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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.
- 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 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.
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.
Biological warfare has been a threat to mankind for almost a century. Many have theorized about some country weaponizing Ebola. And several suspense novels have been written about super heroes stopping such attempts.
This morning on Maria Bartiromo’s Sunday Morning Futures show Senator Tom Cotton reported that the coronavirus did not start in Wuhan Animal Market, as originally reported. The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom reported that the virus probably started in a government research facility that is 300 yards from the market.
These two reports contribute to the growing body of theories that the virus did not originate from a natural situation. Was this a biological weapon gone astray?
Senator Tom Cotton told Maria: “Here is what we do know: This virus did not originate in the Wuhan animal market. Epidemiologists who are widely respected from China published a study in the international journal Lancet have demonstrated that several of the original cases did NOT have any contact with that food market. The virus went into that food market before it came out of that food market. So we don’t know where it originated… We also know that only a few miles away from that market is China’s only bio-safety Level Four Super Laboratory that researches human infectious diseases.
The Daily Mail report is based upon the same source as Senator Cotton’s. It reports that Chinese scientists believe the deadly coronavirus may have started life in a research facility just 300 yards from the Wuhan fish market. A new bombshell paper from the Beijing-sponsored South China University of Technology says that the Wuhan Center for Disease Control (WHCDC) could have spawned the contagion in Hubei province.
‘The possible origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus,’ penned by scholars Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao claims the WHCDC kept disease-ridden animals in laboratories, including 605 bats.
It also mentions that bats – which are linked to coronavirus – once attacked a researcher and ‘blood of bat was on his skin.’ The report says: ‘Genome sequences from patients were 96% or 89% identical to the Bat CoV ZC45 coronavirus originally found in Rhinolophus affinis (intermediate horseshoe bat).’
It describes how the only native bats are found around 600 miles away from the Wuhan seafood market and that the probability of bats flying from Yunnan and Zhejiang provinces was minimal. In addition it is noted that there is little to suggest the local populace eat the bats as evidenced by testimonies of 31 residents and 28 visitors. Instead the authors point to research being carried out within a few hundred yards at the WHCDC.
It is now too late for a super hero to save the day. The super hero may turn out to be the weather. Virus usually fade during spring and summer’s warmer weather. Unfortunately not enough is known about the coronavirus to ascertain that it will suffer a similar fate. Should the weather prevent a pandemic we can only hope that an immunization will be available before the virus emerges from weather induced hibernation.
Returning to the conspiracy theory, the publication of remarks coming out of the central Chinese leadership substantiates that the leadership was concerned about the contagion much earlier than previously reported. This information is used to substantiate that the Chinese government knew that it had a problem on its hands earlier than previously reported.
One cannot imagine a better experiment than what is happening in Wuhan and the rest of the world. Data will abound after this virus has been contained. Data on how to spread the virus on one hand and how to contain it and treat it on the other. This suggests that the next time the spread of the disease could be much quicker and more deadly.
We can only hope that China allows western researchers access to all of the data that the government must be gathering as it seeks to contain the virus. So far the Chinese have denied western representatives of the Center for Disease Control and other such organizations access to the source of the virus. The amount of access in and of itself will go a long way to confirming or denying all conspiracy theories.
The news reports today that additional 70 staffers have been reassigned away from the NSC staff. The reported goal is to do two things:
- Reduce the NSC staff to about 100 people–the same size as it was during George H W Bush’s conduct of the Gulf War.
- Eliminate the Obama holdovers–potential dwellers of the swamp
So much as the Democrats want to paint LTC Vindman as a hero,the reality is that his reassignment was just the leading edge of the NSC restructuring. The news is reporting that Vindman is on the list for attending the Army War College is this coming August. This surprises me! Attendance at the War College is usually reserved for former battalion commanders and other LTCs that are upwardly mobile. As pointed out, Vindman’s career, based upon reported adverse reports, should be on hold. More to follow.
Will we be receiving notification of similar housecleaning throughout the rest of the bureaucracy?
Preamble: We have taken a sabbatical from writing articles for the last 18 months in response to the venom that is out there in the media. However, the US response to the Iranian attacks seems to indicate a completely new US approach to global stability. Therefore I felt duty bound to spell out my thoughts and respond to those who can only see their hate of this administration.
