Tag Archives: Kerry

Paging Garry Kasparov

You know how, when you have two pieces and a pawn tied up attacking Q5, you can simplify the position by making an exchange? Alternatively, you can keep the pressure on and extend the attack to some of the defending pieces. That’s called “playing for complication.” It favors the stronger player, the one with greater mental stamina and determination. Let’s review the game so far.

“We are certain that the revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine are shaping the new wave of liberty in Europe”

  • In 2004, Ukraine’s orange revolution aligns that nation with the West, but it remains politically divided. For ten years, the West fails to consolidate this position, mainly because the EU is stupid and shortsighted.
  • In 2008, during the Beijing Olympics, Russia invades Georgia on a pretext, retaining South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This is some prime Black Sea coastline.
  • In 2013, Russia protests the installation of an antimissile defense system in Poland, and America backs down. Only during the Cold War were defensive systems considered “destabilizing,” a parallel the State Department chooses not to notice.
  • Also in 2013, revolution threatens the Assad regime in Syria. America makes vague threats about military intervention, and then allows President Putin to handle the removal of chemical weapons from that nation. This procedure keeps Assad alive and in power.

Having rescued Bashar al-Assad from an ugly death, like fellow dictators Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi, Russia needs no treaty to guarantee its ongoing control of Syria. Likewise, having seized Crimea by force, Putin can easily keep Ukraine unsettled enough to prevent its ever recovering, rearming, or joining NATO. He can afford to let these positions simmer – the “complication” described above.

Russia has said it will not allow use of force to be considered, even in the event that Syria fails to properly comply with the conditions.

Do not think, as John Kerry does, that this is a crude game played only with tanks. The Kremlin knows how to fight with trade and diplomacy, too. By extending his front southwards into Syria, Putin gains yet more control over Europe’s gas supply, and he will soon ink a Yuan denominated oil contract with China. He also holds the spoiler vote on sanctions for Iran, which nation was the ostensible reason for missile defense in Poland.

01-lavrov-clinton-reset-button

This game is complicated and dangerous, and millions of lives hang in the balance. Our State Department has not had the brainpower to play at this level since the glory days of Brzezinski and Kissinger.  They are doing “pivots,” “resets,” and handing out plum posts to campaign donors. John Kerry is an embarrassment. Victoria Nuland is an embarrassment. The Kremlin insults our people with impunity. It’s time to get serious.

See also: Transcript of Leaked Nuland Phone Call

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Fashion Sense

KerrySecretary of State John Kerry shows an alarmingly poor grasp of history.  In this interview, he says that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was anachronistic.  In the modern world, one simply doesn’t roll Warsaw Pact tanks into Central Europe.  Kerry forgets that Russia was doing this well into the 20th century, and invaded Afghanistan in 1980.

You don’t just, in the 21st century, behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped-up pretext.

The alarming part is Kerry’s notion that violence simply went out of style.  It only appeared to go out of style because it was contained by the exertions of American foreign policy, and American military force.  It’s like saying, “we haven’t had a flood in a while, so we don’t need this levee.”

That’s not to say America should be the world’s policeman.  Most Americans want an end to that, but you don’t just walk off the job.  “Globocop” should have been replaced by alternative structures involving NATO, the EU, and the U.N.  That’s Kerry’s job.

The job of the State Department is to understand history and influence events, making the world safe for American interests.  Yes, it’s a big job, especially if you want to do it without committing troops.  That’s why he gets the big bucks.

What is the purpose of your job, and what are the metrics by which we may gauge your performance?

For some reason, we lose all sense of accountability when we watch the TV news.  Imagine a business owner, hearing that we were run completely out of the region because our competitor has a new strategy and caught us off guard.

When Jeremiah says we need more politicians with business experience, that’s not about balancing a budget.  It’s about knowing your job description.

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Algebra in the Maghreb

KerryIt was a little disappointing to hear our new Secretary of State, John Kerry, testify that America’s objectives in “the Maghreb, the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, [etc.] depend on a solution to the Palestinian issue.”

