France’s recent interventions in Mali and Somalia underscore the accelerating ability of Al-Qaeda-in-the-Islamic-Mahgreb (AQIM) and its Africa-based allies to threaten the continent’s nation-states, as well as access to natural resources—oil, strategic minerals, and uranium—that are essential to the French, U.S., and other Western economies. The growing power and geographical reach of AQIM mirrors the growth of all components of Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups, save possibly the central component in Afghanistan-Pakistan. The bottom line here is that sixteen years after Al-Qaeda and its allies began their religious war, the United States and the West confront an Islamist enemy that is larger, better armed, smarter, and far more geographically dispersed than ever before.
Now, that paragraph merits a fuller and more data-supported explanation, but for now, let’s look at one of the men—John Brennan—who for nearly 15 years has ensured both that the above-described growth in the Islamists’ power has occurred, and that most Americans have no idea that a still-growing part of the Muslim world is at war with the United States…
-John Brennan also ran a highly compartmentalized program out of the White House in regard to weapons transfers, and Stevens would not have been trusted with that type of information. Stevens likely helped consolidate as many weapons as possible after the war to safeguard them, at which point Brennan exported them overseas to start another conflict.
-During the rebellion against Gaddafi and in the aftermath of his death, Libya and North Africa became a staging ground for a dizzying array of operations by SpecOps, paramilitary forces, and international private military contractors working for everyone from European nations to multibillion-dollar oil corporations.
-What we do know is that the British Special Air Service (SAS) landed in Libya at some point—probably the secretive intelligence gathering component of the SAS called ‘The Increment,’ which works alongside MI-6.
-Elite counter-terrorist operators from America’s Delta Force were deployed to Libya as ‘analysts,’ which allowed President Obama to declare that America did not have any boots on the ground but was simply providing air support for the rebels. The reality was that Delta Force had a small contingent instructing the rebels in the finer points of weapons and tactics.
-Behind closed doors, President Obama had given his counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, carte blanche to run operations in North Africa and the Middle East, provided he didn’t do anything that ended up becoming an exposé in The New York Times and embarrassing the administration. In 2012, a secret war across North Africa was well underway.
-With JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command), Brennan waged his own unilateral operations in North Africa outside of the traditional command structure. These Direct Action (DA) operations, unlike the traditional ISR missions mentioned above, were ‘off the books’ in the sense that they were not coordinated through the Pentagon or other governmental agencies, including the CIA. With Obama more than likely providing a rubber stamp, the chain of command went from Brennan to McRaven, who would then mobilize the men of ISA (Intelligence Support Activity), SEAL Team Six, or Delta Force to conduct these missions…
Btw, where’s the Israeli Lobby when ya really need them to block a nomination, eh…?
…The vulnerability of elites cuts across emerging markets and advanced economies, democracies and authoritarian states, public and private institutions, and a wide array of issues. This is the challenge: as their legitimacy gets called into question, political actors struggle to react to instability, crises and opportunities in the most effective manner. Whether it is the growing disparity of wealth, or the evolving flow of information, several factors are facilitating pushback against existing policies and institutions and making both governments and some private actors across the globe look increasingly fragile.
First, the ‘Occupy’ movement may have run out of steam, but the slogan “we are the 99%” has put an end to the people’s “peaceful coexistence with inequality.” While the richest have come out on top from the economic crisis, middle classes are experiencing reversals in their standards of living even in the developed world. In many developed and emerging countries, youth unemployment rates are
scandalously high. A ‘lost’ generation of young people feel they have no stake in the existing system. And this development is occurring in a world where inequality is visible on a daily basis, both within and between societies.
The lack of economic prospects has eroded people’s trust in, and
support for, their political leaders, whose actions are rarely understood, let alone approved. The result is a “legitimacy deficit” and a sense that we might nearly be better off without rulers. Leaders no longer have a story to rally their followers around. The few who do fare better than others. We’re seeing this trend across countries of vastly different stages of development.
Second, people are less willing to tolerate corruption, crime, cronyism and other forms of inappropriate behaviourby leaders. Most societies lack a clear moral compass in the form of religion, ideology or established values. The media are quick to fill this vacuum with instant moral outrage about the latest scandal—and the news cycle is short-sighted at the expense of longer-term problems that are more pressing…
Kerry had met in the past with Syrian President Bashar al- Assad in an effort to encourage an opening by the Syrian regime toward the West. Now, Kerry said, Assad has made “reprehensible” decisions and he predicted Assad is “not long for remaining” as Syria’s leader.
…“We are sowing the wind in Syria and we’re going to reap the whirlwind,” he said, referring to Islamic radical groups involved in the fighting there.
