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  • Drill, Baby, Drill

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 25th March 2015 (All posts by )

    yemen-anti-houthi_3242589b

    It looks like the battle for Saudi Arabia has begun and, if it follows the pattern of other Obama wars, it will be soon lost, or so Richard Fernandez believes.

    Even the New York Times sees it.

    President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled Yemen by sea Wednesday as Shiite rebels and their allies moved on his last refuge in the south, captured its airport and put a bounty on his head, officials said.

    The departure of the close U.S. ally and the imminent fall of the southern port of Aden pushed Yemen further toward a violent collapse. It also threatened to turn the impoverished but strategic country into another proxy battle between the Middle East’s Sunni powers and Shiite-led Iran.

    Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies believe the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, are tools for Iran to seize control of Yemen and say they intend to stop the takeover. The Houthis deny they are backed by Iran.

    The stakes are very high for Europe, especially.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Current Events, Energy & Power Generation, Europe, International Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, National Security, Obama, Russia, War and Peace | 38 Comments »

    The Sequester

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 22nd February 2013 (All posts by )

    As we count down to March 1, we are hearing more and more about the dreaded sequester. The left is confused about its history.

    How did this become Obama’s fault? It started with Mitt Romney, a once-influential Republican Party politician and its 2012 nominee for president. In the third debate with President Obama, Romney fretted that “a trillion dollars in cuts through sequestration and budget cuts to the military” would weaken America’s defenses. The president literally dismissed this with a wave of his hand. “The sequester is not something that I proposed,” he said. “It’s something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen.”

    How did this get to be the story ?

    The accidental Bible of Sequestration is The Price of Politics, Bob Woodward’s history of the debt-limit wars, and one of the least flattering portrayals of the president this side of Breitbart.com. In it, Woodward recounts a July 27, 2011, afternoon meeting between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and White House negotiators. Reid wanted a “trigger” as part of a debt deal, some way to force more cuts in the future without defaulting on the debt that summer. Chief of Staff Jack Lew and adviser Rob Nabors proposed sequestration, as a threat that could be averted if/when Congress passed a better deal.

    OK. The White House staff suggested it. Why ? Because they assumed that Republicans would cave in rather than accept cuts in the defense budget.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, History, Leftism, Obama, Politics, Taxes | 9 Comments »

    On Special Relationships

    Posted by onparkstreet on 15th November 2011 (All posts by )

    Foreign Secretary William Hague on UK-Pakistan relations at the 60th Anniversary of the Pakistan Society:

    And my message to you all this evening is that Britain’s relationship with Pakistan is here to stay. What happens in Pakistan matters to Britain, and we will stand by Pakistan as it addresses the challenges it faces and build a durable relationship that we know will stand the test of time.
     
    We can be confident of doing so because ours is not a new relationship founded on a narrow set of interests.
     
    We enjoy a tremendous latticework of connections of history and shared experiences, embodied in one million people with close ties to Pakistan living in Britain today and the thousands of our citizens who travel back and forth each year to work, study and support projects or for simple enjoyment.

    Yahoo News India:

    The United States Defense Department has awarded a 42.3 million dollar contract to Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest defense contractors, to provide 10 upgrade kits for Pakistan’s F-16 A/B aircrafts.
     
    According to the Daily Times, the contract has been awarded under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme for Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s Block 15 F-16 A/B Aircraft Enhanced Modernization Program.

    Aviation Week blog:

    Given how opaque the Saudi government is, it is unclear what is prompting the latest bout of uncertainty. Among the top reasons government and industry officials cite is Riyadh’s unhappiness the U.S. did not support a Palestinian bid for UN membership. Another is that the recent turmoil in Saudi Arabia — with Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz named new defense minister after his predecessor died — has simply created too much uncertainty for the arms package to move forward.
     
    Boeing has a lot riding on the deal — especially since it would keep F-15 production alive past 2020 — and company officials recently indicated it was still on, without projecting timing. It is important for Boeing, financially, too, since it has already spent money to avoid a production gap.

    India and Britain – the new special relationship?RUSI

    Council on Foreign Relations:

    In this Vanity Fair adaptation of The Eleventh Day, by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, the authors explore connections between the Saudi royal family, the September 11th attacks, and the Bush administration’s suppression of critical evidence.
     
