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Is Trump embracing aggressive withdrawal?
#41
Mike,

Quote: This has been my observation, Russia is mostly assisting Assad.  That means targeting regime opponents be they ISIS or others (mostly others).  That is, Russia does not perceive a threat from ISIS, they only are concerned with threats to their allies/clients.

This is largely consistent with your statement "cooperating with the US against ISIS is something the Russians have been asking about for a while, because it effectively means that the US is helping them eliminate threats to their clients/allies in the Middle East versus trying to topple them".

I am glad that you agree that my statements are internally consistent.

Quote:Since Russia, which has a large Muslim population, is not concerned with ISIS per se, shouldn't they wonder why the US says that it is?  Given the lack of "skin in the game" in the Mideast and that Trump is a serial liar, might not Putin decide the less it has to do materially with the US, the better? 

It is best in these circumstances to constrain the level of speculation involved.

1.) Russia IS concerned about ISIS.  As you pointed out, they have a fairly large Muslim population, some of them disaffected and vulnerable to further radicalization.  There is concern about young Chechens fighting with ISIS, and possibly coming back home to apply what they've learned.  It is better to fight them in Syria than back home.  They simply have more pressing concerns, vis making sure their client state doesn't topple first.

2.) The US is already bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and has expressed interest in continuing to do so.  Since they are already there, why not work with them, particularly if the US is bombing one group and Russia in turn can bomb others.  At the very least, a degree of cooperation would allow for "deconfliction" of their separate missions.

3.) They already reached a tentative agreement to cooperate in September of last year, even if it had its issues (US bombing of Syrian troops, the aid convoy attack in Aleppo, etc.)

There is ample evidence to suggest it is at least a possibility, with an overlap in interests between the two.
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#42
(02-10-2017, 12:57 PM)Mikebert Wrote:
(02-08-2017, 05:18 PM)SomeGuy Wrote: I think you are depending on a thesis of authoritarian states as being inherently rational (in contrast to democracies) that I don't feel is sound.

The USSR and Mao's China had nukes, and they still fought border conflicts and had many divisions of troops on their respective borders.

Note that I never posited as all-out war as certain, only that in the absence of outside pressures their relation is unlikely to be one of perfect amity the way you keep proposing.

I did not propose perfect amity. I challenged your idea that Russia would prefer American hegemony to Chinese hegemony.

Just a quick sidebar.  Russia has, and Russians as individuals have, a an innate insecurity about their place in the world.  Russians have always thought that Europe looked down on Russia as a somewhat less acceptable member of the continent, and, over the centuries, they've internalized a lot of that.  The Chinese have been similarly dismissive in the East.  I agree that they jealously covet their position as a power, but they may be less excised about a distant hegemon than one of their border.  I'm not saying its rational.
Intelligence is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom, but they all play well together.
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#43
(02-10-2017, 06:57 PM)SomeGuy Wrote: Mike,

Quote: This has been my observation, Russia is mostly assisting Assad.  That means targeting regime opponents be they ISIS or others (mostly others).  That is, Russia does not perceive a threat from ISIS, they only are concerned with threats to their allies/clients.

This is largely consistent with your statement "cooperating with the US against ISIS is something the Russians have been asking about for a while, because it effectively means that the US is helping them eliminate threats to their clients/allies in the Middle East versus trying to topple them".

I am glad that you agree that my statements are internally consistent.

Quote:Since Russia, which has a large Muslim population, is not concerned with ISIS per se, shouldn't they wonder why the US says that it is?  Given the lack of "skin in the game" in the Mideast and that Trump is a serial liar, might not Putin decide the less it has to do materially with the US, the better? 

It is best in these circumstances to constrain the level of speculation involved.

1.) Russia IS concerned about ISIS.  As you pointed out, they have a fairly large Muslim population, some of them disaffected and vulnerable to further radicalization.  There is concern about young Chechens fighting with ISIS, and possibly coming back home to apply what they've learned.  It is better to fight them in Syria than back home.  They simply have more pressing concerns, vis making sure their client state doesn't topple first.

