Discussion:
Grand Strategy -- No Game For Amateurs
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D. Spencer Hines
2017-07-04 17:51:23 UTC
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Raw Message
The great Muslim civil war - and us

By Charles Krauthammer
June 22

The U.S. shoots down a Syrian fighter-bomber. Iran launches missiles into
eastern Syria. Russia threatens to attack coalition aircraft west of the
Euphrates. What is going on?

It might appear a mindless mess, but the outlines are clear. The great
Muslim civil war, centered in Syria, is approaching its post-Islamic State
phase. It's the end of the beginning. The parties are maneuvering to shape
what comes next.

It's Europe, 1945, when the war was still raging against Nazi Germany, but
everyone already knew the outcome. The maneuvering was largely between the
approaching victors - the Soviet Union and the Western democracies - to
determine postwar boundaries and spheres of influence.

So it is today in Syria. Everyone knows that the Islamic State is finished.
Not that it will disappear as an ideology, insurgency and source of
continuing terrorism both in the region and the West. But it will disappear
as an independent, organized, territorial entity in the heart of the Middle
East.

It is being squeezed out of existence. Its hold on Mosul, its last major
redoubt in Iraq, is nearly gone. Raqqa, its stronghold in Syria and de facto
capital, is next. When it falls - it is already surrounded on three sides -
the caliphate dies.

Much of the fighting today is about who inherits. Take the Syrian jet the
United States shot down. It had been attacking a pro-Western Kurdish and
Arab force (the Syrian Democratic Forces) not far from Islamic State
territory.

Why? Because the Bashar al-Assad regime, backed by Iran, Hezbollah and
Russia, having gained the upper hand on the non-jihadist rebels in the
Syrian heartland (most notably in Aleppo), feels secure enough to set its
sights on eastern Syria. If it hopes to restore its authority over the whole
country, it will need to control Raqqa and surrounding Islamic State areas.
But the forces near Raqqa are pro-Western and anti-regime. Hence the Syrian
fighter-bomber attack.

Hence the U.S. shoot-down. We are protecting our friends. Hence the Russian
threats to now target U.S. planes. The Russians are protecting their
friends.

On the same day as the shoot-down, Iran launched six surface-to-surface
missiles into Syrian territory controlled by the Islamic State. Why?
Ostensibly to punish the jihadists for terrorist attacks two weeks ago
inside Iran.

Perhaps. But one obvious objective was to demonstrate to Saudi Arabia and
the other Sunni Arabs the considerable reach of both Iran's arms and
territorial ambitions.

For Iran, Syria is the key, the central theater of a Shiite-Sunni war for
regional hegemony. Iran (which is non-Arab) leads the Shiite side, attended
by its Arab auxiliaries - Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Shiite militias in Iraq
and the highly penetrated government of Iraq, and Assad's Alawite regime.
(Alawites being a non-Sunni sect, often associated with Shiism.)

Taken together, they comprise a vast arc - the Shiite Crescent - stretching
from Iran through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean. If
consolidated, it gives the Persians a Mediterranean reach they have not had
in 2,300 years.

This alliance operates under the patronage and protection of Russia, which
supplies the Iranian-allied side with cash, weapons and, since 2015, air
cover from its new bases in Syria.

Arrayed on the other side of the great Muslim civil war are the Sunnis,
moderate and Western-allied, led by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Egypt and
Jordan - with their Great Power patron, the United States, now (post-Obama)
back in action.

At stake is consolidation of the Shiite Crescent. It's already underway. As
the Islamic State is driven out of Mosul, Iranian-controlled militias are
taking over crucial roads and other strategic assets in western Iraq. Next
target: eastern Syria (Raqqa and environs).

Imagine the scenario: a unified Syria under Assad, the ever more pliant
client of Iran and Russia; Hezbollah, tip of the Iranian spear, dominant in
Lebanon; Iran, the regional arbiter; and Russia, with its Syrian bases, the
outside hegemon.

Our preferred outcome is radically different: a loosely federated Syria,
partitioned and cantonized, in which Assad might be left in charge of an
Alawite rump.

The Iranian-Russian strategy is a nightmare for the entire Sunni Middle
East. And for us too. The Pentagon seems bent on preventing it. Hence the
cruise missile attack for crossing the chemical red line. Hence the recent
fighter-bomber shoot-down.

A reasonable U.S. strategy, given the alternatives. But not without risk.
Which is why we need a national debate before we commit too deeply. Perhaps
we might squeeze one in amid the national obsession with every James Comey
memo-to-self?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DSH

"We stand for organized terror - this should be frankly admitted. Terror is
an absolute necessity during times of revolution. Our aim is to fight
against the enemies of the Soviet Government and of the new order of life.
We judge quickly. In most cases only a day passes between the apprehension
of the criminal and his sentence. When confronted with evidence, criminals
in almost every case confess; and what argument can have greater weight than
a criminal's own confession?"

Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky [1877-1926]
Robert Mulain
2017-07-12 20:18:09 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by D. Spencer Hines
The great Muslim civil war - and us
By Charles Krauthammer
June 22
The U.S. shoots down a Syrian fighter-bomber. Iran launches missiles into
eastern Syria. Russia threatens to attack coalition aircraft west of the
Euphrates. What is going on?
It might appear a mindless mess, but the outlines are clear. The great
Muslim civil war, centered in Syria, is approaching its post-Islamic State
phase. It's the end of the beginning. The parties are maneuvering to shape
what comes next.
It's Europe, 1945, when the war was still raging against Nazi Germany, but
everyone already knew the outcome. The maneuvering was largely between the
approaching victors - the Soviet Union and the Western democracies - to
determine postwar boundaries and spheres of influence.
So it is today in Syria. Everyone knows that the Islamic State is finished.
Not that it will disappear as an ideology, insurgency and source of
continuing terrorism both in the region and the West. But it will disappear
as an independent, organized, territorial entity in the heart of the Middle
East.
It is being squeezed out of existence. Its hold on Mosul, its last major
redoubt in Iraq, is nearly gone. Raqqa, its stronghold in Syria and de facto
capital, is next. When it falls - it is already surrounded on three sides -
the caliphate dies.
Much of the fighting today is about who inherits. Take the Syrian jet the
United States shot down. It had been attacking a pro-Western Kurdish and
Arab force (the Syrian Democratic Forces) not far from Islamic State
territory.
Why? Because the Bashar al-Assad regime, backed by Iran, Hezbollah and
Russia, having gained the upper hand on the non-jihadist rebels in the
Syrian heartland (most notably in Aleppo), feels secure enough to set its
sights on eastern Syria. If it hopes to restore its authority over the whole
country, it will need to control Raqqa and surrounding Islamic State areas.
But the forces near Raqqa are pro-Western and anti-regime. Hence the Syrian
fighter-bomber attack.
Hence the U.S. shoot-down. We are protecting our friends. Hence the Russian
threats to now target U.S. planes. The Russians are protecting their
friends.
On the same day as the shoot-down, Iran launched six surface-to-surface
missiles into Syrian territory controlled by the Islamic State. Why?
Ostensibly to punish the jihadists for terrorist attacks two weeks ago
inside Iran.
Perhaps. But one obvious objective was to demonstrate to Saudi Arabia and
the other Sunni Arabs the considerable reach of both Iran's arms and
territorial ambitions.
For Iran, Syria is the key, the central theater of a Shiite-Sunni war for
regional hegemony. Iran (which is non-Arab) leads the Shiite side, attended
by its Arab auxiliaries - Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Shiite militias in Iraq
and the highly penetrated government of Iraq, and Assad's Alawite regime.
(Alawites being a non-Sunni sect, often associated with Shiism.)
Taken together, they comprise a vast arc - the Shiite Crescent - stretching
from Iran through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean. If
consolidated, it gives the Persians a Mediterranean reach they have not had
in 2,300 years.
This alliance operates under the patronage and protection of Russia, which
supplies the Iranian-allied side with cash, weapons and, since 2015, air
cover from its new bases in Syria.
Arrayed on the other side of the great Muslim civil war are the Sunnis,
moderate and Western-allied, led by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Egypt and
Jordan - with their Great Power patron, the United States, now (post-Obama)
back in action.
At stake is consolidation of the Shiite Crescent. It's already underway. As
the Islamic State is driven out of Mosul, Iranian-controlled militias are
taking over crucial roads and other strategic assets in western Iraq. Next
target: eastern Syria (Raqqa and environs).
Imagine the scenario: a unified Syria under Assad, the ever more pliant
client of Iran and Russia; Hezbollah, tip of the Iranian spear, dominant in
Lebanon; Iran, the regional arbiter; and Russia, with its Syrian bases, the
outside hegemon.
Our preferred outcome is radically different: a loosely federated Syria,
partitioned and cantonized, in which Assad might be left in charge of an
Alawite rump.
The Iranian-Russian strategy is a nightmare for the entire Sunni Middle
East. And for us too. The Pentagon seems bent on preventing it. Hence the
cruise missile attack for crossing the chemical red line. Hence the recent
fighter-bomber shoot-down.
A reasonable U.S. strategy, given the alternatives. But not without risk.
Which is why we need a national debate before we commit too deeply. Perhaps
we might squeeze one in amid the national obsession with every James Comey
memo-to-self?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DSH
"We stand for organized terror - this should be frankly admitted. Terror is
an absolute necessity during times of revolution. Our aim is to fight
against the enemies of the Soviet Government and of the new order of life.
We judge quickly. In most cases only a day passes between the apprehension
of the criminal and his sentence. When confronted with evidence, criminals
in almost every case confess; and what argument can have greater weight than
a criminal's own confession?"
Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky [1877-1926]
And you are seriously telling us all that you want that prize wanker Mr Trump in charge while all this happens? Jeeez....
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