    For 10 years now, a major question about 9/11 has remained unresolved. It was, as 9/11-commission chairmen Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton recalled, “Had the hijackers received any support from foreign governments?” There was information that pointed to the answer, but the commissioners apparently deemed it too disquieting to share in full with the public.

    Clinton Cites Pakistan Anti-Terror Help in Bid to Avert Aid CutBloomberg

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Aviation, Britain, Business, Economics & Finance, International Affairs, Military Affairs | 4 Comments »

    The Super Sweet Strategery of Strategic Depth

    Posted by onparkstreet on 5th January 2011 (All posts by )

    Pakistan’s beliefs in the value of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan were influenced by two factors. The support it received from the U.S. in waging an armed response against the Soviet occupation triggered the belief. The success of that endeavour with no apparent costs to itself, gave Islamabad the illusion of being able to play a major role in the geo-politics of Central Asia. This more than anything else led to the belief that Afghanistan provided the strategic leverage Pakistan had long been seeking. The energy-rich Muslim states of Central Asia beckoned both Pakistan and the energy-seeking multi-nationals. Iran’s standing up to western pressures was proving an obstacle to long-term plans for energy extraction from the region. Afghanistan offered both shorter energy routing and political control through Pakistan.

    V. R. Raghavan (The Hindu, 2001)

    Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, “wants a reliable proxy that has territorial control of the P2K area,” Mr. Dressler adds. This desire is the result of Pakistan’s historic conflict with India. “If India comes across the border, Pakistan can fall back into Afghanistan and drive them out. It’s about strategic depth vis-à-vis India. As long as that continues to be a driving concern, Pakistan’s support for the Haqqani network will continue.”

    The Christian Science Monitor (via Small Wars Journal)

    A highly plausible future scenario indeed (regarding the second quoted item). In the event that the Indians decide on a massive ground invasion into Pakistan and march sturdily through the landscape of jihadi-networks and scattering Pakistani troops – with nary a nuke in sight and the US sitting idly by – it sounds like a winner of a strategy. The supply lines to the Indians will, of course, be Bollywood unicorns pooping ammunition and some sort of MREs.

    On the other hand, serious people seem to take Pakistani strategic depth worries seriously. The Indians are forever being told that they must take Pakistani fears of regional encroachment into account so that the United States (ISAF) may have a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan that is stable. Although….

    My basic point, lost in the midst of all of those excerpts, is that despite having “full” strategic depth in Afghanistan during the time period of the Kargil War, a conflict occurred between the two.

    – from a comment I made in this thread at Small Wars Journal (regarding the theory that strategic depth in Afghanistan may prevent conflict between India and Pakistan).

    I think a strategy that brings about the very thing you claim to be worried about (the Indians in Afghanistan with ISAF supporting a reasonably India-friendly government) seems like a loser to me. Want to see the math?

    1. Pakistan supports the Taliban in Afghanistan for purposes of “strategic depth.”
    2. The Taliban invites in Al Q.
    3. 9-11 happens and Americans and others are murdered.
    4. Americans invade Afghanistan.
    5. India follows with the rest of the development crowd….

    See? A loser of a strategy in terms of the vaunted s.d.

    What say you ChicagoBoyz commenters? Have I got it totally wrong? Am I a total paranoid? A partial paranoid? Leave a comment below if you must….

    PS: I always enjoy reading Max Boot at Contentions but, er….?

    The United States can influence the choice only at the margins, but we must do what we can to signal to the army leadership that we will stand behind them if they decide to do more to take on the radicals. In this connection, it is highly useful that President Obama has agreed to NATO’s timeline not to transition security responsibility in Afghanistan until 2014. That should put to rest some immediate concerns about America’s fickleness as an ally and reassure the Pakistani army that we will stand with the forces of moderation in Pakistan should they do more to battle the growing religious extremism that threatens the very survival of the state.

    Respectfully, the Army is not a force of moderation. They are following a long-cherished regional strategic plan that has nothing to do with our alleged “fickleness.” Given China’s monetary support of the regime, I wager the Pakistani Army/ISI will continue to think they can play various networks to their advantage. 2014 or no. Sorry to be so cynical. I hope I am wrong.

