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Expected reaction

The sides are quickly being drawn as a result of the rapprochement agreements between Bahrain and the UAE with Israel that we addressed several days ago. This piece will quickly summarize the responses.

Reports, as suggested in our las article continue to swirl around about the Saudis reaching a similar agreement soon. It is also reported that 6 other Arab states are in the wings to make similar agreements.

Conversely:

  • Angered by the move, the Palestinian Authority recalled its ambassador to the UAE and said that it was going to withdraw from the Arab League, which refused to condemn the agreements. It expressed a feeling of betrayal
  • Hamas called the agreement a “treacherous stab in the back of the Palestinian people, There were also 3 missiles fired into Israel and a minimal Israeli responses.
  • Iran and Turkey resoundingly condemned the normalization of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • Iran called the deal a “dagger in the back” of all Muslims,
  • Tehran also said the deal was an act of “strategic stupidity” by the UAE, and “will undoubtedly strengthen the axis of resistance in the region.”
  • The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement supporting the Palestinian administration, saying that the “history and the conscience” of the region’s people will not forget and never forgive the “hypocritical behavior” of the United Arab Emirates in agreeing to a deal with Israel.
  • Qatar sided with the Palestinian Authority

The lines are becoming much more tightly defined. The GCC states minus Qatar, but plus Jordan, Egypt and others supporting the rapprochements and Turkey, Iran and Qatar opposing the agreements.  Turkey continues its quest for leadership in the Arab nations.  Iran rightfully perceives that it is being further isolated as does the Palestinian Authority.  Qatar is in a box.  It wants to support the Palestinians and some radical Arab causes while avoiding a confrontation with Iran.  But it is geographically compromised in the region.[i]

As predicted the Palestinian Authority is becoming isolated and the pressure to reach agreement with Israel has increased significantly.  What is surprising is how fast the lines became drawn. 

Whether these agreements will have an impact on the upcoming presidential election is still unknown


[i] It should be noted that Qatar’s new Patriot air defense system has one battery oriented toward Iran and the second toward Saudi Arabia.

A new dynamic in the middle-east

A recent Democratic set of talking points created the headline:”How can there be peace when there is no war?” The headline was focused on the Trump administration’s brokering of recognition agreements between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain and Israel.  The speculation in some media is that Saudi Arabia will be the next Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) state to recognize Israel and enter into economic relations with Israel.  Unfortunately these moves have received little publicity and almost no strategic analysis.  The purpose of this article is to put a little meat on the skeleton of a strategy that is emerging.

The strategy has a lot of moving parts.  It is designed to stabilize relations in the middle-east, isolate Iran and allow for reduced defense expenditures caused by overseas deployments.  Let’s look at each piece.

Stabilization of relations means creating a coalition against Iran and solving the Palestinian issue.  With the Arab states normalizing relations with Israel the Palestinians are much more politically isolated.  Their blatant support by the other Arab states will have been reduced and they will be more dependent upon a more isolated Iran with domestic unrest and an economy that is collapsing given a loss of petro dollars.  This isolation should convince the Palestinians that they should make a deal with Israel and end their state of belligerency. 

The process of normalization with the GCC states will most likely result in all of the GCC states, except possibly Qatar, recognizing Israel and normalizing relations with it.  Qatar is isolated presently from the GCC because of its support for terrorists and other issues with the Saudis.

This normalization will create a much tighter coalition against Iran and facilitate the ability to attack Iran should that become necessary to stop the development of nuclear weapons.  With overflight and refueling support from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait it will be much easier for Israeli aircraft to reach Iran or standoff range for selective air to surface munitions to strike Iran.  This can all be accomplished with at least defensive support from the GCC states so that the Israeli aircraft are operating at least partially under the air and missile defense umbrella of the Saudis et al.

This offensive capability coupled with the ongoing economic sanctions and political unrest could easily create the conditions for a revolution within Iran and at least a reduction in support for Hamas and Hezbollah.  This of course also adds pressure on the Palestinians.  In short the synergy created by all of these peaceful changes in the middle-east provide both the framework and the impetus for the resolution of many of the sores that are open in that area.

This indirect approach to creating leverage against the Palestinians stands a great chance in succeeding in solving the Palestinian issue.

With the lessening of the bellicose situation, the US will be free to continue / finalize its redeployments from the region.  Maintaining these forces at home is cheaper than if they are overseas.  Taking them out of the force structure is the cheapest of all.  This introduces what may be the Trump plan to reduce defense expenditure in his second term, while not reducing capabilities.  This will be the subject of a later article.