The recent Iranian attacks on the Saudi oil facilities in north eastern Saudi Arabia indicate an escalation by the Iranians. Why? Do the Iranians perceive that the US is powerless because of the Democratic calls for impeachment? Are the sanctions and limits on Iranian oil exports taking such a toll that the Iranians feel that the world will react to Saudi oil output short falls and try to force the US to relax its containment of Iran?
The lack of an American kinetic response has the world wondering what has changed in the US approach to the world. By listening to the president’s speech at the UN yesterday it is now very clear that the President does not see the US as the world’s policeman. In the name of regional stability the US is deploying defensive capabilities to Saudi Arabia.
The recent attacks show the deficiencies of the Saudi military. In spite of extensive expenditures their missile defense capabilities are still inadequate in the face of Iranian cruise missiles. Reports indicate that the problems are both the training of the force and the needs of a modern missile defense.
Missile defense requires the ability to intercept multiple types of missiles through a complex spectrum of missile types. Most missile defense systems can be overcome by a volume of missiles. The Israeli “Iron Dome” system attempts to discriminate based on a calculation of impact points. Will incoming missiles hit critical assets? The Saudi system has not reached the degree of sophistication required to make such a discrimination automatically.
The lack of a kinetic attack illustrates the new Trump Doctrine—allies must protect themselves and respond to attacks using their own capabilities. The US will assist where necessary to maintain stability until the allies have developed their own capabilities. This approach means that the Saudis and the Gulf Cooperative Council members should respond to threats. The US may provide technical assistance in such a response, but one should not expect US forces attacking Iran unless US forces have been directly engaged by Iranians.
The military situation in the Gulf is truly asymmetric, but in a different way than the discussion of conventional forces versus terrorists or unconventional forces. The Iranians have devoted a significant part of their defense development to offensive missiles and small attack boats, while the Gulf States have focused on air power and defensive forces. As noted above the Iranian missile assets can most likely overpower the defenses of the Gulf States. However, a series of preemptive attacks might go a long way in leveling the battle field. One could even envision the Apache attack helicopters that the Saudis have being able to go in under the Iranian radar and doing extensive damage.
Will the Saudis/Gulf States respond? The answer to this question is probably in the Iranian hands. If they push the opportunity that they may perceive exists because of the political situation in the US they may in fact cause a reaction with extensive US support. On the other hand if the new status quo continues nothing may happen. The status quo favors the Saudis and the Gulf States as the political situation in Iran may continue to deteriorate and they can enhance their defensive and offensive capabilities.
In recent posts I have presented:
- Description of Operation Husky
- Colonel Gavin’s description of the airborne operations in Sicily
- My remarks at Ponte Dirillo on 10 July
The latest is that some citizens in Bellevue Ohio working with the mayor have decided to seek the Medal of Honor for my father LTC Arthur F. Gorham.
We will be following this story.
The Russians and Chinese have been giving us glimpses into their future weapon’s systems and their utilization. In considering these weapons utilization one can begin to see the ways that these two potential opponents envision fighting in future conflicts. One should also note that present conflicts are being used as testing grounds for these futuristic weapon systems.
The Russians have used Syria as a proving ground for their cyber and robotic capabilities. According to multiple Russian language blogs the Syrian Arab Army recently deployed ten Russian combat robots in a battle leading to about 70 rebel fighters and no Syrian casualties. Allegedly these robots were controlled from a Russian command post. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f5iWM5rLTY)
The Russians have demonstrated these robots and touted them in press videos as those noted above. Why? Most likely because the Russians are actually behind the American and Chinese in the development of robotic devices.
What is the motivation for robotic devices? There are many. In most cases robotic/remote controlled combat systems are cheaper to build and deploy since they are smaller and do not include the crew survival / protection measures and the associated weight and size that accompany crews. Such machines of war require fewer human warriors on the battlefield and thus reduce the entire human support costs.
Electronic warfare has been used on the battlefield since World War II. The commander of US forces in Syria recently reported that US AC130 gun ships were being jammed during support operations for the Syrian “rebels.” The electronic jamming signals affecting AC-130 gunships over Syria may have crews checking and cross-checking their data, including target information, before they lock on with their cannons, according to air commanders in Syria.
