Tag Archives: Middle East

The Iran Nuclear Deal: Audacity of Arrogance


Iran Deal

OK I did it, I read the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that outlines the deal the US and the EU made with Iran in regards to Iran’s nuclear program. My head hurts, my eyes are bleeding and I am very frightened. The agreement is a total capitulation to a terrorist regime bent on regional hegemony and total subjugation of any person or country that it deems an enemy. First off, Iran gives up nothing concrete and receives a number of concessions with nothing more than a promise to stop what they have been doing.   Now the president tells us that this is a good agreement that stops Iran from moving down the road to building a nuclear device. “After two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not: a comprehensive long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” the president told the country Tuesday morning, I just don’t see it. Had a country other than Iran been involved I might have more faith, but Iran has not shown itself to be trustworthy. The diplomatic writing lays out the responsibilities of the parties. In the third provision of the preamble it states that “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.” In 2000 the North Koreans promised the United States and subsequently in the Six party Talk that “Both sides commit not to nuclearize the Korean Peninsula. The United States must “provide formal assurances” not to threaten or use nuclear weapons against North Korea. Pyongyang is required to “consistently take steps” to implement the 1992 North-South Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. As history shows, all of the talks and frameworks and agreements broke down and North Korea is now a nuclear power. What will keep Iran from doing what North Korea did? The JCPOA spends a lot of time on the need for the US and EU to end any sanctions and to ensure the lifting of UN sanctions, but not much on what happens should Iran renege. There is discussion of a Joint Commission that is responsible for monitoring implementation and conflict resolution but not much else. The president speaks of the ability to snap back sanctions in the event Iran does not comply with the letter of the agreement, but the language indicates this will not be easy if even possible without full agreement of all parties.

This Agreement does little to stop Iran from nuclear research; it may slow it for a while but not stop it. To make matters worse I feel that this agreement which shows a lot of back pedaling on the part of the US will make it that much more difficult for us to negotiate in the future. Much of the concern of the west was stopping Iran from producing weapons grade nuclear material through uranium enrichment. In order to enrich uranium centrifuges are required. We know Iran has these and in the agreement they must phase out the largest number of those they have, which are denoted as IR-1 centrifuges. The fact is these are old designs that have never worked properly and have reduced the anticipated output, and it is expected that they would have been replaced by the more efficient IR-4 and IR-5 units which requires Iran to have less centrifuges to produce more enriched uranium. The concern was part of the Nov 2013 Joint Plan of Action, which required Iran not to feed the IR-5s, and it was assumed the IR-5 and other more efficient centrifuges would be disallowed in any agreement. Not only did Iran continue to feed the IR-5 but the JCPOA allows Iran to keep them provided use is only for R&D.

President Obama in announcing the agreement indicated that this is not built on trust but on verification. One of the activities Iran said it would not engage in is “Designing, developing, acquiring, or using computer models to simulate nuclear explosive devices. How do you stop a country from developing computer models? How do you verify that Iran is not doing so?

This is not a completely bad agreement if everything goes absolutely as planned. The odds of that happening are very remote given Iran’s track record of keeping promises. The “best’ we can hope for is that Iran focus’s its attention on funding their exporting of terror to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon with their new found wealth and delay developing a nuke for a few years.

I hope I am wrong. If I am wrong then nothing will go wrong. If however I and a number of others are right we could face a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East in a few short years. I hope congress has the courage to stop this agreement in its tracks. This is not a good deal, its not even appeasement it is a deal for deals sake. To ignore the potential of destruction just to build some self-indulgent legacy is the audacity of arrogance

Shi’a Militias Back in Play, What is Their Target


Once again, we see the Iraq Army (IA) bogged down in fighting ISIS, this time in Anbar. And once again we see the emergence of Iranian lead militias being called on to fill the gap left by an incompetent (IA)which does not seem to have the capacity or desire to take on ISIS. The call to deploy the Hashid Shaabi or Popular Mobilization Forces can be heard coming from a few Sunni tribes but it is likely the louder voices are coming from Tehran. The problem with this move is that the Iranian led Shi’a militias, while larger than the IA, would likely inflame the situation by taking retribution on the Sunni population as they did in Tikrit. The Anbar region holds no significance to Tehran but is of strategic importance to a unified Iraq. The arterial roads that connect central Syria with central Iraq, as well as control the Euphrates River makes the region of strategic importance. That is of course unless Baghdad or Tehran is not interested in securing the Sunni heartland and has other targets in mind.