Strategic force moves in Europe

Secretary of Defense Esper recently announced new changes to the US basing posture in Europe that would result in more than 10,000 troops returning to the United States from bases in Germany, followed by a relocation of military personnel to Poland, Romania and Mons, Belgium. While most of the media attention has focused on the redeployment of forces from Germany back to the United States, a new strategic decision was made by the US that will result in an increased military presence in NATO’s new front yard: the Black Sea and Poland.

The globalists and Trump haters have been railing against the withdrawal and repositioning of US forces from Germany.  These repositionings should be looked at in a strategic context, not the concerns of the Germans and their lobbyists.

Strategic realities have changed since the Cold War ended and NATO expanded to the east.  Germany is no longer the frontline between NATO and the Russian bear.  Germany is also no longer a staging area for deployment to the Middle-east.  For the first Gulf War the US deployed an entire armor corps from Germany.  It was reinforced by troops for the US.  Today there is no need for such deployments as the Trump administration does not anticipate fighting another Gulf War.

Why should US troops be deployed for German security?  What is the threat?  Why can’t the Germans defend themselves?  The Germans obviously felt that they could save on defense marks (dollars) by having US troops providing for their security.  Following World War II troops were deployed in Germany to prevent another world war—the re-emergence of Nazism.  This threat no longer exists.  Since my time in the Pentagon in the 1970s US presidents have been trying to get NATO and Germany, specifically, to pay more for its own security. 

President Trump claims that NATO has increased its defense spending by over $100 billion.  This is part of his stated goal to stop being the world’s policeman. Conversely, the US does seek to maintain a deterrent posture vis-à-vis Russia (and in Asia against China).  This deterrent posture requires different stationing schemes.  So where are the troops from Germany being restationed?

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Polish Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak signed an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between their two countries in Warsaw on 15 August. President Trump and his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, agreed to the overview of the provisions of the agreement in 2019. In addition, the US presence in Poland will be increased from 4,500 to 5,500 troops and infrastructure will be built to accommodate up to 20,000 US soldiers. Poland will cover some of the costs, such as those for infrastructure and logistics that are estimated at $136 million a year.

Esper announced that a US Stryker brigade would be sent to the Black Sea in what will be the first significant US military ground forces deployment to the region. The Black Sea has been the epicenter of Russia’s revisionist ambitions since its 2008 war with Georgia and its 2014 invasion and occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea and invasion of Donbass. To highlight the changes in US defense posture in the Black Sea, Esper described the move in the following strategic terms: “Look at what we’re moving. What we’re doing is … we’re moving forces out of central Europe — Germany, where they had been since the Cold War, and we’re now moving — we’re following, in many ways, the boundary east, where our newest allies are. So into the Black Sea region … That’s why it’s a strategic laydown that enhances deterrence, strengthens the allies, reassures them.”

These forward deployments enhance deterrence and realign forces to reflect the realities that is the new European of today.  For globalists this is disturbing, for true strategists it is a final reflection of new realities.  The US is putting the US first.

The “new” Democratic Party

Does anyone else remember Eugene McCarthy?  He was the Democratic Party nominee for President against Richard Nixon in 1968.  Two things to remember:

  1. He was the candidate of the anti-war liberal movement of 1968
  2. He was totally destroyed during the election as was his political base.

And the political destruction of the radical elements in the then Democratic Party was totally acceptable to the party leaders. They were opposed to the agenda of the leftists of that era.  Mayor Daly of Chicago and other traditional Democrats understood that mob rule could get out of control and then all that they had worked for would be gone.

The question one must ask is whether we are seeing another McCarthy like episode.  The powerful people behind the Democratic Party may be paying lip service to the radical socialist agenda of the current campaign of Joe Biden.  This would follow the McCarthy model of appeasing the mob without giving it power.

Even stalwarts like Donna Brazil are speaking softly about the Biden – Harris ticket.  If one thinks about the question of why Kamala Harris became the candidate he can only conclude that part of destroying the liberal wing of the party is to eliminate the most liberal Senator—Kamala Harris- from the national dialogue.

When the election is over the main line Democrats will reemerge without the Soros funded baggage to reestablish a reasonable alternative to the Republican Party.

Will Schumer and Pelosi survive?  Maybe—they payed sufficient lip service at the beginning in opposing the socialist left that they might have some credibility that will allow them to move back to the center.

Time will establish this truth.

