In the defense world, the terms “strategic” and “systems” seem like they’re used almost indiscriminately.
The B-52H Stratofortress: a “strategic system” in itself. (Photo: U.S. Air Force / Mike Dey)
Two of the most overused words in the defense world are “strategic” and “systems.” The latter, of course, is omnipresent in the culture, especially in business programs and consumer goods. (Try looking it up on Google shopping.) I’m currently reading the third edition of Sir Lawrence Freedman’s seminal — hey, at least I didn’t use that old standby of reviewers and blurbers: “magisterial” — book The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy. He provides some much-needed perspective on both terms.
The Russian military moves to shore up the Syrian Regime in its fight against the Islamic State and other rebel forces.
Russia was the decisive force in defeating Nazi Germany. Will it serve the same role in the war against the Islamic State? (Photo: WorldWar02.com)
Last week, at the Daily Beast, Michael Weiss wrote of Syria v. the Islamic State and other rebel forces it’s fighting :
Much discussed in U.S. defense circles is what the Israeli news portal YNet reported Monday, that a new “expeditionary force” of the Russian military has arrived in Damascus and converted a Syrian air force installation into its own forward-operating base. Russian pilots will also apparently start flying their own combat missions.
… The goal is said to be purely counterterrorist in nature and conforms to a new period of bilateral cooperation between Moscow and Tehran in salvaging a common ally—Assad—while also amplifying the fight against ISIS.
Nuclear weapons came in many shapes and sizes, one more insidious than the other.
A nuclear air-to-air missile, to be launched by jet fighters. (Photo: Wikipedia)
In the early years of nuclear weapons, it was still thought that smaller nuclear weapons (called tactical) could fall under the aegis of conventional weapons. Before military planners disabused themselves of that notion and conceded that, with regards to tactical nukes, if it looks like a nuke … , various species of nuclear weapons were developed. Though it wasn’t publicized at the time, you may have heard of the suitcase bomb — a miniaturized nuclear weapon that fit inside a sort of backpack. The smallest, the Mk-54 SADM (Special Atomic Demolition Munition), weighed only around 50 pounds.
The legislation sponsored by Democratic Sens. Benjamin Cardin and Michael Bennet to accompany the Iran nuclear deal would include increased funding for Israeli security.
Some Americans opposed to the Iran nuclear deal calls for the United States to sell the 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator to Israel. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Cross-posted from View from the Left Bank.
“What fools we are.”
(Quote from an old friend concerning the machinations described below)
The more one actually studies what Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) has done concerning the international agreement concluded between the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany (the P5+1) and Iran, the more it seems like the basketball move that he faked left while moving right. Classic Bennet, I might add. At the time when his vote no longer was critical to the outcome, Colorado’s U.S. Senator Michael Bennet finally came out and endorsed the nuclear agreement with Iran. By all indications, he is determined to find a way to deep-six the agreement, days prior, Bennet endorsed.
One of the few arms-control voices in the Kennedy administration, Marcus Raskin viewed civil defense as provocative to the Soviet Union.
President John F. Kennedy and his Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara tried to create a nuclear policy more flexible than the initial U.S. policy of massive retaliation. (Photo: AlternateHistory.com)
Prior to founding the Institute for Policy Studies along with Richard Barnet, Marcus Raskin was a member of the special staff of the National Security Council in President Kennedy’s administration. I recently re-read Fred Kaplan’s 1983 book, The Wizards of Armageddon, a history of how the Rand Corporation developed and drove U.S. nuclear weapons strategy for decades. In case you’re wondering, yes, there is definitely something wrong with people who can spend their days for years on end contemplating the deaths of tens of millions.
Daniel Ellsberg was critical in dialing back the insanity that was U.S. nuclear strategy in its formative years.
Most of us know Daniel Ellsberg because he copied and released the top-secret Pentagon studies of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg actually ran the documents by the Institute of Policy Studies before sharing them with the New York Times. As you know, Watergate ensued and American politics has never been the same.
Those opposed to the Iran deal worry that the subsequent easing of economic sanctions will enable Iran to increase its support for Hezbollah and Hamas.
To a certain extent Hezbollah and Hamas have gone legit. Pictured: Hezbollah flag and signage. (Photo: Yeowatzup / Wikimedia Commons)
The effort by Israeli leaders and their American supporters to scuttle the nuclear agreement with Iran was not, as they often claimed, based on the fear that the pact did not provide enough safeguards against Iran’s producing a bomb. As the agreement’s opponents knew, Iran has only to show signs of violating the agreement to bring on immediate retaliation by the U.S. and Israel. The Iranians undoubtedly remember Israel’s attack on Iraq’s nuclear facility at Osirak in 1981.
Hostility to Iran on the part of Israel and the U.S. has in fact far less to do with its nuclear program than with its support for Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that Israeli spin doctors and their American supporters have made virtually synonymous with “terrorism.” They worry that the pact will bring an easing of economic sanctions against Iran and thereby enable it to increase its support for the two resistance groups.
War inevitably spawns refugees.
The European refugee disaster is the legacy of the war makers. Pictured: Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. (Photo: DFID / Flickr Commons)
While Europe flounders, compelled at last to begin seeking short term measures of humane response, our shameless war hawks hide from blame: it’s Assad’s doing, Obama’s “weakness” in failing to bomb Syria and intervene militarily early on.
There is blame aplenty historically for the Middle East tragedy that is spilling over into Europe and for other refugee crises affecting all continents. Anti-immigrant racists rant, build walls, and terrorize millions of parents and children desperate for survival. But the major culprit is WAR.
As with most Western countries, in Poland drug abuse has spread from criminals and the impoverished to all levels of society.
Clinical psychologist Danuta Wiewiora (pictured) of MONAR (Youth Movement against Drug Addiction) works with drugs addicts in Poland. (Photo: John Feffer)
Cross-posted from JohnFeffer.com.
Until the 1970s, drug addicts didn’t exist in Poland – at least not officially. In those days, drugs were expensive and the supply was limited, so the Polish state could hide the problem by giving a different label to the small number of addicts. But then heroin became more readily available, in part as a byproduct of domestic poppy farming (poppy seeds are a key ingredient in the Polish strudel known as makowiec). And addiction started to grow. By the mid-1980s, heroin use – along with glue-sniffing, marijuana, and speed – had grown to epidemic proportions.
The Islamic State remains a puzzle to U.S. policymakers and analysts.
The United States persists in underestimating the sophistication and savvy of the Islamic State. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The national security community in the United States and the West neither predicted the Islamic State’s rise, nor has been able to figure out how to halt it. Writes Burak Kadercan at National Interest, the Islamic State has
… constituted a source of embarrassment for the security community…. Consequently, there is little agreement in the security community over the true nature of ISIS and the proper strategy to effectively “degrade and destroy” the organization. Put bluntly, for all the pride that the security community takes in its predictive, explanatory, and prescriptive capabilities, it has failed (with a capital F) over the puzzle that ISIS poses.