obama pulls the trigger on a regime change in Syria, how long do you think Putin keeps his little Mediterranean outpost at Tartus?Of course Putin had a choice. He was busy in the Ukraine and Yeltsin already left the region. Putin stayed out of over a decade. There's nothing in Syria except to check the Americans.

And that he is doing.

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 21:34
bottom-line, Russia didn't boot out the US/NATO from the area, we continue to strike where we deem necessary. yes, there's been some airspace deconfliction issues but nothing substantive, seeing as how Russia seems to more focused on bombing everyone except ISIS.From your article


Strikes in Syria

Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted eight strikes in SyriaEight strikes.

SteveDaPirate
14 Mar 16,, 21:40
Of course Putin had a choice. He was busy in the Ukraine and Yeltsin already left the region. Putin stayed out of over a decade. There's nothing in Syria except to check the Americans.

And that he is doing.

His choice was help Obama, or lose one of his last footholds in the ME, and perhaps more importantly one of his few warm water ports. He acted to defend Tartus, just as he took Crimea to secure Sevastopol.

Checking the Americans would be foiling American plans, not smoothing the way.

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 22:01
His choice was help Obama, or lose one of his last footholds in the ME, and perhaps more importantly one of his few warm water ports.He lost that already or rather, he didn't upkeep it.


He acted to defend Tartus, just as he took Crimea to secure Sevastopol.And he had to commit troops and money


Checking the Americans would be foiling American plans, not smoothing the way.Smoothing what? Obama still had to bomb. In fact, he's bombing the very people he was supposed to save. The FSA turns out to be a bunch of ISIL fucks.

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 22:04
col,



reading the article, the very first sentence is "An undeterred U.S.-led coalition in Syria has conducted at least 13 airstrikes against Islamic State targets since Russia deployed advanced anti-aircraft missile systems to the war-torn country last week."

and just on the 12th:

Strikes in Syria

Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted eight strikes in Syria:

-- Near Hawl, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL mortar systems.

-- Near Dayr Ar Zawr, a strike struck an ISIL gas and oil separation plant well head.

-- Near Manbij, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed five ISIL vehicles and an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Mar’a, four strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL artillery piece, two ISIL weapons caches, 10 ISIL fighting positions, and an ISIL heavy machine gun position.This is what we're doing? Using $100mil+ air assets to destroy section level, at most platoon level targets? You mean to tell me that the people we're supporting can't muster 100 men to take these targets out?

SteveDaPirate
14 Mar 16,, 22:16
He lost that already or rather, he didn't upkeep it.

Deploying aircraft, S-400s, and troops to protect Tartus seems to indicate that it is indeed a priority.


Smoothing what? Obama still had to bomb. In fact, he's bombing the very people he was supposed to save. The FSA turns out to be a bunch of ISIL fucks.

We didn't have to dismantle the Syrian government's IADS, didn't have to destroy the Syrian AF, didn't have to bomb the Chem stocks we knew about, and we aren't on the hook for the eventual fate of Syria.

The earlier decision about how to go about removing the Chems makes life easier now that we are keeping ISIL to a dull roar, since we don't have to dodge Syrian SAMs. Another point in favor of accomplishing our foreign policy by waving the big stick instead of smashing with it.

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 22:31
Deploying aircraft, S-400s, and troops to protect Tartus seems to indicate that it is indeed a priority.He paid good money to buy back into the game but the game ain't worth it.


We didn't have to dismantle the Syrian government's IADS, didn't have to destroy the Syrian AF,They were already dismantled and self destructed.


didn't have to bomb the Chem stocks we knew about,Would have been an easier outcome. No, we could not destroy his entire stock but we can render it ineffective. It took 4 days at nearly 24 hrs a day bombardment to achieve his kill.


and we aren't on the hook for the eventual fate of Syria.A disarmament strike ain't going to topple Assad.


The earlier decision about how to go about removing the Chems makes life easier now that we are keeping ISIL to a dull roar, since we don't have to dodge Syrian SAMs. Another point in favor of accomplishing our foreign policy by waving the big stick instead of smashing with it.No, we have to stay out of Russian SAM range and we're not targeting Assad out of respect for the Russians because frankly, Obama would also like to bomb Assad so his "good Syrians" would win. I don't think he even know who they are.

astralis
14 Mar 16,, 22:33
col,


This is what we're doing? Using $100mil+ air assets to destroy section level, at most platoon level targets? You mean to tell me that the people we're supporting can't muster 100 men to take these targets out?

we're sort of getting off-topic here; the point is that Russian involvement didn't eject US presence from Syria or the Middle East. given that Putin is about to withdraw and the US/NATO is still there, does that mean we're now ejecting Russian presence? :-)

on a more serious note, the US -wishes- it didn't have to be involved in Syria, we weren't there in 2011, after all. do you think it would be very difficult for the US to off Assad? we -choose- to let him live because the alternative is worse, and in that, our goals kinda-sorta align with Russia's.

finally, presence doesn't equate to power. we had 100,000 men in Iraq in 2007 but it's hard to argue that we had huge amounts of leverage in the region. in fact, both Iran/Pakistan would support proxy attacks against US forces as a bargaining chip...something they can't really do now.

re: tactical level targets, given the rudimentary organization of ISIS, that's pretty much it, isn't it? they're a light infantry force that doesn't concentrate very often-- and when they do, we pound the crap out of them (see Kobane).

of course our proxies are even more shambolic past the Kurds, but what can you do. slaughtering 20,000+ ISIS fighters retail from the air while taking 0 casualties of our own = not bad, in my book.

SteveDaPirate
14 Mar 16,, 22:47
No, we have to stay out of Russian SAM range and we're not targeting Assad out of respect for the Russians because frankly, Obama would also like to bomb Assad so his "good Syrians" would win. I don't think he even know who they are.

Russian SAMs in Syria aren't aimed at American jets. American airstrikes have been in support of the Kurds, Russian airstrikes have been supporting Assad. Both target ISIL if they gather in any great numbers.

Obama's paramount wish for Syria is stability. Letting Assad keep the reigns of power clearly leaves a bad taste in his mouth, but if it stops the slaughter and outflow of refugees I think he is prepared to live with that.

Here is another example of how Russian and American interests see common ground in Syria. I'm pretty confidant that the US and Russia have reached some sort of agreement on goals and future of Syria.

Russia ready to cooperate with U.S.-led coalition in fight for Syria's Raqqa (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-russia-raqqa-idUSKCN0WG0IC)

GVChamp
14 Mar 16,, 23:13
You guys realize Syria is a loss, right? The explicit goal was to kick out Assad and move Syria to a pluralistic regime. US leaders spent years saying that Assad's days were numbered.

That ended right quick after a ISIS terror attack and a refugee crisis. Entire strategic vision changed. If you can call it a strategic vision. More like combined delusion.

