Peace and War: The Space Between

August 18, 2014

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President Obama’s commitment to reducing America’s reliance on the military instrument of power is well-known. It has been a constant theme of his presidency – from his first presidential campaign through his major speech on foreign policy at West Point earlier this year. It is therefore paradoxical that the administration’s foreign policy outlook and operational style have made use of the military instrument almost unavoidable. By failing to understand that the space between war and peace is not an empty one – but a landscape churning with political, economic, and security competitions that require constant attention – American foreign policy risks being reduced to a reactive and tactical emphasis on the military instrument by default.

Despite the President’s warnings at West Point that we must not “rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences,” we did exactly that in Libya – years after the mistakes and lessons of Iraq had become apparent. It is now accepted that the U.S.-led coalition that helped to overthrow the Libyan dictator had no substantive plans to consolidate political order following the use of military force. Some two years after that military action, the United States began to “consider” the “possibility” of establishing a military training mission for Libya’s fledgling security forces. In a recent New York Times interview, President Obama expressed regret about America’s failure to consider the requirements of stability. Libya remains a symbol of a one-off reliance on a narrow band of military power: the use of just one aspect of military power as a tactical instrument to target enemy forces remotely, in which military force is not connected to an operational plan for subsequent political consolidation.

The tactical mindset that dominates national security decision-making prioritizes military means over political ends and confuses activity (such as the bombing of enemy positions) with progress.   Because the use of military force is not connected to operational plans for subsequent political consolidation, the United States vacates the space between war and peace. And because they cannot match American military power directly, it is in this space — battlegrounds of perception, coercion, mass atrocity — that America’s enemies and adversaries prefer to operate.

In Iraq, the decision to withdraw all American troops reflected a narrow view of the utility of military forces. Military forces were seen as belonging to a separate phase of the war and therefore less relevant to diplomatic and political efforts to consolidate gains and exert influence to maintain the tenuous political accommodation among Iraq’s communities.   The Administration’s belief that the complete withdrawal of American troops would mark the “end of the war” reduced that conflict to a purely military one – not the intense political competition that it was in reality.   The complete withdrawal was equivalent to President Bush’s now infamous “mission accomplished” speech in 2003. The hope seemed to be that once American troops departed, fierce competitions would wither away or somehow sort themselves out through Iraq’s “democratic” political process, which was still in its most vulnerable infancy. This was a form of narcissism, by defining conflict purely on the basis of our participation, and naiveté, by not acknowledging that in the absence of armed conflict there would still be a competition for influence and power. In Iraq, our interests demanded continued engagement in the space between. We left it empty.

In Syria, at least as far back as 2006, when Bashar al-Assad called King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia a “half man,” Samantha Ravich, former Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Cheney, observed that Riyadh had sought to work with the United States and others to consider regime change in Syria.  The door was open to combine U.S. expertise with Saudi resources to empower anti-Assad opposition groups, thus undercutting not only the Syrian regime itself but also Iran’s regional power – by undercutting its proxy in Damascus.  However, little was done during the waning years of the Bush administration on that front, and the Obama administration did even less.  As a consequence, when the civil war broke out in 2011, the United States had few levers to pull to help arrive at the outcome we wanted. The opposition was left essentially on its own. Meanwhile, the Saudis went their own way. The result was a fractured Western-leaning opposition and an empowered jihadi movement.

In Libya the United States failed to undertake political engagement following the use of military force. In Syria, we eschewed the politics up front and watched our options dwindle to tactical military operations without a clear sense of how these actions are connected to strategic outcomes.

Outside of the Middle East, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the United States has been seen to be in diplomatic retreat for many years. As the perception of an immediate military threat abated in Europe, the United States had seemingly withdrawn from the diplomatic and political competition – the space between – in the region. We saw Europe as a success story, a land where cooperation rather than competition was the rule. The gradual eastward extension of the EU was seen as history marching, rather than political jostling among competitors (Russia in particular). When this competition heated up, first in Georgia, more recently in Armenia, and most tragically in Ukraine, we were latecomers, surprised at the violence and advocating a firmer posture than many of our allies. Our relative disinterest suddenly turned into prodding European allies to impose greater sanctions on Putin’s Russia. But in many European capitals, in particular those closer to Russia, there is great disappointment in this on-and-off posture: Washington is involved only when the competition is nearing or at a military stage, and pays less attention in the time and space between. According to Wess Mitchell of the Center for European Policy Analysis, numerous senior CEE officials have expressed disappointment with Washington’s diplomatic neglect of the region and tendency to avoid “run of the mill relationship management.” No wonder, then, that Poland’s foreign minister Radek Sikorski reportedly complained about the US-Polish relationship as being “not worthy of anything,” apparently expressing frustration at what seemed to be this policy of extremes by the United States.

