viernes, 6 de septiembre de 2013

Vísperas


¿Qué puede pasar la semana que viene si Siria, Irán y sus aliados estratégicos deciden contestarle al Imperio con su propia ferretería? Las posibilidades van desde la pérdida de algún buque estadounidense hasta la Tercera Guerra Mundial, propiamente. Estas y otras especulaciones fueron realizadas en el sitio web Information Dissemination (http://www.informationdissemination.net/) el día de ayer, en una nota sin firma. Dicen que el rocanrol empieza el lunes 9, chicos. Si no llega a haber cosas importantes, como el fútbol, convendría darse una vuelta por los noticieros estos días, ¿no?

Título: If it’s not war, it sounds like checkers

Texto: “In his book On War, General Carl von Clausewitz explains that war "is controlled by its political object," which "will set its course, prescribe the scale of means and effort which is required, and makes its influence felt throughout down to the smallest operational detail." Over the last two days, John Kerry has insisted that "President Obama is not asking America to go to war." He even goes so far as to suggest that he, General Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel "know the difference between going to war and what President Obama is requesting now."

Over the last two days John Kerry has made a terrible case for war against Syria to Congress. While seeking action by Congress under the War Powers act, John Kerry has argued forcefully that all definitions of war by experts of warfare throughout history are wrong, and his definition is right. Ryan Evans at War on the Rocks captured the moment when Kerry jumped the shark.

Later, a frustrated Kerry revealed the real logic behind his position: public opinion. He noted that no Americans wanted to go to war with Syria and insisted the White House was of the same mind. “We don’t want to go to war in Syria either!” he exclaimed.  “It’s not what we’re here to ask. The President is not asking you to go to war…He’s simply saying we need to take an action that can degrade the capacity of a man who has been willing to kill his own people by breaking a nearly hundred year-old prohibition [against chemical weapons].”

Then, turning to Dempsey, Kerry asked, “General, do you want to speak to that?”  Dempsey responded, “No, not really, Secretary, thank you for offering.” Why? Because General Dempsey knew that was nonsense.

Words matter, and when they are not allowed to matter in policy, we are not being honest with ourselves. Over the last two days John Kerry described the political object with Syria as "to deter, disrupt, prevent, and degrade the potential for, future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction" by the Assad regime in Syria. The Obama administration has apparently convinced itself that a Desert Fox Part II action in Syria will produce the desired result, apparently ignoring that Desert Fox was in part what led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. I do not know any serious expert who believes the Obama administrations military approach to Syria will achieve a positive political object for the US.

The Obama administrations national security leadership, in Congressional testimony, is promoting a delusion regarding the act of war, and is incapable of admitting they are about to start a war. Most troubling, they are intentionally dismissing consequences and the gravity of such action under the assumption that military superiority translates to strategic success. The United States does not have a strategy that political leaders can articulate publicly on Syria, nor is the Obama administrations national security leadership publicly seeking meaningful military objectives of consequence to conditions in Syria. The United States does not have a coalition of support to provide legitimacy for military action, a coalition that protects the US from escalation or retaliation. John Kerry, in front of Congress, described those who believe it unwise for the US to inject our nation into another nations civil war uninvited, as armchair isolationists. No one knew for certain the intelligence cited by Colin Powell was wrong in 2003. Every human being educated on the definition of war knows John Kerry is wrong in 2013, and no one credible on the topic of war will ever be able to argue otherwise.

The arrogance of the Obama administration's national security team is a parade of red flags right through the halls of Congress. Secretary Kerry actually argues that if Assad is "arrogant" enough to defend himself that the US and our allies have ways to make him regret that decision, apparently without going to war. The arrogance of John Kerry implies the question to Congress, what could possibly go wrong? With no political policy or strategy that can be articulated publicly, no military objective of consequence, no coalition of consequence or authority, and by taking action that injects our nation into another nations civil war uninvited - my question is, how does this possibly end well?

The Obama administration is taking greater risk with Syria than their calculations suggest, and I truly believe the potential for a significant strategic defeat like nothing seen in at least a century is greater than the potential for success. The entire gambit by the Obama administration rests upon the starting assumption that Syria will do nothing and give the Obama administration exactly what they want. The other starting assumption is that Iran won't get involved or their involvement will be inconsequencial to our political objective. The problem with the first assumption is that John Kerry all but admitted in testimony over two days that while military strikes are not intended to achieve regime change, US policy is to build a working relationship over time with rebels for the intent of regime change. The problem with the second assumption is that Iran historically gets involved, and the chaos they created for Israel in 2006 and the chaos Iran created in Iraq and Afghanistan last decade was extremely effective in countering US political objectives. The starting assumption should be Assad will resist, because he should be well aware long term US policy is regime change, and that Iran will not only get involved but has a history of doing so successfully.