“Whether that’s being man-made, or maybe it’s a mistake inside the airplane, it’s hard to say sometimes, but the process is, as you see those things pop up, the safety for the people on the ground is the primary concern,” said Col. Tom Palenske, commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing…He continued: ““When you’re going to put lethal fires down on either enemy position or to protect friendlies, you’re concerned about the innocents around both our guys in uniform and civilians,” he said. “And when there’s some glitch being put out there by trons that threatens the accuracy of that, then the [AC-130 crews] have got to make sure they do no harm.”…Palenske did not say what kind of electronic warfare equipment adversaries are using, nor who the adversaries are, even though Islamic State fighters, Iranian-backed militia and Russian troops are in country.
Cyber warfare is coming and this is one of the first battlefield indications—the ability to take over a friendly fire control system. Hacking has become common place across military and civil society.
What is not being reported is the ability to work through or counter such spoofing and other types of cyber activities. There is also no public discussion of friendly use of similar capabilities.
Finally, The Chinese are reported to be using weapons grade lasers to engage US planes over Djibouti where there is a Chinese military installation. Currently the lasers are reported to be eye damaging. However the ability to target and engage a military aircraft with a laser portends a capability to do more than create eye damage with lasers. Future air defense weapons will most probably include radar directed lasers to destroy electronics and avionics in military aircraft. Presently, the lasers are likely denying US access to selected regions
The Chinese are also reported to have deployed air defense, electronic warfare and surface to surface missiles on three of their man made islands in the area claimed by the Philippines. These weapons threaten a significant amount of civilian naval traffic which could disrupt the economies of many of the nations in the area.
These new weapon deployments highlight the changing nature of warfare where new weapons can be used to achieve regional superiority for the accomplishment of a mission. This is the essence of the emerging US doctrine of cross domain operations.. (https://brucebgclarke.com/2017/07/12/multi-domain-warfare/)
Many of my progressive friends have been castigating me recently for my conservative views. As a strategist I recently reread Paul Harvey’s remarks from 1965. I am posting them so that my progressive friends can give careful thought as to where we might be headed in their vision.
In 1965, Paul Harvey broadcasted “If I Were the Devil.” It is really amazing to realize over 53 years ago how accurately he “prophesied” the future spiritual condition of the United States. Many of his statements were considered ridiculously outlandish at that time in history. Yet, we find ourselves today…
.Paul Harvey’s “If I Were the Devil” Transcript from 1965
by Paul Harvey
If I were the devil … If I were the Prince of Darkness, I’d want to engulf the whole world in darkness. And I’d have a third of its real estate, and four-fifths of its population, but I wouldn’t be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree — Thee. So I’d set about however necessary to take over the United States. I’d subvert the churches first — I’d begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: ‘Do as you please.’
“To the young, I would whisper that ‘The Bible is a myth.’ I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what’s bad is good, and what’s good is ‘square.’ And the old, I would teach to pray, after me, ‘Our Father, which art in Washington…’
“And then I’d get organized. I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting, so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting. I’d threaten TV with dirtier movies and vice versa. I’d pedal narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.
“If I were the devil I’d soon have families that war with themselves, churches at war with themselves, and nations at war with themselves; until each in its turn was consumed. And with promises of higher ratings I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flames. If I were the devil I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions — just let those run wild, until before you knew it, you’d have to have drug sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.
“Within a decade I’d have prisons overflowing, I’d have judges promoting pornography — soon I could evict God from the courthouse, then from the schoolhouse, and then from the houses of Congress. And in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and deify science. I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls, and church money. If I were the devil I’d make the symbols of Easter an egg and the symbol of Christmas a bottle.
“If I were the devil I’d take from those who have, and give to those who want until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious.
And what do you bet I could get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich? I would caution against extremes and hard work in Patriotism, in moral conduct. I would convince the young that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging is more fun, that what you see on the TV is the way to be. And thus, I could undress you in public, and I could lure you into bed with diseases for which there is no cure. In other words, if I were the devil I’d just keep right on doing what he’s doing.
Paul Harvey, good day.”
On January 21 2018 we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Battle for Khe Sanh Village and the beginning of the 77 day siege of the Khe Sanh Combat Base. In coming weeks I will be writing more about this battle that was the turning point in the Vietnam War—in spite of what Burns and crew said in their not so accurate 7 volume minisery about the War in Vietnam.