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 23:17
we're sort of getting off-topic here; the point is that Russian involvement didn't eject US presence from Syria or the Middle East. given that Putin is about to withdraw and the US/NATO is still there, does that mean we're now ejecting Russian presence? :-)Funny how the Russian presence coincided with an Assad offensive that redrew the map in a matter of weeks. And when was the last time Israel struck a Syrian convoy? If the Russians did not eject the Americans, they had greatly blocked American and Israeli influence. What's more, Assad is winning. Obama's good Syrians are losing.


on a more serious note, the US -wishes- it didn't have to be involved in Syria, we weren't there in 2011, after all. do you think it would be very difficult for the US to off Assad? we -choose- to let him live because the alternative is worse, and in that, our goals kinda-sorta align with Russia's. You tell me because frankly, when all this talk of bombing Assad, the safe assumption is that he's a primary military target. The fact you didn't go after this butcher with other means says a lot.


finally, presence doesn't equate to power. we had 100,000 men in Iraq in 2007 but it's hard to argue that we had huge amounts of leverage in the region. in fact, both Iran/Pakistan would support proxy attacks against US forces as a bargaining chip...something they can't really do now.I'm not arguing for boots on the ground and given what's been happening, I say get the hell out and let them kill each other. There are no good Syrians. But the point was you were touting Obama's strategic insight. The more we discussed this, the more apparent what kind of disaster this has been. There's more than enough evidence that the FSA has also used chems. Their inability to exact massive casualties was not because they were not trying.


re: tactical level targets, given the rudimentary organization of ISIS, that's pretty much it, isn't it? they're a light infantry force that doesn't concentrate very often-- and when they do, we pound the crap out of them (see Kobane).

of course our proxies are even more shambolic past the Kurds, but what can you do. slaughtering 20,000+ ISIS fighters retail from the air while taking 0 casualties of our own = not bad, in my book.Wait 5 years. We will have another bunch of fucks killing this bunch of fucks.

Officer of Engineers
14 Mar 16,, 23:25
Russian SAMs in Syria aren't aimed at American jets.They've been painting the skies and American jets have been listening to their sigs.


American airstrikes have been in support of the Kurds, Russian airstrikes have been supporting Assad. Both target ISIL if they gather in any great numbers.Assad is advancing. The Kurds are not and the Turks don't want them to advance.


Obama's paramount wish for Syria is stability. Letting Assad keep the reigns of power clearly leaves a bad taste in his mouth, but if it stops the slaughter and outflow of refugees I think he is prepared to live with that.The choice ain't his ever since he let Putin made the deal.


Here is another example of how Russian and American interests see common ground in Syria. I'm pretty confidant that the US and Russia have reached some sort of agreement on goals and future of Syria.

Russia ready to cooperate with U.S.-led coalition in fight for Syria's Raqqa (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-russia-raqqa-idUSKCN0WG0IC)I will wait until Assad is within range.

astralis
14 Mar 16,, 23:44
col,


Funny how the Russian presence coincided with an Assad offensive that redrew the map in a matter of weeks. And when was the last time Israel struck a Syrian convoy? If the Russians did not eject the Americans, they had greatly blocked American and Israeli influence. What's more, Assad is winning. Obama's good Syrians are losing.

as GVChamp pointed out, the rise of ISIS in Syria meant that Assad's ouster was not high on US priorities.

but even before the rise of ISIS, Obama drew his red-line on Assad use of chems, but not on Assad's other human rights atrocities. and the original reason why Obama cared about the use of chems was because he considered it way beyond the pale of international norms, and NOT a direct threat to the US. if there was a direct threat to the US from Assad's chems and Obama waffled, I'd be screeching for his head as loudly as any conservative.

which is an illustration of what Obama was getting at, that he believes himself to be a realist but will respond to the internationalist "norms" argument provided that it can be executed cheaply.

also note that the US has largely washed its hands of the "good Syrians" argument-- we've stopped the train and equip program, as crappy as that was.


But the point was you were touting Obama's strategic insight.

washing our hands of Syria IS good strategy-- that whole area is just one gigantic sore. we got rid of Assad's chems and a bombing campaign is relatively cheap. it seems like the only point you and i seem to be in disagreement about is that you believe Obama's loss of credibility was an enormous mistake that led to greater Russian power/influence in the Middle East. I don't see this, and I believe it was a minor tactical error that doesn't mean much in the long run.


Wait 5 years. We will have another bunch of fucks killing this bunch of fucks.

wish we could completely disengage, but we can't wait 5 years for another group of fucks to kill the current bunch. i don't mind speeding along the process on the cheap.

troung
15 Mar 16,, 01:26
Hmm did anyone say you were? Were you British or German 'vassals' in the 1970s? Y

Allies against the Soviets. The Ukraine is not on the same level. We have no mutual treaty obligating us to declare war.


et from all of your expressions of adoration for the Muscovite Mafiosi regime it would appear that you believe

Russia not the Moscow Mafia; and as we have been over the Ukraine is actually more corrupt than Russia. Kievan Klique?


you have some right to condemn Ukrainians to Muscovite vassalage and the horrors that is known to bring.

Saying my government should sit this one out isn't condemning Ukraine to anything, it's merely sitting this one out. A corrupt people put corrupt governments into power which have sold off much of their arms stocks to third world dictators (and China), and cashed checks to house the Russian fleet; and even today are barely spending any money on their own defense. Our tax money is better spent in America.




AA Font size + Print Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
In Defense of the Obama Doctrine
http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2016/03/defense-obama-doctrine/126626/
March 13, 2016
By Derek Chollet
The Atlantic

Obama is still trying to win Washington over to American power as he sees it: limiting military interventions while convening players for peace.

White House / Foreign Policy / Commentary

In October 2007, Senator Barack Obama, then a struggling Democratic presidential candidate, stood before a few hundred students at DePaul University in Chicago and delivered a speech that few in the foreign-policy world noticed. Five years after his famous statement against the disastrous Iraq invasion, Obama wanted to do more than remind his audience that he had been right all along, which was of course a useful distinction with his chief rival at the time, Hillary Clinton. He didn’t blame the Iraq War simply on George W. Bush or some neoconservative cabal that had hijacked the government, as many Democrats preferred to believe so as to absolve themselves of responsibility. Instead, Obama delivered a broadside against what he called Washington “groupthink.”
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Author

Derek Chollet is a Defense One contributor. He is also counselor and senior advisor for security and defense policy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. During the Obama administration Chollet served most recently as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs and ... Full Bio

“The American people weren’t just failed by a president,” Obama said. “They were failed by much of Washington. By a media that too often reported spin instead of facts [and] by a foreign-policy elite that largely boarded the bandwagon for war.” For Obama, the mentality that led to Iraq was the most prominent example of a systemic breakdown—the result of a distinct mindset that had dominated U.S. foreign policy for too long.

