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06 June 2015

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Vaclav Linek

Catching up on news today, I just read a CBC article about a campaign trip by the Canadian prime minister to Ukraine and other European countries. The fighting in Ukraine is at a high intensity now, and Russia is counted among the forces supporting the Syrian govt., so this adds to the likelihood, but by how much I cannot say.

MRW

"the potential for World War that lies in a possible confrontation over the fate of Syria between the US and the forces supporting the Syrian government. Thoughts on that?"

Please be ultra-blunt and plain-speaking. And if from your military and strategic training you can outline your points as action, result, and consequence over time, we will have something we can forward to everyone we know as a warning. I'm not suggesting a format. I'm suggesting the info flow needed from someone who has been in the trenches and *sees* it, and which our Joe Q public friends and relatives can understand the urgency of.

I will never forget the last week of August 2013. The decision according to press reports was that we were going to war with Syria because of chemical weapons. It was all rah-rah from the chicken hawks in DC.

On TUESDAY, August 27, 2013 for some inexplicable reason I clicked on a Glenn Beck show link (only time ever). It on this show Glenn Beck warned his listeners that we will not survive a war with Syria which he called WWIII. He urged his listeners to forget political parties, to put aside differences, and get into the streets and demonstrate. Beck said, “Don’t screw with this. This is World War III in the making.” Part of the clip I watched is here.
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/27/we-dont-survive-glenn-beck-breaks-down-possible-ramifications-of-u-s-entering-war-in-syria/

Four hours later, Hannity was saying the same thing on Fox News, urging people to contact their congressmen, do something, and warning it meant WWIII.

But what I picked up immediately from the tone of voice, the urgency, and the talking points, was that someone in the military got to them on the QT, someone high enough for them to take the warning seriously, and say what they said that day.

Over the next three days Joe Scarborough was reporting how congressmen were shocked they were being deluged with calls and emails from constituents, and incumbents 'even threatened with being primaried' if they allowed the president to go to war.

On Saturday AM, August 31, 2013, on NPR Obama announced that he was going to throw the decision to go to war to Congress for a vote.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/obama-set-to-speak-on-syria-in-rose-garden/2013/08/31/65aea210-125b-11e3-85b6-d27422650fd5_story.html

"President Obama put on hold Saturday a plan to attack Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons, arguing that the United States had a moral responsibility to respond forcefully but would not do so until Congress has a chance to vote on the use of military force."

This time you are defending us from the enemies within.

Lars

The situation in the ME will last a long time and it will be bloody. There was a similar situation in Europe 450 years ago, with a lot of bloodshed, shifting borders, alliances and religion at the center of it. I would suggest the US stays out of it to the largest extent, unless there is a direct, credible threat to us.

This of course would entail containing all the neocons, who do not seem to learn much from past experiences. Just as it would be useful to not consider Israel as our 51st state.

VietnamVet

Colonel,

I look forward to your reports. For what it’s worth, being human, I can’t help but feel that the Greek Euro Crisis, the Ukraine Civil War, South China Sea Sand Island’s blowup, and the regional Sunni Shiite Jihad, all happening at once, are not a coincidence. Today is like 1948. The global power balance had shifted and new alliances and beliefs are needed to keep the world from blowing up. The trouble is that Barrack Obama is no Harry Truman. Also, the ruling western ideology has shifted from regulated democratic socialism to anti-science cutthroat capitalism. The current western rulers are incapable of seeing that the end game for the new Cold War II of Atlantists verses Eurasians is the extermination of mankind.

FB Ali

The NYT has an article today on Seal Team 6. It calls it a "global manhunting machine". The details show that a better designation would be "killing machine". This disposition to kill its targets (and bystanders) is not an exclusive feature of this unit, it appears to be shared by US (and allied) SF generally. And has often been displayed by Western soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. The use of drones for killing also falls into the same category.

Does this have something to do with their beliefs and attitudes regarding these enemies? The same beliefs that frequently led to the killing of the native population of North America? Something to do with 'exceptionalism' versus 'lesser breeds'?

I am not being at all judgmental about this. Many others still act in the same manner (and others have done so in the past - based on similar attitudes). For example, the IS and other jihadis are fond of just killing off people they capture who do not share their beliefs.

FB Ali

Col Lang,

The key for that potential in Syria is how far the US will go in supporting Turkey in pursuing its aim in Syria, namely to topple the Assad government. If Erdogan wins the referendum, this will likely free and embolden him to undertake a greater effort there.

Erdogan has shown that he is practically a megalomaniac. Such people are capable of actions no rational person would undertake. So far he has provided direct support to the Jaish al Fatah, while also turning a blind eye to the support flowing to the IS. It appears that the US is countenancing these actions (possibly while remonstrating behind the scenes). Such an attitude and behaviour is easy for him to misread.