Should the militias succeed in inflaming the Sunni tribes and driving them into the arms of ISIS. Then the Iranians will be there to support and protect and move on targets that make sense to them. What target meets the criteria of a Shi’a area, of value to Baghdad and Tehran, not currently under Baghdad’s control. The only answer is the Governorate and city of Kirkuk. Kirkuk has been in dispute since the fall of Saddam and currently under control of the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Full control of Kirkuk was not a fact for the KRG until the collapse of the Iraqi army following attacks by ISIS. The KRG while having de facto control of the city but limited control of the governorate now claims the prize of full control. The thing to also remember is that the only area of Anbar that the IA is fighting for is Baiji, which has the largest oil refinery in Iraq. Kirkuk by the way sits on top of one of the largest oil fields in Iraq.

So will the US retain any leverage over Baghdad and will Iraq remain a unified nation when all is said and done. Stay tuned and we will see.

Shia Militia
Shia Militia

Should the US Arm the Iraqi Kurds?


NTR

By Paul Davis

I wanted to republish this since the Kurdish leader Masud Barzani is coming to talk to the president

During my recent interview on Kurdish television station NTR. One of the recurring questions was “Why will the US government not supply the Kurdish Peshmerga with weapons?” The short answer of course is that we have supplied small and medium size arms to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) while they were in direct contact with ISIS and receiving no help from Baghdad. The hard answer is that US policy limits what it can provide to a regional security force without the consent of the central government. Limited to the point of supplying nothing of consequence, noting that would matter. However, should this policy exist in the world today? Reportedly, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) is circulating a letter to Members of Congress urging a bi-partisan bill authorizing the President to provide the KRG with the arms it needs and bypassing Baghdad.

The impact of arming the KRG with heavy weapons, in the short term, will bring them on par with the enemy in front of them, who has superior weapons they have captured from the Iraqi army, US weapons, including advanced M1 tanks. We have seen the Peshmerga fight and defeat ISIS with the help of US airstrikes and the assistance of other Kurdish fighters such as the YPG and PKK. These victories however have been limited in scope but not in impact. Saving the Yazidi minority and pushing ISIS off the Mosul dam are significant achievements, but ISIS still controls a swath of Iraq and portions of Syria as well as now influencing Islamic extremist throughout the region.

The introduction of heavy weapons to the Peshmerga would not allow them to defeat ISIS by themselves but would allow them to secure the Kurdish region and return to building the only success story in Iraq. So why not do it.

We must address the political ramifications first. Baghdad does not want the Kurds stronger than they are currently. Turkey to the north fears any Kurd, having been at war with the Kurdish PKK organization for years. Turkey views weapons to the KRG as weapons to the PKK. The PKK began as an organization dedicated to an independent Kurdish state in what is now SW Turkey. These are our friends.

Failure to provide weapons to the Kurds leaves only the central governments in the region to fend off the terrorist threat. Currently the Iraqi forces have failed in all attempts to dislodge ISIS and most recently have turned to Iran for assistance. Over 3000 Iraqi forces backed up by 20000 Iranian lead Shia militia have so far failed to dislodge ISIS from the town of Tikrit. While fighting ISIS in the Syrian town of Kobane, on the Syrian Turkish border, Syrian Kurdish fighters supported by Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga and US airstrikes did ultimately drive ISIS from the region. This even through Turkey initially denied the Peshmerga safe passage but allowed free crossing for ISIS. These are our friends.

How to support Mr. Royce’s attempt to authorize the transfer of arms over the objection of Baghdad is no small undertaking. There are three options left; first, we don’t and hope that Iraq and the Peshmerga can establish a secure Iraq, second we ignore Baghdad’s protests and just arm the Peshmerga or lastly we accept the inevitable, that Iraq is a failed state and understand we are arming the future army of an independent Kurdistan. This last is the easiest and the hardest.

The US has a lot of capital invested in Iraq, both financial and political. It would be difficult to walk away, but it would be the easiest path. Should we accept the failed state model, then what becomes of Iraq? It splits into three distinct parts. The first is a Shia part that falls under the control of Iran, Then a Sunni part that depends on the assistance of the Sunni world and Kurdistan, which has never had an Iraqi identity and surrounded on all sides by enemies. Non-Arab nation in the Middle East surrounded by enemies is not something we have not seen before.