To drive this point home, Obama delivered the same speech twice more that day. But he drew scant attention; his message barely registered in the next day’s papers. Yet looking back, the DePaul speech was a harbinger. For the past seven years, Obama’s efforts to defy this kind of thinking—and redefine American “strength” and “power” in the world—have proven one of the defining features of his presidency. In many ways, this campaign is more far-reaching than any single accomplishment—bigger than the Iran nuclear deal, or the diplomatic openings to Cuba and Burma, or the rebalance to Asia, or even the recent Paris agreement on climate change. And as Jeffrey Goldberg’s remarkable article makes clear, with only 10 months to go before a new president is sworn in, it is a project that remains incomplete. Obama is still trying to overhaul what he calls the “Washington playbook.” (Full disclosure: I talked with Goldberg several times for this story, and have also sought his advice for my own forthcoming book on Obama’s foreign policy.)

What we see in Goldberg’s story is a president who engages global issues in a way that seems all too uncommon today. At a moment when politics is becoming only more cartoonish and corrosive, Obama’s conversations with Goldberg bring to mind what Colin Powell said in his endorsement of Obama in 2008—that he demonstrates “the kind of calm, patient, intellectual, steady approach to problem-solving I think we need in this country.”

This is Obama unplugged: his skepticism that military force should be the answer to every problem; his perspective that ISIS is a real danger, but not an existential threat; his belief that Russia’s behavior in Ukraine and Syria is ultimately self-defeating; his frustrations with “free rider” allies and suspicions about Arab partners, especially the “complicated” relationship with Saudi Arabia; his conviction that when it comes to solving global problems, the U.S. is flawed but indispensable, and must remain clear-eyed about its limits; his deep optimism about the American people; his low regard for posturing and empty gestures; and, of course, his frustration and genuine puzzlement with what passes as foreign-policy wisdom in Washington.

For those of us who served in the Obama administration, such views ring familiar. They’ve been the themes of a running conversation the president has been having about America’s role in the world, and have infused every decision of his. Although it is not quite right to characterize these themes as a “doctrine”—like most presidents, Obama eschews such all-encompassing frameworks, once remarking that he didn’t need a George Kennan—Obama has a coherent approach to projecting global leadership in an era of seemingly infinite demands and finite resources. Obama plays the “long game.”

The problem is that most of Washington plays a different game—one where the rules are black and white and quick results are rewarded, even if they don’t solve the problem (and in fact may make it worse). In this sense, Obama is reminiscent of the Christian Bale character in the movie The Big Short. He remains an outsider, seeing things in ways the establishment herd does not; he is both perplexed by the herd’s willingness to be repeatedly wrong and outraged by its irresponsibility in making the same mistakes over and over.

Take, for example, the 2013 red-line episode in Syria. The decision to refrain from striking President Bashar al-Assad is nearly universally viewed as the original sin of Obama’s foreign policy—as a devastating blow to American credibility and strength. As Obama admitted to Goldberg, it is “the point of the inverted pyramid upon which all other theories rest.” Obama confronts this critique head-on, expressing not only little regret, but also unabashed pride with how things turned out. Goldberg is right when he describes this incident as Obama’s moment of liberation.

Although it is politically incorrect in today’s Washington to say it, I agree with Obama’s conclusion. As a Pentagon official during this crisis, my top concern was the future of Syria’s chemical weapons—that Assad would use them or lose control of them. It was a threat for which the United States (or any other country) did not have an absolute answer. Obama was prepared to use force, and after Assad crossed the red line in August 2013 by using chemical weapons against his people, advocated for it. Yet most members of Congress, and an overwhelming majority of the American people, thought military action against Assad was a bad idea. While Obama concedes that the process he pursued during the red-line episode would not win many style points, in the end the United States achieved something through diplomacy with Russia that the use of force against Syria would not have accomplished: the removal of nearly all Syria’s chemical weapons, which at that time constituted one of the world’s largest stockpiles. By contrast, the planned strikes that Obama called off at the last minute would have only neutralized a small fraction of Assad’s arsenal.

Imagine if Syria’s chemical weapons were still there today. With the rise of ISIS since the red-line crisis, we would be confronted with an even worse threat than the Bush administration wrongly claimed to be facing when it invaded Iraq. While the five-year Syrian Civil War remains a nightmare, and there were things the Obama administration could have—and should have—done differently to mitigate the conflict, I share the president’s doubts that the U.S. had the means to “solve” the problem in Syria in a way that would not have driven America straight into another Middle East quagmire.

Obama believes strength is about much more than big talk and military muscle. As he told Goldberg, “real power means you can get what you want without having to exert violence.” Strength comes not from bullying others or blowing things up, but from using America’s unique capabilities to convene countries in pursuit of common action, offering ideas, setting the agenda, and organizing the effort. Nor does strength come from pretending that solving problems is easy—and that if only the U.S. did more, things would be better. Most important, American strength abroad derives from its resilience at home, which is why Obama places such a priority on what he calls “nation-building at home.”

This conception of strength and leadership could not be more different than what’s on offer from the Republican candidates for president, who are taking macho posturing to new heights. Overseas, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s idea of strength provides a perfect antipode to Obama’s, one the critical herd should consider. Does it really want the American president to be “tough” and “strong” like Putin?

This is why Obama persists, with the same logic he deployed during his 2007 remarks at DePaul. As he nears the end of his time in office, the president is not cowering in defeat. I suspect, in fact, that the more establishment critics claim he’s doing things wrong, the more convinced he becomes that he is right.

Officer of Engineers
15 Mar 16,, 05:29
but even before the rise of ISIS, Obama drew his red-line on Assad use of chems, but not on Assad's other human rights atrocities. and the original reason why Obama cared about the use of chems was because he considered it way beyond the pale of international norms, and NOT a direct threat to the US. if there was a direct threat to the US from Assad's chems and Obama waffled, I'd be screeching for his head as loudly as any conservative.He did waffled, not Assad but Putin.


which is an illustration of what Obama was getting at, that he believes himself to be a realist but will respond to the internationalist "norms" argument provided that it can be executed cheaply.He's under dillusions of grandeur. Russia has been dealing with this region for centuries and will do so centuries more. They have been driven out before but they always came back. They're prepared for a much longer game than Obama ever even dreamed of. They don't have a choice.


also note that the US has largely washed its hands of the "good Syrians" argument-- we've stopped the train and equip program, as crappy as that was.The realists were the ones who told him to stay out. The establishment told him to stay out. State and Defence told him to stay out. And he's patting himself on the back for not following his own decision?


washing our hands of Syria IS good strategy-- that whole area is just one gigantic sore.Russian S400s are there to stay.


we got rid of Assad's chems and a bombing campaign is relatively cheap. it seems like the only point you and i seem to be in disagreement about is that you believe Obama's loss of credibility was an enormous mistake that led to greater Russian power/influence in the Middle East.They've just neutralized Israeli offensive combat power in the region.


I don't see this, and I believe it was a minor tactical error that doesn't mean much in the long run.Tell me that when Assad wants revenge on Israel.


wish we could completely disengage, but we can't wait 5 years for another group of fucks to kill the current bunch. i don't mind speeding along the process on the cheap.Really doesn't matter whether it's your bunch of fucks or not, every five years, there's always a new bunch of fucks. You just have to give up the illusion that your bunch ain't fucks.

