October 21, 2016

Washington Times on October 19, 2016 published an article on the geopolitics of fracking by H.Sterling Burnett. Excerpts below:

On Sept. 27, U.S.-produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports — used in chemical production, heating and power generation — arrived in Scotland, marking the first time fracking-derived natural gas developed from shale fields in the United States was sent to northwestern Europe.

Over the past decade, fracking has sparked an unprecedented energy revolution in the United States. Increased domestic energy production related to fracking lowered electricity and gasoline prices, creating hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs and helping to rebuild the U.S. role as a global leader in chemical manufacturing. Fracking also moved the country closer to attaining true energy independence than it has been for decades.

Despite research showing fracking does not harm the environment and reduces greenhouse-gas emissions, natural gas exploration is off to a slow start in Europe, where protests by radical environmentalists have thus far halted nearly all significant attempts at fracking.

The New York Times reported in 2014 some protests against fracking in Europe were largely financed by the state-owned Russian energy giant Gazprom. In 2014, NATO’s then-Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said, “Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations — environmental organizations working against shale gas — to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas.”

… National Review, among other publications, exposed Russia’s covert funding of U.S. anti-fracking environmental groups through Bermudan intermediaries in 2015.

Russia is right to fear the fracking revolution, the construction of LNG export terminals in the United States, and LNG import terminals around the world, especially in Europe. Russia is the European Union’s main supplier of oil and virtually dominates the region’s natural gas energy market. Russia has used its power as Europe’s energy broker to extort concessions — or at least quiescence — from EU member states, notably while conducting its various controversial activities in Georgia, Ukraine and Chechnya.

U.S. LNG exports threaten to break Russia’s energy stranglehold on Europe, undermining its political influence. Bulgaria, Germany and Poland have all expressed interest in receiving U.S. LNG shipments to loosen Gazprom’s control of their energy markets. Deutsche Bank estimates the United States could become Europe’s biggest natural gas supplier within a decade.

Trevor Sikorski of the London-based consulting firm Energy Aspects told The Wall Street Journal Russia could cut its natural gas prices well below the U.S. price. However, he says doing so would harm Russia’s struggling economy, which is heavily dependent on exports of oil and gas to pay for food and other consumer goods it imports.

Russia’s actions to suppress fracking across the European Union, while bad for Europe, could be a boon for the United States, opening up new markets for U.S. natural gas suppliers, creating jobs and improving the trade balance. If EU member states won’t develop their own natural gas and oil supplies, U.S. companies, workers and investors will be happy to profit by providing oil and gas to them.

While the future looks bright for the United States, it could be prospering even more if not for roadblocks the Obama administration has thrown up against oil and gas production on public lands and its denial of permits to build new natural gas export terminals — all of which are policies Mrs. Clinton has promised to continue or expand upon if she becomes president.

If Russia, one of the United States’ prime economic and geopolitical opponents, is against America developing its oil and gas resources, shouldn’t U.S. leaders be for it?

H. Sterling Burnett is a research fellow on energy and the environment at the Heartland Institute.

Comment: The successful American oil and gas industry is important to the West. It can help EU ending the dependency on Russian oil and gas. For Ukraine it is a welcome opportunity to move closer to the West and leave Russian influence behind. The new US administration must also expose how Moscow is attempting to tun opinion in Europe against fracking.


October 19, 2016

Deutsche Welle on October 16, 2016, reported that the German chancellor says Germany will spend billions more than currently budgeted on its military. This comes in response to criticism from the United States that fellow NATO members don’t contribute enough to mutual defense. Excerpts below:

German taxpayers will be asked to shell out more money – lots more money – to fund the country’s army, the Bundeswehr. That was one message that Chancellor Angela Merkel had at a conference of young conservatives this weekend in the city of Paderborn.

Merkel told representatives from her Christian Democratic Union’s youth organizations that Germany would be increasing its military spending to 2 percent of GDP, in line with an agreement that NATO states reached in 2014. The country currently spends around 1.2 percent of GDP on the Bundeswehr.

“In the 21st century, we won’t be getting as much help as we got in the 20th,” Merkel said. “We need to greatly increase the Bundeswehr budget to get from 1.2 to 2 percent.”