Congress should authorize the transfer of arms to Kurdistan, or for the President to direct the transfer. The State department should direct its efforts on working with Turkey to step up and become the local peacekeeper. The above snarky comments aside, Turkey is at least, for the time being, a democratic secular nation which does not want to see Iran controlling the region and can use Kurdistan to buffer itself from the worst of sectarian violence in the Arab world. The weapons will come with a price, that is the KRG will need to do a little cleaning up. More open elections and less corruption.

Kurdistan, like Israel, is an oasis in the middle of turmoil and pains in the backside of the US. Both need protection, nurturing and support until their neighbors can join them in peace.

This is not the answer given my interviewer; all I could say was that since they were not a nation we had to work with Baghdad.

Tikrit Has Been Liberated, Now What?


The Iraqi army along with Shi’a militia and in conjunction with Coalition air support liberated the city of Tikrit from the Islamic State (IS). Heralded as a major blow to IS and a morale booster for the Iraqi army (IA). As with all military actions, we need to analyze this for second and third tier effects. Then we need to determine follow-on efforts.

To put this all into perspective, this was the second attempt by the Iraqi government to dislodge IS form Tikrit, the first ending in defeat for the IA. In this last iteration, Baghdad assembled a composite force of regular army and Shi’a militias, mostly backed by Iran, that by estimates numbered between 20,000 and 30,000 fighters. The IS force inside of Tikrit was estimated to be between 200 and 1000 fighters.

Tikrit was recaptured after a month long campaign that at many times bogged down in the complex world of urban warfare. The introduction of Coalition airstrikes and attrition finally won the day for Iraq. As of this writing the Iraqi forces are still mopping up the IS resistance.

The reality of all this is that while coalition air power played a strong role in the final push to end IS hold on Tikrit the majority of the forces on the government side were Shi’ite militia controlled by Iran and supported by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) advisors and likely combat troops. These forces hold no loyalty to Baghdad and do not fight in the cause of Iraq. On the front page of the Wall Street Journal for April 2d is a picture of what is said to be a member of the Iraqi forces beating an insurgent. There is no way to tell if this is indeed a member of IS, it should be noted that the flag shown in the photo is that of one of the militias, not the Iraqi flag.

Since the beginning of the operation, there have been repeated reports of human rights abuses on Sunni residents, which are being investigated by Amnesty International according to a recent report by AFP. “We are investigating reports that scores of residents have been seized early last month and not heard of since, and that residents’ homes and businesses have been blown up or burned down after having been looted by militias,” said Donatella Rovera, a senior crisis response adviser at Amnesty.

“There have also been reports of summary executions of men who may or may not have been involved in combat but who were killed after having been captured,” she said.

Additional reports indicate wide scale looting by the Shi’a militias. A recent AP report states Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered the Army to arrest and prosecute anyone found looting abandoned properties. However two-thirds of Baghdad’s presence in Tikrit are the Shi’a militia. While Shi’a religious leaders call for restraint, it is unclear how much influence they will have over the Iranian backed fighters. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, called on security forces and the militias to “preserve and guard citizens’ properties in areas that have been liberated.”   The question now is how these actions will affect the continued fight against IS and what this means in the coming fight for Mosul.

We must understand that while the Iraqi government can pretend that the fight in Tikrit was a government fight to liberate part of the country from an invader, it is in fact a Shia-Sunni fight/civil war. IS is predominantly a Sunni organization built on the foundation of their interpretation of Sunni Islam. Iran’s militias follow the teachings of the Shi’a sect. Now we have a little reported third aspect. Baathist military leaders, from Saddam Hussain’s old party, seem to be in charge of much of the military and security portion of the IS. Putting this altogether we have Sunni’s killing Shi’a and Shi’a killing Sunni and political puppet masters pulling strings.