If the US does not draw a firm red line for RTE now, he is quite capable of doing something stupid (such as intervening directly by declaring a 'no fly zone'). At that point it will become very difficult for the US to make him walk back. That will begin the slide into confrontation between the US and Russia.

mbrenner

1. A blend of the Spanish civil war and 1914 (There is a magnificent hour-by-hour reconstruction in JULY 1914 by a Cambridge historian teaching in Istanbul

2 Complication: Obama et al can't seem to figure whose side they're on

3. Complication: they are utterly unprepared to handle a complex, dangerous crisis. Fortunately, Putin and Merkel are both sober and in charge (no Nuland)

4. I think that Ukraine is more dangerous than the Middle East. I find Stephen Cohen very good on this: You Tube has a bunch of his long radio interviews; also via THE NATION

ex-PFC Chuck

VV: "The trouble is that Barrack Obama is no Harry Truman."

And he's not even a Richard Nixon or a Jimmy Carter for that matter. And Cameron is no Attlee, let alone a Churchill, nor is Hollande anywhere close to a De Gaulle. On the other hand Xi beats Chiang by at least a full lap, and Putin is at least as savvy as Uncle Joe.

rkka

Ukraine is the real danger, and what is not understood in Washington, London, or Brussels is that Moscow is prepared for war. And the Russians are kinda funny about war. They hate war. No one knows better than they how awful and destructive it is. But once persuaded of the necessity, they go at it with everything they've got. And in view of their massive conventional inferiority to NATO, that means tactical nukes from the outset.

And I don't think Washington, London, Brussels, and Warsaw get that.

walrus

I view this matter in terms of questions of time. America currently possesses the worlds greatest military machine, but for how long? The Army is tired but not the Airforce or Navy, I would have thought.

I go back to economics. Russian and Chinese GDP combined is going to one day dwarf the United States GDP. To me that means they can support a bigger military force….in time. In addition American internal contradictions have hollowed out the economy, destroying much of the middle class in the process according to many pundits.

I therefore think that there may be American thinkers who feel like the Germans did in 1914: better war with Russia now than in Five years when for example,, China and Russia can make use of better internal lines of communication etc. that they are now building.

The flash points include the Spratly Islands, Transnistria/Ukraine and Syria. The planners may also be arguing that the Navy and AIrforce can do the heavy lifting.

As for Obama, I think personal issues of narcissism outweigh rational calculation when it comes to Putin. Obama will be offered the suggestion that his legacy should include the chaining of the Russian Bear.

The trigger for Russia is evidently the One hundred Thousand plus Russian speakers in Transnistria who are at the mercy of Ukraine. There are indications that the trigger may be about to be pulled with AMerican support..

SteveG

The Trifecta of events may transpire at the end
of this month. And what are they??
Greek Debt resolution.
Iran Nuclear treaty.
Ukrainian bankruptcy.
What are WE TO DO 😎👿😱😷😴??

Fred

Col.,

"... the potential for World War that lies in a possible confrontation over the fate of Syria between the US and the forces supporting the Syrian government. "

General Dempsey retires soon. Perhaps the neocons directing the President's foreign policy think they can now get their objective of a no-fly zone and intervention enacted; forgetting, of course, that one of the countries supporting the Syrian government (the borg now say regime) is a permanent member of the UN Security Council with both a veto and 5,000+ nuclear weapons (and 400+ ICBMs) with which to exterminate life in the Northern Hemisphere. But think of "freedom" for those people in Syria (lets not forget Ukraine either) that the great Nobel Peace Prize winner will bring about with destroying this enemy of the Caliph.

MS2

I can't see how the Russians could imagine themselves equipped to undertake some massive effort involving Syria right now. They would sit back and let us screw up, while keeping a lid on Ukraine.

I would worry more about a big fight about 10-20 years from now when the Chinese have a firm alliance and logistical arrangement with Pakistan and Iran, more money to throw around, and no one involved has a recent memory of how bad things can get regardless of intentions.

Babak Makkinejad

nah, Merkel, Hollande and Putin have reached an understanding and there could be no war without France and Germany.

England's policy is not independent of US, they would be trying to remain on the right side of US at any cost and thus are not worthy of consideration as an independent factor in the situation in Ukraine.

Brussels is a city of bureaucrats and not statesmen - her position is irrelevant to questions of War & Peace.

That leaves Poland - which is too weak to do anything about anything - her major concern would be finding alternative buyers for her apples now that Russia has sanctioned her agricultural products.

jerseycityjoan

All --

I was quite startled to see this earlier tonight. The numbers quoted are so high yet I cannot say they are unbelievable. What I do find surprising is that so many people found the money to pay the people smugglers.

