Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

 

starfishspider

The vicious attacks by Islamist terrorist in Brussels this week firmly places Brussels, and the rest of western Europe, in the middle of the crescent of chaos that arcs from Tunisia to Sweden.

The arrest of Paris terror suspect Salah Abdeslam last Friday in Brussels took down one person and unwittingly unleashed a network of other terrorists who took over thirty lives in an orgy of terror and shut down an entire country if not all of Europe.

Belgium authorities touted Abdelslam’s arrest last weekend much the same way the Obama administration telegraphs the latest drone or Special Operations strike in Syria/Iraq/Libya with the ubiquitous headline “Number Two ISIS Commander Eliminated.” There have been so many “number two” ISIS commanders reportedly killed there is no mystery why we never hear of a “number three” in ISIS.

In 2008 Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom wrote a study of leaderless organizations, “The Starfish and the Spider” which was little read until recently. In this study Brafman and Beckstrom look at the fruitless strategy of targeting individuals in decentralized organizations such as ISIS. They do this by comparing a spider and a starfish, which look similar from a distance but up close are fundamentally different systems.

Killing a starfish is significantly different from killing a spider. A spider can be stopped by crushing its head because it is a centralized system.  If one tries to cut off a leg of a starfish not only does that leg grow back, but a new starfish emerges from that severed leg because its decentralized  system.

In combatting a decentralized terror network like ISIS, going after a known individual is like cutting off a starfish leg. The immediate threat is neutralized but the system lives on to metastasize into an even larger threat.

Belgium authorities saw what they thought was a spider in arresting one person only to be confronted with a starfish in the form of an ISIS network which struck with such force because authorities simply were not ready.

The Obama administration would be wise to peer through its policy binoculars and evaluate whether ISIS is the spider they assume it is…or is it a starfish?

 

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redskins

Back in 2014 there was war waged (yet again) against the lowly Washington Redskins football team. It was the summer of 2014 and training camp was in full swing – about a month before the start of preseason. Training camp may be the stupidest time in the NFL season. We don’t have any idea whether the perennial powers of the NFL will continue to dominate, we don’t know which team will accelerate up the winning ladder out of nowhere or which players will break out and be the next League superstar.
What we do know is that during this time those who know very little about football will treat the NFL as a social science experiment. Repeatedly, and true to form, this is the time of year when the mavens of political correctness put pressure on the Redskins organization to change its name.
In 2014 the pressure to change the Redskins’ name became a mantra on every conceivable talk show. Oprah Winfrey chimed in, the subject was all over the inane dribble that comes out of The View, discussed even in the halls of Congress. Every progressive voice pegged the shrill meter, insisting that Redskins’ owner Dan Synder change the name of this storied football club.
Not to be left of out of the excitement several NFL commentators jumped on this creaking bandwagon. Phil Sims of CBS and Tony Dungy of NBC pledged (no doubt on a stack of Huffington Post articles) they would never refer to the Redskins as the Redskins ever again. This left viewers wondering if the team would be referred to as “Washington” or “those guys” or simply “the opposing team on the gridiron.”  Fast forward to January 2016. The Washington (whoever they are) are in the playoffs. They will host the Green Bay Packers next weekend.
NOW WHAT?
Interestingly, everyone on TV is referring to the Redskins as …the Redskins! Even the “has been” personages of Phil Sims and Tony Dungy referred to the Washington team as the Redskins this past weekend in broadcasting their respective games.
What happened? Why the change of heart? Perhaps in 2014 the Redskins provided an opportune target. The Washington Redskins have been bottom dwellers in the NFC East Division for many years and everyone likes to pick on a loser. None of the politically correct chose to deride the Kansas City Chiefs or the Atlanta Braves – they of the offensive tomahawk chop.

If you go further afield, you could even point the shaking finger of righteousness at the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team. Oh no, it’s the Washington Redskins in the sights of the progressive left. Of course, this was only after the progressive left finally figured out what football was.
Redskins paraphernalia has been flying off store shelves as of late – hats and shirts that would have once been on the receiving end of derisive comments reserved for those wearing NRA hats. Now everyone is proudly sporting the Burgundy and Gold emblazed with that dreaded name: The Redskins.

