Archive for the ‘middle east’ Category

The real danger is that we who support the war will reach the point that we say “we might as well be taken as wolves then as sheep”.

Me at Instapundit May 31st 2006

OK Israel let’s face facts.

It’s been 16 years since you pulled out of Gaza leaving greenhouses and infrastructure intact as a good will gesture toward peace and to some degree Israel reaped rewards from this to wit:

  1. It shrunk the area that needed to be defended
  2. It demonstrated the bad faith of the Palestinians
  3. It demonstrated Hamas’ inability to take care of the basic needs of a population
  4. It opened wide the conflict between Hamas & Fatah
  5. It demonstrated that the Palestinians are less interested in a state and more interested in a launching ground for attacks.

But in the end all of these demonstrations to the world lose their meaning in a world were actual reality doesn’t matter. When you have a press that doesn’t see the difference between people who fire rockets at a population from within civilian structure and people who defend their countries from it. For example there is a lot of talk about Iron Dome and its excellent success rate but it’s a system that no other country wants to buy, why? Because any other country faced with such attacks would have gone in and crushed those attacking it.

It’s time for Israel to do the same.

Israel should roll back into Gaza, take the territory and either annex it or give it a status as a non-voting province.

What will the world and the press do? Attack and condemn Israel? They do than anyways.

What will Hamas and the PA do, try to kill Jews? They do that anyways.

As for the left in the west what are they going to do , hate Israel more then they do now? Hate Jews more than they do now? As I said many years ago on Instapundit concerning Haditha:

Our press and the anti-American left both in this country and outside of it has been reporting “Hadithas” over and over again over the last three years.

Time and time again our friends have accused us of every possible atrocity that there is to the point that internationally people are already able to believe this or the 9/11 stuff or all the rest.

Because of this, internationally it is totally irrelevant if the Marines actually violated the rules of war. Our foes are going to say that we’ve done things if we do them or not, so the only people that it really matters to will be; the people killed (and family) and the people in our own country who support the military.

The real danger is that we who support the war will reach the point that we say “we might as well be taken as wolves then as sheep”.

How the left in the west reacts is the least important question to answer.

The important question is: What will the Arab states do? There is one simple answer, likely nothing.

The states that made peace with Israel didn’t do so because they loved Israel or didn’t hate Jews. They did so because they are threatened by Iran and will be no less threatened if Israel is in Gaza. The question is will they decide they’re less threatened if Iran though Hamas no longer controls Gaza or more threatened as Iran’s ability to hit the Jewish state is curtailed? I think it’s the former.

It’s time for Israel to stop being sheep and given the a taste of General Sherman’s war so that Generations will pass before they again appeal to it.

Now if they prefer to have their citizens duck rockets every few years when a Democrat or a weak republican is in office it’s their country.

But if they take my advice the rockets will be over.

Update: Apparently Israel’s PM reads this blog:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is pursuing “forceful deterrence” against Gaza’s Hamas rulers and does not rule out a further escalation.

Meeting with foreign ambassadors on Wednesday, he said “you can either conquer them, and that’s always an open possibility, or you can deter them.”

“We are engaged right now in forceful deterrence, but I have to say, we don’t rule out anything.”

Oil Refinery, from Wikipedia

One of President Trump’s greatest achievements was to drive America away from importing Middle East oil. It made the United States capable of sitting out any regional crisis, which in the Middle East seems to happen on a frequent basis. For example, if the Iranians threaten to close the Straits of Hormuz, the United States can take its time to act accordingly, not being pressured by rising gas prices at home. Heck, the U.S. could tell other countries to solve that crisis if it wanted to. Having options makes it harder for your opponent to win, and puts you in control.

India is, ironically, fast approaching where the U.S. was in terms of oil a few years ago. India is the third largest consumer of oil (behind the U.S. and China), and it imports almost 85% of that oil. This leaves India vulneable to any oil interruption, and with OPEC cutting production this month, India is actively trying to diversify its energy and vehicle oil usage. This is also why India is OK negotiating with Iran (which supplies 10% of India’s oil), mainly because it doesn’t have a lot of choices.

By the way, none of this is news, it was being called out last year and the year before that, so India “unsheathing a weapon” is a bit of a misnomer, since they’ve been working on this for some time. This could have been a great moment for the United States and Canada to step in and sell lots of oil to India. Not only would it be democracies helping democracies, but it would provide a 1 billion person counterweight to China’s aggression. Plus we’d make money on the deal. What’s not to love?

India probably paid attention to history and saw how the U.S. got screwed in the 1970s, plus how President Trump gave the U.S. more foreign independence. They are pushing lots of initiatives like solar cars and solar cells to reduce transportation and home usage, but these take time to build in, and India’s sporadic infrastructure doesn’t help the process. Again, all these initiatives provide opportunities for the U.S. to work with India and strengthen that relationship, something we sure don’t seem to be pushing all that much.

Oil isn’t leaving anytime soon as the fuel of choice, and inter-country relationships will continue to be heavily influenced by who produces, consumes and ships oil. The United States has a pretty significant interest in helping countries like India source their oil from friendly places while seeking to become energy independent in the long term. Not only does it make our planet better, but it makes our foreign policy a lot more stable, and we could all use that.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

File this under stories that you never thought you would see.

We have lived to see Arabs enter Al-Aqsa Mosque under Israeli protection. It is shameful.

Elder of Ziyon notes the irony here:

The only reason any Arabs need Israeli protection to visit the site is to save their lives from the hateful Palestinians who would lynch them if they could.


In fact, an Emirati tweeted the video I published yesterday of Palestinians harassing Gulf visitors to the site with the caption, “Thank God that Jerusalem is in the hands of the State of Israel.”

