Balance of Power 2016

Back in the late 1980’s there was a computer simulation game called “Balance of Power” that pitched the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union against the global super power of the United States in a geopolitical contest. The game assumed only two influential countries, a bipolar reality.

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The game was direct; if either country went too far in attempting to influence other countries, DEFCON 4 would be declared and the game would end in global thermonuclear war. Both players would lose, just like the ultimate scenario of the Star Wars missile defense system-inspiring movie, “War Games.”

The algorithms of the game however,  did not even allow for the chance for, East and West Germany to be reunited, or for the Soviet block to dissolve. It was a major flaw in the game, but reflected the bipolar thinking of the time.

In reality, and in hind-sight, it has always been a multi-polar geopolitical scene. Back then there were U.S. satellites and Soviet satellites, but many of our allies were influencers of their own. Today, these influencers make up the complex multi-polar geopolitical reality.

The European Union, OPEC, NATO, China, North Korea, South American countries, African countries, Southeast and Southwest Asia, Australia and the various factions of the Islamic State and al Qaeda, all have regional and/or global influence through words and/or deeds that affect how the U.S. and Russia are perceived.

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the world moved away from Soviet influence and towards American democracy; multi-polar players gained strength and influence. As we moved through the Clinton years however, our standing in the world diminished. It strengthened again during the Bush years, but then for the past eight years or so we have been driven towards the abyss of geopolitical enigma.

The U.S. is no longer viewed as the single super power, even though on paper we still are. If we are not willing to use our strength, the sharks that smell blood in the water will come nibbling, and if nothing happens to them on the nibble they will take bites.

Lies about a “red line in the sand” (Syria), blowing off a status of forces agreement (Iraq), neglecting security at embassies and consulates (Benghazi), declaring the Global War on Terror “over” (Afghanistan), trading an Army deserter (Bowe Bergdahl) for five high level Taliban leaders, releasing high threat detainees from the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, normalizing relations with Cuba, all combine to let our enemies and non-friends know we are unwilling and unable to respond.

Even seeming innocuous incidents, such as Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf, and Russian planes buzzing our ships in the Baltic Sea prove to those who would do us harm that we are impotent.

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Bites will turn into a feeding frenzy – see current Syria and Iraq.

Russia has warned the U.S. that attacks on Assad’s Syrian forces will bring a response from them; ball in U.S. court.

What will the U.S. do with the ball? Pass it to the next president? Shoot it at the basket (Russians) and try to score (put them in their place)? Or will we throw it away (ignore the threat) and then suffer the consequences of leaving our fate up to others who decidedly do NOT have our best interests at heart?

One strategy could be to withdrawal completely from Syria, not as a retreat, but as a retrograde maneuver in order to let Russia have Syria all by itself. Russia would have to support Syria and rebuild the decimated country, or risk being expelled or dragged into a further quagmire. The U.S. would not benefit from “victory” in Syria, as there is no consolidated or legitimate force opposing Assad. We would be accused, and rightly so, of neocolonialism and occupation of a sovereign foreign nation.

Let Putin deal with Assad, he can have him, and the headaches and costs associated with meddling in a civil war. Putin would have to do the right thing by Syrian citizens or risk even more international disdain.

The U.S. finally got it right with the surge in Iraq, coupled with aggressive disruption of the human elements supporting al Qaeda. Many daily and nightly clandestine missions in that country, combined with the embedded U.S. soldier approach in the towns, cities and villages of Iraq, worked like magic.

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The bad guys became the hunted. As more of them were captured and interrogated, more information was gleaned that helped us shut them down. Ground was taken, held and rebuilt. Instead of double-agents infiltrating U.S. and Iraqi operations, we infiltrated and killed al Qaeda from within.

The current strategy of droning leaders, bombing small targets, using only Special Forces, and releasing operatives to fight again is ineffective at best and suicidal at worst. Killing one’s and two’s with a weapons system that more often than not also kills innocent civilians is counterproductive. Enemy leaders are replaced in a heartbeat; detainees from Gitmo who become leaders of enemy organizations allows our enemies an advantage we can’t overcome with drones, bombs and hyperbole.