2.) The US is already bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and has expressed interest in continuing to do so.  Since they are already there, why not work with them, particularly if the US is bombing one group and Russia in turn can bomb others.  At the very least, a degree of cooperation would allow for "deconfliction" of their separate missions.

3.) They already reached a tentative agreement to cooperate in September of last year, even if it had its issues (US bombing of Syrian troops, the aid convoy attack in Aleppo, etc.)

There is ample evidence to suggest it is at least a possibility, with an overlap in interests between the two.
Except for the fact that the Americans are oppsed to Assad, while the Russians support him. 

The fact is the political culture responsible for Bremer (on the GOP side)  and Libya (on the Democratic side) is deeply entrenched.  Trump is one man.  He has no party, no movement of his own.  He has had to borrow an existing party and make alliances with people like Bannon who do have a following.  Even with the power of the Presidency, there is little he can do that isn't supported by either the party or his allies.  So he can easily cut taxes and benefits.  He can deregulate Wall Street.  And he can take a hard line against immigrants.  He will find it next to impossible to do any of the progressive things he's talked about like insuring everyone, negotiating lower drug prices, bringing back jobs,  etc., because those willing to work with him strongly oppose these things.  This same dynamic will be at work in foreign policy.

Putin may think it obvious that Assad is the only guy who can successful occupy the lands recovered from ISIS and the other insurgents.  Trump may agree with him, but where's his support?
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#44
(02-11-2017, 09:46 AM)David Horn Wrote:
(02-10-2017, 12:57 PM)Mikebert Wrote:
(02-08-2017, 05:18 PM)SomeGuy Wrote: I think you are depending on a thesis of authoritarian states as being inherently rational (in contrast to democracies) that I don't feel is sound.

The USSR and Mao's China had nukes, and they still fought border conflicts and had many divisions of troops on their respective borders.

Note that I never posited as all-out war as certain, only that in the absence of outside pressures their relation is unlikely to be one of perfect amity the way you keep proposing.

I did not propose perfect amity. I challenged your idea that Russia would prefer American hegemony to Chinese hegemony.

Just a quick sidebar.  Russia has, and Russians as individuals have, a an innate insecurity about their place in the world.  Russians have always thought that Europe looked down on Russia as a somewhat less acceptable member of the continent, and, over the centuries, they've internalized a lot of that.  The Chinese have been similarly dismissive in the East.  I agree that they jealously covet their position as a power, but they may be less excised about a distant hegemon than one of their border.  I'm not saying its rational.

When Jordan and I are talking about hegemony, we are using the word to mean world leadership in the Modelski and Thompson cycle.  They deliberately do not use the word hegemon because of its connotation as the most powerful country. 

Portugal was the first world leader.  Portugal was nowhere close to being the strongest power, both Spain and France were stronger. Portugal was the world leader because she pioneered new economic sectors that allowed her to build the first world-spanning commercial empire. The next leader was the Netherlands.  Again it was not the strongest power, but it pioneered economic sectors which made it the (financially) richest power. They acquired much of Portugal's empire and added to it.  Next was Britain, who was leader for two cycles.  For the first cycle she also was not the strongest power.  But she pioneered new economic sectors gave her sufficient financial clout to repeatedly defeat the physically stronger France in a series of wars.  For the next cycle, she pioneered the industrial revolution, which allowed her to become the strongest power--an actual hegemon. The next country to industrialize after Britain was the US, which did it on a continental scale making her the strongest nation and then the world leader/hegemon.  Only for the last two cycles have the world leaders been hegemonic.  Assuming China become the next world leader she will be adjacent to a land-based great power like Portugal and the Netherlands were.  Although these leaders were expansionary powers located on the continent, neither chose to use the wealth from their overseas enterprises to start continental wars. Spain did so choose and ended up being destroyed as a power--a lesson for future would-be hegemons. 