Russian aggression against Ukraine highlights what many Russia-watchers for a long time have known: that Russia rarely separates the political realm from the security realm. As Russia expert Mark Galeotti has observed, Russia continues to pursue “non-linear war” and its operations in Crimea and now in eastern Ukraine continue to demonstrate that Moscow is conducting politically focused operations. Moscow has never ceased to compete. The end of the Cold War and the succeeding years of geopolitical retrenchment marked only a change in how that competition was waged. And the recognition by Moscow of its weakness relative to the United States and its allies simply meant that the area of competition would be more political and diplomatic than military. The United States, on the other hand, interpreted the end of arms races and clashing military plans as the end of competition. But we had only entered the space between.

Disengagement from the political landscape that engenders violence is most apparent in the counterterrorism sphere. Here, the administration’s policy has effectively embraced both the tactics and flaws of the Bush administration’s “war on terror.” By deliberately delinking “terror” from the aspirations and agendas that drive it, the current administration has, as Audrey Cronin has written, delinked the use of drones from a broader political strategy. While many experts parse and debate the differences among jihadi groups, focusing on their networks and differing tactics, it is important to emphasize that these groups are linked by an overarching common agenda:   a retreat from modernity and the imposition of extreme sharia-based societies.

This tactical mindset undergirds emerging policies such as “responsibility to protect,” a doctrine developed by Kofi Annan and endorsed by key current and former officials in this administration, including the current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power.   The doctrine places a moral obligation on states to protect their citizens from mass slaughter, assigns all governments the responsibility to protect their people from horrific crimes, and establishes that all nations have a stake in helping them meet that responsibility.

But absent an active operational approach to managing that space between peace and war, as we watch horrific events unfold within countries, we may be forced to choose between passivity or large scale intervention only after genocide seems inevitable.   Prevention is highly political. It would require the advancement of values that place a premium on human life. It would mean advocating for and supporting indigenous groups that recognize those values. Instead, the more prevalent view seems to be that expressed by Congressman Jim McGovern who recently warned that while ISIS was horrible, the United States was “heading down the path of choosing sides in an ancient religious and sectarian war” [emphasis mine]. To have meaning, doctrines like the “responsibility to protect” will require choices, up front.

Finally, this tactical mindset provides an explanation for the apparent failure to appreciate how to leverage military force for strategic ends. This view leads to an under-appreciation of its broader deterrent value and the role that military forces can play in shaping security environments and consolidating tactical gains to ensure progress toward policy goals.   Military forces – strong land forces especially – provide reassurance and tangible presence of American commitment.   One of the key insights of the recently released National Defense Panel report was to make the important point that powerful U.S. military capabilities can shape events and provide options that may, by their mere existence, deter others from taking actions that require a U.S. military response. They help to establish the conditions to allow U.S. diplomats and policymakers to engage in that space between peace and war.

The emphasis on short-term military tactics as opposed to the strategies that must undergird the use of force occurs on both sides of the political spectrum. Isolationists on the right are prey to the view that American power abroad equates purely with military power, and as such is too expensive and costly (in American lives) to project. Their version of power is far too narrow.   America is about more than its military power abroad. Although many on the right correctly highlight the importance of American economic power, few seem to embrace ideas about how to constructively shape and influence. While many Republicans in Congress are now advocating for strikes against ISIS, the key question will be whether they will support the consolidation and active diplomacy that will also be required to address the drivers of conflict.

The tragedy of America’s inability (or unwillingness) to develop the mindset and the mechanisms to compete in this “space between” means that we reduce our options and in the end, resort to the military instrument. Peace does not exist in a state of inertia. It must be actively and consistently maintained by engaging in the political competitions that are its constant feature.

 

Dr. Nadia Schadlow, who writes on defense and foreign policy matters, is a former member of the Defense Policy Board and a senior program officer at the Smith Richardson Foundation.