We are in a most vulnerable position now with less than 30 days left before a presidential election that promises either a sea change in American geopolitical strategy or guaranteed uncertainty.

You know the saying that one should do something questionable without asking permission first because it’s better to be scolded than to be told “No?” Our enemies are not asking our permission. They are being as aggressive as they need to be in order to take what they want and then telling us to bugger off if we get too curious.

It is the worst possible scenario come to life.

In war there is less right vs. wrong and more survival, and those who survive live to fight another day.

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At this point in the Global War on Terror – a multi-polar geopolitical morass – we must begin to flex our muscles and play it smart as the one true super power, or the feeding frenzy will take hold and the balance of power will shift solidly to the left.

Obama’s Trust in Our Enemies Could Kill Us

Punish Syria for using chemical weapons, President Barack Hussein Obama cried. Any resolution in Syria must include the removal of Assad, he insisted. Supporting the opposition was his strategy.

If blathering were a sport, the president would be world champion. And if using thoughtful common sense were a prerequisite for being Commander in Chief of the only world super power, Obama has failed out of the gate.

Instead of punishment, Vladimir Putin came to Assad’s aid with regard to Obama’s threats of military action, and now 49 percent of raw materials for chemical weapons in Syria have been removed. Had Obama had his way and perpetrated a military strike, there would be blood and bone strewn about and all chemical weapons materials would still be in Syria.

If the U.S. had armed and then trained the Syrian opposition there would be a very good likelihood that our recent Al Qaeda enemies, some fresh from Club Gitmo, would have been the beneficiaries. Now they just get logistical support from us.

Fighters of al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant carry their weapons during a parade at the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, near the border with Turkey January 2, 2014. Picture taken January 2, 2014.     REUTERS/Yaser Al-Khodor

Insisting upon the removal of a sovereign head-of-state while he deals with a civil war smacks of neo-colonialism. At least in Iraq the U.S. enjoyed a unanimous United Nations Security Council Resolution and 39 countries signed on to go in with us. Syria could well have been President Obama’s Bay of Pigs, with his “red line” nonsense, especially considering Syria is supported by Russia, Iran and China.

Remembering that in the First Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) Assad provided the Coalition with the Syrian 9th Armored Division and a Special Forces Regiment to oppose Saddam Hussein in the liberation of Kuwait is far from Obama’s recollections, as well as from the memories of the mainstream media and most Americans. How soon we forget who our friends and allies were now that public opinion, shaped by the liberal media and an even more liberal Obama administration, has swung against the military and political actions of said Syrian former ally.

If we look at the slew of Arab teammates who helped perpetrate war against the rogue Hussein (Saddam, not Barack for those of you keeping score), we find Saudi Arabia (Islamist misogynists), Kuwait (same), Qatar (yup), United Arab Emirates (uh, huh), Oman (yes), and Egypt (not so much), all gave blood and treasure to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991.

Where are they now when the fire is again in their back yard, or at least in their neighbor’s back yard? Perhaps they are doing what we should be doing – letting the Islamists in Syria attrition themselves into extinction. And then, when there’s nothing left, do business again with Assad, their brother.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, meets Russian deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, left, in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. The Russian ITAR-Tass news agency on Wednesday quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying that Syria told Russian officials the material it handed over shows "rebels participating in the chemical attack" but that Russia has not yet drawn any conclusions. Syria has turned over materials to Russia which aim to show that a chemical weapons attack last month was carried out by rebels, a top Russian diplomat visiting Damascus and a Syrian official said Wednesday. Credit: AP

There is an old Arab saying: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Not in the case of Syria if Assad is our enemy. And if Assad is our enemy, what (or who) changed that between 1991 and 2011?

