STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

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Re: STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

Postby Deepcrush » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:08 am

The key to a last victory will be giving the Afghans a more fragile/local target and setting ourselves as a support resource while pushing them to take the lead. The US will have to not only accept but encourage itself to take second chair to local governments, even if we normally wouldn't trust them with such a position. The sooner the US backs out of being the UNs muscle and leaves it to the UN to make up the difference the better for all.
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Re: STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:15 am

Mikey wrote:Indeed - there are no absolutes in Western policy about such things, just decisions about whether the nutters can be used for us or agin' us.


Yup. So this includes healthy intelligence protection (which the US really got better at in the past 11 years) and making sure the locals don't have the time to sit on their hands with nothing to do for too long.

As long as you find a way to make sure they are too busy fighting someone else (ex: the Northern Alliance, as feeble as they currently are) without anyone of them dominating the other, they won't waste too much of their time facying attacking the US. This is usually the kind of high-profile job they do when they wanted to mark political points, not actually gaining a strategic advantage.

Their ties and funding coming from Pakistan was also a bit worrying. I am not sure what is happening with that country, been a while since we've heard anything of consequence happening there. The civilian government is apparently keeping things under control... relatively speaking, obviously.


(Off course, I might also just be misinformed. If someone is actually keeping up with Pakistan, please come forward :mrgreen: )


Deepcrush wrote:The key to a last victory will be giving the Afghans a more fragile/local target and setting ourselves as a support resource while pushing them to take the lead. The US will have to not only accept but encourage itself to take second chair to local governments, even if we normally wouldn't trust them with such a position. The sooner the US backs out of being the UNs muscle and leaves it to the UN to make up the difference the better for all.


Agreed, but I don't even think you need to involve the UN in the situation. Just make sure the Qabul-based government can give a solid fight to the Talibans, and you established a balance of power that can last a while without your direct (and costly!) implication.

Obviously, this is easier to say than to do. I've read in Foreign Affairs recently that the Afghan police and army is still pretty ineffectual beyond basic infantry training and knowledge of the land. Little coordination with air support, supply organization, etc... So they are still heavily dependant on military advisors for basic operational efficiency.
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Re: STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

Postby Deepcrush » Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:33 am

You have to include the UN because the world needs to stop leaning on the US and the US needs to deal with it's own problems at home. Also it has to be the UN because there is no single other nation that can match the US in force projection. Lastly because it would allow other lesser powers to earn some credabilty withe out being in the US's shadow.
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Re: STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

Postby Mikey » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:10 am

I'm squarely with Deep on this one. The sooner we can have more occurrences of other nations taking the lead (cf., the UK in the Libyan situation) the better. A less prominent role as the main muscle of the UN means a lower percentage of our GNP spent on defense without any real mitigation of our strength, and less of a chance for the rest of the world to take pot-shots at the U.S. for not doing things right even though the nay-sayers weren't doing anything at all in comparison.
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Re: STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:12 pm

I agree entirely with the idea of having other nations (on their own or after the US propping them up) taking the lead in international intervention. The US, as the global Empire, cannot afford to draw emnity constantly or provoking resentment on a permanent basis because they want to intervene. A properly administred global foreign policy in a unipolar world is a healthy mix of potential force application and restraint.

I just don't see the UN having any part of it. The UNs are at best a mean to condone intervention, not organizing it. Can be useful to coordinate aid to countries and a negotiating groung... But don't ever expect it to promote any sort of coherent military action, either defensive or offensive.

NATO is much better suited for that (although still heavily bureaucratized and fractionalized in the past 15 years). Trusting individual countries to prop their self-interest while you keeping your hands clean proves to be a much better strategy. Right now, it's Poland, not the US who are organizing a Eastern Europe military block to counter Russia. The US are merely acting as technological sponsors to facilitate Poland's leadership.

Same thing with France with Lybia. You let them act on their own and take the flak for whatever fallouts will occur.

Turkey is propped as the same for the Middle-East, which is why they are the ones hosting the Free Syrian Army. The US hands remain clear of any direct involvements.