To meet that target, Germany’s defense spending would have to rise to some 60 billion euros ($65.8 billion). The current planned military budget for the year 2020 is 39.2 billion euros.

The contributions that NATO members make to the costs of the alliance are calculated with reference to their gross national income. Currently the US bears around 22 percent of NATO costs, compared with 15 percent for Germany, 11 percent for France and 10 percent for the United Kingdom.

According to official White House figures, the US contributed $685 million (624 million euros) of NATO’s $2.8 billion (2.5 billion euros) in common-funding budgets. Recent Department of Defense information indicates that the US has typically spent less than $500 million (456 million euros) to support NATO operations per year.

… there is an imbalance between what the United States contributes to mutual security and what its allies do. And there is a general consensus that the situation will have to change…

“Nations that belong to NATO are supposed to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense,” Dick Cody, the senior vice president of major American defense contractor L-3 Communications, said at a shareholders meeting last December. “We haven’t seen the budgets yet, but we know that uptick is coming, and so we postured ourselves for it.”

…with unease over the Kremlin’s intentions increasing after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, there is public support in Germany for beefing up the Bundeswehr. In a poll carried out in late December 2015, 56 percent of respondents favored increasing the size of Germany’s military, compared with 30 percent who rejected the idea.

Merkel was able to push through a 1.2 billion-euro ($1.3 billion) increase in the Bundeswehr’s budget between 2015 and 2016, so Germany is set to spend 35 billion euros ($38 billion) on defense this year. But a lot more money than that will have to be allocated if Berlin is to reach the NATO target any time soon.

Comment: That Germany now has committed to increasing the defense costs to 2 percent of GDP is most welcome. One can only hope that other NATO nations will follow the German example. If Sweden wants to join NATO in the future it would have to raise defense budget allocations from around 1,1 percent to 2,0 percent of GDP. That would mean almost doubling defense spending. The present Swedish government of center-left, however, is living in a pacifist dream world. A likely Swedish center-right government will hopefully be more realistic when it takes over in 2018, but by then it might be too late. The Russian aggressive pressure in the Baltic Sea area is growing.


October 18, 2016

Los Angeles Times on September 19, 2016, reported on the leaflet war on Islamic State. A reporter flew with the crew of an Iraqi plane that distributed hundreds of boxes of leaflets. Excerpts below:

Over the next hour, they would throw them over 16 cities and towns in Nineveh province, all held by Islamic State, as part of the government’s largest “psy-ops” offensive against the militant group.

In the battle to defeat Islamic State, which the government calls “Daesh,” Iraqi forces have taken aim at the militants not only with bombs and bullets, but also through a multi-pronged media war to deflate the group’s “bogeyman” image.

The efforts serve as a counterweight to Islamic State’s media machine, a juggernaut that produces high-quality videos, photo essays and magazines disseminated via a Hydra-like social media network.

It was a little more than two years ago that Islamic State stormed Mosul, prompting tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers to flee for their lives in the face of an onslaught by a ragtag army of about 1,500 militants in pickups.

“What happened in June 2014 was a function of psychological operations by Daesh that were able to cast terror, fear and confusion among both the armed forces and our society,” said Said Jayashi, a consultant to the Iraqi government’s Psychological Warfare division, in a phone interview on Wednesday.

The easy capture of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, pushed the extremist group to proclaim the establishment of its caliphate over swaths of Iraq and Syria a few weeks later.

It also prompted the Iraqi government to bring together “a group of experts, composed of university professors, specialists in psychological, social and media sciences as well as intelligence and security personnel,” said Jayashi. They were tasked with producing propaganda to counter Islamic State.

Much of the pro-government propaganda is woven into everyday life in government-controlled areas of the country…As the battles to take back Islamic State areas began in 2015,… “military operations had to be supported by media and psychological operations to confuse the enemy” and to reach residents living under Islamic State rule. To do this, the government uses text messages, radio and leaflets.

The leaflets, especially, have played a central role. Over the last two years, the government says, its planes have cast more than 40 million of them over Islamic State areas.

As the government’s campaign has progressed, the airdrops have served as a prelude to the security forces’ advance, leaving a paper trail extending from parts of the Syrian-Iraqi border to Salahuddin province, Ramadi and Fallujah.

