TURKEY THREATENS US: May Close NATO’s Incirlik Air Base

The breaking apart of NATO continues at full speed.  Erdogan’s invasion of Syrian Kurdistan otherwise known as Rojava in northern Syria has been met with the full force of the American trained SDF.  Although the Turkish Armed Forces (TOF) are gaining ground in Afrin, it is coming at a cost and it is a grind.  Turkey’s lack of real forward movement due to the Trump administration’s full support of the Kurds in northern Syria has sparked a potential direct confrontation between the USA and Turkey, two suppoosed NATO allies.

With frustration mounting in Turkey’s military echelon on the lack of sweeping success with their Afrin operation, they have begun to lash out at the USA and NATO.

Turkey’s latest threat is to close the key NATO Incirlik air base. This has been an important part of NATO’s ability to launch missions if needed in the Middle East.

“If Turkey’s medium and long-term interests require to take a step [to close the base] Turkey certainly would not refrain from taking this step,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Fikri Işık said during a press conference, according to the Türkiye newspaper.

Russia is Setting Up a Break Up of NATO

By paving the way for Turkey to invade Afrin, eventhough in other parts of Syria, Russia has pushed back against a break up of Syrian territory, Putin is setting up Turkey to face the USA.  The strategy is to force a direct conflict between two NATO members, thus fast tracking the alliance’s potential disintegration.  For Putin, this is essential as NATO has put more and more military personel into Eastern Europe in order to isolate Russia.

But is Turkey’s presence in NATO necessary?

Does Trump Care About Turkey Being in NATO?

President Trump started his foray into the politics of NATO by declaring it was now obsolete during the campaign trail.  As a reminder here is his statement:

“I think NATO’s obsolete. NATO was done at a time you had the Soviet Union, which was obviously larger, much larger than Russia is today. I’m not saying Russia’s not a threat. But we have other threats. We have the threat of terrorism and NATO doesn’t discuss terrorism, NATO’s not meant for terrorism. NATO doesn’t have the right countries in it for terrorism. And what I’m saying is that we pay, number one, a totally disproportionate share of NATO. We’re spending the biggest, the lion share’s paid for by us, disproportionate to other countries. … NATO is obsolete and it’s extremely expensive to the United States, disproportionately so. And we should readjust NATO. And it’s going to have to be either readjusted to take care of terrorism or we’re going to have to set up a new — a new coalition, a new group of countries to handle terrorism because terrorism is out of control.”

After he became president he changed his opinion and now insists he believes that NATO is not obsolete. Yet, one line stands out in the above statement: “NATO doesn’t have the right countries in it for terrorism.”  This line appears to be a reference to Turkey. Afterall, it has been proven and reported in countless publications that it was in fact Turkey that fostered and helped grow what became to be known as ISIS.

So Putin may be trying to play both Turkey and the USA off eachother, in a bid to cause chaos in NATO, but what if Trump doesn’t care?  Also what if France and Germany don’t care either?

Perhaps Turkey leaving NATO is part of the equation in suporting a much more stable Middle East without the meddling of would be neo-Ottoman upstarts.  As the battle rages on in Afrin Turkey may opt to leave NATO, but it may ultimately backfire on those attempting to force the alliance’s disintegration.

Portents of quagmires in Syria

Putin, Rouhani and Erdogan are right that, as of now, they are the victors in Syria. But let us not empower them by believing them invincible.

Is the war in Syria won? The images broadcast this week from Sochi, the Russian vacation town on the Black Sea coast, were pictures of victory – for the bad guys.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin stood beside his Syrian client, President Bashar Assad, who licked Putin’s boots, as well he should have.

Assad owes his regime and his life to Putin.

The next day, Putin was joined by his allies – the presidents of Iran and Turkey.

Hassan Rouhani and Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the pilgrimage to Sochi to stand at Putin’s side and declare victory in the war and dedicate themselves to the cause of “peace and reconciliation” in post-war Syria.