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, India, International Affairs, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, Quotations, Terrorism, War and Peace | 12 Comments »

    Senators Kerry and Lugar – Senators to the World!

    Posted by onparkstreet on 29th November 2010 (All posts by )

    Because I’m loads of fun, I decided to pay a visit to Senator Lugar’s website. I searched for the names “Kerry Lugar” which turned up the following:

    Senator Lugar considers a secure Pakistan to be vital in the protection of United States security interests in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East and South Asia. From January 2003 to December 2006, Senator Lugar served as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has been the Republican leader since January 2007. In this capacity, he has exercised close oversight of U.S. policy in Pakistan and participated in more than 15 hearings related to ongoing affairs in the country from 2003 to the present.

    Goodness! That is impressive! Wait a minute, what’s that you say?

    Since 1951, the United States has given significant funding to Pakistan. Since September 11, 2001, U.S. funding has been intended for the following five purposes: to cover the extra cost to Pakistan’s military of fighting terrorism; provide Pakistan with military equipment to fight terrorism; to provide development and humanitarian assistance; covert funds (such as bounties or prize money); and cash transfers directly to the Pakistani government’s budget.
     
    Pakistan (sic) one of only four countries to receive direct cash transfers. Between 2002 and 2008, this “thank you” to Pakistan for help in fighting terrorism cost the U.S. taxpayer $2,374,000,000. By its nature, these cash transfers became Pakistani sovereign funds, precluding U.S. oversight.

    “U.S. Aid to Pakistan—U.S. Taxpayers Have Funded Pakistani Corruption,” Belfer Center

    Oh dear. Well, that is unfortunate. Perhaps the close oversight needs some tweaking?

    Again from the Senator’s website, I find a link to something called PUBLIC LAW 111–73—OCT. 15, 2009 – the ENHANCED PARTNERSHIP WITH PAKISTAN ACT OF 2009. The linked .pdf has lots of stuff like the following in it:

    OPERATIONS RESEARCH.—The term ‘‘operations research’’ means the application of social science research methods, statistical analysis, and other appropriate scientific methods to judge, compare, and improve policies and program outcomes, from the earliest stages of defining and designing programs through their development and implementation, with the objective of the rapid dissemination of conclusions and concrete impact on programming.

    That sure is a lot of words. You know what has fewer words in it? This: By its nature, these cash transfers became Pakistani sovereign funds, precluding U.S. oversight.

    I suppose Instapundit does have a point: “I’d say that if the GOP has started issuing seats like titles of nobility, without caring what the voters think, then that’s beyond redemption. Nobody should be immune to a primary challenge.”

    I guess not.

    (Look, I can’t read “legalese” so I have no idea if the Enhanced Partnership With Pakistan Act Of 2009 will be able to avoid the problems of the past. Maybe I am being unfair. What I’d like to know from our readers is the following: once the cash is transferred to the civilian government, how can we know what it is being used for?)

    Update: I changed “legalize” to “legalese”. Didn’t catch it the first time. I’m sure there are other errors. My writing skills are a bit shaky. I’m trying to improve them so if you see mistakes could you please point them out in the comments? I’ve got busy days and blogging is the lowest priority. I love it, but it’s low priority compared to other stuff.

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Big Government, International Affairs, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, Public Finance | 3 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: A Chronic Low-Grade Sameness. Or, Each Life, A Story.

    Posted by onparkstreet on 25th August 2010 (All posts by )

    (Alternate title: When Borders Need To Heal….)

    When we got to the Southern Afghanistan-Balochistan camps the first thing we noticed was the quiet. Even more strange than the lines of donated tents, the numbers of people, and the bizarre floating appearance of the inflatable camp hospitals dotting the landscape, was the relative silence. This surprised us.

    Inside the largest camp hospital we found the recovered bodies of the missing Afghan-Americans. A make-shift morgue had been arranged with each body properly tagged in a kind of digital tattoo ink that kept a running score of the date of death, body temperature and presumed cause of death. The previous group of traveling NGO physicians (our hospital ship was semi-stationed for the duration at Balochistan Port) had left a good set up. Above each body “hovered” a bodily representation – a CT/MRI compiled projection – so that the morgue had the appearance of something spectral and otherworldly, the souls of the dead afraid to leave, anxious to ensure the truth.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 7 Comments »