The renewed tensions between the US and Russia have recently increased. This has prompted a renewed focus on both Russia and the US’s nuclear posture. Related is the doctrine for the use of such weapons. Renewed discussion of Russia’s nuclear war fighting doctrine has called the Russian doctrine an “escalate to de-escalate” approach. We must consider what this mean in concrete policy terms, and whether it is an accurate description of Russia’s nuclear doctrine?
Given increased concern in NATO about Russian nuclear deployment and its ongoing deployments along the Ukrainian border we must consider US nuclear modernization’s status. It is the US nuclear guarantee that has safeguarded Europe since the end of World War II.
This is not the first time that NATO has sounded the alarm about Russian versus US nuclear weapons in Europe. During the Carter administration the same concerns were raised. This resulted in the intermediate ballistic missile modernization decision. NATO deployed ground launch cruise missiles and modernized US Pershing missiles to a Pershing II configuration which could reach Moscow from Germany. It took political fortitude to stand up to both the Russian threat and the political unrest that it caused in Western Europe. Eventually (during the Reagan administration) the two sides agreed to the intermediate nuclear forces (INF) arms control treaty. This treaty reduced the size of the nuclear threat in Europe. The resultant complacency in NATO Europe lasted until the last several years. It is disappearing quickly now and NATO is again calling for increased US nuclear capability to provide for deterrence through presence.
The doctrine “escalate to de-escalate” first surfaced in the summer of 2015. The core idea behind “escalate to de-escalate” is, simply, that Russia is now willing to engage in a limited nuclear war in order to win—that is, end—a conventional conflict. The concept was brought forward when Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. James Winnefeld, invoked “escalate to de-escalate” during a testimony to the House Committee on Armed Services: “Russian military doctrine includes what some have called an ‘escalate to deescalate’ strategy—a strategy that purportedly seeks to deescalate a conventional conflict through coercive threats, including limited nuclear use.”
The went on to say: “We think that this label is dangerously misleading. Anyone who thinks they can control escalation through the use of nuclear weapons is literally playing with fire. Escalation is escalation, and nuclear use would be the ultimate escalation.”
This is the essence of the concept and probably it’s fallacy. The concept is based upon a Russian reading of determination and resolve in NATO Europe. The Russians must believe that NATO would rather quit than become deeply involved in a nuclear conflagration.
The concept of using low-yield nuclear weapons to change the status of a conventional conflict is not new, neither to Russia nor the US. A 2019 Defense Department guidance on Nuclear Operations discussed the possibility of limited nuclear war: “Employment of nuclear weapons can radically alter or accelerate the course of a campaign. A nuclear weapon could be brought into the campaign as a result of perceived failure in a conventional campaign, potential loss of control or regime, or to escalate the conflict to sue for peace on more favorable terms.”
During the cold war those of us serving on the East-west German border were trained to operate is such an environment.
Russia, in a 2020 defense document, stated that it will only consider the nuclear option under two circumstances: 1) as a retaliatory measure against the use of nuclear weapons or other WMDs, or 2) when “the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.”
The debate is ongoing whether “escalate to de-escalate” is a reasonable doctrine, but the existence of that debate influences the increasing concern in NATO. It also will have an influence in the nuclear weapon modernization debate that is gaining steam in the congress.
The US’s budget cycle is just getting started, but already Democrats and Republicans are in a fight over whether to curb or continue the current trajectory of spending on nuclear weapons modernization. Democrats have offered bills and urged the president to cut nuclear weapons programs, while Republicans are publicly pressing to continue programs that mostly began during the Obama administration. The budget fight will certainly look at many newly started weapons modernization efforts:
- Submarine launched low yield nuclear war heads
- The new ICBM missile (Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD))
- The Army’s long-range missile and artillery systems
The defense budget will most likely not increase under the Biden regime and therefore nuclear weapons may be on the table with both force size and other modernization efforts that were begun during the Trump administration. (The Army is already expressing concern about rumors of force cuts.)