I’m sure the politically correct will stick to their guns, unless of course the Redskins beat the Packers this Sunday. Then all bets are off and all is forgiven. Braves on the warpath and fight for ole DC.

network

The Nobel Committee announced today this year’s recipients for Physics. They are Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald for research into neutrino oscillations. What is a neutrino? Neutrinos are subatomic particles produced by the decay of radioactive elements.  They are elementary particles that lack an electric charge, or, as F. Reines would say, “…the most tiny quantity of reality ever imagined by a human being”. Living in Washington, I can imagine a tiny amount of reality.

Looking at the definition of the neutrino phenomenon and applying it elsewhere, could there a better description of our current foreign policy blunder in Syria?

It was revealed today that the US considered handing over locations of US backed rebels to the Russians last week, thinking these areas might be targeted by Russian forces decided against it. Fortunately the White House and Pentagon ran that idea past the desk of Capt. Obvious who thought it better not to give the Russians targeting data for their first bombing runs.

The “most tiny quantity of reality ever imagined”  is what we are stuck with for the next seventeen (17) months with regard to this White House’s timid and indecisive policy regarding Syria and foreign policy.

The nascent US assistance program for the rebels battling the Assad regime is literally going up in smoke with every Russian sortie and the White House has shown no desire to counter these attacks except to “raise concerns about the targets of the attacks.” I’m sure that made the Russians reconsider.

Neutrinos are described as “hardly interacting with the rest of creation.”  This certainly describes this administration’s current foreign policy debacle in Syria-stumbling along outside the realm of reality interacting with no one else within an echo chamber.

Not to worry though, the President already received his Nobel Prize back in 2009.

Hammer

Yesterday at the United Nations Russian President Vladimir Putin had his coming out party.

Putin came out of the isolation that the West had imposed since Russia invaded Ukraine and seized Crimea last year along with a land grab of Eastern Ukraine. Putin not only came out on the world stage yesterday, he seized it as he portrayed himself as the one power that would stop the radical jihadists of ISIS.

It was a dark day for democracy and the rule of law in the international arena.

Obama made a case for not including the present Syrian government and its treacherous leader, Bashar al-Assad, in a long term plan for putting Syria back together.  Unfortunately, President Obama didn’t show the will or the vision as to carrying out a plan to remove Assad or what would follow Assad once he was departed. In fact, The US President gave very little indication he wanted to be involved in such an action.

It appears that the White House is perfectly happy with Russia’s rapid and robust military buildup within Syria and is all too willing to cede future influence to Russia and their new partner Iran.  Additionally, Russia announced yesterday (just prior to Putin’s UN speech) that Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq just concluded an agreement for intelligence sharing in the fight against ISIS.

The Obama administration is always fond of saying his administration is “on the right side of history.” This is a meaningless phrase — it points to the past rather than the future. It turns out that being on the right side of history is no match for being on the capable side of action.

Russia gladly flung open the door of US Middle East policy, the one the Obama administration left ajar.  Putin has successfully pulled the US out of any strategic position in that part of the world.

We now have new prominent actors on the stage, in the form of Moscow and Teheran, thanks to the systematic breakdown of US policy in the Middle East over the past seven years. This breakdown of policy and action has inexplicably allowed Moscow to gain the moral high ground, and has allowed Iran to govern a Shi’a arc of influence from The Persian Gulf to the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

confused

On the margins of the G-7 summit in Germany President Obama admitted he still doesn’t have a “complete strategy” to combat ISIS and bring a halt to its advances in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

One year after the fall of Mosul (June 10) and one month after the fall of Ramadi, ISIS is less than seventy (70) miles from Baghdad. In Syria, over 60% belongs to ISIS while in Libya ISIS operates at will in that lawless territory (abandoning the practice of calling it a state any longer.)  Yet the White House still has yet to decide on a strategy in stopping this army on the march.

It’s difficult to understand how an administration that can craft a global plan to combat climate change, overhaul the US health system and comprehensively critique and attempt to transform US civilian policing cannot sit down and design an effective strategy to combat a foe who is single handedly redrawing the map of the Middle East.

This single fact clearly demonstrates that President Obama has painted himself in corner with regards to sending US forces to combat ISIS, a corner he has put himself into with his own self congratulatory statements regarding “ending” the Iraq war in 2011.