The changing strategic Middle-East situation

The recent announcement of normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel is now being followed with discussions between Oman and Israel.  These changes suggest a new coalition between all of the Middle-Eastern states that see a threat in Iran.  When one considers the oft repeated relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia the future coalition will only grow.  (Many reports that the Saudis offered Israel refueling and recovery airfields for any attack on Iran.)

What is driving this significant change in strategic relations?  There are several factors:

  • The US is no longer dependent on oil from the region
  • US reduction of deployed forces in the region
  • The Iranian nuclear growth towards nuclear weapons continues after a temporary setback because of numerous explosions throughout its nuclear weapon and delivery development system.
  • The Israeli agreement to suspend plans for annexing parts of the West Bank—this was important as it was meant to appease the Arab support for a Palestinian state. (Political cover)

What should we look forward to as this situation develops?

  • Iranian severe reactions to include terrorist attacks by Hezbollah and other Iranian funded organizations against Israel and probably UAE forces in Yemen.
  • Increased pressure by Iran against Iraq—the meeting between the President and the Iraqi Prime Minister tomorrow should provide some indicator as to the direction Iraq will follow
  • Some additional form of military coordination between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Israel to secure the Straits of Hormuz and the flow of oil to Europe and Asia.
  • More GCC states joining the loose coalition that the Oman, UAE and Israel cooperation will create.
  • Increased pressure on Qatar to sever its support of more radical Arab causes.
  • Continued US naval and air presence in the area.

This historic breakthrough by acceptance of Israel as a recognized player in Middle-Eastern strategic affairs can only have stabilizing influences on the entire region over the long term. These may be preceded by the Iranian caused unrest noted above.

We will watch the future events for tells on what is to come next.

Escape from the big cities–updated

As one drove halfway across the country not using the interstate he saw a completely different America.  Lawns were maintained, people were smiling and friendly.  This is not the image of the cities on TV as they are burned, looters run amuck and normal citizens are assaulted.

The financial news for the big cities is also a disaster:

  • Rents for accommodations are down
  • Property prices are following
  • For most taxes are due to go up significantly
  • Jobs are no longer dependent upon location

The last point is one of the big lessons from the China virus.  Because of bandwidth and coordination technologies we learned that people could work from home.  They no longer needed to be all collocated in large offices.

The escape from West coast cities like Los Angeles sees companies moving to Las Vegas and elsewhere in Nevada which has no income tax.  Texas is also a state with no state income tax and is seeing a migration from the West coast.  Both Texas and Nevada are seeing a migration from the cities to more rural locations with security (no defund the police movements) and space.

New York and New Jersey are experiencing a migration south.  Many people are relocating to the south.  The migration of companies is sure to follow.  For states  such as this with significant social welfare programs the economic realities are inescapable.  The tax base is leaving.  Governor Cuomo of New York haws even asked the wealthy to return.  It is doubtful that they will.

During this trip through many small towns one is struck with the potential that is everywhere.  A potential for the growth of company towns.  Such growth needs to be welcomed by these small boroughs.  This means that capital needs to be invested in the required infrastructure and social systems.  Many years ago we watched the growth of Lake Havasu, CA.  The now city was built by McCullough properties.  The McCullough Motors Company built chain saws and outboard motors.  It moved all of its production facilities to Lake Havasu and challenged its LA based employees to follow their jobs—many did.  To attract tourists they rebuilt the London Bridge there.  The city on the Colorado River now thrives and with the casinos across the river has become a tourist alternative to Las Vegas.

Lake Havasu may not be the perfect example, but we can find others.  The point is that small town USA and the states that they are in should seize on the opportunity that the death of the large cities provides.  They should encourage companies to migrate from New York, LA, Chicago, Portland, Seattle and other large cities which have been so mismanaged and now ravaged that there is not a climate for their organizations to thrive.

If I were a company looking to relocate I would focus on medium sized towns that have a social and educational infrastructure.  A town with a small state college or junior college would be perfect.  A corporate and educational partnership would guarantee an educational base for training new employees.

The people who can’t escape from the cities for whatever reason pose a significant social / welfare problem.  Jobs will be gone. Taxes to support them will be eliminated.  The large governmental bureaucracies will of necessity be a thing of the past.  There will be a need for physical workers but getting folks to move to do the work may be difficult.  However, this actual situation creates an opportunity.  The Obama administration tried to break up neighborhoods by its housing policies.  This did not succeed.  However, if one were to take Reston, VA, whic began its growth 50 years ago, as an example he would see what can be done with integrated housing when planned in advance–not imposed on people.

