Sunday, November 16, 2014

Israel Opposing Iran Nuclear Talks to Maintain Status Quo?

Robert Hunt, former US Ambassador to NATO, has published a piece today in which he discussing what he believes is the REAL reason Israel is so adamantly against ANY nuclear accord between the US and Iran: Israel wants Iran to remain the "boogeymen" of the Middle East.

Israel of course is not the only nation in that region that would prefer this image of Iran remain no matter what..

Kudos to Mr. Hunter on a piece somewhat out of left field when it comes to these nuclear talks..

Why Israel Opposes A Final Nuclear Deal with Iran and What to Do Abort It- LobeLog

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Syrian Nuclear Scientists Assassinated...Possible Iranian Connection?

First, the headline:

While a story of Syrian government scientists/engineers being killed would normally be a bit lost in the multitude of news concerning Syria's ongoing civil war, but it's that last bit of the headline, "one of them Iranian" that has caught many observers' eye. 

Here are some the facts concerning this story that may catch your eye too:
  • These engineers work at Syria's Der Al-Hadjar Nuclear Research Center, which is home to Syria only "true" research reactor, the SRR-1.
  • The SRR-1 is what is called a "miniature neutron source reactor" (MNSR), which is one of the smallest of its kind in the world.
  • While the reactor does uses highly-enriched uranium as its fuel (90% enriched), it uses so little fuel (just under 1 kilogram) that using this facility's current fuel or even its spent fuel (which may contain a VERY small amount of plutonium) for making nuclear weapons is not even remotely feasible.
  • However, while the MNSR can't be used to actually produce nuclear weapons, it CAN be used to experiment on methods of plutonium-extraction from spent fuel and several other non-civilian experiments. 
  • The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in recent years got into something of a row with the Syrian government over the possibility that experiments of these type were carried out at this facility. 
  • The reports of an Iranian nuclear engineer being killed in this attack is NOT confirmed by any Iranian or Syrian government sources but is being widely reported by various news agencies.
  • The area of the capital of Damascus where this attack occurred is NOT believed to be involved in any heavy fighting, so the odds of this being a random killing of government officials by "rebels" seems unlikely. 
So what is the real significance of this story?

If confirmed, why is there an Iranian nuclear engineer working at the MNSR? 

Who carried out this killing? Syrian "rebels" or operatives of the Israeli government?

All very good questions and regardless of their answers, I suspect this won't be the last we hear of Syrian nuclear-related activities...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Senator Rand Paul: President Obama's ISIS War is Illegal

Not much to comment on here.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a likely 2016 contender for the GOP nomination, makes the case that our current conflict with ISIS in Iraq and Syria has now exceeded the legal limits and is now unconstitutional.

That is NOT a new observation nor even a very unique one (much the same was said of the brief air war over Libya several years ago), but that doesn't mean he's wrong in making this accusation..

The Daily Beast- Obama's ISIS War is Illegal

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cruz's Demagoguery on Israel and Iran- The American Conservative

A short and sweet piece concerning Ted Cruz's boringly predictable response to a story on Iran's nuclear program by The American Conservative's very own, Daniel Larison!

Cruz's Demagoguery on Israel and Iran

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

To Beat Russian Tanks, the Baltic States Study the Georgian War- War is Boring

For those who don't know, the site War is Boring is arguably one of the best independent military/foreign policy sites around. It has a fairly unique style of writing and the topics tackled by its authors are hardly typical.

Today, WIB author Robert Buckhusen posted a piece discussing just how nervous the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) towards the Russians, not surprising given the events in Ukraine over the last year or so.

How are these Baltic states' militaries reacting? Smartly, by studying another conflict between the modern Russian military and a small ex-Soviet state: Georgia.


To Beat Russian Tanks, the Baltic States Study the Georgian War

Monday, October 20, 2014

FP- Do Iraq and Syria No Longer Exist?

Consider this if you will: Your country is in the midst of a serious "civil war", so serious in fact that you have lost control of one of your longest continuous borders, has your country ceased to exist as a unified & distinct entity?

That is just one of many worrying questions foreign policy wonks and world leaders alike, now tackled by Foreign Policy magazine's very own Joel Rayburn..

Definitely worth a read!

Do Iraq & Syria No Longer Exist? - Foreign Policy Mag

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Daily Beast: Goodbye to the Last of Syria's Good Guys

Ever since President Obama made his announcement that the US would be taking a much more active role in combating the forces of ISIS, much of the talk in Washington (both by pundits and "analysts") has been WHO exactly is the Syrian opposition forces we are pledging to help?