The Palestinian issue has simmered since 1948, and bedeviled our best diplomats.  This is like having your chief accountant tell you he’s stuck on the Goldbach conjecture.

No sir, can’t balance the books ‘til we lick this Goldbach thing.

So, maybe he’s going to warm the bench for four years.  Dumber yet was the pass Mr. Kerry received from the Senate.  Jeremiah would have liked to hear just a little pushback.  “Really?  Female genital mutilation?  Are you looking for the pre-1967 border on that?”

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On A War Footing

The New York Times has another article about what went wrong in Afghanistan.  Pundits say that, since Vietnam, America has lost the will to fight.  This is a paradox.  America has the best-equipped, best- trained army in the world– and yet it’s a paper tiger.  Why?  Because we send them off to war without moral support.  Having the American people at your back is a soldier’s most important supply line – more important than the carefully-managed supply of rations and ammunition.

Think of a soldier’s experience of fear and isolation at the front line.  He (or she) is not going to college and not making a career.  Back home, a spouse struggles to keep the household together.  The boss has long since hired a replacement.  The press writes that the war is a fool’s errand, and Senator Kerry states publicly that the army is only for kids who couldn’t get into college.  In their wildest dreams, the Taliban could not contrive a better campaign to demoralize our troops.

This cultural sabotage dates back to President Kennedy and his adventure in Vietnam.  That is indeed when America lost its will to fight.  The anti-war movement blamed our soldiers for being foolish enough to go to war, where our leaders had sent them, instead of going to Canada.  Returning soldiers were abused by their fellow Americans, whom they thought they had been protecting.  Imagine returning home in a wheelchair, only to learn that you are a stooge and a “baby killer.”

The Vietnam war, like Iraq and Afghanistan, was intended to be a little back burner war that would stay out of the press.  This very idea is cowardly and corrupt.  Imagine your son or daughter being killed in a not-quite war.  There was a draft, but college kids could opt out.

After Vietnam, Congress passed the War Powers Act.  The letter of the law is that the President may not commit troops without the approval of Congress.  The spirit of the law, which has been forgotten, is that the American people must support the war effort.  Now imagine what that looks like, in contrast to our experiences since Vietnam.

Imagine America “on a war footing,” as we were in World War Two.  The entire country is at war, not just the kids who couldn’t get into college.  There is no one back home taking your job, or your wife – because he is in the trench beside you.  Your boss has been called up by the reserves.  Food and gas are rationed.  Women, who had not previously held industrial jobs, are running the factories.  The nation’s entire productive capacity is given over to the war effort.  We are all in it together.

General Powell, among others, has stated that America should not go to war without a clear and compelling objective.  There must also be a formal declaration of war and a war footing.

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Ink Blot Test for Obama

This week’s Economist agrees with Jeremiah that President Obama needs to stop “vacillating” and send more troops to Afghanistan.

It sends an alarming message to wavering Europeans itching to pull out and to Afghans wondering whether to throw their lot in with the government or with the insurgents.

Vacillation, though, is precisely what Senator John Kerry has called for.  Senator Kerry, who was for the war before he was against it, claims that the situation in Afghanistan has changed.  It hasn’t.  What he means to say is that the situation in Washington has changed.  The strategic imperatives in Afghanistan are the same as they were, way back in March when Mr. Kerry pledged his support.

Al-Qaeda had their leisure to organize the 9/11 attacks, and many others, because the Taliban offered them a safe haven.  If we allow them to regain control of the country, they will resume their attacks.  Americans everywhere will be less safe.  Furthermore, Islamist militants will see a fresh opportunity to obtain nuclear weapons, by destabilizing Pakistan.  Let’s not forget, either, our moral obligation to the people of Afghanistan, which was once a civilized country.

President Obama asked the generals to re-assess the situation and devise a winning strategy.  Now they have done so, doves in Congress are demanding a re-assessment of the re-assessment.  “Vacillate” seems too kind a verb, especially for the mealy-mouthed Mr. Kerry.  Jeremiah prefers “shilly-shally.”

See also:  The AfPak Channel

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