One leaflet, distributed over Mosul in June, told beleaguered residents that it was “high time … that you all stand on the land of your pure city as one hand against Islamic State” and “rule the city and decide its fate.”

Others give more practical advice, such as those informing people of the location of humanitarian corridors or reminding them to take personal documents before evacuating their homes. Those are usually thrown 72 hours before ground forces begin their incursion on a city.

With the plane in position over its target, officers Abbass and Ismail began to grab boxes and throw them out of the side door.

Ismail explained there was no danger of the cartons falling — and killing — unsuspecting citizens below; the wind would quickly rip them apart.

Events soon proved he was right: One of the boxes hit the lip of the doors, tearing its side and spewing leaflets in a whirling vortex of paper.

Suddenly, an unintelligible message came over the plane’s public address system, followed by an abrupt movement. In the cockpit, Hussein, seeing the flashes of what appeared to be antiaircraft fire, had taken the plane up to safety. Although only a little more than two-thirds of the boxes had been deployed, the mission was over.
The next day, the local news outlet Sumariyah News quoted a source in Nineveh province who said that Islamic State had mobilized its cadres to collect and destroy all the leaflets in their areas.

Any resident found with a leaflet, the source said, would be lashed 20 times.

Comment: In spite of the advance of computer technology paper leaflets are still used in psychological warfare operations. In the Vietnam War, for instance, so called surrender leaflets were successfully used by the American and South Vietnamese forces. Thousands of North Vietnamese officers and soldier gave themselves up accepting the South Vietnamese government’s defection offer . In the fight against ISIS surrender leaflets are useless against Muslim fanatics.


October 17, 2016

The Kurile Islands for a chain north of Japan’s northernmost island Hokkaido. The population is around 25,000. The Kurile Islands are part of Russia since the Second World War. Japan claims to have historic rights to the southern Kurile Islands.

The Nikkei business daily recently reported that Japan was considering joint administration of the islands. It quoted unidentified Japanese and Russian government sources. Reuters on October 16, 2016, reported that Japan denies discussing joint administration. Excerpts below:

“We deny the Nikkei report that Japan and Russia are discussing the joint administration of the Northern Territories,” Japanese foreign ministry spokesman Yasuhira Kawamura told Reuters in an email, referring to the islands off Hokkaido known in Russia as the Southern Kuriles.

“There is no change in Japan’s fundamental position that Japan will conclude the peace treaty with Russia by resolving the issue of the possession of the four northern islands.”

Japan has long demanded that the sovereignty of all the territories be resolved before a peace treaty is signed, but some politicians and experts have said Abe may alter course.

Last month, Abe told parliament: “I will resolve the territorial issue, end the abnormal situation in which no peace treaty has been concluded even 71 years after the war, and cultivate the major possibility of Japan-Russia cooperation in areas such as the economy and energy.”

Comment: Varldsinbordeskriget believes it is important that Western nations (United States, Great Britain and Australia) support Japan’s claims in this ongoing dispute between Russia and Japan.


October 16, 2016

Kristianstadsbladet publicerade lördagen den 15 oktober 2016 en ledare om det ökande ryska kärnvapenhotet i Östersjöområdet. Se utdrag nedan:

Rysslands utplacering av robotsystemet Iskander i Kaliningrad ger Sveriges närområde en ny och hotfull komponent.

Systemet är i grunden utformat för att kunna skjuta kärnvapen och dess räckvidd gör att stora delar av södra Sverige nås av systemet.

Tyvärr kommer rustningen med taktiska kärnvapen i Sveriges närområde att föras på villkor som gynnar Ryssland. Till skillnad från strategiska kärnvapen, med lång räckvidd, är taktiska kärnvapen inte reglerade på samma sätt genom avtal och öppen redovisning av innehav. Tvärtom finns det en osäkerhet kring antalet och var de är placerade. Detta gäller främst Ryssland, men även USA som har taktiska kärnvapen lagrade i exempelvis Tyskland.

Ryssland har fördelen av att ryskt territorium gränsar direkt till Östersjön. Det gör att Kreml relativt fritt kan placera ut taktiska kärnvapensystem.