To achieve their lofty goals of peace and reconciliation, Putin and his partners declared that, in the near future, Sochi will be the sight of a peace conference where all the relevant factions in Syria will be represented. The parley they described is set to take place parallel to – and one assumes at the expense of – the sixth round of Syrian reconciliation talks scheduled to take place under UN auspices next week in Geneva.

Several Israeli commentators viewed Putin’s Sochi talks precisely as he wished them to.

Ehud Yaari, Reshet/Keshet’s veteran Arab affairs commentator declared: The US is finished in the Middle East! The capital of the Middle East is now located in Sochi, he proclaimed in back-to-back newscasts.

In certain respects, Yaari is right. Things are looking good these days for the axis of evil.

Wednesday was a particularly good day for Iran. Not only did Rouhani do his victory dance with Putin and Erdogan, but as they were showering themselves in triumph in Sochi, Iran’s Lebanese puppet, Saad Hariri, was returning to Beirut after his misadventures in Saudi Arabia.

As expected, Hariri canceled the resignation he announced dramatically a week-and-a-half earlier in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after accusing Iran and its Hezbollah army of controlling Lebanon.

On the surface, Hariri’s return is a boon for Iran. If he had remained in Saudi Arabia, Iran would have lost its fig leaf.

Hariri’s duty as prime minister is to snow the West into believing that his government and the Lebanese Armed Forces are a counterweight to Iran and Hezbollah, even though they are controlled by Iran and Hezbollah.

Until his trip to Riyadh, Hariri had been doing a good job.

Hariri’s lobbying efforts won Lebanon billions of dollars in US military and civilian aid. Congress would never have agreed to appropriate the assistance if Hariri hadn’t been so persuasive.

But it is far from clear that Hariri will be much of a fig leaf after he let the Iranian/Hezbollah cat out of the bag in Riyadh.

A rising chorus of US lawmakers are demanding an immediate end to US assistance to the LAF. And Hariri’s return to Beirut didn’t dim those voices.

In August, Hariri visited President Donald Trump at the White House. Trump praised Lebanon as “an ally” in the war on terrorism. He increased US aid to the LAF and deployed US special forces to Lebanon where they fought at the side of the LAF under effective Hezbollah command.

It’s hard to imagine Trump welcoming Hariri back to the White House anytime soon.

As for Erdogan, he arrived in Sochi a spent force.

Erdogan is perhaps the biggest loser of the war in Syria. He was the principal sponsor of the anti-Assad opposition that morphed into Islamic State. Erdogan’s cooperation owes mainly to his lack of better options. The US stopped supporting his campaign in Syria two years ago.

Since the failed military coup against him in July 2016, Erdogan has become ever more hostile to the US. This hostility informed his recently concluded deal with Putin to purchase Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft system. The S-400 threatens every fighter craft in the US arsenal. US officials have responded to his move by seriously considering the possibility of canceling the sale of 100 F-35s to Turkey.

Turkish expulsion from NATO – once a taboo subject – is now regularly discussed in Washington policy circles.

The main reason Erdogan has sided with Putin in Syria is because the US has sided with Syria’s Kurds. Erdogan views the Syrian Kurds as a threat to the stability of his regime. He expects Putin to support his determination to destroy Kurdish autonomy in Syria.

If Putin fails to meet his expectations, Erdogan may abandon his new friends. Or he may stick with them and just become ever more dependent on Putin.

Whatever the case, he won’t be empowered by his membership in Pax Putin.

And this brings us to Putin and Russia.

Certainly it is true that the Sochi summitry has cemented Putin’s position as savior of Mother Russia.

A mere generation ago, Russia was a washed up, fifth-rate power. At the end of the Cold War, the world belonged to America. Today, world leaders beat a path to Putin’s door.

But not everything is roses and sunshine.

Russia’s alliance with Iran and Turkey is predicated on Russia remaining in Syria – come what may.

And what is coming is not likely to be pretty.

While Putin, Erdogan and Rouhani were congratulating themselves in Sochi, another conference was happening in Riyadh. There, leaders of the anti-Assad militia were meeting to discuss their next moves ahead of the UN-sponsored talks next week in Geneva.