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17 thoughts on “Peace and War: The Space Between

  1. This is probably the most important and succinct critique of American national security decision-making:

    QUOTE: The tactical mindset that dominates national security decision-making prioritizes military means over political ends and confuses activity (such as the bombing of enemy positions) with progress. Because the use of military force is not connected to operational plans for subsequent political consolidation, the United States vacates the space between war and peace. And because they cannot match American military power directly, it is in this space — battlegrounds of perception, coercion, mass atrocity — that America’s enemies and adversaries prefer to operate. END QUOTE

    Thinking tactically is not limited to the military. We need to be able to achieve balance and coherency among ends, ways, and means. That is the art of “doing strategy.” This provides a good description why we need to think strategically vice tactically in national security decision making.

    QUOTE Finally, this tactical mindset provides an explanation for the apparent failure to appreciate how to leverage military force for strategic ends. This view leads to an under-appreciation of its broader deterrent value and the role that military forces can play in shaping security environments and consolidating tactical gains to ensure progress toward policy goals. Military forces – strong land forces especially – provide reassurance and tangible presence of American commitment. One of the key insights of the recently released National Defense Panel report was to make the important point that powerful U.S. military capabilities can shape events and provide options that may, by their mere existence, deter others from taking actions that require a U.S. military response. They help to establish the conditions to allow U.S. diplomats and policymakers to engage in that space between peace and war. END QUOTE

  2. Excellent article. Once again, this article highlights the consequences of a lack of a long-term, grand over-arching strategy for the United States. Our Country, and specifically our leaders seem incapable or unwilling to articulate a cogent and clear long-term geo-strategic strategy for our Nation that can last longer than the next election cycle. This inability to take on the necessary strategic fortitude to think pragmatically out to the next 50 or one hundred years results in a constant reactive and short-sighted decision process that lacks coherent structure. While I have heard other pundits say that in our fast-paced, globalized and interconnected world it is impossible to craft a “Grand Strategy” these days, I would argue that our current Pavlovian National Security strategy isn’t working much better. Without a unifying, long-term strategic outlook for our Country, the United States is going to continue to waste huge sums of blood and treasure on stop-gap responses that never reach resolution in areas like the Middle East and other perennial hot spots. More importantly, such a long-term strategy needs to be flexible and sustainable in order to survive the inevitable black swans and other “known unknowns” that our Country will face in the next one hundred years or so. Finally, our Grand Strategy must be clear and actively communicated and accepted by The People. Ultimately, it is our citizens, not the politicians or pundits, who are going to have to bear the costs of our strategic decisions, both good or bad. The tripod of National Security, Geo-strategic Economics, and Grand Strategy are linked concepts that symbiotically determine the course our Country will take in the next several generations; you cannot decouple them or focus more on one at the expense of the others and ever hope to achieve long-term success. Our leaders have to stop playing whack-a-mole with our National Strategic goals, hopping from one crisis to the next, with no focus or thought for the long-term ramifications of short-sighted, tactical decisions. All decisions, even non-decisions have consequences; we seem to forget this basic concept on a regular basis. I have yet to hear anyone express a long-term strategic concept for our Country–we seem destined to repeat our current schizophrenic, inconsistent and myopic National Security strategy that unnerves both our allies and potential adversaries and increases the uncertainty in an already unstable and violent world.

  3. I have no idea from the original article and the reply of Scott Sundt as to what:
    1. The author thinks the U.S. should do “in the space in between.”
    2. What Scott Sundt thinks “the grand strategy” would be. I waited with baited breath, but found nothing.
    Both authors owe us answers — otherwise, there’s nothing here.
    I have spent 52 years in Washington, both in the government and in a closely-related think-tank. The genius of American Administrations is to simply move out and do something — unfortunately, the Bush Administration “moving out” screwed up everything.

    1. Why is there a belief that identifying a problem requires offering a solution? That may be true when talking to your boss, but policy isn’t routine office business, even at the Pentagon. And if it is treated as such, then it is being run by amateurs.

      By way of analogy…if I live in a neighborhood plagued by potholes and then complain about the pothole issue not being prioritized, I don’t owe city council a solution at the same time. It doesn’t require a knowledge of asphalt pouring to know potholes need to be fixed and fixing them needs to be prioritized. Once you determine they need fixing, you turn to the engineers to evaluate the tactics…are you fixing them by filling? by repaving the whole road with a more durable mixture? building a new road in a location less prone to damage? setting a weight limit for the road traffic? Once those recommendations are made, a strategy needs to be decided upon. Are we going to solve the problem in such a way that it doesn’t repeat any time soon or are we going to address with a lower cost but less durable solution? Then you pic the tactical mix and then execute…..at no point was identifying potholes as problems hindered by the lack of a ready solution.