USA har endast ett hundratal i form av flygbomber, vilket är ett föråldrat system. Ryssland bedöms förfoga över ett tusental taktiska kärnvapen i sitt västra militärdistrikt. Dessutom är de kompatibla med mer moderna vapensystem än det USA har i Europa.

Från en svensk utgångspunkt är utvecklingen mycket illavarslande. Geopolitiskt befinner Sverige sig mitt i en begynnande kapprustning. Samtidigt saknar vi det skydd som ett medlemskap i Nato ger och har kraftigt avrustat vårt försvar sedan kalla krigets slut. Därmed är vi öppna för påtryckningar med taktiska kärnvapen från Rysslands sida.

Kommentar: Den ryska utplaceringen av robotsystemet Iskander (som kan bära kärnvapen) är ett hot mot samtliga demokratier runt Östersjön. De ryska robotarna kan nå södra och östra Sverige. För närvarande har USA endast få föråldrade raketer i Europa. NATO bör svara med utplaceringen av moderna robotsystem i östra Europa. I maj rapporterades att Polen fått en försvarssköld i form av en amerikansk antirobotbas, och polske försvarsministern Antoni Macierewicz känner större trygghet. Den tredje och sista fasen av USAs plan att försvara Europa mot missiler från Mellanöstern har inletts.

Basen, Aegis Ashore, byggs i Redzikowo i norra Polen, 25 mil från Kaliningrad. Basens verksamhet skall koordineras med den raketbas som just invigts i Rumänien.

Sällan har det envisa rödgröna motståndet mot NATO-medlemskap för Sverige framstått som mer föråldrat. Som det ser ut nu kan man bara hoppas att alliansen tar initiativ i frågan efter valsegern 2018. Den nuvarande regeringens orealistiska försvarspolitik är ett hot mot svensk säkerhet.


October 13, 2016

A not uncommon argument in defense of Muslims is that not all support ISIS and other Islamic terrorist organizations. This argument is of course partly true. There are over one billion Muslims worldwide, most of them peaceful, but there is limited willingness among them to actively fight against the terrorists in their ranks. The more moderate sometimes say that they don’t believe in jihad but they seem unwilling to join the fight against terrorism. Only allied forces in Afghanistan and Iraq are willing to take up arms.

With the rise after the end of the Cold War of militant religions there is a new global war against the West. The messianic ideologies of communism and nazism from 1917 to 1991 were behind an internal Western civil war against freedom and democracy. Ironically these messianic ideologies were of Western origin.

Since 2009 there has been a reluctance of the Obama administration to use opportunities and instruments available for waging warfare against the enemies of the West. NATO troops (most of them American) have been withdrawn from Afghanistan and Iraq. The result is chaos in the Middle East. Rich Arab states like Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia have not been asked to send ground troops to fight ISIS and other terrorist organizations in the region.

The West and mainly the United States have effective tools for weakening hostile states and organizations. Power can be extended with little or no military effort. Washington DC has been reluctant to use effective public diplomacy, political warfare and other methods. These instruments are part of the present strategic environment. There are few Arab boots on the ground.

Political warfare can be defined as meaning the marshaling of opposition in order to achieve victory in war or in conflicts that are as serious as war. This type of warfare is part of all international action and not confined only to political warfare operations.

In Europe Vladimir Putin is using the ancient notion of disrupting alliances (NATO and EU). It is a critical element of the writings of the ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu. The goal is to weaken the EU and do harm to relations with the United States. Instead of supporting Ukraine with military weapons the Obama administration has chosen not to undermine the regime in Damascus in exchange for Russian military intervention in defense of Assad.

It should be one of the main tasks of the new American administration to use opportunities and instruments in an effort to defeat international Islamic terrorism and to help stop Russian military and political warfare in Europe. Wealthy states on the Arabian Peninsula ought to contribute more to the war on terrorism.

A major mistake by the Obama administration has been the attempt to make friends with the mullahs in Tehran. A new administration in Washington DC should instead use all available types of indirect warfare to support the opposition in Iran against the theocratic rulers. It is time to abandon the defective anti-terrorist efforts of the Obama administration in the Middle East, efforts that lead nowhere and for 8 years have weakened the West.