As this escape from the cities grows there will come a complete realignment of political power.  This realignment depends on the people who are escaping.  If they bring their liberal predilections with them then conservative small towns will become potential liberal bastions.  Conversely, the values of rural America could infect the new residents.

The movement from the big cities will continue.  How this movement is managed is critical to the future look of the country.  I can only hope that some great planners and investors will read articles like this and see opportunity.

Renaming of camps and forts

The cultural change movement is seeking to erase our history rather than understand it and learn from it.  As part of this these “progressives” have launched a full scale, frontal attack on our heritage, our history, and the traditions of the US Army. I was born at Fort Benning when my father was stationed there in the days leading up to World War II.  When I was several months old, we moved to Fort Bragg from which the 82nd Airborne Division deployed to North Africa to fight Nazism and fascism. Today, we face a form of domestic intellectual and cultural warfare that is potentially more dangerous than many of the other threats that we have faced.

What do you think of when you hear the following names: Camp Beauregard and Fort Polk in Louisiana; Fort Benning and Fort Gordon in Georgia; Fort Bragg in North Carolina; Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Lee and Fort Pickett in Virginia; Fort Rucker in Alabama, and Fort Hood in Texas? For this old soldier, I think of National Guard and reserve training centers, a national training center, the Army Signal Center, the home of the 18th Airborne Corps, birthplace, Airborne and Ranger school, the Army Logistics Center, the Army Aviation Center, an armored corps, etc.

It would be interesting to poll past and present members of the US Army and to ask them if they ever even thought about the source of the name of the fort or camp where they were stationed or training. I, for one, did not. I related a specific fort to the activities on that fort and the units traditionally stationed there.  Allegiance was not to a fort but the unit I was assigned to.

On the other side of the equation are those who point at the individual Confederate generals for whom these ten forts and camps in the south are named.  Some argue that each of these generals was a traitor, an incompetent, and a slaveholder. Their treachery is a fact, but in many cases, their military genius is widely studied to this day. We should have this debate, but a wholesale rewriting of history to serve political or pseudo-cultural ends is dangerous and decidedly un-American. In the current zeitgeist, not only do these former generals come up for attack, but in recent days mobs have defaced memorials honoring Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator himself, and abolitionist Matthias Baldwin. So let us have a debate, but never give in to the mob.

This is a watershed moment in our nation’s history. I was in high school when the National Guard was called in to enforce the Supreme Court’s Brown decision to end segregated schools. I was a cadet and young officer when the Army again acted to put down riots in the late 1960s. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson were all correct in using military power to enforce civil rights and protect civilians and property. Similarly, President George H.W. Bush was right to use troops to end the riots in Los Angeles after the acquittal of the cops who beat Rodney King. Today, when politics and ideology seem to trump nearly all other considerations, support for ending riots and looting appears to require you first declare your political allegiance to the movement that is creating this grief.

I urge our elected and appointed leaders to resist the temptation to give in to the loudest, angriest elements of the citizenry. The evils of slavery, segregation, and racism constitute the original sin of America. The US Army, from the freedman and former slaves who fought on the side of the Union to the Buffalo Soldiers and the Nisei, have time and again showed that the brotherhood of soldiers is larger and more open-minded than any college campus. There is much to be proud of in our history. Erasing the ugly parts will do nothing to solve the challenges ahead of us as a military and as a country.

USMA graduates letter to the class of 2020

It was brought to my attention by a classmate that a letter, signed by almost 700 graduates of West Point, was sent to the class of 2020.  This article is a response to that letter.[i]

Interestingly, a number of graduates did not have the courage to reveal their names rather they took the moniker of “anonymous”.

The letter is critical of a number of issues related to the use of the military in recent events throughout the country.  Regarding that, it is my understanding to this point that only police and some National Guards have been used to suppress riots, looting and the general mayhem we have seen recorded that have followed peaceful protests.

There are those of us who wish that the military had been used to stop the damage in Minneapolis and other places—but they weren’t because the mayor and governor were weak kneed.

Before we start on this topic, lest there be any misunderstanding, I want to go on record about the killing of George Floyd, which allegedly has sparked the protests and some/much of the subsequent violence.  The use of force observed in the killing of Mr. Floyd recently was clearly tragic and unnecessary.  It has been rapidly taken to the authorities who have remanded the officer who killed Mr. Floyd and his associated officers for arraignment and subsequent trial for their actions.