The Biden administration is going to be under pressure from NATO to modernize its theater nuclear forces and to deploy them to Europe (late 1970s déjà vu). If the Russians do in fact take aggressive action against either the Baltic states or the Ukraine the whole issue of nuclear weapons and Russian doctrine may in fact become a reality not a strategic discussion.
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A RAND study 5-6 years ago is getting fresh attention as the Biden administration’s focus on Asia and the Pacific blurs consciousness about the European threat,
Russia’s continuing aggression against Ukraine and build up along the Polish border has disrupted nearly a generation of relative peace and stability between Moscow and its Western neighbors and raised concerns about its larger intentions. From the perspective of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the threat to the three Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — former Soviet republics, now member states that border Russian territory — may be the most problematic of these according to the RAND Study. In a series of war games conducted between the summer 2014 and spring 2015, RAND examined the shape and probable outcome of a near-term Russian invasion of the Baltic states. “The games’ findings are unambiguous: As presently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members.”
The study suggests that it will not require huge effort to avoid such a failure. Further gaming indicates that a force of about seven US brigades, including three heavy armored brigades — adequately supported by airpower, land-based fires, and other enablers on the ground and ready to fight at the onset of hostilities — could suffice to prevent the rapid overrun of the Baltic states.
Since this finding actual efforts as pre-positioning equipment for brigades to fall in on, creation of a standing Army Corps Headquarters in Europe and the Trump administration’s restationing of forces out of Germany and into other parts of Europe have helped. Also, we have reported on the 9 month rotation to Eastern Europe that the Dagger Brigade conducted.
What is new is the return to an old war fighting doctrine to engage a Russian full-scale attack—Air-land battle. Air-land battle was a concept developed by General Don Starry during the mid 70s as a way to deal with the expected attack by Soviet hordes in Central Europe, The Fulda gap was the focus of US forces in Europe.
During a tour in the Pentagon and then on the southern flank for the Fulda gap I came to understand Air-land battle fairly well. In the Pentagon the focus was on the Mutual Balanced Force Reductions (MBFR) and the rapid reinforcement of Europe. In the Fulda gap the focus was on “buying enough time” for reinforcements to deploy. This required the destruction of the first wave of Soviet attacks and get reset to deal with the delayed and reduced second wave of attacking forces. The second wave of follow-on forces were to be delayed and reduced by air and missile attacks against critical transportation and supply nodes in the rear of the attacking forces. As this doctrine matured it included attacks by ground forces against the Soviet rear echelons by highly mobile armored forces making a penetration and attacking deep into the Soviet rear as a way to upset their time tables and destroy key supporting forces.
If readers remember I wrote about the evolving doctrine of ‘multi-domain” operations (MDO) as the emerging doctrine for the US military. In essence it is a more sophisticated expansion of Air-land Battle as it does not focus exclusively on the deep battler against follow-on echelons.
The question must be asked whether air-land battle is appropriate for deterring and fighting a war in Eastern Europe? The biggest concern or fear is that such a conflict with deep strikes against Russian territory could escalate quickly to a nuclear exchange and a tactical nuclear conflict, (Though it would not be a “tactical” nuclear conflict to those in the middle of the battlefield.)
The Russians for the last several years have been modernizing their tactical nuclear forces. NATO is just beginning to talk about such efforts. Are we about to repeat the 1980s. but on a battlefield that has moved east-ward? We will watch this in coming weeks and months to try and answer this question.
As a follow-on article to this one we will look at the current doctrine of the limited use of nuclear weapons in the fight against the Russians,
A reader asked me about the divisiveness being sowed by the current military leadership’s kowtowing to the “political correctness” demands of the liberals who are currently trying to transform our country. He asked if I had ever seen anything so bad in our military?
I reflected upon the Army of the 1970s and its re-emergence as the force that won so decisively the first Gulf War. This question brought back two distinct memories:
- The strategy of Creighton Abrams as Chief of Staff of the Army in consonance with General William Depuy as the Commander of TRADOC, and
- My personal experiences in the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley from 1975 to 79 and then in the 11th Cavalry from 1982-84.