DOR
15 Mar 16,, 10:26
“Don’t do stupid shit.”
Read: Honestly assess what are, and what are not, American national interests.


“The notion that we could have—in a clean way that didn’t commit U.S. military forces—changed the equation on the ground there was never true.”
Read: When American national security objectives are optional, they have to be achievable.

“By not intervening early, we have created a monster,” Valls told me. “We were absolutely certain that the U.S. administration would say yes.”
Read: Make sure our allies know that there is an end to free riding. If they don’t want refugees, they will need to get into the heart of the matter and actively work toward real solutions. That will cost money, lives and political capital, but there is no other option.

Require Congressional support before going to war
Read: Put a constitutional scholar in the White House, and watch the Constitution become the basis for governing. Congress doesn’t get a free ride, either.

“If a crisis, or a humanitarian catastrophe, does not meet his stringent standard for what constitutes a direct national-security threat, Obama said, he doesn’t believe that he should be forced into silence.”
Read: It’s a bully pulpit; put it to good use.

= = = = =

Assuming all of the above happens in a vacuum, then announcing a “Pivot to Asia” will not result in Russia or other actors raising tension levels in say, the Middle East.

And, using military force as the first option is not “making the tough decisions.” Sometime, particularly when careful consideration of core values is part of the decision-making process, the ‘tough decision’ is NOT to use force.

= = = = =

And, the most succinct post of all:

Gun Grape---
Like I said you have to want democracy in your country more than we want you to have democracy.

If you want us to do more, you need to do more..

SteveDaPirate
15 Mar 16,, 15:23
They've just neutralized Israeli offensive combat power in the region.

Tell me that when Assad wants revenge on Israel.

What does Israel have to do with anything? They've been about as hands off as possible in the Syrian conflict. As far as I know the only thing they've bombed is a couple of arms shipments that were headed for Hezbollah.

Revenge for what?

Officer of Engineers
15 Mar 16,, 16:10
“Don’t do stupid shit.”
Read: Honestly assess what are, and what are not, American national interests.Obama was the one who decided to bomb Assad. So you tell me. Then start the rest of your assessment from this point. Obama was the one who did stupid shit. His stupid shit got others involved. He undid his stupid shit and is now blaming everyone but himself for the stupid shit he started in the first place. What is worst he's taking pride in stopping his own stupid shit that he's blaming everyone else for.

Cameron was distracted so Obama couldn't go through with the bombing? What a load of crock!

Officer of Engineers
15 Mar 16,, 16:11
What does Israel have to do with anything? They've been about as hands off as possible in the Syrian conflict. As far as I know the only thing they've bombed is a couple of arms shipments that were headed for Hezbollah.

Revenge for what?Golan Heights.

SteveDaPirate
15 Mar 16,, 17:10
Golan Heights.

A handful of casualties in a border spat? I think Assad has bigger issues on his plate. Not that he's in any position to piss off the IDF.

On that note, do you see the Russians actually shooting down Israeli jets on Assad's behalf if they were to get involved? So far everyone seems content to leave Israel to its own devices as long as they only bomb Hez. I think the S-400 is mostly there to try to find Turkish jet that strays too close.

Officer of Engineers
15 Mar 16,, 17:14
A handful of casualties in a border spat?Syrians of all stripes, rebel, ISIS, or Assad claim the Golan Heights as theirs.


I think Assad has bigger issues on his plate. Not that he's in any position to piss off the IDF.For now. The question is the same when we went to war with Libya. What happens if Qaddafi wins? Berlin Disco and PAM AM 103 galore. Therefore, we could not allow him to win.

Israel cannot allow Assad to win but how are they going to stop him?


On that note, do you see the Russians actually shooting down Israeli jets on Assad's behalf if they were to get involved? So far everyone seems content to leave Israel to its own devices as long as they only bomb Hez. I think the S-400 is mostly there to try to find Turkish jet that strays too close.Can Israel afford to take that chance?

SteveDaPirate
15 Mar 16,, 21:52
Israel cannot allow Assad to win but how are they going to stop him?

I realize the Israelis aren't fans of Assad, but he's no existential threat to be countered at all costs. The last time Syria tried their luck with the IDF they had Egypt and an Arab coalition backing them up, and they still ended up watching artillery fall on Damascus.

Assad's military and economy are in shambles and will likely take decades to recover. If Israel considered Assad to be a serious threat, they would send armor towards the Syrian capital and remove him.

Parihaka
15 Mar 16,, 22:34
Surely Hezbollah, now upskilled in urban warefare, are the army Israel needs to be worrying about, backed by Iran with unrestricted logistics through Syria. Lots of strategic depth there.....

SteveDaPirate
15 Mar 16,, 22:50
An interesting recent development regarding Hezbollah is that the GCC seem to be turning up the pressure on Lebanon.

(https://www.reddit.com/r/syriancivilwar/comments/48mg2k/prohezbollah_daily_saudi_arabia_turkey_qatar/d0ksyor)
I haven't read the article, but things have been escalating at a pretty rapid rate over the past 3 weeks here in Saudi.

To be specific: Since Samir Gaegae (pronounced ja'-ja') endorsed Michel Aoun. The latter is deemed as Hezbollah's candidate (at least here in Saudi), and the former was not expected to endorse him.

Saudi gov't took that as a stab in the back, and decided to revise its commitments to the Lebanese gov't:


Canceled $4 Bn pledged to Lebanese security apparatus ($3 to army and $1 to security forces).
Withdrew funds deposited in the Lebanese Central Bank.
Warning citizens not to go to Lebanon (I got 3 of those texts so far, friends went there and were fine. One of them is still there, all is hunky dory).


Other GCC countries followed suit. The UAE and Kuwait specifically.

The message they are trying to deliver either us or Hezbollah.

Yesterday a popular Saudi cleric was shot in the Philippines by what is allegedly, nothing confirmed AFAIK, Hezbollah hired guns. Over here it is received as, let's say a celebrity good will ambassador, being attacked, and so today the GCC designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Officer of Engineers
15 Mar 16,, 22:52
Assad's military and economy are in shambles and will likely take decades to recover. If Israel considered Assad to be a serious threat, they would send armor towards the Syrian capital and remove him.After the performance in the Israeli-Hezbollah War? Taking on a now battle hardened Syrian Army skilled in urban combat with Israeli air superiority neutralized by Russian S400s.

I don't like Israeli chances.

astralis
15 Mar 16,, 23:31
If the Syrian Army can't crush a bunch of sketchily-armed light infantry rebels and ISIS freaks operating at what, the company level...MAYBE battalion level...WITH Russian air support, I'm pretty sure they're not going to find themselves rolling into Tel Aviv anytime soon.

Officer of Engineers
15 Mar 16,, 23:34
If the Syrian Army can't crush a bunch of sketchily-armed light infantry rebels and ISIS freaks operating at what, the company level...MAYBE battalion level...WITH Russian air support, I'm pretty sure they're not going to find themselves rolling into Tel Aviv anytime soon.Rockets across the Golan Heights, daring the Israeli Army to march into a death trap without air support.