Meanwhile ISIS rolls on toward Baghdad, Damascus and Tripoli while establishing a center of gravity in Kandahar province in Afghanistan.

Yesterday, a US official traveling with the President stated that this yet undefined strategy would eventually involve “including integration of Sunni fighters.” 

If mimicking the Sunni awakening movement of 2007 is a goal then this administration has failed before it started. The Sunni population in Iraq has never trusted the US. This made the Sunni awakening an even greater achievement in 2007 than the media gave the then Bush administration credit for.

Since then the Obama White House has abandoned Iraq with a total troop withdrawal in 2011 leaving the Shi’a majority government in Bagdad to wield absolute power over the Sunni population. Meanwhile Obama is knee deep in a rapprochement with Iran which has sent Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces to battle Iraqi Sunni enlistees of ISIS. Surely the lauded Jeopardy finalists at the White House can connect these dots.

It’s no wonder a strategy doesn’t exist to combat ISIS.  That space has been replaced with confused and contradictory thinking.

Sultan Erdogan

Yesterday’s parliamentary elections in Turkey proved to be a vote against one man rule as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lost in his attempt to further consolidate his power base.

Erdogan had a super majority in parliament as his goal.  This required gathering 330 seats in order to bring about the changes needed in the constitution to give him nearly unlimited executive powers. Failing that, a majority of 276 seats would have given his Justice and Development Party (AKP) a majority in parliament. In the end AKP received just 256 seats which will force it into a coalition in order to rule. The pro-Kurdish party, HDP, was able to strike a chord with Kurds and liberals disaffected with Erdogan to eat into AKP’s parliamentary lock of seats.

This election is in many ways mirrors the Yugoslav Presidential election of September 24, 2000 when Slobodan Milosevic lost to Vojislav Kustunica which was the tipping point in Milosevic’s fall from power just one month later. Milosevic used elections to consolidate his power through his party, much as Erdogan as done since 2002.  Censorship and corruption of the courts was a hallmark of Milosevic’s rule, a path that Erdogan seems to be following particularly considering the growing number of journalists arrested in Turkey and the curtailment of free speech.

Meanwhile, Erdogan has been obsessed with recreating a revived Ottoman identity in an inexplexable attempt to define Turkey’s future by attempting to relive its past. Erdogan’s proclivity has been to dress presidential guards in ancient Ottoman uniforms while attempting to erase over 1,000 years of Christian history in Turkey by restoring ancient churches as working mosques.

Meanwhile the “Anatolian tiger” economy has shrunk to the size of a house cat  Unemployment and inflation on the rise.

Hopefully this morning brings about a sobering moment of reality for Erdogan.  It is a wakeup call.  He must abandon his power grab and begin to govern as an elected official, not rule as a sultan.

Erdogan-eating1

Turkey goes to the polls next weekend which could prove to be the final step in Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s drive for total control of Turkey’s political landscape.

Standing in the way of a super majority for his Justice and Development Party (AKP) is an unlikely mixture of Turkish secularists and religious Kurds, led by an upstart, youthful and determined politician by the name of Selahattin Demirtas.  His party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party or HDP, has been swiftly transformed from a mainly Kurdish workers party into a serious opposition party to Erdogan’s AKP which has blanketed Turkey since 2002.

Erdogan, who has since shifted his attention and power to the Presidency, is hoping to corral the final vestitages of Turkey’s democracy into the AKP camp in order to rule ex cathedra from his new Presidential fortress.

In Erdogan’s restless drive for unchallenged authority he has ramped up the rumors against young Mr. Demirtas. On several occasions Erdogan has stated that Mr. Demirtas’ campaign is being funded by dark and isidious forces, even resorting to stating that terrorists are behind his financing.

Not to be outdone by its patron Mr. Erdogan, state Turkish media has sunk to the level of accusing Mr. Demtriras of eating pork.

In many ways Erdogan’s politics are a throwback to old communist methodologies of smearing through innuendo or simple lies which are unsubstantiated but are repeated enough times to be persuasive.

This final week of campaining should prove to be fast, furious and dirty. The closer Mr. Demirtas’ HDP party climbs to the 10% threshold in order to take seats in parliament, the more the Turkish voters should prepare to hear what is on his dinner table.