The Abrams – Depuy strategy to remake the Army had two basic components. General Abrams was forcing change and “tough love” form the top down while General Depuy was changing how the Army trained at all echelons. Army training was results directed. Tasks that soldiers and units had to be able to perform under certain conditions were defined and the standards to be achieved/met were also defined. This task, condition and standard training left little room for compromise of standards of performance. And performance was what was being demanded by the Army leadership from the top down. The standards in most part were designed for the Army to fight and win against the Soviets in a war in Europe.
These resulting conditions were in some cases nearly impossible to meet. Tank gunnery standards—based on round on targetntime were almost impossible. We were able to show that the standards exceeded the technical capabilities of the equipment. The answer we got back was: “TRY HARDER”
At the unit level there was an Army dis-spirited by Vietnam and being fought over by rival drug gangs around Army posts—at least that was what we had at Fort Riley. But the leaders had gotten the message. As a battalion Executive Officer I coordinated and carried out the orders of a battalion commander who was willing to use a crow bar to open a trunk in the search for stolen tools, weapons or drugs. He found the missing tools and the lawyers decided that the division would pay the damages. What would happen to him today? I am afraid to ask. Training was demanding and at the beginning individuals and tank crews could not meet the standards. But energy was focused on results not petty bickering.
However, by 1982 when I joined the 11th Cavalry things were changing. In 1982 when I assumed command of 2/11th ACR I had the entire 1000-man squadron tested for drugs. There were 39 positives. They were dealt with swiftly. By 1984 when I left command the same test only found 6 positives. New standards of behavior also permeated performance of military tasks. It was the Army that grew during the 80s that was so decisive during Gulf War I.
The question then becomes whether a similar strategy can be deployed once the military of political correctness is ended. Again, leadership from top to bottom will require reaching down into the general officer ranks to find tough hard-fisted warriors who are willing to rebuild a military not a politically correct knitting society. These warriors must be promoted and given the resources and support to accomplish the rebuilding mission. In consonance resources must be made available for tough hard training that consumes energy so that there is not time or energy to worry about political correctness.
This will be the challenge for the next President. How many years will it take to undo what is currently occurring?
The following is a letter that was sent to the Army Times on 14 March 2021.
I have been a subscriber to the Army Times for over 50 years and this is the first time I have to say that I am ashamed of your publication! I am sure that you want to be politically correct and to appease the liberals who have temporarily taken over our government, but to relate a MAGA hat to extremism is a step too far. What you are saying is that the over 70 million American who voted for Trump are extremists. You should know better!
To become embroiled in the political witch hunt that is in vogue now in the hopes of eliminating lawful opposition should not be your position. You should be protecting our honorable military from the political hacks, but instead you are facilitating them. Again, I say shame on you!
Cover of February 2021 Army Times
By the first week of April, all members of the military must take part in a highly unusual order from Secretary of Defense Austin. Unit leaders have been ordered to conduct a day-long “stand down” to discuss the threat of extremism and gather feedback from troops on the extent that racism and other hateful ideologies or anti-government sentiment have taken root in their cohort.
Unfortunately, the search for “political correctness” has also entered the Service academies. They are embracing critical race theory (CRT), which divides people with unresolvable accusations of “systemic racism.” Last year a group of “woke” alumni issued a 40-page manifesto demanding that West Point make “anti-racism” the central feature of the curriculum. Action items included statements from all white leaders “acknowledging how their white privilege sustains systems of racism.” Is anti-racism going to win wars? Is it going to allow graduates to protect and defend the constitution?
Meanwhile, the Navy recently released its “Task Force One Navy” Final Report. The 141-page document is filled with ideologically leftist vocabulary including “intersectionality,” “disparate impact,” and 338 variations of the word “diverse.” A five-point “TF1N Pledge” makes sailors and Marines promise to fight “racism, sexism, ableism, and other structural and interpersonal biases.” It does not mention operational readiness or mission accomplishment. Isn’t that what we expect?