  4. have no idea from the original article and the reply of Scott Sundt as to what:
    1. The author thinks the U.S. should do “in the space in between.”
    2. What Scott Sundt thinks “the grand strategy” would be. I waited with baited breath, but found nothing.
    Both authors owe us answers — otherwise, there’s nothing here.
    I have spent 52 years in Washington, both in the government and in a closely-related think-tank. The genius of American Administrations is to simply move out and do something — unfortunately, the Bush Administration “moving out” screwed up everything.

  5. “The tactical mindset that dominates national security decision-making prioritizes military means over political ends and confuses activity (such as the bombing of enemy positions) with progress. Because the use of military force is not connected to operational plans for subsequent political consolidation, the United States vacates the space between war and peace…battlegrounds of perception, coercion, mass atrocity — that America’s enemies and adversaries prefer to operate…”

    I cannot disagree, but I would offer that something is amiss beyond the ability to think through strategic problem sets. There is no lack of policy and directive guidance about the shared responsbilities as well as the linkages between the military and Federal Civilian sectors. The strong implication of the article is that the military “mindset” is lacking because it is “tactical.” I would offer that the dynamic is not so much “strategic vs. tactical,” but rather policy vs strategy. I would be intersted in the author’s views on who she thinks makes “strategy” now. The NSC? The WH itself? And are those strategies built with the best military advice.

    I agree it is an excellent article. But the insights about who designs strategies for the application of force might be examined in ways to illuminate just where the military component of it, mindset aside, really resides.

    I would offer the mental agility and acuity of thinking is not much different between tactical, operational, or strategic, at least not in the ability to think through problesm. The major distinction, I think, betwen the tactical and strategic thinking is that for tactics to be valid, they must be demonstrable, and to a large extent, physical. That is, they can be replicated, and they hold a friendly force together in concept and in action. In a phrase, they are predictable. Without them, the friendly force is prone to confusion and defeat. Their focus is friendly action. By contrast, strategy is not at all concrete and predictable. Successful strategy is in the mind. It is conceptual and theoretical. If it is concrete and demonstrable, expect it to lose, for most enemies, in time, will figure it out. How policy makers and strategists work to capitalize on proven operaions and what strategic lessons they may hold is the art of policy making and strategic vision, something that I expect remains in the carriculum of all US War Colleges. Finally, there is an element in strategic thought that the excellent article evokes. It is not a good idea to learn strategy and the lessons of how which strategies worked, which failed in the past, after having taken the job as a strategist in time of either war or threats short of war.

  6. hgaffney makes a fair point in wanting to know “Where’s the Beef.” So at the risk of creating a galactic firestorm I will further the discussion a bit. In the broadest terms, a good Grand Strategy for the United States should be akin to the concept of Pax Americana, where global peace and prosperity is created, nurtured, supported and controlled by America. To put it in terms of an analogy–think of the world as one big garden and the US is the Global Gardener. We decide what gets planted, where it gets planted, when it gets planted, what gets fertilized, what is trimmed and nipped in the bud, what gets weeded out, and what gets turned into compost until something new is planted. As with all gardens, there is an order, a planned concept that benefits all of the plants while excluding and killing off the weeds and undesirable elements that can and do corrupt a garden if left untended. Too harsh? Before we all get up on our high self-righteous horses and raise our voices in unison that such pragmatic realism is unbecoming of our Nation, ask ourselves these questions: If not us, who? Do you want to live in a Chinese garden? A Russian garden? A European garden? A BRIC garden (pun intended)? Most of these players on the stage have all been empires in their own right, and none of them were able to get it right–why would we ever entrust the security of our Nation to anyone else, especially if we had the means of our own manifest destiny? And if promoting a unipolar solution is unpalatable, would a more “natural selection” garden approach meet our National interests and security needs? I think not because we all know in the world of gardens, if you let the weeds multiply the garden gets overrun in no time and the whole garden goes to waste. And let’s not even consider “collective” gardening–that system has never worked out either. But having promoted a grand idea of a robust Pax Americana, is such a strategy even possible? We all know that strategy without aligned resources is just a bunch of words, so embarking on a course of Pax Americana must be understood as a huge, long-term, enduring investment in our future prosperity and security, regardless of what political winds are blowing at any particular time. When it comes right down to it, what is more important than the survival of the state? As Machiavellian as it is, this is the crux of the issue, the fundamental driver for all nations. large and small. But what does this mean to our “humanity” our sense of right and wrong and moral high ground? Well, just as I firmly believe there are no atheists in foxholes, in our heart of hearts, while we feel for the plight of the “bottom billion”, we aren’t about to risk the security and survival of our Nation for them if we are truly honest with ourselves. Pax Americana has its costs, and if not properly administered by an enlightened leadership, will fail if allowed to be derailed by fundamentalist dogma, fear, and greed. But I think it is a worthy Grand Strategy to strive for, and worthy of a great Nation like ours.