This combined Shi’a government/Shi’a militia force must now move north through the Sunni provinces of Anbar and Nineveh before attempting to launch an attack on Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. Based on the disenfranchisement of the Sunni in the past several years and the current Shi’a violence against the Sunni population this does not look like an easy prospect. Sunni tribes with the assistance and insistence of the IS will resist and degrade the force as it moves north. Should it become apparent that the bulk of fighters resisting are Iraqi Sunni tribes the Coalition Air Forces will be reluctant to engage. If this force reaches Mosul it will be far from its supply base, in hostile territory and fighting a well-trained force that likely now will outnumber the Iraqi’s.

Once near Mosul there is of course another force that has shown itself capable of standing up to IS and defeating them, the Peshmerga of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). The Peshmerga, designated a regional security force in the Iraq Constitution, are well trained, highly motivated but only moderately armed. Like the IA they were pushed back by the initial IS attacks. Unlike the IA however then regrouped and fought back, regaining what they had lost and helped retrieve some territory not part of the KRG. The Kurds are a secular group and the Peshmerga contain units that are Sunni, Shi’a, Christian and Yezidi. Like the Sunni however, they have been ill-treated and it is not likely they will consent to join in the fight for Mosul without major concession from Baghdad.

After this review of the situation, it is time to look toward to the next step. It is unlikely that the Iraqi force will be able to carry the fight through the Sunni region and mount a successful campaign against Mosul without major support from an outside entity. It is unfortunate that all of the good works the US and the Coalition did to build trust with the Sunni’s after Desert Storm was reversed by the policies of recent Iraqi governments. Shi’a militia activity, as well as actions by government forces to punish the Sunni population, makes it even more unlikely that the Sunni’s will return to support Baghdad anytime soon.

Outside support of the kind needed in a direct fight for Mosul will not come from the US or any Coalition partner. If any support comes, it will come from Iran directly. Even the Iranian supported militias would not be able to shift the balance enough to win the day. Options are therefore limited. Live with the status quo, let Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jorden and others take the fight to IS in Syria and elsewhere. Let Iraq split amongst its ethnic groups in which case it is likely the Sunni tribes would engage IS on their own or with the help of Sunni governments. Alternatively, in the end hope for some type of diplomatic solution. I mention this last only because I know there are readers who think there is a diplomatic solution to every problem.

The New Cold War


The New Cold War

Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin wall, we seem to have come full circle. On that day which began the true end of the Second World War, returning pre-war countries to the control of its citizens, the future looked bright. Country after country reclaimed its heritage, not without problems and adventures. Even the Soviet Union fell and gave back control of many of its vassal states to the people. The down side of all this was the closing of minds in the West to any potential reversal of these activities. In the intervening years, all eyes have moved toward the Middle East, with all the problems, wars, and barbarity that has become the Middle East.

To play down the dangers of groups such as ISIL or countries like Iran that can and have plunged the region into war and fear would be foolish. The darkness that has enveloped that part of the world has the potential of spreading outward to engulf the rest of the world. However, the immediate threat to the Western world is once again coming from Russia. The fall of the Berlin Wall did not remove the danger of men such as Putin; it only drove them underground for a little while. While the West went forward into a new age of freedom and prosperity, Russia remained, well Russian.

The West has forgotten the Cold War and what it pertained. The barbarity of ISIL notwithstanding, the current rash of Russian aircraft and ships testing NATO defenses in conjunction with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea must be understood in an older context then the current batch of leaders appear willing or able to do. I suggest a rereading of the book “Arms and Influence” by Thomas Schelling for all decision makers. Understand what Russia is doing and what responses are required.

First off, and this is important, we must understand that Russia will continue limited wars until its objectives are meet. That is until the price is too high. Lines must be drawn and aggression contained. If NATO and the West continue to fail to respond to Russian provocations, they will become more belligerent. Who is to blame? Schelling would likely say the West. By failure to up the ante, we are giving Russia permission to continue its actions. Economic sanctions are not going to contain military action. Russia, as Putin envisions it, is capable of self-preservation. The West, as Putin envisions it, is incapable of sustaining an economic embargo against Europe’s energy supplier. So then, the answer is to nuke Moscow, not really.

The answer is to show resolve in the face of this naked aggression. Movement of NATO forces into western Ukraine close enough to be a threat but far enough back not to be an immediate danger. Then it becomes quid pro quo. Russian forces advance deeper into Ukraine so does NATO. Is this brinksmanship or a game of chicken? Yes it is. Could it lead to a larger war? Yes, it could. But the alternative is to allow the Russians to continue to move west until??? At what point do we call a halt and at that time what would it take to stop the advance? The longer it takes the less likely Russia will feel anything is going to happen. The longer it takes the larger and more dangerous will be the response.