True, the forces represented in Saudi Arabia aren’t as powerful as the Iranians, Hezbollah and Russia. But they have guns. And they are disgruntled. And if any number of governments want to give them more guns, they will have more guns and bullets. And they will shoot them at the people keeping Assad in power.

Commentators declaring the dawn of a Russian-controlled Middle East where the US is dead to rites ignore another basic fact. There are a lot of US forces in Syria.

In late October, US Major General James Jarrard, commander of the US’s anti-ISIS task force in Iraq and Syria, “accidentally” told reporters that there are 4,000 US troops in Syria. When reporters pounced on his statement, Jarrard quickly backtracked and said he made a mistake.

There are only 500 US forces in Syria.

Whoopsie daisy.

On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that the administration does not intend to withdraw US forces from Syria now that the mission against ISIS is largely complete.

US forces in Syria are concentrated in Syrian Kurdistan. If the US protects the Kurdish autonomous areas along the border with Iraq, Erdogan will again lose a big bet in Syria. His alliance with Putin will have brought him nothing but a deterioration of his ties with the US and instability at home as Turkish Kurds expand their ties to the autonomous Syrian brethren.

Angry, unreconciled, well-armed rebel forces and autonomous Kurds are far from the biggest threat to Putin’s victory in Syria. The biggest threat to his triumph is Syria itself.

Thanks in large part to Putin and his allies, Syria, today, is one vast ruin.

According to UN assessments, reconstruction costs for the country will run anywhere from $200 billion-$350b.

Does Putin intend to finance Syrian reconstruction? How about Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or Erdogan or China? Of course not.

And, if Syria remains a ruin, Syria will not be pacified; and, if Syria isn’t pacified, it will continue to bleed.

The media made a big deal about Putin’s phone call to Trump after his meeting with Assad. Some commentators viewed the call as proof Putin is calling the shots in the Middle East. Others saw the opposite – that Putin doesn’t dare move too far ahead of the Americans.

But those views are likely both wrong.

Putin’s record indicates that he cares about two things: reasserting Russia’s great power status and money. For his victory in Syria to avoid becoming a Pyrrhic one, he needs lots of American money to finance Syrian reconstruction.

This brings us to the US, and what Washington wants to do in Syria and the wider Middle East.

So far, the Americans have made every possible mistake in Syria and Iraq.

Then president Barack Obama allowed Assad to commit a genocide of Syria’s Sunnis and foment the refugee crisis in Europe. He allowed Iran and Hezbollah to take over Syria and Iraq. He allowed Erdogan to organize an anti-Assad rebel force dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, which over time morphed into ISIS. He allowed the Russians to use the war as a means to reassert their position in the Middle East 33 years after the Soviets were humiliated and expelled from the Levant.

For his part, Trump has maintained Obama’s Syria policies in relation to Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Assad. He expanded US military assistance to the LAF. He permitted Iranian militias controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to cooperate with US-trained Iraqi forces in seizing Kirkuk from Kurdish forces. In so doing, Trump betrayed the Kurds, the US’s only reliable allies in Iraq.

If the Americans wish to maintain their record of failure, they have many options for doing so. They can abandon the Syrian Kurds. They can help Putin by underwriting Syrian reconstruction.

They can continue to arm the Hezbollah-controlled LAF. But the Americans do have an option to succeed, as well.

If Trump keeps US forces in Syrian Kurdistan, and if he refuses to help pay for Syrian reconstruction so long as Assad remains in power and Iranian and Hezbollah forces remain on the ground and if the US ends its civilian and military assistance to Lebanon, the US and its allies will be strengthened, and Russia and its allies will be weakened.

If the Americans do not interfere as Syrian “freedom fighters” defend against Iranian or Russian “aggression,” it won’t matter what terms the Iranians give Putin for gas, or oil or nuclear deals. He will seek a way out of Syria.

On May 1, 2003, then president George W. Bush landed a S-3 Viking fighter craft on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln dressed in a flight suit. Before an audience of cheering troops and against the backdrop of a banner that read “Mission Accomplished,” Bush declared: “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”

A month later, the real Iraq war started.