Truly, the largest iron chained to the US's military capability is remnants and legacy of the Bush heavy-interventionist era. Afghanistan and Iran (the former is obvious, as for the later, my understanding is that the lack of local power to balance Iran's military forces the US to maintain a heavy presence of 2(!) Carrier Fleets - Carl Vinson & Abraham Lincoln - and an Amphibious Warfare Ship - Makin Island - near the Persian Gulf. This represents 50% of currently deployed Carriers!)

Once the solution for either situation is reached, te US will technically have much more disposable force projection capability than it had in the past 7 years, and with hope (and a continuation of second-hand intervention policy) will attain a much more comfortable strategic depth.
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Re: STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

Postby Mikey » Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:15 pm

NATO is, for good or ill, quickly becoming an anachronism and not in any case set up to interdict in any situation save that of central Europe. The UN may not be the best umbrella for multilateral response, but it's the one that we have. In Serbia, in Kosovo, etc., etc., ad nauseum - the helmets said, "UN," not "NATO."

SolkaTruesilver wrote:my understanding is that the lack of local power to balance Iran's military forces


It's not a lack of local power to counter Iran - it's the West's unwillingness to let Israel off of its chain. It's not concern for Israel's outcome in such a situation - remember, this is the same (if not better) Israel that defeated a Syrian armored brigade with two slightly outdated Centurions. Rather, it's the very real concern that once you sic that dog on someone, you are NOT getting it back into the yard.
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Re: STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:17 pm

Even if the UN is an appropriate umbrella to use in multinational action, it will never be taking actions to promote anything. It's not an entity in itself when it comes to military action, it's merely a forum where mandates can be voted upon.

You still need a leader country to push through the action at the UN, and lead the military action. This country should NOT be the US in a majority of case.


And I doubt very much Israel could be an effective balance to Iran in the middle East. For all it's military capability, it has lousy force projection beyond a limited airpower. Said airpower wouldn't do squat against an Iranian seizure of parts of the Gulf.. And Israel would send their armies that far to protect Saudi Arabia, Kuweit, Bahrein, etc...

Initially, Iraq proved to be the counterweigh to Iran, but this balance was shattered in 2003. The American army in Iraq filled the void until Obama made the nominal retreat, leaving only a token force but increased naval presence.

Israel was a good counterweigh to Syria and Egypt in the Cold War. But that's because of their proximity. Israel beat its neighbors by pre-emotive attacks and flash redeployment. It would never commit it's military into a medium-range conflict.
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Re: STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

Postby Mikey » Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:56 pm

I'm not talking about a check on Iranian aggression towards other Middle-East Arab states, I'm talking about providing a definitive response to the Iranian posturing and nuclear enrichment programs about which the West is willing to shout and threaten sanctions but is afraid to do much else.
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Re: STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:15 pm

Which isn't that big of a problem, to be honest. Posturing never hurt anyone, so if they kept to it, I'd be happy. There is a possibility that Iranian leadership is playing the "crazy nuts" act to worry their neighbours and potential invaders just enough to keep everyone on their toe and afraid to do anything - just like NK.

As for the possibility of a nuclear Iran, while it's not something I would file in the "positive" side of the equation, it's far from being a disaster on the scale Israel is posturing about. At best they will make a handful of bombs with half-baked delivery systems, which would provoke an immediate retaliatory strike on their own cities at the second it's launched, both coming from Israel and US ships.

They also would never dare smuggle it to terrorists. It's too precious and costly tool to hand over what has proved to be unreliable organizations. And the nuclear device can always e traced back to them.

On the other hand, a nuclear device would probably secure psychologically the leadership of Iran against the possibility of an American-backed insurgency or coup, which has been their greatest fear since the Revolution. Nukes are a great deterrents also against any US-backed faction who'd fancy to invade them, like Iraq did in the 80's.

No, the greatest danger from Iran comes from their disruption potential against the Strait of Ormuz and their massive military apparatus, which could overwhelm rather easily the Gulf Countries now that Iraq is neutered. Israel can't do squat against either of these possibilities.