SteveDaPirate
16 Mar 16,, 15:20
The S-400 in Syria doesn't have deep enough magazines to stop a real attack because it has no significant air force backing it up. The Israelis could start their air campaign and ignore it. If the Russians intervene, start lobbing cruise missiles towards Tartus until the S-400 has shot its wad, then continue with the air campaign as planned.

astralis
16 Mar 16,, 15:30
yeah, unless you're talking about something along the lines of machine guns vs spears, there's not any one weapons system that's so powerful that will suddenly change the strategic balance. closest thing to that was SAM use during the yom kippur war and in the end, the IDF adapted and overcame that as well.

it's the bleeding Syrians, not the Klingon Empire!

Albany Rifles
16 Mar 16,, 17:10
Regarding the S-400s...

They are operated by Russians crews...in the open. They were deployed in the open by the Russians. How many are there? How many batteries? How many reloads?

It is not a super weapon. And if any force is ready to deal with it I'd say it is the Israeli Air Force. They are just about without peer in the realm of EW.

As for the rest.

As battle hardened as the Syrian Army may have become...it is in a shambles. Key leaders defected. Massive losses in men and equipment. And they have never beaten the Israelis.

The wild cards in any of these scenarios is what happens with the Hezbollah element in the country as well as the anti-Assad forces?

So what is the cause of a war Syrian-Israel War Part Whatever? And what is each country's goals.

All that said my money is on the Israeli Defense Forces.

astralis
16 Mar 16,, 17:37
precisely, if the question is "elevated risk from S-400s" or "Assad's chems", it's pretty clear which one represents a more serious threat to Israel. which is why even Netanyahu, whom detests Obama (and vice versa), was all in favor of what transpired.

Officer of Engineers
16 Mar 16,, 17:53
Qaddafy was never going to conquer Europe but we could not allow him to win after we took sides. Again, after the Hezbollah-Israeli War, I say the other side had learn how to deal with the Israeli AF and the S400 more than compllicate the whole thing.

Officer of Engineers
16 Mar 16,, 17:54
The S-400 in Syria doesn't have deep enough magazines to stop a real attack because it has no significant air force backing it up. The Israelis could start their air campaign and ignore it. If the Russians intervene, start lobbing cruise missiles towards Tartus until the S-400 has shot its wad, then continue with the air campaign as planned.Israel don't have that many cruise missiles.

Officer of Engineers
16 Mar 16,, 18:05
You are all over-reading this. I never said Assad was going to conquer Israel, I said Israel cannot allow Assad to win. The one thing that Assad has going for him is staying power. Israel can conquer the entire mess but they can't stay. They couldn't even keep Southern Lebanon and putting up some allies as defence was a disaster from day 1. Hell, Israeli Lebanese allies defected day 1.

Assad's life depends on him staying in power by whatever means he can.

Assad, looking for vengenace and to unite his people, defeated rebels also, got the Israelis as the means to unite his people. If that is not a concern, then the Israelis are even poorer at strategic outlook.

And lastly, Assad used chems. After all this is settle, he will rebuild his arsenal. He's not signing the CWC nor the BWC.

Doktor
16 Mar 16,, 19:30
After the performance in the Israeli-Hezbollah War? Taking on a now battle hardened Syrian Army skilled in urban combat with Israeli air superiority neutralized by Russian S400s.

I don't like Israeli chances.

IDF crossing the border will only unite the Syrians, the question is who will be the unifier.

gunnut
16 Mar 16,, 20:54
IDF crossing the border will only unite the Syrians, the question is who will be the unifier.

The Israelis will be the unifier.

The warring Arab factions don't have to like each other. All they have to do is fight Israelis instead of each other and the end result is what the Israelis don't want.

Officer of Engineers
16 Mar 16,, 21:08
I remind everyone that this thread is about Obama's strategic insight. He has none. He is the furtherest thing from being a realist. Reality 101: If you're not in the driver seat, you're not going where you want to go.

This is not about committing American combat power. It's about being ready to accept the consequences of your actions or inactions. Obama left Putin in charge of Syria and the result will be a Syria that Israel did not want.

SteveDaPirate
16 Mar 16,, 21:38
I remind everyone that this thread is about Obama's strategic insight. He has none. He is the furtherest thing from being a realist. Reality 101: If you're not in the driver seat, you're not going where you want to go.

Obama has been consistently acting in a way to avoid American commitment to another decade long ME fiasco while largely containing the problem to that region. That is the strategy he was elected to pursue.


Airstrikes keep ISIL pruned back to a manageable size without any long term American commitment.

He gave just enough weapons to the rebels to prevent them from losing, but not enough to win. This prevents either Assad or the rebels from consolidating power and becoming a problem America has to deal with.

He disposed of WMD in Syria without being drawn further into the conflict.

Extensive airstrikes and SOF in support of the Kurds has lead to the distinct possibility of an autonomous Kurdish region that further fractures the Syrian power base for the future. If not a fully federated Syria.


This may not be a strategy you agree with, but it is disingenuous to say that he has no strategic insight whatsoever.


This is not about committing American combat power. It's about being ready to accept the consequences of your actions or inactions. Obama left Putin in charge of Syria and the result will be a Syria that Israel did not want.

Obama was elected to pursue American interests, not Israeli.

If Obama manages to create a federated Syria or one with autonomous regions, Syria will be much less of a threat to Israel going forward.

Doktor
16 Mar 16,, 21:44
The Israelis will be the unifier.

The warring Arab factions don't have to like each other. All they have to do is fight Israelis instead of each other and the end result is what the Israelis don't want.

Not so easy, divide and conquer.

Where are Egypt and Jordan in such a scenario?

Doktor
16 Mar 16,, 21:47
Obama has been consistently acting in a way to avoid American commitment to another decade long ME fiasco while largely containing the problem to that region. That is the strategy he was elected to pursue.


Airstrikes keep ISIL pruned back to a manageable size without any long term American commitment.

He gave just enough weapons to the rebels to prevent them from losing, but not enough to win. This prevents either Assad or the rebels from consolidating power and becoming a problem America has to deal with.

He disposed of WMD in Syria without being drawn further into the conflict.

Extensive airstrikes and SOF in support of the Kurds has lead to the distinct possibility of an autonomous Kurdish region that further fractures the Syrian power base for the future. If not a fully federated Syria.


This may not be a strategy you agree with, but it is disingenuous to say that he has no strategic insight whatsoever.



Obama was elected to pursue American interests, not Israeli.

If Obama manages to create a federated Syria or one with autonomous regions, Syria will be much less of a threat to Israel going forward.

Tell me, how is ME contained in North Africa?

He pulled back troops from the region and it ended all well, friends are in control, right?

SteveDaPirate
16 Mar 16,, 22:08
Tell me, how is ME contained in North Africa?

He pulled back troops from the region and it ended all well, friends are in control, right?

If the price for keeping the ME stable is continual American occupation and blood, the price is too high.