In the years that followed, probably not a day went by when Bush didn’t regret his victory dance on the USS Lincoln.

Putin, Rouhani and (to a much smaller degree) Erdogan are right that, as of now, they are the victors in Syria. But let us not empower them by believing them invincible. Their victory against ISIS – achieved with massive US assistance – is certainly an achievement. But it isn’t the end of the story. If the Americans do not save them, the situation on the ground augers quagmire, not triumph, for their axis and for their separate regimes.

Originally Posted on the Jerusalem Post.

A Trumpian Israeli Initiative

US President-elect Donald Trump won’t even take office for another month, but he has already killed the status quo.

During the election, Trump trounced the untouchable consensus on NATO’s post-Cold War purpose. Questioning the purpose of an alliance formed to fight a war that ended 25 years ago is indisputably a reasonable thing to do. But until Trump came around, no one did.

Since November 7, Trump has continue to reject accepted wisdom. For 44 years no US president would speak with the president of Taiwan. And then President-elect Trump took a call from Taiwan’s President-elect Tsai Ing-wen.

It’s not clear where Trump stands on either NATO or Taiwan. But it is eminently apparent that by ignoring protocol, Trump expanded his maneuver room in his dealings with NATO and China.

Then of course, there is Jerusalem. Since 1948 the US has refused to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – or even as part of Israel. This policy of non-recognition – embodied by the US refusal to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem – has been maintained by a bipartisan consensus despite the fact that for the past 20 years, US law has required the State Department to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy to Jerusalem.

When Trump promised to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, his words were greeted with cynicism.

But then this week his senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said Trump is serious about moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

In one fell swoop, the 68 year old consensus is gone.

35 years ago, on December 14, 1981, Israel took a Trump-like step. Israel took a wrecking ball to received wisdom.

That day, the Knesset passed the Golan Heights Law. Then prime minister Menachem Begin decided on the initiative the day before. In less than 24 hours, the law when from an idea in Begin’s head into the law books.

The Golan Heights law cancelled the Military Government and Civil Administration that had governed the area since 1967 and replaced them with Israeli law and administration.

The Reagan administration was livid. Begin had neither asked Ronald Reagan for permission nor given Reagan a head’s-up on what he was about to do.

Begin was clearly operating on the basis of the “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission” protocol.

In the event, the Americans weren’t really mad.

Reagan prevented the UN Security Council from sanctioning Israel for its action.

The Syrian regime did nothing. The Arab world yawned.

Israel was spared international condemnation in large part because of the way Begin explained the purpose of the law.

The day before the Knesset passed Begin’s law, the Syrian regime announced it would prefer to fight Israel for 100 years than live at peace with it. That statement, like hundreds of similar ones over the 13 years since Israel took over the strategic plateau reinforced yet again, the basic truth that Israel would be responsible for the Golan Heights for a long, long time.

After the law was passed, Begin and his advisors insisted its purpose was administrative. Israel couldn’t wait for a hundred years to register births and deaths and marriages, they explained. The Syrian legal code, through which the Military Government administered the areas was unsuited to a modern democracy. There was no way to protect the rights of Golan residents so long as Syrian law was the law of the land.

Begin and his advisors explained over and over that the application of Israeli law would have no impact on Israel’s willingness to make territorial concessions to Syria on the Golan in the event that the regime had a change in heart. And indeed, from 1992 until the war in Syria began in 2011, every Israeli government expressed willingness to discuss the future of the Golan Heights with the Syrians.

Aside from safeguarding the civil rights and legal protections of the Israeli citizens and permanent residents in the Golan, the law also defused the issue as a political cause inside of Israel. Everyone could accept the law. Those who wished to conclude a land-for-peace deal with Syria could support the law. Those who wished to retain perpetual Israeli control could live with it.

To safeguard against irresponsible concessions the Knesset passed the referendum law that requires a two thirds Knesset majority to approve territorial compromise on the Golan.

By transferring administrative responsibilities from the military to the government, Israel freed its armed forces to concentrate on their primary mission – defending the country from its enemies.