Are these forces the kind of freedom-loving force that NeoCons dream of or are we once again backing the "enemy of my enemy", hoping to God that those weapons and training we are giving them don't come back to bite us in the ass?

Well, Joshua Hersh of The Daily Beast has tackled this very question in a piece posted today:

Goodbye to the Last of Syria's Good Guys

The questions surrounding these "good rebels" are planning to arm/train to fight ISIS is far more important than many may realize.

Not only in such a strategy incredibly risky, but to be frank, our history with similar such "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" affairs is just plain terrible. All too often, these groups gladly ask for the help of the United States, only to stab us in the back THE moment it becomes politically expedient.

Further, giving how long Syria's civil war has ranged, one really has to wonder as to whether this is all MUCH too little, too late...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Daily Beast: Why Obama Can't Say His Spies Underestimated ISIS

Amazing how a supposedly "uber-liberal" media organization like The Daily Beast rather openly (and not to mention very quickly) point out possible, lets say "errors", in what President Obama said in today's interview on 60 Minutes.

And who says the "lame-stream media" doesn't hold folks accountable?

Why Obama Can't Say His Spies Underestimated ISIS- The Daily Beast

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Israel's Deputy Speaker of Knesset Calls for What Can Only Be Called "Ethnic Cleansing" in Gaza..

Before anyone gets too overly excited about me posting this, I want to state something for the record: 
In this most recent conflict between Israel and her enemies based in the Gaza Strip, their actions to date are in my opinion fully justified. This doesn't mean I agree with the IDF's methods of warfare  and nor I absolve Israel of the growing number of civilian casualties, just that they have the right to take action against those who wish their destruction. If we Americans were put in a similar scenario, I suspect that many of those decrying Israelis actions as wrong would have a change of heart..
A rather disturbing post has appeared on Knesset (Israel's Parliament) Deputy Speaker Moshe Feiglin's Facebook page that, if authentic, would amount to a major figure of Israel's ruling advocating for action in Gaza that would amount to nothing short of ethnic cleansing..

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Clashes in the Caucasus Region Lead Many to Fear New War..

Over the last week, there have been bloody clashes between two old enemies in the Caucasus region of Europe (or Eurasia, depending on how you ask), that have caused many (including myself) to wonder if one of the "frozen conflicts" of the post-Cold War era is about to become VERY hot..

Who are these old enemies? To explain that, a little background first..

20 years ago, one of the deadly conflicts of the post-Soviet Union finally ended with a ceasefire agreement, one that holds to this day, barely. This conflict was between the not-yet independents nations of Armenia and Azerbaijan. That's right, this conflict began BEFORE these two nations declared their independence from the Soviet Union, which should give you some hint at how deep this conflict goes..

The immediate cause of this conflict was the fact that both countries had significant minority populations of the others' majority ethnic group in their borders and rising nationalism in both regions was causing ethnic friction. In particular, the large population of ethnic Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region within Azerbaijan's borders became the focus of conflict.

This region was not only home to a large population of Armenians, but also a decent Azerbaijani minority as well. Violence between the Armenians and the Azerbaijanis in this region, and the ethnic Armenians hope of joining with Armenia were the immediate cause of the conflict.

The conflict soon spread into full-scale war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a war that would last for over 6 years and end with a ceasefire agreement, but no lasting armistice or peace. The Nagorno-Karabakh region became a de facto independent state and the Armenians came out as the "victors" of the overall conflict.

During the 20 years that have passed, many aspects of this conflict has changed dramatically, largely in favor of the "loser", Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is now one of the world's growing energy powers (thanks to her large petrochemical resources, which the Soviets took great advantage of during their rule over the region) and has used this new wealth to fund a large military build-up over the last decade or so.

Arms have been imported from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and they established a quiet but quite successful relationship with Israeli arms manufacturers. This arms build-up is not unlike that accomplished by Georgia before the 2008 Georgian-Russian war..

Armenia on the other hand, has struggled economically since the conclusion of the war and thus has not been able to maintain the same kind of arms build-up as Azerbaijan has and thus has been growing concerned that Azerbaijan may attempt something similar to what Georgia attempted that sparked their war with Russia: take back territory they claim to be theirs.

Armenia has instead, done what it can to improve her defenses: allied closely with the Russia. To this day, the Russians have a large military base on Armenian soil (which houses a single division and a small unit of MiG-29 fighters). Russian military presence on Armenian soil will almost certain complicate matters for any future war..