George Floyd has been portrayed as a “good man”.   However, let us not forget that the aforementioned Mr Floyd had a long record of violence and criminality and died with fentanyl (86 ng/mL of “free morphine”) in his system, had recently ingested methamphetamine and only came to light to the authorities when he allegedly attempted to cash a counterfeit $20 bill.  This in no way justifies the treatment and the tragic manner in which he was killed.  Perhaps he had been trying to turn his life around as has been stated.

We have been endowed by our Creator with free will.  Sometimes we make poor choices but no one today wants to recognize that choices have consequences.

I would like to address just two of the highlights of this letter below.

One premise is that “Sadly, the government has threatened to use the Army in which you serve as a weapon against fellow Americans engaging in these legitimate protests.  Worse, military leaders, who took the same oath you take today, have participated in politically charged events,” 

“The oath taken by those who choose to serve in America’s military is aspirational. We pledge service to no monarch; no government; no political party; no tyrant,” the group wrote, adding that they were “concerned that fellow graduates serving in senior-level, public positions are failing to uphold their oath of office and their commitment to Duty, Honor, Country.”

It would appear that the signers of the letter failed to read and understand a number of things.

First is the officer’s oath of allegiance which states:  I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

Second is the Constitution Article III Section III of the United States which addresses Posse Comitatius.  It states, “Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State or Territory by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion.”

“The President, by using the militia or the armed forces, or both . . . shall take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy, if it—(1) so hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law . . . . ”

Unfortunately, peaceful (legitimate) protests, which I think everyone believes are just, have had a tendency to turn violent.  It seems to me that the use of violence in protests which have turned into riots against legitimate authority, violence against the police, property owners and others is infringing upon others right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  These events clearly deprive a class of people of their right to protection under the law.

The author(s) of the aforementioned letter further have perhaps failed to recognize that the both national guards and military forces have been used multiple times in the past, to include the recent past by both Republican and Democratic presidents.

Do you feel as a citizen that it is your right to feel safe in your abode, your car or place of business?

If yes, who do you expect to protect your life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness against riot, looting, mayhem physical assault and possible death?   If not the states, who cannot or will not protect people, then the United States government?

As inspirational as Duty, Honor, Country is, the oath taken by officers would appear very clear.   “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic“.   Are those who would cause destruction and mayhem an enemy?

So I am puzzled by their lack of understanding of the oath they took and the Constitution of the United States.  They were required to study it as cadets!

Is it the inability to read and understand the English language?  The failure of our educational system?  A failure of the values of West Point?  Or perhaps the unmitigated hatred of a president they cannot abide flamed by a media and press who have lost their sense of justice and integrity.

Maybe it is their disloyalty that the writers so passionately desire to attribute to others.  It should be said that if the writers had not targeted two members of the class of 1986—Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper—that what they wrote could be said about any group of graduates serving in any administration by those who did not like the policies of that administration.

In my opinion, the originators of this letter have taken Trump derangement/hate syndrome to an extreme and in so doing have sullied the reputation of West Point—shame on them!  Most likely the idea of the letter originated from a Biden staffer or a wanta be Biden staffer. The originator most likely is looking for a downstream payoff and does not worry about sullying the reputation of West Point.  Unfortunately he must have almost failed law as a cadet, as pointed out above.

I am sure that both the President of Association of Graduates and Superintendent of West Point believe that being a graduate of West Point is a sacred honor and the comradeship of fellow graduates is a most critical bond.  If they had their way this issue would go away and the signers return to the fold of graduates whose solemn duty is to defend the constitution.

Maybe the originator and signers should file Duty, Honor and Country off of their class rings if they choose to not repudiate the letter.

Contrary to the letter almost all graduates still support the constitution and the academy motto of “Duty, Honor, Country.”

[i] I am very grateful for the input of several West Point classmates whose thoughts have been incorporated into this response.

Happy birthday US Army

June 14th is the 255th birthday of the US Army.  The Army that I and most of my classmates served in.  The Army that my father served in and many of the veterans of many wars served in.

I am providing a musical tribute to that Army as performed by the West Point Alumni Glee Club.  https://youtu.be/amCP9zOifVE.  Please fee free to sing along!

June 14 is also flag day–show our colors.

World War II–75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe

Tomorrow (May 8) is the 75th anniversary of victory in Europe in World War II. This was the war of your father or grandfather. My father was killed in Sicily almost 77 years ago. Others have stories to tell.
To commemorate this great event I am providing the video at {https://youtu.be/eNx-4mIJMuw}. It is from the Johnny Vet: Freedom Isn’t Free – A Veteran’s Musical Journey Through History, performed by the West Point Alumni Glee Club in November of 2017.
If you know a World War II vet please share it with him.