When Begin passed the Golan Heights Law, he had already learned its basic lesson: When Israel speaks modestly about its objectives, it can achieve a lot more than when it bloviates about them.

Begin learned that lesson a year and a half earlier when he passed Basic Law: Jerusalem. Unlike the Golan Heights Law which changed the situation on the ground, Basic Law: Jerusalem, which announced that Israel’s capital is united Jerusalem, merely described reality. United Jerusalem had been Israel’s capital since immediately after the Six Day War. Weeks after the war the government united the city by expanding its municipal borders to include the neighborhoods that had been under Jordanian occupation since 1949.

Basic Law: Jerusalem was a bit of chest beating. But the beating reverberated like drums of war in the West. And the US responded by enabling the Security Council to pass Resolution 478. Whereas in 1981 the US blocked the Security Council from passing sanctions against Israel for the Golan Heights law, in 1980 it enabled sanctions to be incorporated into the condemnatory resolution.

478 enjoined member states that had embassies in Jerusalem to remove them. Within weeks, 11 of the 13 states that had embassies in Jerusalem had shut them down. The last two were closed in 2006.

The Golan Heights Law’s 35th anniversary was celebrated Wednesday evening at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. There, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and former cabinet secretary Tzvi Hauser said Israel must lobby Trump to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

While reasonable on their face, their calls ignore the basic lessons of the Golan Heights law, and seem to misread or ignore Trump’s modus operandi.

Trump cares about what works, not what looks good.

He isn’t interested in moving the US embassy to Jerusalem because he cares about recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem or over anything else for that matter. If Trump moves the embassy he will do so to advance America’s interests.

In one fell swoop, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem will correct a great deal of the damage that eight years of President Barack Obama’s foreign policies have caused to US credibility worldwide.

There is no single step the US can take that will do more to rebuild US credibility as an ally than moving the embassy to Jerusalem. By taking the step that none of his predecessors would take to stand in support of the US’s most embattled ally worldwide, Trump will show that America can again be trusted. And moving the embassy will accomplish this goal without placing one US soldier at risk, and will cost US taxpayers no more than a few million dollars for construction and moving fees.

On a basic level, from Israel’s perspective, what distinguishes Trump from his predecessors is that he has signaled that he views Israel as an ally whereas his predecessors viewed the Jewish state as a burden.

Trump wants and expects wants Israel to be a credible ally. To achieve this, Israel has some status quo icons of its own to shatter. And the Golan Heights Law provides just the roadmap for action.

Begin wasn’t bluffing when he said that the Military Government lacked the legal tools to protect and uphold the rights of the residents of the Golan Heights. In Judea and Samaria, the situation today has similarly reached a critical moment. And whereas Begin cancelled the military government on the Golan when a mere 6,000 Israelis were living there, today 450,000 Israelis live under military administration in Judea and Samaria.

The Israelis in Judea and Samaria all in live what is referred to as Area C. When the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994 it took over governing authority from the Military Government in Areas A and B – the Palestinian population centers.

A mere 100,000 Palestinians live in Area C.

The Military Government administers on the basis of the Jordanian legal code, which has been revised over the past 49 years by various military administrative orders.

As the human drama taking place in the community of Amona makes clear, the existing legal system is incapable of protecting the civil and legal rights of either the Israelis or the Palestinians living under it.

In Amona 40 Israeli families are about to be thrown out of their homes because Jordanian law doesn’t allow Jews to easily purchase land from Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority has made selling land to Jews a capital offense. Israelis in Area C cannot properly adjudicate their legal rights to land in Israeli courts.

As was the case with Syria in 1981, the Palestinian leadership – from the PLO to Hamas – has made clear that it has no interest in making peace with Israel. Palestinian intransigence has brought about a 16 year stalemate in the so-called peace process which has convinced even true believers on the Israeli Left that the time has come to put aside the two-state paradigm.

The latest person to come on board was novelist and leftist ideologue A.B. Yehoshua. Earlier this month Yehoshua told an astonished audience in Jerusalem that the two-state solution is impossible. Yehoshua then endorsed the plan to apply Israeli law to Area C and grant full civil rights to the Palestinians living in the area.