Islamists engaged in the Syrian conflict against Assad are not much different than Al Qaeda in Iraq; opportunistic “foreigners” trying to score credibility points by taking out “bad boy” Assad. It’s a bit cannibalistic, but leave no doubt that for us to get involved with any of the opposition factions is tantamount to playing the amphibian to the Islamist arachnida in the old proverb, “The Scorpion and the Frog:”

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

The frog is satisfied, and they set out. But in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”

Replies the scorpion: “It’s my nature…”

It is the nature of Al Qaeda and other Islamists to sting the frog, killing them both if necessary, for, according to one version of the parable the scorpion replies after the drowning frog protests, “it is better that we both should perish than that my enemy should live.” This is the common sense reason why we should never ally ourselves with those who would just as soon kill us as look at us.

Why then cannot the scorpions fight the king scorpion, Assad? Why involve the frog at all? Because the frog is prey.

Obama is being devoured by his own naïveté, and now by the wolves (Russia and Iran) as well as the Syrian opposition scorpions. And heck, all he did was offer them a ride across the stream, right? Ever hear Leo Durocher say, “Nice guys finish last?” Obama apparently has not.

(Photo credit: MAXIM SHIPENKOV/AFP/Getty Images)

So, Putin has his way with Crimea and Egypt (signed an arms deal with Egypt while the world – and Obama – were distracted by the Olympics), the Mullahs have their way with nukes in Iran, and Assad plays carrot with Weapons of Mass Destruction.

In the mean time, Assad waits him out, watching as the opposition scorpions keep trying to convince Obama to take them across the stream. Assad is supported by the Russians, who havemore reason than ever to thumb their nose at the U.S. (economic sanctions over the Crimea/Ukraine situation). Assad is supported by Hezbollah and the Iranians, and still apparently enjoys some gravitas from Arab neighbors due to Assad’s ganging up on fellow Ba’athist Saddam Hussein in Desert Storm.

Assad played that card to prevent Israel from taking advantage of Iraq’s instability and invading Syria during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Assad eventually gained approval from Syrians for that move, and bought himself twenty years of relative peace.

If he’s not careful, in the end, which is neigh, Obama will be left drowning in the middle of a stream, asking “why?” as his muscles turn to stone and his lungs fill with water. My question is, if that happens, where does it leave the rest of us?

I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Twitter @mjgranger1

 

BARACK vs VLADIMIR: AN UNFAIR MATCH

Not long after President Barack “empty chair” Obama warned Russian President Vladimir Putin NOT to intervene militarily in the Ukraine, and then Russia invaded anyway, our buffoon Secretary of State John Kerry called it an “incredible act of aggression.”

Really? How? No one was killed or even arrested when Russia blockaded the Ukrainian army and navy and seized important airports in the Crimea.

The move was rather stealthy, but should have been expected. A week before the incursion our intelligence service alerted the Obama administration that action on Russia’s part in the Ukrainewas “imminent.”

In this June 17, 2013, file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

In this June 17, 2013, file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

 

But even so, what could a weakened U.S. do about it? And therein lies the rub – doing something about anything. Obama has so weakened our posture overseas that of course Russia will do whatever Russia wants to do, especially in its own sphere of influence.

It wasn’t that long ago that the former Soviet Union included the Ukraine and the Crimea, a decidedly Russian province, which holds the key to Russia’s influence in the central Asian and southern seas: the warm water port of Sevastopol. For without that outlet, Russia would be forced to send ships (and influence) from high on the eastern Baltic Sea at St. Petersburg.

The knee jerk reaction Putin exhibited when elected pro-Russian Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych fled the Ukraine for Moscow, was that of a mama bear defending its cub. The history of Crimea is decidedly pro-Russian, and Putin is happy at any opportunity to expand mother Russia’s influence and resources.

What is the Obama response so far? Impose sanctions on “individiuals and entities” responsible for Russia’s military takeover,authorized but not implemented travel bans and the freezing of assetssix F-15s in Lithuania, 12 F-16s and 300 troops in Poland, and a destroyer in the Black Sea; all that in response to Russia’s deployment of 30,000 troops.Ahem.