I can't help but wonder if the estimated number of migrants is accurate, if we will get involved with a situation that so far we have managed to stay out of and how this might affect other things.

"Half a million refugees gather in Libya to attempt perilous crossing to Europe"

...

"The defence secretary, Michael Fallon, visited Bulwark, flown in on one of the ship’s two Mark II Merlin helicopters, which are used to scour the seas for stranded boats. He urged the rest of Europe to help as Italy and Britain are taking on the brunt of the rescue workload.

Asked about the half-a-million already preparing to make the hazardous journey by boat from Libya he told reporters: “Well you have seen today 3,000 people trying to cross in a single day, we could see hundreds of thousands trying to cross this summer. We all have an interest in tackling this much further back. The issue here is poverty and conflict in west Africa and poverty and conflict in east Africa.”

...

So far this year 76,000 migrants have made the 260-mile crossing into Europe from Libya, with 40,000 remaining in Italy."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/06/cameron-merkel-at-odds-resettle-refugees-europe-migration

Bryn P

I cannot make my mind up whether the US is genuinely seeking detente with Iran or whether it is using its negotiations to make covert moves against it. Its relationships with the states in the ME seem to be all over the place. It is attacking ISIL whilst many of its allies including Israel are openly or covertly supporting it. Iran, which would appear on the surface to be its natural ally against ISIL, is openly fighting for Syria whilst the US is arming opposition forces. Frankly if I was Iranian I would be negotiating with the US using a very long spoon indeed.

William R. Cumming

Respectfully disagree in part! NO NUKES and Russia can whip whatever NATO can muster in the short term. Otherwise I agree with your comment.

William R. Cumming

Agree! Unfortunately!

William R. Cumming

A fateful world crisis may await Obama's annual stay in Martha's Vineyard. And Congress recessed.

Ulenspiegel

"Russian and Chinese GDP combined is going to one day dwarf the United States GDP."

The correct statemant would be that the Chinese GDP will dwarf or is already dwarfing the US GDP. Russia's GDP is in the same league as Italy's and not growing at a meaningful rate.

Within this framework I have real difficulties to understand:

"I therefore think that there may be American thinkers who feel like the Germans did in 1914: better war with Russia now than in Five years when for example.."

Babak Makkinejad

There is no economic war against ISIS - none, nada zilch.

There is one against Iran.

Until that picture changes, I will reserve judgment.

oofda

I agree that Ukraine presents a more dangerous situation. The shared history between the Ukrainian and Russian people makes for a complex situation- and one which U.S. leadership does not seem to take into consideration. The Russians feel that the West has gone back on promises previously made to not expand NATO into former Warsaw Pact and Soviet states. Whether such promises were actually made is besides the point, the Russians truly believe this- I have heard it personally from senior Russian military and diplomatic leadership. Ukraine is a red-line for the Russians for NATO and even EU membership.

To emphasize the complex relationship, and perhaps to add more fuel to the fire, Moscow is considering building a large statue of Prince Vladimir (Volodymyr in Ukrainian) converted eastern Slavs to Orthodox Christianity in the ninth and tenth centuries. He is considered the founder of the Kievan Rus, which is the forerunner of the Russian state. Oh, the prospective Moscow statue of Prince Vladimir would be three meters taller than the Prince Voloymyr statue in Kiev (Kyiv).

http://www.rferl.org/content/russia-prince-vladimir-statue-moscow-kyiv/27056982.html

GulfCoastPirate

Wouldn't a world war require a draft and a significant increase in taxes?

Not gonna happen.

turcopolier

GCP

We're not talking the "Guns of August" here. The Schlieffen Plan and/or Fall Gelb are gone forever. Mass armies will not be mobilized. Economies will not be re-configured. No, what would happen would be a small scale incident that leads to a larger incident and so forth up the escalatory ladder until the logic of escalation and threats leads to first a small nuclear use and eventually a full scale exchange that ends civilization as we know it, even what passes for civilization in Texas. All of that would occur with existing forces, forces that exist NOW! pl

LeaNder

I like this response, although we don't seem to be able to see the same juxtaposing forces that later became more prominent as national versus international forces. Since you refer to the Spanish Civil war, that is.

Who is the Cambridge historian?

I noticed that David Habakkuk referred to Stephan Cohen, and he sure looks interesting:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTt7J0cyFUE

He refers to the Nation:
http://www.thenation.com/authors/stephen-f-cohen

Concerning 4), if you do not consider the ME theater as similarly dangerous, how comes? And what approach do you suggest there for the US?

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