From Gregory Djerejian, the last remaining realist in foreign policy circles:
In an orgy of public preening, the Iraq ‘Class of ’03’ flooded print and television media post Mosul’s capture by ISIS forces in Iraq last week. If one had hoped for the merest dose of humility given the calamitous missteps this hearty band of adventurers had presided over, manifold disappointment was instead in the offing.
I just don’t even know what to say or where to begin any more on this issue. It’s like an alternate universe any semblance of foreign policy prudence no longer exists. And to be frank: this is a dangerous place to be. Complacency kills.
Adomanis is a smart, shrewd analyst. His opinion is worth reading and considering. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, but as Numerian noted in the comment section of one of our multiple Ukrainian threads, there are untold consequences for Russia’s actions. And in any war-like situation the enemy (meaning the Ukraine in this case) holds cards of its own. How it plays them? We shall see. But the point is, the Ukraine has options too.
That conclusion is and was never in doubt by me. Should Russia have done what it did? Hell if I know. I’m not sitting in Pootie-poot’s command center. All I know is how I might react given what I do know of Russian history and how I might react were I put in a situation where I was the leader of a nation that was slowly being encircled by what I perceivedas a hostile military alliance that had broken promise after promise.
Sometimes in life and in geopolitics there are no good choices, only lots of bad choices. The duty of a statesman is to make the best bad choice. You deal with the world you have, not the world you want.
So, Adomanis makes a lot of sense. That being said and risks notwithstanding, I can still put myself in Putin’s shoes and see why he hadto make the move he did.
And that has been my fundamental gripe throughout the entire crisis: no one in the West was doing that. No one was acting upon Sun Tzu’s dictum: know thy enemy, know thyself.
The ultimate failure here is one of imagination. The US policy elite simply cannot move past this paralyzing virtual reality of foreign policy orthodoxy in which they inhabit: an incestuous feedback loop of think tankers and pundits, each one of whom is vying for a position on the NSC or has had one at State and no one suffers any consequences for being wrong. Ever.
Moreover, no one offers to try and find a solution because the only solution is one based on American preferences.
That’s not diplomacy, it’s tautology.
That tautology has led us to a very dangerous point.
Pretty soon we can add Syria to a long list of countries destroyed by the American inability to mind its own fucking business, especially when it has no vital national interests at stake. And yes, I am quite comfortable putting the blame for most of the bloodshed on the US and its proxies like Turkey arming the rebels in the region. Had we not, Assad would probably had wrapped this up a year ago. Seriously, how much money and guns have we poured into Syria? And how can we not claim to be culpable, in at least some way, for what’s happening there?
Regardless, I defy anyone to name me one VITAL, existential, national interest at stake in Syria?
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s intense desire to deal a blow to Iran through the proxy war in Syria is so intense, it seems as though the Saudis have lost contact with reality.
Over the past few weeks, Saudi Arabia profoundly offended Russia’s president, announced its disapproval of United States foreign policy, and turned down a seat on the United Nations Security Council. For a nation with substantial vulnerabilities, the Saudis act as though they can survive their internal and external enemies without any help. (Image: Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Wikimedia)
Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi inteligence chief, tried to both bribe and threaten Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting in August 2013. Bandar offered to purchase billions in Russian goods in return for Putin abandoning the Syrian government (and its chief ally Iran) in its fight against foreign inspired and funded attack on that nation. At the same, meeting, Bandar also threatened terrorist acts against the Russian hosted Sochi Winter Olympics. (AlMonitor, Aug 22) Read More
Apparently the contracted services of Lanny Davis and apocalyptic clownshoes agit-prop of Billy Kristol and co. are the tip of a spear with no shaft. As Nathan Guttman of the JD Forwardreports, organized Jewish opposition to President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary evaporated following yesterday’s announcement:
Most Jewish groups have made clear they will not lobby against Hagel’s confirmation in the Senate, leaving the floor for only smaller groups on the right wing of the Jewish community to attack the former Nebraska Senator as anti-Semitic and unfriendly to Israel.
Jewish activists were unhappy with the choice but fell in line with their traditional reluctance to challenge a president’s right to pick his cabinet members.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, widely seen as the lobbying group Hagel spoke about in his 2007 remarks referring to the “Jewish lobby” that has “intimidated lawmakers,” notably refrained from taking any stand, either public or private, regarding Hagel’s nomination.
“AIPAC does not take positions on presidential nominations,” said the lobby’s spokesman Marshall Wittmann in an email to the Forward. Capitol Hill sources confirmed that they had not heard from AIPAC on the issue.
“AIPAC’s perspective is that they need to work with the next defense secretary,” explained Steve Rosen, a former lobbyist with the group. “They can’t just look from a standpoint of how you feel about a nomination but also from the day after and how you learn to work with Hagel.” Rosen, who is a critic of Hagel, added that as Secretary of Defense, Hagel and his deputy and assistants will have significant influence on many issues the pro-Israel lobby deals with daily, including foreign aid, procurement, military cooperation and defense technology.
Other Jewish groups have also relaxed their criticism, stressing the need to move forward rather than dwell on whether Hagel is worthy of the post. The Anti Defamation League’s national director, Abraham Foxman, in a statement issued Monday said that while Hagel would not have been his first choice, “I respect the President’s prerogative.”
Foxman told the Forward on Monday he did not change his views on Hagel, since he had never flat-out opposed the nomination.
“We never said we were going to fight him,” he said, adding that “from the moment that [Obama] announced it, this is a different reality.”
Foxman, who was widely referred to as the first Jewish leader to speak out against Hagel, stating that the Nebraska Senator’s comments on the Jewish lobby “border on anti-Semitism”, explained he did not accuse Hagel of being anti-Semitic. “In the world we live in, one cannot be nuanced,” he said.
The only mainstream Jewish group to actively address the Senate on Hagel has been the American Jewish Committee, which in a letter urged Senators to “fully probe” Hagel.
By sunrise the next day, it was clear to Romney that they had acted too quickly. The campaign learned that four Americans had been killed in an attack on a U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Even to some Republicans, Romney’s hasty statement looked insensitive.
“We screwed up, guys,” Romney told aides on a conference call that morning, according to multiple people on the call. “This is not good.”
His advisers told him that, if he took back his statement, the neoconservative wing of the party would “take his head off.”He stood by it during an appearance in Florida. Two days later, Obama traveled to Joint Base Andrews to meet the four flag-draped coffins.
[W]hile Republicans have every right to seize on the administration’s dissembling, it’s very hard for me to find a foreign policy criticism here, outside of banal ones (i.e. that U.S. facilities overseas need better security and that public officials shouldn’t lie). Many Republicans - and conservative commentators – supported the intervention in Libya. Moreover, if the GOP platform and Mitt Romney’s foreign policy statements are to be believed, Republicans believe Washington needs to be engaged in more direct attacks and subversion of countries in the Mideast.
In other words, if you think the aftermath of the Libyan intervention has been bad for U.S. interests, the Republican answer is to replicate it in more countries.