October 12, 2016

Washington Times on October 6, 2016, published an opinion piece by Wesley Pruden on the dangerous world the Obama administration is leaving behind. Mr. Pruden reflected on Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. Excerpts below:

…everyone agreed that Mr. Obama certainly didn’t deserve the prize, cheapened as it had become by politics. Nearly eight years later the president has become something of a maker of war, not peace, which is the usual lot of any man or woman elected, like it or not, leader of the world.

The world is a far more dangerous place now. Radical Islamic terrorism, which the president still dares not call by its name, has become the new normal everywhere, gruesome death of innocents in the name of a prophet dead for centuries. The world hasn’t measured so many deaths in battle since the end of the Vietnam War, and refugees from war and terrorism have washed over Europe in numbers to remake the map, and threaten now to overwhelm the culture in America.

Mr. Obama…has pulled more than 100,000 soldiers out of Iraq, enabling the success of ISIS in taking vast territory for its so-called Islamic State, and now he has to begin the painful and embarrassing task of sending some of them back…

He rewarded Fidel Castro and the old men of the Cuban revolution, eager for the comforts of capitalism as they lie dying, but he is unable to do anything but draw imaginary red lines in the sand, like a child with his coloring book, to prevent the destruction of the Syrians.
But the president’s peacemaking legacy will be the sweetheart deal he made with the mullahs in Iran, preserving their dream of an Islamic bomb, which the mullahs promise to use to make a second Holocaust of Israel.

Hillary Clinton goes along with the president’s cynical assurance that against emerging evidence he has halted the development of the Iranian bomb.

Mr. Kaine, trying to reassure with his Howdy-Doody smile and happy talk, said three times that the Iranian nuclear-weapons program had been “stopped” or “capped.” He divided the “credit” between Mr. Obama and his negotiating skill and Hillary’s performance as secretary of State.

Whether manufacturing peace or disarming Islamic terror, Barack Obama and his protege have demonstrated incompetence all but unique in the history of the American presidency. And Hillary Clinton wants America to reward the incompetence with four more years.

Wesley Pruden is editor-in-chief emeritus of The Times.

Comment: The Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama has certainly left the Western world during his four years in power in a dangerous position. The traditional challengers of the West, Russia, China and Iran, have become increasingly powerful as the Obama administration has abandoned the wise and traditional policy of securing the rimland to avoid one or more powers to rise in Eurasia. It was Nicholas J. Spykman, the founder of the Institute of International Studies at Yale in 1935 who formulated the Rimland Doctrine. He argued that geography was everything and the United States as hegemon had to be involved in the rimland from Scandinavia to Japan. The reason was that the rimland was key to world power. The United States has followed Spykman’s advise since the Second World War but since 2009 America has been withdrawing from the rimland opening up the West to international terrorism and the three anti-Western empires Russia, China and Iran. It is up to the next U.S. president to steer America back to the Rimland Doctrine and increase American presence in the Middle East and the Far East.


October 7, 2016

Washington Times on September 20, 2016, published a review of “True Believer: Stalin’s Last American Spy” by Kati Marton, Simon and Schuster, $27, 289 pages. Excerpts below:

Soviet spy Noel Field was born into a prominent Quaker family…While at Harvard, his Quaker idealism, coupled with a loathing for capitalism, morphed into admiration for communism. Bent upon “reforming America,” he joined State’s Western European Division in 1926 and achieved a reputation for brilliance — and also for unconcealed leftism.

In a New Deal Washington teeming with communists and sympathizers, Field proved to be a prime prospect for Soviet intelligence recruiters. A legendary KGB recruiter known as “J. Peters” easily hooked Field. “An ideal target,” Kati Marton terms him. “Who would ever believe a well-mannered young man with deep New England roots and immaculate appearances such as Noel Field could betray his country?”

Lack of security made spying easy. “The mentality of the State Department was rather provincial This was evident from the careless manner in which state secrets were managed. The most secret documents, sometimes in multiple copies, circulated from hand to hand.

Field was careless to the point of recklessness. Contrary to KGB dicta, he subscribed to The Daily Worker, the U. S. communist newspaper, and flashed copies to make points in debates. He marched in leftist protest demonstrations. And perhaps most striking, he drove a group of friends to the Lincoln Memorial one evening, got out of the car, and loudly sang the “International” — in Russian.