Which brings us back to the last weeks events. Regardless of the exact causes, there have been several bloody clashes between the Azerbaijani military and the Armenian forces of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic that have left dozens dead. Further, there are growing signs that these clashes may not be the end of it.

Numerous images posted on Twitter are showing armored vehicles of the Azerbaijani military seemingly moving towards the border with the NKR, leaving we observers to wonder: is this simply precautionary movements by Azerbaijan in light of the recent clashes? Or is it the beginning of something more, prolonged..

What impact does this have on us? The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is one of the oldest and bloody to occur in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's fall and for it to re-ignite today could spell chaos throughout the entire region. Russia, who has apparently had no problem selling Azerbaijan arms while simultaneously stationing forces in Armenia, will be put in a difficult position: enter the conflict on the side of Armenia and thus entangle itself in a potential long and drawn-out war, or simply sit on the sidelines and whole the conflict remains contained just outside Russia's border.

The US too would be in a problematic position. While US interests are not necessarily at stake in such a conflict, their relationship built up with Azerbaijan over the last 10 years or so could not be easily ignored and the fact that Azerbaijan's closest ally in the region is fellow NATO-member Turkey could further complicate matters.

The short answer: such a conflict, while not well known to most in the US or the world for that matter, has all the potential for making an already volatile region tip over the edge and make the Georgian-Russian War of 2008 look like a school yard fight...

Monday, July 21, 2014

The evidence that shows Iron Dome is not working | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The evidence that shows Iron Dome is not working | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Rather fascinating and fact-based piece on how Israel's much talked about "Iron Dome" defense system is is NOT quite as effective as reported...

Concerning, my biggest concern is not necessary how effective it is but what will happen when the relatively small number of rounds building in the last 2-3 years is soon expended and there is NOTHING but warning sirens and shelters to protect Israelis civilians..

Monday, July 14, 2014

Iraqi army remains on defensive as extent of June debacle becomes clearer - Stars&Stripes

Iraqi army remains on defensive as extent of June debacle becomes clearer - Middle East - Stripes

This is honestly one of the best pieces written to-date concerning the scale of the Iraqi military's collapse against ISIS and its continued problems now five weeks after their offensive in Iraq began.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

More From Spy Chiefs: Palestine Conflict, Not Iran, Is Our Top Threat – J.J. Goldberg

More From Spy Chiefs: Palestine Conflict, Not Iran, Is Our Top Threat – J.J. Goldberg

Always curious how Israel's spy masters make relatively public statements (often contradicting the ruling government coalition's policies), while their American counterparts rarely say anything publicly unless being grilled by Congress and almost always hold the "party line" of the administration...

IMHO, the spy chiefs' opinions on Iran's nuclear program being an "existential threat" to Israel is dead-right.

A regime, like the one that rules Iran, has spent a great deal of time and effort to remain in power over the years and the thought that they, IF they had nuclear weapons, would simply "nuke" Israel at the drop of a hat is not only massively idiotic, those who express such an opinion almost certainly has some Neo-Con agenda in mind..

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Iraq SITREP July 02 2014

My thanks to the good folks at the Institute for the Study of War, who have been faithfully publishing probably the best daily situation reports on the conflict going on in Iraq between the government forces and ISIS forces anywhere on the web.

With that, here is the Iraq SITREP for 02 July 2014:

Iraq Situation Report: July 2, 2014 | Institute for the Study of War

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

All Iranian Su-25 Frogfoot attack planes have just deployed to Iraq

All Iranian Su-25 Frogfoot attack planes have just deployed to Iraq

While the article from The Aviationist has several small errors (including the number of Su-25s in service in Iran and what variants they are), it is very interesting and does finally confirm something:

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps has joined the war against ISIS.

For those scratching your heads about these aircraft, here is the short version: Iran actually has two separate large aviation forces.

One, is the IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force), which is the conventional air arm that provides primary air defense for Iran and has a fairly large (and varied) fleet of combat aircraft. This is the branch directly descended from the Imperial Iranian Air Force during the Shah's rule of Iran.

Second, is the IRGCAF (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force), which is a part of the larger Revolutionary Guard Corps. This force answers directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran and it's specific goal is to "defense the Revolution" aka the government, from outside threats. The IRGCAF has a relatively small/irregular force of combat aircraft for which the Su-25K/UBKs are the most potent. This force also controls the majority of Iran's ballistic missile forces (ranging from R-17/Shahab-1/2 to the Shahab-3 and Sejil MRBMs).