The ancient Chinese military genius Sun Tzu once said, regarding the employment of the military: “If it is not advantageous, do not act. If it is not attainable, do not employ troops. If it is not in danger, do not do battle.”

Cartoon.

Cartoon.

The Obama administration’s tough talk on Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine is not backed by virtually anything other than tough talk.

It would be profoundly unfair to law-abiding Russian citizens, many of whom have embraced democracy and capitalism quite successfully since 1991, to damage Russian Banks with western economic sanctions in an attempt to hurt Putin. And make no mistake, Obama’s current strategy is all about hurting Putin, his opponent, and with whom he is strikingly under matched.

Vladimir is playing chess while Barack is playing checkers. They might as well play tennis, where, presumably, the president may have a fighting chance because currently he is not merely outmatched; he is in another time zone, physically and figuratively.

While Obama was still asking who the heck Edward Snowden was, Putin was cutting deals with the American traitor. While Obama was in Washington watching Bob Costas’ eyes turn red in Sochi, Putin was back in Moscow negotiating an arms deal with the Egyptians. Check, check, and double-check! One more move and it’s going to be check mate!

At the risk of grossly oversimplifying this situation, imagine if you would, a game of Risk. Would you ever, even in your wildest imagination, GIVE BACK territory to your opponent while seriously trying to win the game? Of course not! Why then does Barack Hussein Obama think he can win the geopolitical game of risk he’s playing now after apologizing for us, having given away Iraq, promising to give away Afghanistan, balking at enforcing a “red line” in Syria, allowing four Americans to be slaughtered in Benghazi, removing tanks from Europe, and proposing budget cuts to the military?

CAMP PENDLETON, CA - AUGUST 07:  U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks during his visit at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base with troops and their families to thank them for their service on August 7, 2013 in Camp Pendleton, California. Obama announced today that he canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow amid tensions over National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and other issues. Credit: Getty Images

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks during his visit at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base with troops and their families to thank them for their service on August 7, 2013 in Camp Pendleton, California. Obama announced today that he canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow amid tensions over National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and other issues. Credit: Getty Images

 

Obama’s actions as Commander in Chief would be laughable if they didn’t make you cry! All the while, Putin is toying with his prey like a tiger with a mouse!

“Easy to criticize, harder to come up with a plan that will work,” you say? How about this: first, turn back the clock and elect Mitt Romney. Remember him, the guy who said during the election debates that our most formidable geopolitical foe was Russia? Yeah, that’s the guy. Remember how Obama mocked him?

“The 1980′s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back?”

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin warned about Russia as well and was completely trashed in the liberal media for it.

Second, it’s the Cold War all over again apparently, with Russia supporting Syria and basically everyone else that we are politically allergic to. Then there’s China, testing limits to their east with disputes over Taiwan; Japanese waters and islands.

Then of course there’s Iran, you know, the country we used to have sandwiched between Iraq and Afghanistan? A strong presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and the western pacific would send the message that expansionist ideas would be dealt with swiftly and decisively.

President Obama with Russian President Vladimir Putin

President Obama with Russian President Vladimir Putin

 

Without power projection platforms in countries near disputed lands and a serious presence on the seas, we can’t influence diddly squat. Obama has us in retreat in every possible capacity. The chess game is lost. Risk is now unwinnable. Tennis anyone?

And that brings us full circle.

Whatever anemic things Obama comes up with at this point (the Crimean government is holding a referendum on joining the Russian Federation later this month, will probably have adopted the Russian Ruble by then as well, and undoubtedly have already kissed their cousins, nieces and nephews in the Ukraine!), will be completely inconsequential.

The European Union does NOT have the stomach to make any meaningful retaliatory moves (certainly none militarily), so Russia is free to explore their options, which at this point appear to be UNLIMITED, courtesy of the man of the hour, Barack Hussein Obama.

I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and am a three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Follow me on Twitter @mjgranger1.