Switching to the United Nations in Geneva in 1936, Field took on a most odious Soviet assignment — to help assassinate a longtime KGB officer named Ignace Reiss, who was threatening to defect to protest the Stalin “show trials” that killed many former associates. Field was tasked with watching for Reiss and notifying the assigned assassin if he appeared. As matters turned out, another killer disposed of Reiss (12 shots to the head). But as Ms. Morton observes, Field “had shown his willingness to do Moscow’s bidding — even as an accessory in a comrade’s murder.”

Field next shifted to France…And when war came, he sought out an old family friend, Allen Dulles, and signed on with the Office of Strategic Services. (The OSS director, Gen. William Donovan, had famously declared, “I’d put Stalin on the OSS payroll if I thought it would help us defeat Hitler.)

Field’s world tumbled in 1948. Communist agent Whittaker Chambers defected and revealed wide Red infiltration of Federal agencies. He named Field and Hiss, among others. Field sought refuge in Hungary, a Soviet puppet state.

Then another jolt: a paranoid Stalin accused Field and several other former agents for being secret American intelligence agents working against the USSR…

A stunned Field was tortured — at times so severely he had to be carried to his cell on a stretcher. He followed a prepared script and “confessed”… His sentence: five years in solitary confinement.

Field played along with his tormentors, faulting himself for lack of Communist character” and begging to continue with the party. Even the jailing of his wife, brother and adopted daughter did not shake his faith in communism. He chose to remain in Hungary after his release from prison — still worshipping a the feet of the failed god communism.


October 6, 2016

Jerusalem Post on October 4, 2016, published an article on how Russia is outwitting the United States in Syria. Excerpts below:

America has been addicted to diplomacy in Syria since protests against the regime of Bashar Assad broke out in 2011. After the US refrained from bombing Syria in September 2013 and decided instead to channel negotiations regarding chemical weapons through Russia, it signaled that the US would never put a credible military threat on the table. More fortuitous for Assad was the rise of Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014 and the pivoting of US policy from seeking to remove Assad to fighting ISIS.

In July 2015 the US signed the Iran deal, a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s and Secretary of State John Kerry’s “diplomacy first” agenda. The Russians correctly read the Iran deal and the decision by the US to focus a bombing campaign on ISIS as a step-down of demands that Assad leave power. The Iran deal strengthened Assad as well because Iran is a key supporter for the regime and has helped fund it, as well as sending tens of thousands of Shi’ite mercenaries, mostly from Afghanistan, to fight in Syria. The Russians saw the US addiction to diplomacy as an inherent weakness of US policy-making.

Obama has been portrayed as fearing that any action on Syria would lead to another Iraq, a slippery slope, sucking in US money and troops.

As thousands more died and millions more became refugees, with the exception of the budding relationship with Syria’s Kurds the US kept hammering down the same track.

The fact that the US telegraphed openly the fact it would never do more than negotiate made diplomacy a moot issue. The Russians correctly understood that Americans value diplomacy for diplomacy’s sake.

When there is a war and one side, such as the Syrian rebels, is slowly losing, the longer diplomacy goes on, the worse it is for them.

Yet in August Kerry was still talking to the Russians, hoping that a “political transition could begin,” according to Reuters. “It is critical, obviously, that Russia restrain both itself and the Assad regime from conducting offensive operations,” Kerry said in August. When a “cease-fire,” which was never really a ceasefire, came into affect in September, the White house press secretary Josh Earnest openly derided its chances of success. “I think we’d have some reasons to be skeptical that the Russians are able or are willing to implement the arrangement consistent with the way it’s been described,” he said, but added, “we will see.” And the world did see exactly what happened during the “cease-fire”: Assad and his allies deepened their siege of Aleppo and air-strikes continued. Yet the Americans keep talking about “easing Assad out of office.”

Meanwhile media aligned with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has openly boasted of the Russian success. Sputnik news noted that “Russia’s air campaign in Syria helped it develop ‘realistic diplomacy.’” Russia has been clear about its support for Assad since the conflict began. In 2015 it began a major air campaign, first telling the world it was “fighting ISIS,” which like so many things, led the naïve Western powers to accept the campaign with few reservations. A year on, the air campaign has rolled back Syrian rebel advances and killed thousands.