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Iraqi Military Receives Much Needed Airpower...From Russia

Within the last six hours or so, news that broken (backed up by video evidence) that the Iraqi military has received much needed military equipment for their ongoing fighting with the terrorist group/army ISIS.

This military tech is in the form of the first combat jet aircraft to be delivered to Iraq since Saddam was in power..But now in the form you might have expected.

Instead of coming from the US, these combat jets appear to have come via Russia (whether from Russian or Belarusian stocks in unknown). See the video below for the delivery of said aircraft:

Su-25s Arrive in Iraq

Saturday, June 21, 2014

June 21 Iraq SITREP via Institute for the Study of War

Courtesy the good folks at the Institute for the Study of War...

Foreign Policy Mag- Being a Neocon Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

Thanks to Stephen Walt at Foreign Policy magazine for a great piece on the continued influence of the Neocons, aka Lord Cheney and his faithful and idiotic minions (no, not the cute minions from Despicable Me, these minions aren't that smart..).

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Good Links for Keeping an Eye on Events in Iraq

For those of us trying to make some sense of what is going on in Iraq, the "news" hasn't exactly been the most reliable source of information.

Thus I've been searching the net for good sites with knowledgeable reports on the events in Iraq between Iraqi military/security forces and the ISIS/ISIL.

Here is the list of sites I have found so far:

Institute for the Study of War

The Long War Journal

Blogs of War

I've also decided to add these sites to my blog list on the site so my readers can be better informed!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sunni Islamists Take Iraq's 2nd Largest City..Beginning of a Much Wider Conflict?

The much feared spill-over of Syria's civil war has now been truly realized..the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria have now captured Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.

While this is hardly the first time the ISIS has launched raids and military attacks into Iraq (making their first impressions with attack and partial occupation of Fallujah), the capture of such a major population center is just ONE of many disturbing elements to this news.

Per the reporting/analysis at the War is Boring site, the attack in Mosul began and gained its initial success due to apparently unpreparedness of the Iraqi government forces (several American-built M1A1s were sitting with their hatches open, allowing ISIS forces to simply throw grenades inside!), picked up the momentum in the battle.

But what appears to have at least aided in the ISIS's victory was the support of local population.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

Syrian rebels describe US-backed training in Qatar in new documentary - Middle East - Stripes

An interesting, and curiously timed, piece of news concerning US assistance to Syrian rebel forces via PBS's Frontline news program.

Syrian rebels describe US-backed training in Qatar in new documentary - Middle East - Stripes

Somalia Is at Peace - Somalia Is at War - War Is Boring

A solid piece on the both improving, and simultaneously deteriorating situation going on in Somalia today via War is Boring's Peter Dorrie.

Somalia Is at Peace - Somalia Is at War - War Is Boring

Iran Knows the Secrets of America's Stealth Drone - War is Boring

Kudos to Jassem Al Salami of the War is Boring website for this fascinating and fairly in-depth article on what "secrets" Iranian military personnel may have pulled from the secretive RQ-170 Sentinel drone they captured back in 2011.

Iran Knows the Secrets of America's Stealth Drone - War is Boring

Battle at Donetsk airport Between Govt & Rebel Forces: Post-Election Day Present for Ukraine's new Prez

News from Ukraine today via Reuters:

Battle at Donetsk airport; New Ukraine leader says no talks with 'terrorists' | Reuters

Potential Shift on Ukraine by Putin a Result of His Visit to China?

Kudos to Paul Goble, writing for The Interpreter magazine, for an interesting piece on why Russian President Putin was so public is stating his support for whatever the outcome of the recent Ukrainian election has..Was it just to calm the world's nerves or did it have something to do with his recent visit to China and his attempts to increase ties with China?

I don't necessarily advocate the theory put forward by Mr. Goble but it is definitely an interesting read for those interested in what motives are behind Russia's future plans in foreign affairs..

Putin's Shift on Ukraine Result of His Visit to Beijing, Kazan Editor Says | The Interpreter

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

National Geographic: Ethnic Russians: Pretext for Putin's Ukraine Invasion?

For those wanting a bit more information on the topic of the sheer scope of the ethnic Russian population OUTSIDE of Russia, another great story, this time from Eve Conant of National Geographic magazine.

Ethnic Russians: Pretext for Putin's Ukraine Invasion?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Saudis Conduct MASSIVE Military Exercise..But for Whose Benefit?