Officer of Engineers
16 Mar 16,, 22:46
Obama has been consistently acting in a way to avoid American commitment to another decade long ME fiasco while largely containing the problem to that region. That is the strategy he was elected to pursue.


Airstrikes keep ISIL pruned back to a manageable size without any long term American commitment.

He gave just enough weapons to the rebels to prevent them from losing, but not enough to win. This prevents either Assad or the rebels from consolidating power and becoming a problem America has to deal with.

He disposed of WMD in Syria without being drawn further into the conflict.

Extensive airstrikes and SOF in support of the Kurds has lead to the distinct possibility of an autonomous Kurdish region that further fractures the Syrian power base for the future. If not a fully federated Syria.
The only one he had any insight on was the chemical stuff and he even begged Putin for help, resulting in unintended consequences of neutralizing Israeli air power.

ISIL came to power under his watch and in fact, he let them came to power, throwing the Iraqis down the drain as much as a wet rag. Seriously, had the Iraqis got the air support the USAF is doing piecemeal now, ISIL would never came to power.


This may not be a strategy you agree with, but it is disingenuous to say that he has no strategic insight whatsoever.What insight? He let and watched ISIL came to power.


Obama was elected to pursue American interests, not Israeli.Israel is the only reliable country in the entire area.


If Obama manages to create a federated Syria or one with autonomous regions, Syria will be much less of a threat to Israel going forward.You actually think Obama has a say in all of this?

Mihais
16 Mar 16,, 22:55
Reliable to do what?And for what purpose?

Officer of Engineers
16 Mar 16,, 23:14
Reliable to do what?And for what purpose?To promote American consumerism, ie culture.

Doktor
17 Mar 16,, 00:57
If the price for keeping the ME stable is continual American occupation and blood, the price is too high.

Sure. We didn't start the fire

DOR
17 Mar 16,, 11:47
Obama was elected to pursue American interests, not Israeli.

Amen, brother.
Amen.

Officer of Engineers
17 Mar 16,, 11:55
Amen, brother.
Amen.So tell me how is neutralizing Israeli airpower is in American interest?

Mihais
17 Mar 16,, 12:23
To promote American consumerism, ie culture.

To whom?

Officer of Engineers
17 Mar 16,, 12:29
To whom?Like it or not, Israel is the only country with Western values in the region. They are the only population gurranteed not given to sway by the dream of the Caliphate.

They maybe dogs but they are our dogs and when the chips are down, they're the only ones guarranteed in that region who will fight with us instead of against us.

astralis
17 Mar 16,, 14:24
aren't there a lot of assumptions here? that 1.) Assad will win his civil war and unify his country, 2.) wage war against Israel, 3.) the Russians will continue to allow the use of the S-400 in such a war, 4.) the IAF/IDF cannot neutralize this platform?

and that's in addition to the main assumption here that if Obama had not threatened a red line over the use of chems, the Russians wouldn't have intervened in Syria...even if Assad was on the ropes.

it strikes me that if Netanyahu even believed for half-a-second that the US was throwing Israel under the bus for a purely American objective, he'd be screeching to the whole world about it-- that's how he viewed the Iran nuclear deal, after all. but he didn't, and in fact, praised the result.

I'm sorry, col, I've tried damned hard to see it through your lens but it's just not coming into focus for me.

snapper
17 Mar 16,, 15:24
Why are the S-400s still there? Is Daesh using flying carpets?

Mihais
17 Mar 16,, 15:42
The Turks prefer F-16's

Albany Rifles
17 Mar 16,, 15:54
If the price for keeping the ME stable is continual American occupation and blood, the price is too high.

Heartily concur.

I am not in favor of isolationism.

But neither am I in favor of more of America's sons and daughters having to continuously deploy to areas which do not want us in order to sustain allies who will not pull their weight.

Albany Rifles
17 Mar 16,, 16:18
Colonel,

I beg to differ on this statement...

ISIL came to power under his watch and in fact, he let them came to power, throwing the Iraqis down the drain as much as a wet rag.

The exit date was set when the Iraqis refused to sign a Status Of Forces Agreement. Every effort to try to renegotiate was rebuffed.

Further, the Iraqis allowed sectarian infighting destroy their capabilities. Instead of embracing and integrating the successful Sunni Sons of Iraq...as agreed to earlier by the Shia government...the Shias went after the Sons of Iraq with a vengeance and arrested most of their key leaders...who were tribal chiefs. Further the Iraqi Army "leadership" was corrupt. When they went up against ISIL the soldiers and NCOs didn't trust their officer corps (who were mostly AWOL) and then bugged out.

I agree with you that we "allowed" ISIL because of one thing...and it wasn't the US withdrawal.

It was the stupid fvcking move of disbanding the Iraqi Army in the first place. That put half a million pissed off men with guns out of work and with no sense of what to do. Desperation drove many into what became AQI.

Shear idiocy.

Hell, the Western Allies used former Wehrmacht & Luftwaffe field police and Staatspolizei to keep order. And then the former soldiers and airmen became the backbone of the new Bundeswehr.

The only effective force has been the Kurds...and that is because they gave a big finger to Baghdad awhile ago. They bore the brunt of the initial assault and stopped it. They have been the most effective anti-ISIL force.

A lot of people laughed at Joe Biden back around 2005-2006 when he suggested that instead of a single government in Iraq we should consider a federation of 3 semi-autonomous regions for the Shia, Sunni & Kurds with a shared oil revenue and shared defense. That would have been a lot smarter.

Officer of Engineers
17 Mar 16,, 17:01
1.) Assad will win his civil war and unify his country, 2.) wage war against Israel, 3.) the Russians will continue to allow the use of the S-400 in such a war,Sounds a hell of a lot more of hoping for the best but doing nothing to prepare for the worst.


4.) the IAF/IDF cannot neutralize this platform?Sure they can, they same way we neutralized the V2 rockets in WW2. Through a hell of a lot more blood, sweat, and tears.


and that's in addition to the main assumption here that if Obama had not threatened a red line over the use of chems, the Russians wouldn't have intervened in Syria...even if Assad was on the ropes.The difference between the Ukraines and Syria is that there is no pretension of "volunteers." Putin was going in and no one was going to stop him.


it strikes me that if Netanyahu even believed for half-a-second that the US was throwing Israel under the bus for a purely American objective, he'd be screeching to the whole world about it-- that's how he viewed the Iran nuclear deal, after all. but he didn't, and in fact, praised the result.You're not reading this. Obama is not in the driver seat. This outcome ain't his doing because he's done nothing to stop it. The S400 ain't an American doing but Netanyahu needs the Americans to counter it. The argument has been about Obama's strategic insight and looking at all of this, he has none. He foreseen nothing and done nothing, except stupid shit.

Hell, his own advisiors told him that Putin used Syria as a fig leaf to restablish Russian military power and not one single action to contain it and the result was a Turkish shot down of a Russian plane and the excuse to put S400 into Syria.