The new cold war can only remain cold while there is a credible threat of actual war. Currently Russia does not see that threat. I do not advocate war, just the opposite. We need to set the boundaries, to let Russia know what the limits are. A new cold war is a terrible thing and should never have been allowed to happen. However, it did happen and now we must respond. If we learn from the past, we can contain war and avoid conflict. If we ignore what was learned the world may pay a terrible price.

The US still has no strategy in its fight against ISIS


With the administration pressed on all sides because of its lack of an effective foreign policy, a group that had been building up in Syria struck with speed and violence that caused a major breakdown in the regional status quo. Military planning requires time and information to produce a strategy that will result in a desired end state. The current US operation against the Islamic terror group ISIS (ISIL, IS, Da’esh) has shown none of the earmarks of a strategy.

What is strategy; it is the ways and means to an end. The end state given is the total destruction of ISIS. So what then are the ways and means, the strategy to accomplish this? The United States announced it would begin forming a coalition that would engage ISIS from the Air and then from the ground. The ground portion would consist of regional forces with the US leading with Air strikes supported by regional and international air forces. The problem is this is not a strategy; it is at best the start of a plan.

The immediate military requirement was to stop the forward momentum in Iraq. This should have been easy. We had air power in the region and we had regional ground forces engaged with the enemy, The Kurdish regional guard, the Peshmerga. The Peshmerga had eyes on the enemy and had up to date intelligence on ISIS locations and movements. What they did not have was sufficient firepower to engage effectively. Therefore, the answer is simply, coordinate targets with the Peshmerga and at the same time resupply them with needed weapons.

With everything so clear and easy why are thousands of Kurds, Yazidi, Arabs and Christians still dying at the hands of ISIS.

The United States and its allies are so tied up in the theoretical world of politics that dogma has replaced critical thinking and while waiting for an epiphany thousands more will die. The US wants to run all weapons through Baghdad, which has refused to support the Peshmerga or share in oil revenues as required by their own constitution. It is not as if the option is the Iraqi army, they are worthless. While being the recipients of US weapons and training they ran at the first sign of a fight and left the weapons and weapon systems behind. So then, give the weapons to the Kurds directly. Baghdad says no and our NATO ally Turkey is against arming Kurds at any time for any reason. Turkey has a legitimate concern since one of the Non-Iraqi Kurdish groups, the PKK, has been at war with Turkey for decades. Turkey has a less then legitimate excuse; they have been supporting ISIS in an attempt to overthrow the Assad regime.

Inside of Syria, we have disparate groups that are fighting not only ISIS, but also the Assad government and each other. The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the group that receives all the press, is an amalgam of rebel groups that began the attempted overthrow of Assad in 2011, during the Arab Spring. The FSA is undisciplined, self-serving and untrained. This may have been different had the west responded to request for assistance from the beginning but it did not and the FSA is so broken and dysfunctional and infiltrated by ISIS and Assad and a number of others that it is not the boots on the ground the US needs. Therefore, whom do we turn to inside of Syria?

Stop me if you have heard this one, the Kurds. The Kurdish militia in Syria known as the YPG has been successfully fighting ISIS for two years. A highly disciplined and committed force they defended Kurds, Arabs and Christians from Assad and ISIL. They sent fighters to Iraq and helped rescue the Yazidi from Mt Sinjar while the west was considering action. The YPG while being Kurdish has also raised units of Arabs, Christians and Yazidi. So what is wrong with the YPG? They have been tied to the PKK.

Now back to the lack of strategy part. As said, a strategy is the ways and means to an end. If the desired end is the destruction of ISIS then there must be boots on the ground. If they are not to be US boots then they will need to be someone’s. The Iraqi army is out they are broken. The FSA is out they are incapable, Regional armies would be good but Turkey Jordan, UAE etc. will not likely commit to invade a neighbor regardless of the security situation. The Kurds are engaged. The strategy then would be to arm and support the Kurds, cooperate and coordinate air attacks. Train them to go beyond guerrilla tactics and stand and protect themselves while destroying the bad guys.