Trump’s rejection of the status quo and his respectful view of Israel gives our leaders the opportunity to join Yehoshua in rejecting the failed “two-state solution” status quo and act on the growing consensus on the Left and Right that the time has come to apply Israeli law to Area C.

True, to a degree even greater than in the Golan Heights, Israel has the legal and historic right to full sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria. But it is equally true that most Israelis would be willing to negotiate the permanent status of Judea and Samaria with a credible, sincere Palestinian neighbor.

By simply applying its law to the area as an administrative step, Israel keeps all options on the table while securing the civil, legal and human rights of both the Palestinians and the Israelis who live in the area.

Rejecting received wisdom is far less risky than maintaining allegiance to it when it is wrong. Trump obviously recognizes this. The time has come for Israel to recognize it as well.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post. 


WAR EXPANDS: Putin Backed Rebels in Eastern Ukraine Continue to Attack NATO Trained Troops

Rebel fighters in the Lugnask and Donetsk regions have continued their Russian backed offense against Kiev backed military positions in an attempt to push back the NATO backed government out of culturally heavy Russian regions.

Updates in the Ukrainian/Russian conflict over the last 24 hours:

  • Locals and separatists have fired on Ukrainian military positions in Donbass 20 times.
  • In the Mariupol sector Russian-separatist forces fired 120-mm mortar shells on Chermalyk and Shyrokyne. While In Krasnohorivka rebels fired 82-mm mortar shells.
  • In Novotroyitske government forces were fired on by sharpshooters.
  • Rebels attacked Lebedynske, Slavne and Pavlopil with grenade launchers.
  • In Donetsk rebels and locals fired on Vodiane using 152 and 122 mm artillery.
  • Verkhniotoretske was shelled by 120 and 82 mm mortars.
  • Avdiyivka and Luhanske were attacked by rebels using infantry fighting vehicles, grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and small arms.

Next steps for Putin and Ukraine

As the EU establishment continues to be rocked by growing populism, Putin has grown far less restrained in holding back rebels in Eastern Ukraine.  He has increased their offensives against the NATO trained Ukrainian army with an attempt to carve an area that is loyal to Moscow.  So far the chaos he has brought the Ukraine has begin to be effective.  For its part NATO continues to rush troops to the Baltic member states in a weak reaction to Putin’s news push.

A Wider War

By expanding operations in Ukraine and putting ballistic Iskander missiles in Kalingrad, Putin is our matching the directionless NATO.  With a matter of weeks left before Donald Trump becomes America’s 45th President, Russia and NATO are flirting with a much wider war that threatens to engulf the Middle East and Europe.



Russia Advances Missiles Into the Heart of Europe as NATO Tensions Rise

If people thought the tension that has been growing between NATO and Russia would begin to fizzle once Donald Trump won the election think again.  In a move that threatens to destablize Eastern Europe, Russia’s President Putin has moved S-400 surface-to-air missiles and nuclear-capable Iskander ballistic missiles to Kaliningrad. Kalingrad is part of Russia that is detatched from the rest of Russia.  With the Baltic Sea to its north it shares borders with Poland and Lithuania.

A Google Map shows the location of Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave (red marker), sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea coast. GOOGLE MAPS

With NATO growing both adventurous in moving forces close to the Russian border as well as on edge over Trump’s disregard with the necessity of  NATO,  Russia was seemingly compelled to act. After all NATO’s own self preservation may lead it to do some pretty ill advised actions such as ratcheting pressure on its Eastern front. For his part, Putin’s advance is on one hand a deterrent, but on the other hand a preparation for a post Obama world where facts on the ground will have influence on what may be a very different relationship between America and Russia.

Putin himself had this to say in a documentary taped a few weeks about Ukraine and scheduled to air this week:

“Why are we reacting to NATO expansion so emotionally? We are concerned by NATO’s decision making. What should we do? We have, therefore, to take countermeasures, which means to target with our missile systems the facilities, that, in our opinion, start posing a threat to us.”