Nothing could be worse for morale and readiness than a toxic brew of racist suspicions and division being forced on participants for a full day. Instead of intimidating servicemembers for expressing normal political beliefs, military leaders should investigate whether military personnel are being recruited by extremists on both ends of the spectrum, not just one.
They should also take an even-handed, honest look at all incidents of violent extremism, without promoting leftist extremism in pursuit of extremists.
We cannot let our military be destroyed by partisan hacks.
- “We must meet the new moment — accelerating global challenges — from the pandemic to the climate crisis to nuclear proliferation — challenging the will only to be solved by nations working together and in common.” “We can’t do it alone.”
- He continued: “That must be this — we must start with diplomacy rooted in America’s most cherished democratic values: defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity. That’s the grounding wire of our global policy — our global power. That’s our inexhaustible source of strength. That’s America’s abiding advantage.”
- In another part of his speech, he spoke about “rebuilding” America’s relationship with “many of our closest allies,” including Canada, Mexico, the UK, Germany, France, NATO, Japan, South Korea and Australia.
- The president claimed that Trump hurt these alliances with policies of “neglect” and “abuse.”
- He also spoke about the approach his administration will take with some of America’s enemies, including Russia and China. “I made it clear to President Putin in a manner very different from my predecessor that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions interfering with our elections, cyberattacks, poisoning its citizens are over,” he said.
- However, he took a more vague, non-confrontational approach toward China, simply saying, “We’ll confront China’s economic abuses, counter its aggressive coercive action to push back on China’s attack on human rights, intellectual property, and global governance.”
The words sound lofty and reasonable, but when you look behind them, they take a completely different meaning. The globalism focus means involvement in issues in other countries that we might better stay out of. The implication is that the US will support democracies around the world, but to many countries that are struggling with governance that support is seen as being the target of US muscle—the US will impose democracy–its form of democracy. The US is going to do what about Russia poisoning its citizens—launch nucs?
The world is a more complex place than it was when Obama tried a globalist approach 12 years ago.
- China has emerged as a global threat if not militarily, economically. It is flexing its muscles in the South China Sea and the straits of Taiwan.
- Russia wants to be super power again and is building/rebuilding its nuclear arsenal and meddling in places it shouldn’t.
- US superiority is no longer appreciated in places that don’t want the US meddling in their affairs.
- Climate change concerns are truly only a US issue, but it will be used by the US to cause structural changes both domestically and internationally.
The push to democratize the world and pursue climate change will have an adverse impact on the status of non-violent change. A quote from the Pakistani Tribune reflects many international views.
“The kind of democracy the US likes to install around the world is a code word for furthering US interests. Respecting alliances in the real world means a smooth path for the sale of war machinery and a combined pressure on whichever nation decides to look out for its own interests. Amid all this rhetoric, there is something getting ritualistically confused. They are getting things backwards. The self-congratulatory rhetoric goes that democracy would now grow around the world with an interventionist America under Biden.”
Note the concern with intervention. Many analysts equate globalism with intervention and armed conflict. The use of military force to enforce climate or governmental change becomes prevalent. This trend occurs just as the commander of the US Strategic Command, Vice Admiral Richard has warned that: “There is a real possibility that a regional crisis with either China or Russia could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons, if they perceived a conventional loss would threaten the regime or state.” He went on to argue that the US must prepare to meet such an eventuality.
If one ties Biden’s globalism with the STRATCOM commander’s concerns it is clear that now is not necessarily the correct time to be rushing into a globalist foreign policy that failed under Obama with more military engagement than under Trump. Trump’s speak softly but carry a big stick ala Teddy Roosevelt reduced conflict in the world and disengaged US forces around the globe. Service men and women wish that such a condition would continue.
Not mentioned in his speech but a clear part of Biden’s agenda is to open the US borders so that foreigners can cross easily. Ultimately the Democrats hope to increase their voter base with this cheap labor. A whole article needs to be devoted to the immigration issue, but for our purposes here suffice it to say that US citizens will lose jobs and Charles Koch can get cheap labor. Also not mentioned but there seems to be some effort to undo some of what Trump accomplished in the middle-east. Again a subject for another article.