  7. I do have a question for hgaffney however: Do you think the enduring American strategy of “Do Something” or its current corollary “But don’t do something stupid” is a viable strategy for the future of our Nation? Should we adopt a “Do Nothing” strategy that will guarantee our future prosperity? Or what about a “Waiting for Godot” national strategy–would that work any better? If we believe that there is no Grand Strategy, just reactions to the wolf closest to the sled, how can we, as a great nation, expect anyone else to have any confidence in our words or actions? How can anyone plan adequately for their future with any semblance of hope and expectation?

  8. Very good article.

    1. The British used to use ‘gunboat diplomacy’ to great effect by projecting what they could do, they would shape a solution to a geopolitical problem from a position of strength, so they didn’t have to resort to force. This art seems to have been lost by the British with their poor performances and poor outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another lost art is that we used to be good at setting up good administrative systems in countries we occupied.

    2. Russia can’t compete with the US or Europe when it comes to conventional weapons. By the US saying they have no strategic interests in Ukraine and will only supply non-lethal aid, this has given Putin a free hand to up the military stakes in his war there as he so wishes for short term gains against possible long term issues from sanctions. Now imagine if the US had said any continued support or escalation by Russia for their regular and irregular forces in Ukraine will result in us fully supporting the Ukrainian armed forces with any military equipment they need. The more Russia escalates, the more we will support Ukraine through military aid. This would then be a very different situation for Putin and made escalation much more of an expensive zero sum game for this war and would probably lead to a very different outcome.

    US foreign policy seems to currently be very reactionary rather than preventative. Instead of fitting a metaphorical ‘sprinkler system to the building’, the president turns up to see smouldering ruins and asks the watching crowd ‘did anybody think to call the fire department?’

  9. I was more captivated by the eloquent writing than by the idea of a flexible engagement strategy for the “space in between.”

    The bottom line is that Lybia was a Nato mission in which the US was merely leading from behind. In fact, the Europeans have failed to engage Tripoli, both in economic and political terms, to bring about a stable post-revolutionary order at its continental doorstep.

    In the Ukraine, Europe also dropped the ball by extending itself East without taking Russian concerns seriously. For the EU, economic integration and cooperation were always seen as positive instruments to faciliate a win-win situation within the realm of geopolitics. That this backfired, when Brussels infringed upon the Russian security sphere, should not have surprised anyone familiar with European politics. But to blame Washington for the current mess in the Ukraine seems rather unfair, given that Europe is the primary actor without a functioning foreign and security policy.

    In Syria howeverm, no one had any idea what to do. Support the moderate jihadist movements? Support al-Assad? Or rely on a weak exile opposition? There were simply no feasible parameters to create a long term strategy that could have stabilized Damascus without picking the “wrong” side.

    Meanwhile in Baghdad and Kabul, the US invested in state building, which despite the shortcomings of late, is indeed a success story. Both countries are young democracies whom we cannot expect to mirror the safety, econmic health, or political prudence of countries in Europe or Northern America. Young democracies are inherently fragile and need to be nurished, but America cannot do it alone. Someone has to step up its game, preferably Europe.

    To summarize: In the absence of a peer competitor, there cannot be a US grand strategy to engage every crisis on a global scale. Washington has to pick and chose where it wants to engage politically, militarily, and econmically … and for the time being it has chosen East Asia. Is this a wise choice, well, we dont know, but it is a choice the countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, have to live with.

    1. Hi Stefan,

      You say
      “In the Ukraine, Europe also dropped the ball by extending itself East without taking Russian concerns seriously. For the EU, economic integration and cooperation were always seen as positive instruments to faciliate a win-win situation within the realm of geopolitics. That this backfired, when Brussels infringed upon the Russian security sphere, should not have surprised anyone familiar with European politics. ”

      This is absolutely correct but it is rather bizarre that while many lay observers were able to predict the likely outcome of the pursuit of an Association Agreement (given Ukraine’s strategic position on the Black Sea on which Russia depends for both trade and security) the Eurocrats appear to have been taken by surprise. That they continued to push the approach even after the secession of Crimea will, I think, be a significant puzzle for future historians. The only explanation that I can see is that the policy is driven by politicians from the ex-Warsaw Pact countries who believe that their new status as NATO members enables them to provoke Moscow with impunity. Sadly for their citizens – particularly those in the agricultural sector – they are now suffering as a result of sanctions which, it seems to me, were carefully designed to hit them hardest.