In fairness when the Arab paper called it “disgraceful” it was not because Arabs are being attacked:

Is there any real difference between an Arab delegation visiting Al-Aqsa Mosque under Israeli protection and hordes of extremist Israeli settlers whose incursions and practice of Talmudic rituals there take place under the protection of the same security forces? The crime of these Arabs is arguably greater.

Mind you the fact that Palestinians are threatening and beating Arabs isn’t the disgrace to the writer, but that Israeli security stops the beatings.

No wonder ANTIFA & BLM like these guys so much, they’re birds of a feather.

In normal times this is a story that might be all over the place.

But now that the Democrats are in full BDS Anti-Israel mode this is the invisible story as it’s the type of thing that disturbs the narrative.

Same goes for military intervention…

Every election there seems to be a string of retired military flag and general officers that come out of the woodwork to support one candidate or another. The media acts like these opinions really matter, and we’ll hear endless debate about what “the generals” think. But do these people’s opinions really matter?

Like any good question, the correct answer is “it depends.” First, retired military members can share whatever opinion they want. Active duty members are restricted on what opinions they can share, since they work for the executive branch of the government. That’s why you see the disclaimer at the bottom of my articles, and why I don’t get too edgy on any sitting President from either party. Retired military members don’t have these restrictions, despite what people may think or want.

OK, so they can talk, but do they say anything useful? Most retired flag or general officers were in the service for between 25 and 40 years. That translates to somewhere between 8 to 16 different duty stations. Many of these were in different states and different countries, so in terms of understanding how different parts of the world work, these officers were certainly exposed to that. Moving between different continents exposes them to the good and the bad of how countries operate and the issues each country faces. This is particularly important when thinking about foreign policy, where the U.S. news service is terrible at covering issues like the water crisis in the Sudan, competition between Russia and China in central Asia, and the continuing problems in the Balkans.

There is a caveat to this that is really important. Military members go to places that have trouble. We don’t send people to Africa or the Middle East because its fun. Every overseas tour or travel is in the lens of failed diplomacy or democracy, so the member is there to fix it. Civil war in Yemen? Shoot some missiles in and kill some bad guys! Military members are primed for action. That’s not a bad thing. The military mindset of solving problems is positive, but it has two drawbacks. First, we hesitate to say “not my problem,” and second, we value U.S. intervention over others.

Let’s look at Syria for the first issue. Syria is a mess. We have Russia attempting to maintain influence in the country, especially since it owns a major naval base at Latakia. Turkey, a NATO ally, and Syria share a long, not the best defined border that has a host of illegal crossings. Then we have Iran shipping weapons and people across a poorly controlled Iraqi border to Syria. Combine that with a government focused on maintaining power rather than protecting its own people, and you have a California-sized tinder box just waiting for a gender reveal party.

So, could we go in and sort it out. Yes! Whats the cost? I’d start at ~5,000 U.S. deaths and we’d need to sit there for at least 15-30 years. Sounds crazy? Well, we won World War 2 over 70 years ago and we’re still in Germany and Japan. Maybe that’s not fair, let’s go with when the Berlin Wall collapsed…that’s still 44 years! Thirty years might be an understatement. That sounds a lot like colonization, and is guaranteed to get us a lot bad press.

Is there suffering in Syria? Yes, and at horrible levels. I’m not denying that. There is a lot of suffering all over the place. Should we care about Syria? Yes. But that’s not the important question. The important question is:

Do we care about Syria enough, and more than anyone else in the area, to commit to a very long term stay that will cost American lives?

It’s like a mortgage that you can’t sell back. You buy a house with a 30 year mortgage. You can just walk away, but it’ll rot and rust, and someone else might move in. That’s our problem with making everything our problem. We simply don’t have the resources to fix every problem in the world. We should pick and choose wisely. I wasn’t surprised when President Trump pulled the U.S. out of Syria. I was surprised by the backlash from military members. That’s the first big issue with retired flag and general officers: they all too often don’t ask whether we should get involved at all.

The second issue is valuing U.S. intervention over others. We talk the talk about loving our allies, but lets be honest, only about a handful are capable in any sort of extended, high intensity fight. That’s OK, because they’re allied with us, but it also makes them wary of jumping feet first into what looks like reckless U.S. intervention. Everyone loved being part of the first coalition to free Kuwait, but once we freed Kuwait, there was no desire by other countries to turn north to Iraq. We invaded Iraq years later to topple a really bad dictator, and we had allies come with, but they weren’t exactly thrilled. Our allies were happy to jump into Afghanistan, but after it dragged past four years, that enthusiasm waned.

When our allies work without us, it takes them longer, and our retired military members make plenty of comments like “we should support them,” without asking whether it makes any sense. When Mali fought Islamic insurgents and France wanted U.S. support, President Obama asked them to pay for it. He’s not wrong, because the correct question to ask is, are we willing to stay there for a long time? Most Americans can’t find Mali on a map, let alone pick out any U.S. interest in that country.

We also need to ask a really hard question about what retired admirals and generals do when they get out of the service. A few of them retire and “go fishing,” but plenty get another job, and most of these jobs are with major defense contractors. If I’m working at Raytheon and the government is shooting a lot of Raytheon missiles, I’m keeping a nice job for many years to come. Its the hammer tool problem: if all you have is a hammer, the world is full of nails. If you go from working 30+ years on solving military problems, then shift to a job making military equipment, you are likely inclined to think the military is the only (or at least, the best way) to solve problems. In many cases you are right, but there are plenty where you are not.

That’s the grain of salt you need for retired military opinions. Are they valuable? Yes! Retired military have different experiences than the populace, and their understanding of the world has value in many cases. But it comes with its own biases and special interests that aren’t obvious at the outset. We need to keep that in mind when we determine how much value to place on someone’s opinion.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, Raytheon Corporation, or any other government agency.