The last five years have seen a distinctive and worrisome change to our political process. There have been new and more dangerous weapons added to our political process. To those who hated Trump and anything related to Trump the ends of ousting Trump and then “killing off” his supporters make sense. Many of those who support these new weapons are new to the political dialogue and to them the ends justify the means. However, the leaders who are employing these weapons, don’t seem to care about the impact of their actions on our democracy. This is truly worrisome. Let me elaborate.
Impeachment. As we all know President Trump was impeached based on a phone call. Then the Democratic floor leaders added any other accusation into their rhetoric that they could think of to further smear this sitting president. Now, even after he is out of office the Democrats want to impeach him again in the hope that they can prevent him from running again in 2024. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, when he announced that he would not preside over such a circus, was sending a clear signal that he did not believe that such an event was constitutional. This hasn’t deterred the Democrats at all. One cannot be sure whether it is Trump Derangement Syndrome or fear of another Trump campaign that motivates the Democrats—it is probably some of both. The issue is that they have taken a constitutional procedure and weaponized it. When all else failed to prevent President Trump from fulfilling his campaign promises they went for the ultimate weapon—impeachment.
This weaponization sets a terrible precedent that could upset our political process going forward. Past Presidents must now be concerned that they can be impeached after they are out of office. Will the Republicans impeach President Obama for Russia gate? Will President Biden be impeached for his son’s financial dealings and his lies about them? We can’t answer these questions but we can see how this one precedent could upset our political process for years to come. Presidents could be afraid to do what is right for fear of a vindictive speaker of the house. The power of intimidation by impeachment threat—that is a new and dangerous weapon.
Tyranny of the majority. The second example of the tyranny of the majority is all of the discussion of removing committee assignments from a member of the House because of her recommendation that President Biden be impeached. It is a member’s party not the other party that decides a members committee assignment. What is even scarier about this is the used the process to skim off some Republicans, thus further dividing a party that really needs to learn to hang tough. However, now the Democratic majority has removed a member’s assignments by simple voting them off. Relatedly, the Senate Ethics Committee looking at Senators Cruz and Hawley for challenging the election results is another example of trying to deter future challenges of the majority’s positions by members of the minority. Again, the goal is power—the power to intimidate.
One must wonder what will happen in 2022 if the Republicans gain control of one or both houses of Congress. The Democrats know that the Republicans are not as vicious as they are so maybe they don’t have any concerns about precedents. Maybe we will get to find out.
Finally, another intimidation weapon is the denial of freedom of speech. Between the Democrats in Congress, the White House and the bureaucracies there is an active effort to deny people the freedom to speak their minds on a subject if it runs counter to what the majority wants the people to hear and maybe understand. This silencing through the power of big tech and the media is another threat to our political process. We will address it next.
I held back my views during the election season and the post-election squabbles, but now that the new President is acting like the dictator that he claimed President Trump was something needs to be said.
The plethora of Executive Orders are designed to do two things:
- Eliminate anything and everything that might be have been Trump related, and
- Present the image that there is a lot being done.
Let me just provide a couple of examples. One of the first Executive Orders stopped work on the Keystone Pipeline. Of course, this was advertised as helping the environment because now oil would be more expensive and the cost of gas would go up and thus people would drive less—the standard Obama justification for such actions. However, the actual effect was to put 11,000 workers out of work just at the time the economy was still trying to recover from the effects of COVID-19. The effect also was to ensure future revenue for hauling the oil by rail for Berkshire Hathaway’s railroad—Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF). Warren Buffet who founded Berkshire Hathaway has been a large donor to Democratic party causes. Hmmmm…..
Related to the pipeline order is our relationship to Saudi Arabia. The status of the Houthi rebels in Yemen was changed—they are no longer a terrorist group. And $500 million in arms sales to the Saudis is being reconsidered. Cut their arms and increase their oil revenue once the US is no longer energy independent. Is this really going to be our policy? All in the name of the environment.