The problem again and again with US “diplomacy” is that it is not diplomacy.

Diplomacy is a policy designed to create an outcome with an opposing force that is also diplomatically trustworthy. When an enemy is massacring people and you say “we will use diplomacy,” you are merely giving the enemy time to massacre more people. It’s the difference between negotiating with a hostage taker and negotiating with a hostage taker who is killing hostages. There is no “negotiation” in the second scenario, unless one wants to let more hostages die. US diplomacy in a world where the US has nothing credible to back up its talk, where the US puts all its cards on the table and where America’s opponents openly mock the naivety of Washington policy-makers, has turned US policy into a tool of its opponents. Because the Americans can be counted upon to do everything to make “diplomacy” appear to work, countries such as Syria, Iran and Russia simply play along, while conducting the policy they always wanted all along. There is no evidence that US diplomacy has ever restrained anything in the last decade. In that sense Washington policy in the last years been geared upon doing whatever other countries want to do.

Russia read the US playbook, and plays to the US need to feel arrogant about its “successful, but frustrating, diplomacy.” So they talk and talk, and the US never gets anything, and the Russian ground game succeeds in Syria, bit by bit.

Comment: The Obama administration’s so called diplomacy in Syria is bankrupt. There is a great risk that a possible Clinton administration will follow the same bankrupt policy. The interests of the West in the Middle East are truly endangered at present and could be in the future as well.


October 5, 2016

Fox News on October 2, 2016, published an article by Fergus Hodgson on the dangers of the Colombian Farc-deal, which was later rejected by the Colombian voters in a referendum. Excerpts below:

The lengthy negotiation with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) proceeded under the protektion of communist Cuba in Havana, after five decades of conflict with the brutal terrorists.

Adamant support from Bolivarian Alliance neighbors…indicates what lies beneath the surface. This bloc, the brainchild of Hugo Chávez, opposes US influence in the Americas and advocates 21st-century socialism. Presidents Rafael Correa and Nicolás Maduro continue Chávez’s ambition in Ecuador and Venezuela.

These regimes have some of the most suffocated economies in world and a flagrant disregard for human rights such as free speech. Venezuela came in 159th and last in the latest Fraser Institute freedom ranking, and Ecuador is not much better at 142nd.

Venezuela is now more violent and dangerous than Colombia, with regime-backed militias such as the Tupamaro. Last week a gang took over the Caracas University Hospital, and over 100 Caracas policemen have been murdered in 2016.

The Marxist FARC are overt Chavistas and have a strong presence in Venezuela — with mutual affection expressed by both Chávez and Maduro — so they have negotiated in that direction. The agreement has 161 mandates, with 114 solely on the government.

…the terms create the institutionell and political gateway for a new member of this Bolivarian Alliance. Colombia would ignite the Chavista dream of a socialist Gran Colombia, a short-lived 19th-century republic under Simón Bolívar.

The FARC have largely boycotted past elections, but would be a force to be reckoned with. In part, they have already succeeded, since President Juan Manuel Santos’s coalition included sympathizers whose priority was the agreement. They would be able to draw on drug-cartel funds, activist networks, violence and intimidation, and state propaganda from the Chavista TeleSUR. All TeleSUR presidents have been Colombian since the 2005 founding, with an eye on influence there.

The agreement prohibits drug trafficking, but some FARC fronts will likely ignore this. The like-minded guerrilla Popular Liberation Army is also ready to move into vacated territory and sustain the profits.

Further, many politicians support the FARC goal of 21st-century socialism. That includes Gustavo Petro Urrego, a former Bogotá mayor, guerrilla, and now presidential aspirant with an approval rating of 40 percent.

Gushing international praise from the likes of President Barack Obama is naiveté and wishful thinking. There are reasons why former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez (2002-2010) rejected any concessions. He understood that there was no common ground, and that the FARC would renege on any agreement.

Colombia yearns for peace, but she need not capitulate before Latin America’s most bloodthirsty guerrillas.

Fergus Hodgson is an economic consultant with the Fraser Institute in Canada and a research fellow with the Tax Revolution Institute in Washington, DC.

Comment: Luckily the agreement was rejected by the Colombian electorate but negotiations will continue to find a solution.