What Will NATO Do?

With Turkey threatening to bolt and deal with China, Russia moving west, and President-Elect Donald Trump looking to cut NATO free, it is no wonder the EU is considering building an army of its own.  More than likely is the direct possibility of what’s left of NATO and the EU army forming a single entity.  That being said there is tremendous financial gain, power, and prestige still found in NATO.  Don’t expect those forces to stand down as Russia reasserts its dominance.





Britain Mobilizes Against Russia

As tensions continue to rise between Russia and the West, Great Britain is moving 800 troops and tanks to the Russian border with Estonia.  Although the numbers seem small, they are in fact the largest NATO deployment since the Cold War. As Putin continues to assert his influence in Eastern Ukraine and the Syrian conflict places both super powers on opposite sides of the war, the chances for direct conflict between Russia and the USA increase daily.

The real question is what kind of deployment and why is Britain making it now.  Observers know  Putin is paranoid about NATO’s continued expansion and for good reason.  Eastern Europe has always been seen as falling into the Russian sphere of influence.  With Ukraine being the Russian line in the sand, Britain and other NATO members are making sure Putin won’t use Estonia as another front. Yet, there may be another reason altogether.  NATO knows war is coming as does Russia, yet neither one wants to be blamed for being the belligerent party.  Placing troops in Estonia could be NATO’s way of baiting Putin to make his first move.

Whether a plan for more or just defending the rest of Europe, Britain’s deployment is a sign that things are not going to calm down anytime soon.

“Black Sea a Russian Lake”

To the South, the Black Sea has virtually been taken over by Russia with Turkey even calling it a Russian lake. Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey are busy putting together a plan to increase naval and air patrols in the area, as well as a multinational NATO brigade in Romania.

With Russia pulling out of international nuclear treaties 2 onths ago and moving nuclear missiles forward to its border, the West has been left to scramble to try putting togther a coherent policy. Without clear American leadership it is assumed that Russia will continue to dominate the region and keep its global influence growing.


Break the BDS

BREAKING NEWS: Israel Aligns with NATO as Alliance Frays at the Seams

Israel is celebrating its opening of a permanent mission to NATO.  The role was n question until Turley and Israel patched their differences up and renewed diplomatic ties.  

“Israel attributes great importance to its relations with NATO. The opening of a permanent office reflects Israel’s role in promoting peace and stability in the region,” Leshno-Yaar, Israel’s ambassador to the EU said in the statement.

Despite the positive development that took years to achieve, the strategic landscape across the world is drastically different from just a few years ago.  NATO is not what it used to be.  This is due both to a reassertive Russia as well as major differences in NATO’s use of an intervention force.

Break the BDS

With NATO having overstepped its bounds in many areas from Eastern Europe to North Africa a growing chorus of anti-interventionists have begun to push back and openly question NATO’s purpose and mission in a world vastly different that even the post-cold war period.


With this in mind it begs the question of why Israel needs to be part or even tacitly connected to the alliance. The answer is it doesn’t.

The only reason why Israel is pushing ahead with its NATO mission is ensure that remains on more than friendly terms with NATO.  A receding NATOis just as interventionist as always, but just a bit weaker. In a volatile world Israel wants to make sure it keeps its foot in the west as it continues to court Russia and China.



The Fall of Europe and the Coming New World Reorder

As Brexit seems increasingly likely, mainland Europe has become unhinged. Britain was always seen as a responsible partner in an endeavor that appeared more like a college philosophy class than a productive geopolitical entity. With Britain leaving and the rest of the EU states dependent on Germany for leadership, the chances of averting an EU implosion appears to be nil.

This is why Merkel and others are irrate over Britain’s departure.  Not because they are missing out on a desired relationship, but it begins a process where the elitists in Brussels will lose their hold on the power centers built up after the fall of the Berlin wall.

Trump is Right About Russia

The main foreign policy debate between Donald Trump and the Neo-Conservative establishment now led by Hillary Clinton is the future relationship with Russia.  Donald Trump inately understands that the USA has an issue when it comes to Russia.  His approach is essentially to work with Russia and a lesser degree the Chinese to bring about a far different world order, which he and his supporters believe will be far more stable.