If the Obama administration takes authorization from Congress and moves directly towards military action against Syria, the lack of a coalition is a significant condition that increases the strategic risk to the United States. Iran and Syria will recognize that this may be the only opportunity they will ever have to take on the United States without a broader coalition of support, and as such see this as their best opportunity to strike. In stepping through Red Team's calculations, consider how exposed the US truly is.

1) The United States has no coalition, so a targeted, direct strike against the United States in "self defense" significantly limits the degree to which the international community will respond in support of the US. The UK vote highlights that politically, the rest of the world does not stand with a belligerent United States in a unilateral military action.

2) The United States is strategically and politically exposed and military forces throughout the region are spread thin. There are no troops in Iraq. Sequestration has significantly degraded the capacity of the US military across the entire Department of Defense towards fielding an effective reserve. Political cover by Russia and China will be available to Syria after the the US attacks.

3) Military objectives by Blue Team are not well defined, while military objectives by Red Team are well defined. All evidence suggests the leadership of the United States does not take seriously the threat of counterstrike. Russia has openly stated they will provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to help Syria, and that presumably would also be for support of military action in counterstrike. 

4) Successful counterstrike against the United States will be celebrated regionally, resulting in significant restrictions of movement within the region by US military forces and a collapse of US political credibility broadly. Local pressure can be exploited by red team on regional military installations to restrict movement of US assets in the region.

When I take the red team perspective of action unfolding in the Middle East, if I am Iran and Syria supported by Russia, my calculation is that I may never have a better opportunity to change the regional security conditions and balance of power in the Middle East than the opportunity being presented in this situation unfolding. By throwing every military asset possible in attack of the surface action group of 4 destroyers in the Mederterranian Sea, and throwing the entire armed forces of Iran against the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group off the coast of Pakistan, the entire US policy for the Middle East would be dead in the water if Iran and Syrian attacks were to be successful. As red team, I would attack these targets specifically because they are sovereign US targets and don't inherently escalate tensions by giving any other nation a reason to join in.

Oh, you honestly believe - like John Kerry does - that the US would muster the military and muster allies around the world, and would start World War III in response to a tactical defeat at sea? Think again. The simple fact is the world would immediately stand in shock, and there is no evidence anywhere suggesting the Obama administration handles pressure well. The Middle East would explode in celebration of a public US tactical defeat, leaving the Nimitz Strike Group south of the Suez unable to cross north to help. Hu Jinping would shit a Great Wall when facing the possibility of a major war across the sea lines of communication throughout the Middle East, and would be with Russia in the UNSC within 24 hours shouting for a cease fire. Iran would immediately make clear that with the first sign of a US counterattack against Iran, Iran would unload their ballistic missiles into US bases across Afghanistan and potentially leverage other resources to broaden the conflict regionally.

Is Europe going to seriously come to the aid of a belligerent US who got smacked for attacking another nation without a coalition, any legitimate alliance, or a UNSC resolution? The NATO alliance clause doesn't protect the US under the scenario unfolding in Syria. Remember, gas prices across the world will triple - or more, in the first 24 hours on the threat of escalation, so the gravity of the situation will hit the wallet of an happy American population as well.  Where is the support for the US coming from? If you think the US has a reserve force ready to deploy in the US, you don't understand the impact of sequestration on the US military at all. It would take the US weeks, and in some cases months, to mobilize military forces in response to a major escalation. Does anyone honestly believe Asian nations are going to rise up and help the US after our military adventurism that went wrong? If the US Navy takes attrition across the Middle East and the Med, how does one think France - our only real coalition partner right now - will react? When bad ideas lead to things going badly, people don't take great risk in support of the foolish losers.

This isn't some impossible scenario, Syria does have the military capability to defeat 1 surface action group of 4 destroyers if committed to that tactical action, and Iran does have the capability to destroy a single Carrier Strike Group in a surprise attack less than 300 miles off the coast of Iran.

A successful counterstrike leaves the US with no one to turn to except Israel, whose assistance could send the entire region into chaos.

So if I am red team, if Obama goes from Congress directly to war, I attack. The Obama administration is playing a game of checkers, and it is impossible to suggest the absence of policy, strategy, objective, and coalition by the Obama administration is akin to a game of chess. If the enemy plays chess in response, we're screwed. At that point it would come down to US military forces winning tactical battles despite bad strategy to avoid humiliating strategic defeat, which honestly somewhat describes US policy for the last decade across the Middle East.

The Obama administration needs to go from Congress directly to the United Nations Security Council, and not directly to war. The Obama administration needs to build an international coalition to protect the United States from blowback, because without a coalition the US is strategically exposed giving a rare opportunity to Iran to take advantage of our isolation. With the worlds attention focused on Syria regarding chemical weapons, Syria is effectively deterred from using chemical weapons right now while the diplomatic process unfolds. The United States is effectively implementing the political object as laid out by John Kerry before Congress as long as the world's attention on Syria chemical weapons remains evident, so nothing is lost by the US committing to the long road of diplomacy as long as it is public and actively engaged.”

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