As reported today by the good folks at the War is Boring website, the Saudi military just days ago held a massive three-pronged series of exercises across their country.

The sheer size of this exercise was not the only unprecedented element, but also its scope and direction. For this exercise did not simply simulate conflict with one of Saudi Arabia's regional threats, but three!

I'll leave the exact details of the exercise to the good folks at the War is Boring, but needless to say, the boldness shown with this exercise and the recent public unveiling of Saudi Arabia's long-known but never seen DF-3 ballistic missiles seem to suggest Saudi Arabia is taking its regional "cold war" with Iran (and her allies in the region) to a new level.

Copters, Marines and Secret Missiles- Saudi Arabia just Pulled Off Its Biggest War Game Ever- War is Boring

Monday, April 21, 2014

War is Boring: In 1980s Battle with America, Iran Held Back Its Deadliest Missiles

Twenty-six years ago this past Sunday, the US Navy began an operation that would become the largest naval engagement for the navy since World War II. Who was the opponent? None other than our best friends in the whole-wide world, Iran.

For those with an interest in this chapter of the US-Iran rivalry in the region, this naval engagement, known officially as Operation Praying Mantis, was arguably one of the pivotal moments for Iran when it came to how to reacts and views the United States military. During this fairly brief engagement, the Iranian navy (the IRIN) attempted to fight fire-with-fire with the United States Navy and came off rather badly for it.

But this battle also helped change how Iran views any future war with America: why fight head-on against America's military might when you can hit them from where they least expect?

This type of military strategy is best summed up as "asymmetrical warfare", which as the name suggests, is conducting war in an unconventional manner compared to that of your presumed enemy.

With this idea in mind, this recent article from the good folks at the War is Boring have put together a good piece concerning how it appears that Iran's military COULD have done the US Navy a great deal more damage during Operation Praying Mantis and chose not to do so because they feared the retaliation that likely would follow (especially since Iran was still waging a war of attrition with Saddam Hussein's Iraq).

For those who don't know much about Iran's military and it's rather, "interesting" history and tactics, this article is a good start!

War is Boring: In 1980's Battle with America, Iran Held Back Its Deadliest Missiles

Bloomberg: Is Moldova Next on Putin's Hit List?

One of the few potentially positive takeaways from the events transpiring in Ukraine over the last few months is that it's opening many Americans' eyes on the real aftermath of the Cold War on eastern Europe.

Specifically, the sad truth that many ex-Soviet states gained their independence by the skin of their teeth and yet been unable to truly escape the USSR's shadow, now in the form of Putin's Russian Federation.

Ukraine is arguably the biggest "poster child" for this group of states that have yet to truly escape Russia's political, economic, and now military shadow, which raises a rather alarming question: if Ukraine, the largest (by population) and with the 2nd most powerful military of the ex-Soviet states can't successfully resist Russia's overt actions...what chance for smaller countries such as Moldova and the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) have?

Further to this point, is this interesting piece via Jeffrey Goldberg writing on

Is Moldova Next on Putin's Hit List?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

President Putin's Fiction: 10 False Claims about Ukraine

President Putin's Fiction: 10 False Claims about Ukraine

Don't believe I've ever posted something from the federal government before. Given the rather pathetic list of claims coming out of Moscow the last few days and the fact the State Department is actually pushing a paper calling these lies out, makes for quite the story in my book.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Trying to Keep Track of Events in Ukraine?

For anyone whose been watching the news lately (including those who could probably care less), the events in Ukraine have become arguably the best piece of world news so far this year. For foreign policy wonks such as myself, all the elements of a captivating story are there: political unrest, the collapse of a government, the threat of an overbearing neighbor, and the rest of the world scrambling and fumbling with how best to respond. 

Of course, this is an oversimplification of what is going on in Ukraine and to be honest, to fully explain the situation would take a bit and while I am a bit "windy", I will spare all the trouble of doing so at the moment. 

Instead, I will leave you with this excellent website I stumbled across a few days ago that has been arguably one of the best sites for coverage of the situation in Ukraine. 


First, I want to thank you, the readers, for looking in on this plucky little blog. Some of you may have stumbled about this blog by accident, some of you may have been readers of my political blog Modern Whig Party, and some of you may even be followers of my rants on Twitter.

One way or another, you found your way here and my sincerest hope is that this blog helps to enlighten you about a topic that sadly very few Americans know enough about: Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs.

I leave you with the words seen quoted under the title of this blog from President John F. Kennedy, words that ring true today just as it did when he said decades ago..

"Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us."