Turkey potentially could act as a counterweigh to Iran, if they saw an interest in it. They sure are the US's main bet on tr region, since no one else fits the bill.
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Re: STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

Postby Mikey » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:36 pm

I agree with you that the probability of Iran becoming a true first-world-type nuclear power is slim; but if the West is going to make enough of a big deal to shout about it and impose decades of embargoes and sanctions, then it merits discussion of other types of action. In other words, the West can't have it both ways - it can't be considered an actionable issue, but yet not one deserving of action.
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Re: STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:34 pm

Agreed 100%. You can't just posture about the need for action in the event of situation X, and never back it up if situation X does occurs.

But no one wants a shooting war next to 35% of the world oil's shipment. Republicans are funny to blame Obama for high gaz price yet rattling their saber regarding a situation that could potentially send the gasoline price into the 10$ range of they had it their way.

But I disgress. I think it's very possible a deal with Iran can be reached, and is currently in the work. Nobody wants a war, but Iran wants nuclear power (population is heavily in favor of civilian plants, and 70% against owning a bomb).

You could make a case where Iran develops nuclear power, keeps it's developper's inches away from having an actual bomb yet never reaching that level. It would leave them the defensive posture they need to feel more secure.

In exchange for grudgingly tolerate nuclear powers with phantom nukes (kinda like Israel, but less so) you could ask that Iran stops supporting the al-Assad regime and, by proxy, Hizbullah. I am sure that would satisfy Israel's security needs at some level.
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Re: STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

Postby Mikey » Wed Mar 21, 2012 4:21 pm

You could ask, but I doubt you'd get. While the Khameini-backed new government may well want to distance their stand from the image of steadfast hatred, there's a long-standing tradition of what amounts to oppositional-defiance disorder in Iran. That is, they may very well agree to stand down from actual weapons-grade enrichment programs in exchange for the mitigation of some economic situations, but there's every chance that a request to link such a deal with Iranian distance from Hizbollah et. al. will be met with a "We are Iran, we no let you tell us who to support!" More so since the new regime, even if it is Ahmadinejad again, will necessarily be more closely tied to the ayatollah than before.
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Re: STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:17 pm

It is a good insight into the Iranian political culture, I will admit it. But I don't think such a deal would prevent Iran from enriching uranium, merely stopping them from building a detonative device with it and do any nuke tests.

If Iran becomes to feel more secured in their position, for example with a promise from the US to no longer support potential invasions, coup or revolution (like they did with Cuba) Iran would have much less pressure to project power and build regional influence in the Levant beyond Iraq. Plus the Al-Assad regime is being chipped away everyday and could very well become a liability.. So the advantage to cutting their loose would outweight the consequences, if the US negotiating team present it the right way.

Not saying it's likely, just saying it would make sense to get this concession in exchange for a secured Iranian regime. Hell, you could even negotiate relaxing sanctions if Iran proves true to their words in Syria and about weaponry.
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Re: STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

Postby Mikey » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:39 pm

You're trying to apply Wester logic. A large part of Iran's attempt to exponentially increase their force-projection ability is due to nothing more than the fact that they want to be the big kid in the schoolyard. No promise to dissociate with any invasive attempts will change that.
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Re: STRATFOR: Explaining the US Strategy

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:04 pm

And this is where we diverge entirely of opinion, I am afraid. I don't believe the core motivation of any people to dominate their close neighbors is always going to be the same, regardless of culture. The casu-belli use might be different, the way of going at it might be different, and so will the ways to deal with their defeated foes.

But at the core, they all want security and are wary of those they don't hold similar direct strategic objectives (like US and UK have for the past 60 years). Japan invaded Korea and China because they were, historically, the most likely source of foreign invasion. It's not a matter of culture, it's a matter of self-interests.

The USA represent the single greatest danger to the Iranian's regime, so disrupting the US allies and efforts in the Middle-East seems to be a good way to distract your resources and keep you on your toes so you don't get the strategic depth necessary to stage a coup or a revolution. Plus, dominating and influencing their neighbors first means you don't get to sponsor a repeat of Iran-Iraq conflict against them.

Is it paranoia? Not sure. But paranoia and mistrust against your neighbor have been the historical norm when dealing with nonaligned nations.

But feel free to disagree, I don't hold the gospel truth :mrgreen:
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