I'm sorry, col, I've tried damned hard to see it through your lens but it's just not coming into focus for me.Really doesn't matter whose at fault at this. The situation on the ground is what it is. No use crying over spilt milk but I do not want to follow the man who allowed this to happen.


I agree with you that we "allowed" ISIL because of one thing...and it wasn't the US withdrawal.I actually agree with getting the hell out of Dodge. If the Iraqis can't deal with platoon and company level threats, then a pox on their house. That wasn't my point. My point was about Obama's strategic insight. Anyone with a bit of ME history knows they would drown in Civil War. There are no good guys there. If we were going to leave, then leave. Let them kill each other.

Then we got into providing arms and training again. We became involved again and when that is not enough, we try to tip the scale and then gone to begging our competitors for help. Did it not occur to Obama that our competitors would collect on that debt?

GVChamp
17 Mar 16,, 17:41
You're operating under the assumption that Israel and Russia are enemies. They aren't. Russia has done a full diplomatic blitz worldwide since Putin's come into office, and that includes Israel. Israel has apparently become more receptive since the obvious anti-Israeli Obama came into office.

Israel has expressed reservations on the missile system:
http://www.timesofisrael.com/top-idf-officer-in-our-nightmares-we-never-saw-russias-s-400-in-syria/

The region is in flux without clear alliances at the moment.



Getting the hell out of dodge is not an option. You're assuming that the US needs to spend $1 trillion and spend 10 years to make minimal gains. Uhhh, no. Russia just defended an ally extremely cheaply. The intervention in Libya was similarly low-cost and high-impact, on the Western side.

Getting the hell out of dodge makes the region worse off and just surrenders influence to the radicals living there and the Russians, who are currently buying influence very cheaply.

The difference between the Obama and Bush foreign policies are strategic, not ideological. Both Bush and Obama and practically all Westerners believe in the same stupid bullshit: these societies are all fundamentally democratic, because all peoples are fundamentally democratic, and we just have to pull off the thin authoritarian veneer.

If this isn't the case, we shouldn't even be there, because there are no good guys.

1. They aren't democratic.
2. There are no good guys
3. Just because there are no good guys does not mean it is in the US interest to not engage at all.

Officer of Engineers
17 Mar 16,, 17:45
You're operating under the assumption that Israel and Russia are enemies.Syria and Iran are getting Russian weapons with Russian ok.


The region is in flux without clear alliances at the moment.Doesn't that mean you should be in the driver seat or at least be prepare to accept a region not to your liking?


Getting the hell out of dodge makes the region worse off and just surrenders influence to the radicals living there and the Russians, who are currently buying influence very cheaply.Every five years, there's a new bunch of fucks killing the former bunch of fucks. We've made a mistake in trying to turn our fucks into angels.

You want to do this on the cheap? Pick a fuck and make him the damned worst fuck you can make him and don't pretend he's an angel.

We've supported Mao against Brezhnev.

GVChamp
17 Mar 16,, 18:05
OOE,

I am agreeing with you.
The reason Israel is not screaming bloody murder is because the S-400 is not a direct threat and Israeli-Russian relations are thawing. But that relationship isn't set in stone yet, because all regional relationships are in flux. Israel is not going to scream bloody murder at someone who might be an ally in 5 years. Or at least a regional partner.

Israel has definitely expressed reservations about the missile system.

We're not in the driver's seat and we are tying our hands behind our back, so we're not accomplishing any objectives and putting ourselves in a bad spot. Syria not having chems right now doesn't help because Assad can jump-start a chem program 5 years from now, and Russia controls that relationship, not us.
Having allies in the Kurds doesn't help, because Iraq/Iran/Turkey all hate the Kurds. The goal was always to give the Kurds autonomy rights within the existing regional governments, which is now not working, because two of the regional governments (Iraq/Syria) are so weak.

Mihais
17 Mar 16,, 18:34
Syria and Iran are getting Russian weapons with Russian ok.

Doesn't that mean you should be in the driver seat or at least be prepare to accept a region not to your liking?

Every five years, there's a new bunch of fucks killing the former bunch of fucks. We've made a mistake in trying to turn our fucks into angels.

You want to do this on the cheap? Pick a fuck and make him the damned worst fuck you can make him and don't pretend he's an angel.

We've supported Mao against Brezhnev.

Sir,the most dangerous fvck from an Israeli pov isn't Iran or Syria.It's Erdogan and Turkey.Russian arms keeping the sultan at bay actually helps Israel.

snapper
17 Mar 16,, 18:38
Sounds a hell of a lot more of hoping for the best but doing nothing to prepare for the worst.

Entirely agree... if Obama has had a 'doctrine' is has been merely to hope for the best; the Russian 'Reset', the Iranian deal and the 'Red line' entirely wishful thinking unless you have the intention and the plans to back them if they turn sour. The plans exist without doubt but Obama never had any intention so as a policy it was non starter.

Stitch
17 Mar 16,, 21:16
Colonel,

I beg to differ on this statement...

ISIL came to power under his watch and in fact, he let them came to power, throwing the Iraqis down the drain as much as a wet rag.

The exit date was set when the Iraqis refused to sign a Status Of Forces Agreement. Every effort to try to renegotiate was rebuffed.

Further, the Iraqis allowed sectarian infighting destroy their capabilities. Instead of embracing and integrating the successful Sunni Sons of Iraq...as agreed to earlier by the Shia government...the Shias went after the Sons of Iraq with a vengeance and arrested most of their key leaders...who were tribal chiefs. Further the Iraqi Army "leadership" was corrupt. When they went up against ISIL the soldiers and NCOs didn't trust their officer corps (who were mostly AWOL) and then bugged out.

I agree with you that we "allowed" ISIL because of one thing...and it wasn't the US withdrawal.

It was the stupid fvcking move of disbanding the Iraqi Army in the first place. That put half a million pissed off men with guns out of work and with no sense of what to do. Desperation drove many into what became AQI.

Shear idiocy.

Hell, the Western Allies used former Wehrmacht & Luftwaffe field police and Staatspolizei to keep order. And then the former soldiers and airmen became the backbone of the new Bundeswehr.

The only effective force has been the Kurds...and that is because they gave a big finger to Baghdad awhile ago. They bore the brunt of the initial assault and stopped it. They have been the most effective anti-ISIL force.

A lot of people laughed at Joe Biden back around 2005-2006 when he suggested that instead of a single government in Iraq we should consider a federation of 3 semi-autonomous regions for the Shia, Sunni & Kurds with a shared oil revenue and shared defense. That would have been a lot smarter.

Totally agree with this; IIRC, it was Bremer's decision to "clean house" shortly after the invasion, which was extremely short-sighted. I believe that's when the insurgency started. Yes, I'm sure a few of the dismissed officials and soldiers probably would've ended going over to the "dark side" anyway, but for those that were unsure or undecided on which way to lean, this action gave them no choice; either join the nascent insurgency, or die.