Kerry said relations with Russia have “slid backward a little bit in the last couple of years,” citing Russia’s halt to U.S. adoptions as one example. Still, he said Russia is cooperating on a number of issues such as Iran and nuclear arms reductions.
On China, Kerry highlighted the competition for resources. “China is all over Africa — I mean, all over Africa — and they’re buying up long-term contracts on minerals,” he said. “And there’re some places where we’re not in the game, folks.”
…In his opening remarks, Kerry urged lawmakers to address domestic economic issues such as the deficit, saying a strong economy undergirds strength overseas. Kerry said the U.S. is seeking, as President Barack Obama said in his inaugural address, to move beyond the decade of war.
“President Obama and every one of us here knows that American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone,” Kerry said. “We cannot allow the extraordinary good we do to save and change lives to be eclipsed entirely by the role we have had to play since September 11th, a role that was thrust upon us.”
American foreign policy is also defined by food security and energy security, humanitarian assistance, the fight against disease and the push for development “as much as it is by any single counterterrorism initiative,” he said.
…Israeli officials said Thursday that military action against Iran needed to stay on the table, as former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger warned of a crisis over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in the “very foreseeable future”.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the threat of military action was vital to efforts against Iran’s nuclear programme.
“There will be more attempts to try and negotiate, but there will always be in the horizon a military option, because if the Iranians think it’s only economic and political, they won’t pay attention,” Peres told global political and business leaders at the annual gathering in the Swiss ski resort.
Israel and Western powers accuse Iran of seeking to acquire a weapons capability under the guise of its nuclear energy programme but Iran denies the charge, saying its work is for peaceful purposes only…
…In a wide-ranging talk on foreign affairs, Kissinger said he expected the Iranian nuclear issue to soon come to a head.
“For 15 years, the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have declared that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, but it has been approaching,” he said.
“People who have advanced their view will have to come to a determination about how to react or about the consequences of non-reaction,” he said.
“I believe this point will be reached within a very foreseeable future.”
Kissinger said negotiations with Iran needed to be given “a real chance” and that “unilateral action by Israel would be a desperate last resort.”
He said he expected “Iran to be high on the agenda” of US President Barack Obama’s new administration, and said failure to deal with the question could lead to a spread of nuclear weapons in the region.
“That would be a turning point in human history,” Kissinger warned…
Honestly, folks, here’s some truly sober analysis of our failed FP…
…In his second inaugural, President Obama recalled this vision, reminding Americans that they are “heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war; who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends…We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully—not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.”
But now his words fall flat in much of the world. For his administration never understood that, to be effective, “engagement” had to mean more than simply reiterating longstanding U.S. demands while not just continuing to reject other parties’ interests and concerns, but acting even more assertively against them…
…The world is increasingly giving up on the proposition that the United States can act in any manner other than that of an imperial power—even as more and more important players in global affairs are coming to see it as an imperial power in decline. Obama’s second inaugural displayed no appreciation for this reality. And that does not augur well for any meaningful recovery of America’s international standing during Obama’s second term…
President Obama’s national security nominations are certainly noteworthy. But there is little here that is earth shattering. For the most part, the President sought individuals who will help him sustain the foreign policy of his first term in office, not radically alter it. Anyone looking for drama in these nominations will sooner or later be thoroughly disappointed.
…Hagel will be in the wrong job to drive a fundamental recasting of the Obama administration’s Iran policy:
“I would take the president’s word that he likes and trusts former Senator Hagel, got to know him in the Senate, likes and trusts his positions and his candor on a range of issues. But I think the calculus to go ahead, and in the way that they are going ahead is that Senator Hagel, for all of the courageous positions he’s taken—on Iran, on Israel, HAMAS, lots of issues—that he will assure his fellow senators that those are positions that he held as a senator and they really will not have very much to do with his position as Secretary of Defense. Those are quintessential foreign policy issues that will be carried out by the Secretary of State and the national security adviser…
Obama now has an all-white-male [national security] cabinet. The question is how long will his national security adviser stay, Tom Donilon. And there I would put a question whether Susan Rice will be back on the scene. And she will certainly constrain Hagel’s attempts—if he has any desire to make these attempts—to change policies…[The White House]thinks that Hagel is going to a good Secretary of Defense, and do quintessentially Secretary of Defense things—not foreign policy.”
…So one side feels a need to crow about a victory, while the other side needs to feel that it has not been kicked in the face. To square that emotional circle, American politicians will have to get most of their triumphalist fix from what has happened already—from getting a negotiation with Iran about curtailing its nuclear program under way at all. Members of Congress can proclaim today (and when they next run for re-election) that all those votes they cast in favor of all of those sanctions were an important part of getting Iran to the negotiating table. After saying that, they should pipe down, get out of the way, and let the negotiators strike a deal.
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