The Saudi linkage goes on as the attempt to re-establish relations with Iran and the Palestinians flies directly in the face of the Trump Abraham initiative that has several Arab states recognizing and normalizing relations with Israel.
This one example shows the lack of analysis of internal linkages and relationship to other orders and the resulting causes and effects. Additionally, some of the rhetoric about what the now out of work pipeline workers can do was not very politically adept: “they can make solar panels.”
The second example is the removal of the Trump administration ban on the use of foreign aid monies to pay for abortions. Being pro abortion as a policy position is an open choice, but why at the beginning of one’s term as president does he have to anger the Catholic church and over half of the national population who are against abortion. And then the optics of sending money abroad for abortions while the Democrats can’t get a COVID relief bill through Congress are not what a good Democrat would want. But of course, it is a Trump policy to reverse and thus it had to be done immediately.
As these Executive Orders continue and the Congress wastes its time on an unconstitutional impeachment the Biden Administration is digging itself into a position that many pundits suggest will cost them both the Senate and the House in 2022. What will they do then? Will a Republican House impeach Obama, or Biden or Harris or all three? What about Jimmy Carter? Of course, I jest but the precedence is not one they should set—but of course who would think of linkages and consequences?
More to follow in coming weeks.
Now that it appears that Joe Biden will become president on 20 January those that favor military deployments all over the world are starting to remerge after having been beaten down by President Trump.
In order to highlight their argument, I am re-posting an article that I received from PresidentialInsider.com.
“Withdrawing into a defensive and insular crouch here at home risks leaving Americans more isolated and more vulnerable to threats,” Panetta wrote. “More than ever, Americans must go abroad to remain secure at home.”
Hear that? More foreign wars.
And you can bet that Biden is listening if he becomes president in January.
The various essays in the report explore lots of different overseas conflicts and give arguments for why more American blood should be shed overseas.
Col. Maxwell, a former Special Forces officer, criticized the president’s commitment to bringing American soldiers home.
“Over the last couple of years there’s been a real discussion about pulling back U.S. forces. President Trump has always talked about withdrawing U.S. troops,” Maxwell lamented. “The original intent (of the report) is to show the value of our forward-stationed forces and the strategic flexibility they provide us.”
Retired Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, former National Security Advisor to President Trump, also said that there would only be “Paltry savings” to bringing Americans home and that they would be “dwarfed by the eventual cost of responding to unchecked and undeterred threats to American security, prosperity and influence.”
Does it sound like these people really have America’s best interests at heart?
The article highlights the two arguments for deploying troops abroad:
- We should fight whatever enemies we might have on foreign soil so that we don’t have to fight them at home. In this regard allies and other foreign countries that are friendly with the United States cannot be trusted to deal with threats using their resources.
- Foreign deployments position troops closer to potential future battlegrounds making deployments easier to accomplish in less time and using fewer resources. The example that is used is the deployment of the US V Corps from Germany to Iraq in 1990.
Both arguments in a cold war like environment tend to make some sense. However, there are some concerns that need to be addressed:
- Having troops stationed in the US with equipment foreign deployed for the troops to deploy and fall in on facilitates deployment of Rapid response forces. V Corps Headquarters was just reactivated in Europe to be the tactical headquarters for troops being deployed from the US. Equipment has been prepositioned for an Armored Brigade Combat Team (BCT) with more to follow.
- Every six to 8 months a BCT is deployed to both Eastern Europe and Korea and the ones there are returned to home stationed. These deployment show US commitment to the respective areas and also keep the troops trained on deployment skills.
- Some of the troops being deployed from Germany are not coming back to the US be are moving from Germany into Eastern Europe.
- The argument is that troops in Eastern Europe provide a better deterrent against the Russian than if they were in Germany,
- There is already a “ready” BCT in Kuwait and equipment prepositioned on Diego Garcia.
The overall goal of current deployments is to increase flexibility while reducing the US overseas footprint and thus the number of targets deployed overseas.
The redeployment of troops will be one of the indicators of the extent of the return to globalism with the new administration.
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.