The Neo-Conservatives in Washington are scared by this approach.  They had put their hopes on a stable world order by enforcing interventionists policies through NATO. A Trump victory, which seems far more likely now will reshuffle the world order by creating a multi-polar world that is stable.

Expect to see the USA, Russia, Britain, China, and possibly India work together to divide the world into spheres of influence between them.

As Europe falls apart and the UN increasingly becomes useless, the importance of different actors is a necessity.  The only challenge is whether the old guard wants to give in.

Edging Towards WW3

Now that the Putin backed United Russia party secured a clear majority in the Russian Duma, Putin can begin to tackle the challenges growing on Russia’s western front mainly the Ukraine. The EU backed government in Kiev has been in an on and off war between the break away pro-Russian regions of the Donbass.  Russia sees these regions as a natural part of its territory.

With the EU move towards a united EU army to offset the crumbling NATO alliance, Putin views the EU as a direct threat to his territorial ambitions.  This is essentially why Putin has been on the move both westward and in the Middle East.  The Russians, like other former empires view their territorial reach in the past as a goal to get to in the future. For Russia that is all the way to Germany as well as rehabilitation of direct influence in the Middle East.

Eurasian Union as a threat to the Neo Conservative Agenda

Russia’s goal of uniting formerly Soviet states under the rubric of  Russian controlled economic sphere has already rattled the nerves of Western leaders.  However, Russia’s growing cooperation with China puts both  NATO and other Western powers on the defensive.  This is essentially what NATO is doing by deploying troops and fomenting regime change in the Ukraine and Syria.

With the two developing powers of Russia and China essentially agreeing to work together to roll back the post Cold-War world order, the leadership in America, Britain, and Brussels are throwing down the gauntlet in Ukraine.  This is where things will get dicey.

 Trump a Game Changer

Up until now both Western leaders and their Russian and Chinese counterparts were willing to play along with the 21st century Big Game, but the impending Trump victory due to Clinton’s collapse (both figuratively and literally) changes the calculus of Western leaders.  Trump has made his admiration and willingness to work with Putin public. If the Donald wins, world politics as we know it bound to change and this is what makes the Neo-Conservative agenda drivers nervous.

In the coming weeks look for a October surprise in Eastern Ukraine as Washington and the EU interject themselves into the conflict in order to head off any rapprochement with Russia. These sorts of actions replayed not only in Eastern Europe but in the South China Sea as well, will directly affect the pace and thrust of war between NATO, Russia, and China.

The world is about to be set ablaze by a crumbling order that made its money off the outcome of World War 2 and the Cold War.  Putin understands the West is frantic and yet this chaos that is swirling provides him with little maneuvering room going forward. From here on out until inauguration day, expect increased volatility as WW3 closes in.

BREAKING NEWS: Turkey Driving Hard Against Kurds West of the Euphrates

If it is possible to believe Erdogan, his foray into Syria was for the purpose of driving ISIS from Jarablus, the only piece of land the Syrian Kurds did not control. Erdogan’s forces were of such mass that Turkey was accused of invading Syria.  ISIS quickly melted away and the Turkish military set its sights on the true “nemesis” to the Turkish homeland YPG or the Kurdish army in Syria.  

One thing has become clear.  Erdogan’s actions have put NATO in a very uncomfortable spot.  On one hand they have backed the Syrian Kurds as their vanguard attack force against ISIS and on the other they have the second largest NATO force in Turkey openly trying to wipe them out through a fake anti-ISIS operation.

Turkey has long maintained that a contiguous Kurdish state along its border running from the Mediterranean to Iran was an existential threat.  In pushing the Kurds back over the Euphrates they are risking the NATO coalition’s strategy against ISIS.  The Euphrates must be Washington’s red line.  If Turkey is allowed to press on, the Kurds will be forced to pivot elsewhere and not only NATO will lose a valuable indigenous ally, Israel will have squandered years of covert training and arms deals.