The example AR used about our post-WWII use of ex-Luftwaffe and Wehrmacht (and even some SS) personnel is a good one; I know the US was criticized afterwards for this, especially for programs like Operation Paperclip, but it ended up helping us in the long run, both in terms of post-conflict stability in the conquered territories, and in terms of the acquisition of beneficial assets for our country (i.e.: skilled personnel & resources). We probably should've done the same thing in Iraq (although this probably would not have worked in Afghanistan), but the Bush Administration instead took the easy route, and simply dissolved the Iraqi Army and several key Iraqi institutions, which led to thousands of former government employees being disenfranchised and going over to "the other side" (including hundreds of highly-trained soldiers).

gunnut
17 Mar 16,, 22:18
It was the stupid fvcking move of disbanding the Iraqi Army in the first place. That put half a million pissed off men with guns out of work and with no sense of what to do. Desperation drove many into what became AQI.

That was a stupid move. I didn't see it in 2004. I realized it in 2006.



A lot of people laughed at Joe Biden back around 2005-2006 when he suggested that instead of a single government in Iraq we should consider a federation of 3 semi-autonomous regions for the Shia, Sunni & Kurds with a shared oil revenue and shared defense. That would have been a lot smarter.

I thought Biden made a lot of sense with this suggestion back then, and still does. It's not too late. We should support the Kurds as much as we can because they are the only ones willing to fight.

tbm3fan
17 Mar 16,, 22:58
I agree with you that we "allowed" ISIL because of one thing...and it wasn't the US withdrawal.

It was the stupid fvcking move of disbanding the Iraqi Army in the first place. That put half a million pissed off men with guns out of work and with no sense of what to do. Desperation drove many into what became AQI.

Shear idiocy.

Hell, the Western Allies used former Wehrmacht & Luftwaffe field police and Staatspolizei to keep order. And then the former soldiers and airmen became the backbone of the new Bundeswehr.

The only effective force has been the Kurds...and that is because they gave a big finger to Baghdad awhile ago. They bore the brunt of the initial assault and stopped it. They have been the most effective anti-ISIL force.

A lot of people laughed at Joe Biden back around 2005-2006 when he suggested that instead of a single government in Iraq we should consider a federation of 3 semi-autonomous regions for the Shia, Sunni & Kurds with a shared oil revenue and shared defense. That would have been a lot smarter.

Agree with this. Disbanding the army and putting a ton of men out of work, armed to the teeth, was sheer stupidity on a monumental level. Now all are paying the price.

Officer of Engineers
18 Mar 16,, 00:03
I thought Biden made a lot of sense with this suggestion back then, and still does. It's not too late. We should support the Kurds as much as we can because they are the only ones willing to fight.Kurdistan was a no go because no one in Ankara and Tehran would tolerate it and anyone in Baghdad who even voice it as a tolerable solution would be up for assassination. It would be a foreign imposed solution to one country only (Iraq) that would engulf violence in Turkey and Iran. And within Iraq itself, it was not politically tolerable.

GVChamp
18 Mar 16,, 01:48
Split Iraq into federations and ISIL still takes over the Sunni sector and multi-ethnic Baghdad is still screwed.

Officer of Engineers
18 Mar 16,, 04:48
The other point why Kurdistan is a no go. It would be they who would be launching attacks into Turkey and Iran in order to unite the traditional Kurdistan homeland. Supporting the Kurds may sound like a nice idea but not when you know the actual history.

Doktor
18 Mar 16,, 07:51
The other point why Kurdistan is a no go. It would be they who would be launching attacks into Turkey and Iran in order to unite the traditional Kurdistan homeland. Supporting the Kurds may sound like a nice idea but not when you know the actual history.

Just like Kosovo

Officer of Engineers
18 Mar 16,, 07:57
Just like KosovoSerbia ain't Turkey and Iran. Small potatoes. Not arguing the rights and wrongs of it. I argue against the Kosovo War. It is what it is.

Officer of Engineers
18 Mar 16,, 08:38
To sum up, Hope is not a strategy.

snapper
18 Mar 16,, 10:06
Wasn't Saladin a Kurd?

Albany Rifles
18 Mar 16,, 14:49
Colonel,

I see your point now...I don't totally agree but at least understand your argument.

Regarding Kurdistan....

I consider it would have worked in 2005-2007. We would have been engaged, we could have helped keep a lid on things. We would play hard ball with the Turks...that administration had no probably telling other allies to pound sand. Plus we tell Turkey we would lobby on their behalf for EU membership and that would have bought some tamping down. They would yell at us in public but work with us in private.

And we tell the Iranians to go fvck themselves. US soldiers were dying from bombs designed and made by Iranians....


Gunnut, I remember SCREAMIN at the TV back then "Bremer, you stupid ************!!!" My wife, who was outside, came running in to see if I was okay.

And GVChamp...with a strong Sunni area with self determination, a stable community and meaningful security work within a framework of a Greater Iraq ISIL never gets born. Hell, Al Qaeda in Iraq may have never happened.


Way too late now. The seeds of ISIL were sown 10 years ago.

astralis
18 Mar 16,, 15:07
yes, concur with AR. at least I understand the good col's POV a bit better now, even if I don't agree.

as for Iraq-- we went with centralization because it was the easier choice. we did a LOT in Iraq that was the easier choice, not the better choice. back in 2003 and 2004 we had enough say to influence things, because there was no real organization on the ground yet.

by the way, the current system in Iraq IS rather closer to federalization than it was back in, say, 2006 or 2007...precisely because the central government lost so much legitimacy and power through Maliki's utter botching of things. the Kurds are virtually independent now. and Turkey's eating it because Turkey has no other choice.

GVChamp
19 Mar 16,, 14:34
Independent Kurdistan is a fait accompli. No one actually planned for an independent Kurdistan. It was an autonomous region and the central government virtually collapsed.

Setting up Kurdistan as independent in 2003/2004 is a willful act of American power that will be opposed by everyone in the region. Especially Turkey, which the Bush I administration is not going to alienate 2 years after 9/11, not after we pissed them off invading Iraq in the first place. Politically, it's not even an option.

I really don't think independent Kurdistan is sustainable, either. They have been "de facto" independent >2 years. Give it another decade of Kurdish terrorists bombing Turkey and let's see what happens.

Are there any other examples where a federated state would've actually kept out ISIS or prevented an insurgency from arising in the first place? Saddam left the Sunnis a whole bunch of weapons to fight a civil war. And the Shi'a militias didn't want US control anymore than the Sunnis did. I don't see any way out of Iraq without going through an insurgency.


The Brits did the split option in India and Israel: the result was 3 new nuclear powers.

snapper
20 Mar 16,, 09:27
Sir Hew Srachan on Obama's failure in Syria from 2014; http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/15/senior-uk-defense-advisor-obama-is-clueless-about-what-he-wants-to-do-in-the-world.html

Triple C
20 Mar 16,, 12:34
I am still trying to understand what happened to the Status of Forces Agreement -- Iraq debacle. To an outsider the process was quite opaque. How badly did Obama press the Iraqis to renegotiate it? Did al-Maliki really believe all would be well if he was to be left with his own impotent devices? Did he understand that if he missed the deadline, that would be that?