      The NATO summit in Wales at the end of the month will no doubt face demands from Radek Sikorski – among others – for a strengthening of NATO forces in the Baltic states and Poland. Such a policy would further sour relations with Russia and interfere with trade and economic development.

      We are on a slippery slope now which could result in a return to the past stupidities of the Cold War. The European economy is fragile and the Ukrainian economy – already weak – faces a 6 percent contraction this year as a result of the war. Workable trade relations with Russia are vital if we are all to dig ourselves out of this mess. Let us hope that reason will prevail at the summit and that the ministers from the Poland and the Baltics can be prevailed on to focus their attentions on the severe domestic problems that they all face rather than beating the drums of war.

      1. One minor comment in this engaging discussion. Let’s not use the term “secession” when describing Crimea. “Annexation” yes, but Crimea did not break away from Kiev of it’s own doing. This seems like a minor thing, but it is demonstrative of the effectiveness of Moscow’s narrative shaping. Just as the Eastern Ukrainian “separatists” didn’t exist before the GRU cadre stood them up, and as Georgia didn’t start the 2008 war by firing on Russian troops (in Georgia), a pro-Moscow cigarette smuggler didn’t go from 3% of the seats in the Crimean Parliament to Prime Minister without the deliberate application of Russian forces. An unfortunate aspect of our struggles in “the space between” is that our efforts at messaging are also tactical, and typically in reaction to Moscow’s initiative. Without a strategy that shapes ongoing political and potential military engagement, there is also no guiding narrative that frames our national position for the world audience.

  10. America has a president that doesn’t want to be active in foreign policy. Indeed, it is his opinion that American activism is the root of most international evils — pretty much across the board.

    We live in a time when the entire planet is addicted to American leadership.

    So rather than get slick with a catch phrase…

    Just understand that the World has abandonment issues.

    Further, NATO is entirely dependent upon America.

    Barry’s obvious disinterest — even disdain — has set the wolf among the sheep — retreading all of the dynamics of the Great Depression along the western edges of Slavic culture.

    In the longer run, Putin is taking the Russian economy straight off the cliff.

    He’s permitted Moscow to echo Londonistan, Paristan, and Brusselstan. Across all of White Europe the aggrieved Muslim is allowed entry.

    And Putin is enabling Tehran to join the atomic club.

    Strategic gaffs of this magnitude make the current dust-ups inconsequential.

    Suicide Muslims + atomics = no notice detonations right at the heart of society.

    Thus, our attention is focused on the urgent — instead of the important.

    Muslims must be excluded so long as jihad is running wild.

    Muslims must not be weaponry enabled as long as jihad is running wild.

    The crisis of the Three Conjectures is being accelerated by the malign leaderships of Vladimir, Barry, and the Europeans.

    &&&

    As for the proximate conflict: Putin’s freaking out because Ukraine was bringing in Western drillers practiced in the art of fracking. THAT’S what’s new policy.

    His own intelligence crew has informed him that Ukraine could not only stop being a customer — it could displace him as a supplier. All of the widely disseminated natural gas estimates for Ukraine had been sourced from RUSSIAN drillers, Russian geologists.

    Worse, for more than half a century, Moscow has known that a thin strata of crude oil lies across almost all of European Russia, Ukraine and Belorussia. When Kiev invited American wildcat frackers to drill west of Kiev, they’d punched Putin’s button.

    Putin is moving west because he HAS to save his cash engine.

    He’s also not so happy with seeing Qatar hook up with ISIS and Turkey. Qatar could easily replace ALL of Russia’s gas exports, too.

    Without oil and gas exports, Moscow implodes.

    Space tickets can’t carry the freight.

  11. Obama’s decision to vacate the space between war and peace was not one that he made simply because he thought it was best. He made that decision because he had no alternative given that he wanted to cut military spending and shift the funding to domestic programs. In effect, he bet the farm that isolationism (or as he calls it, “Leading from Behind”) would work, and free up that money.