The current action of the US and allied air forces have been to seek out and destroy convoys and attack stationary targets identified as command centers. This is good, this helps. This is not a strategy to achieve the end result of the destruction of ISIS. These are actions that individually cause temporary harm, it is not a strategy designed to achieve the ultimate declared end.

I call on the US and the individual countries involved to engage with the Kurds to fight a common evil. We may not agree with their politics but they are not now, have never been nor will they ever be a threat to the west. In fact, if treated fairly we may find a good true and loyal friend in a region that is not likely to give the west many opportunities at friendship.

Civilization should only move forward


“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” – Albert Einstein

 

Civilization should only move forward. The problem is that is goes forward very slowly, so slowly in fact that the past occasionally catches up. That is one of the reason we often hear the quote from George Santayana “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The world has found itself in one of those periods today and needs to remember the past, because this time repetition could prove very costly. Social, religious and political difference has very often become social, religious and political intolerance. Welcome to a period of intolerance.

Currently the world is confronting the Islamic terrorist group ISIL. ISIL is a group of religious fanatics, similar to the Spanish Inquisition, spreading the word through torture, murder and forced conversions.   ISIL is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Muslims, Christians and Yazidi in Syria and Iraq. Yet the United States did very little to stop these crimes against humanity until two Americans were gruesomely beheaded.   While we did provide air support to Kurdish and Iraqi forces that fought back, it had to be forced on the administration to do so. Why the delay? Reason and history should have shown the need for immediate and forceful response. However, fear of a new war if we committed ground forces, boots on the ground, paralyzed the government. This is a case of reality and reason running into political doctrine and dogma. ISIL is dangerous and a threat to the region, to Europe and the United States. Air power can blunt the advances to a degree but it will require ground forces to destroy them. There is no Army in the region that can destroy them without massive support and training over a long period. Therefore, the two options are to pretend we are doing something, which will result in ISIL growing stronger and becoming a direct threat, or commit ground forces, in conjunction with others, and degrade and destroy them. We have currently committed 3000 troops to Africa to help contain the Ebola outbreak that to this date has taken 2500 lives. It is the right thing to do, but how many lives will be lost if we do not commit forces to contain the ISIL threat? Are there consequences for taking the latter course, yes. However, I suggest if viewed through the prism of history the result will show it to be the correct choice.

A greater threat to world peace is taking place in Europe. The Russian invasion of Ukraine represents a much larger and more direct challenge to the US and its European allies. One we have faced before. The building confrontation between the West and Russia will require a much different response then the one planned for ISIL. We are in what appears to be in a standoff with an advisory that is trying to compel us to maintain peace at any price. That price is the abandonment of a sovereign nation to a predator. We now, once again, face a foe that, as they have reminded us, is a nuclear power. What does history reason and logic teach us? We can discuss diplomacy but to Putin that just gives him more time to do what he wants. We can discuss economic sanctions, which will be of little effect on a country that does not have a strong economy outside of oil and gas exports and does not fear losing that revenue. We can discuss deterrence. Yes, we can discuss deterrence.

To be up front I am not suggesting that the next time Russian artillery fires into Ukraine that we nuke Moscow. What I am saying is that we can provide weapons and training, intelligence and logistics support. What I am saying is that the 6th Fleet can run some exercises in the Black Sea. We can make life more difficult for the Russian military as it tries to reinvent itself into what was the Soviet military. We can draw a line and say no further. Back in June, some Russian bombers flow off the coasts of Alaska and California to within 50 miles of the US. However they were within their rights and according to the Air Force the encounter was “professional.” Next time maybe a little less professionalism and a little more swagger.

Putin is not going to stop until he sees the potential of an encounter that may cost him. An old saying goes something like this “All evil needs to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” The threat of force has to be real and right now, it is not. The President removed the military option, which was a mistake, and even if he promised to return it, it is likely Russia would not believe us. The threat of military action, unbelievably, has stopped wars. Failure to use all tools, including the military, has led to major wars. The world may have been different had Japan been stopped in Manchuria, Italy in Ethiopia or Germany in the Sudetenland. If the US can lead a coalition into Syria, confront, and destroy ISIL, even a fast strike into the heart, would show a resolve that Russia has not seen from the West. I do not suggest we put young lives in harm’s way lightly. Once we can show resolve and commitment, standing up to evil, the world becomes a little less dangerous.