My argument with Jordan is I see no reason for China to act as Spain did, and start exhausting wars in their interior, when there is an overseas empire waiting to be occupied as the old leader declines. As for the Russians, unlike Portugal and the Netherlands, China will be far stronger than they so there is no percentage in provoking a fight they can't win.  Better to expand in the other direction.
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#45
Quote:My argument with Jordan is I see no reason for China to act as Spain did, and start exhausting wars in their interior, when there is an overseas empire waiting to be occupied as the old leader declines. As for the Russians, unlike Portugal and the Netherlands, China will be far stronger than they so there is no percentage in provoking a fight they can't win.  Better to expand in the other direction.

My contention is that I think there are limits on the extent to which China can become a fully maritime power, as opposed to a more hybrid power like France or Spain.  They're not an island, nor are they surrounded by political dwarfs like the US.  They're always going to have to balance their maritime interests with their position on the continent.  Large, autocratic land empires do not make good neighbors, and there is ample cause for competition and maneuver there between them.  Likely a cold war, rather than a hot one, at least at first, but those tensions will be there.
*sigh*
Looking at the news, talking to people in RL, and reading some of the posts here from people who should really know better, I am getting worried that the 4T start date may be 2008, not because of the FC, but the Russo-Georgian war.  The level of hysteria over Russia I have been watching over the last 2 years or so is bloody ridiculous.  Trump appears to be the only goddamn brake on that in sight, which is not a comforting thought.
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#46
(02-21-2017, 01:22 PM)SomeGuy Wrote:
Quote:My argument with Jordan is I see no reason for China to act as Spain did, and start exhausting wars in their interior, when there is an overseas empire waiting to be occupied as the old leader declines. As for the Russians, unlike Portugal and the Netherlands, China will be far stronger than they so there is no percentage in provoking a fight they can't win.  Better to expand in the other direction.

My contention is that I think there are limits on the extent to which China can become a fully maritime power, as opposed to a more hybrid power like France or Spain.  They're not an island, nor are they surrounded by political dwarfs like the US.  They're always going to have to balance their maritime interests with their position on the continent.  Large, autocratic land empires do not make good neighbors, and there is ample cause for competition and maneuver there between them.  Likely a cold war, rather than a hot one, at least at first, but those tensions will be there.

Thus why the Dutch example Mikebert brings up might be the best one.

However, China has always been an inward looking power, not an outward looking one.  They've never had sufficient sustained interest to maintain overseas colonies.  There might be minor border clashes with Russia or on the East and South China Seas, but the risk is accidental escalation, not some expansionary conspiracy.

Quote:*sigh*

Looking at the news, talking to people in RL, and reading some of the posts here from people who should really know better, I am getting worried that the 4T start date may be 2008, not because of the FC, but the Russo-Georgian war.  The level of hysteria over Russia I have been watching over the last 2 years or so is bloody ridiculous.  Trump appears to be the only goddamn brake on that in sight, which is not a comforting thought.

The Russo-Georgian war marked the beginning of actual military adventurism on the part of Russia.  That's something to be concerned about.  You have to admit, there are parallels between Crimea and South Ossetia and East Ukraine on the one hand, and the Ruhr, the Sudeten, and Austria on the other.

Thus far, the US and NATO have been holding this adventurism somewhat in check.  There needs to be a balance, though.  If Europe were to go into full appeasement mode, we might see the rest of Georgia and Ukraine occupied, and then the Baltics and more.  At that point one could easily see Putin's domestic popularity becoming dependent on further adventurism.  And you know what resulted the last time that happened.

That's not hysteria, that's realism.  Now, there has been some hysteria since the election started, but that's just motivated by a desire on the left to attack Trump using any tool they have.  That hysteria is tied to being out of political power, so it won't translate to policy.  The Democrats are not going to nominate someone in 2020 on the basis that he advocates war with Russia.

Thus far, the Trump administration has been doing an excellent job.  The guy who supported giving all of Ukraine to Russia was kicked out, but there has only been lip service on return of Crimea, without actual action.  We've inserted ourselves back into the process on ISIS by proposing concessions to NATO ally Turkey in return for cooperation with Russia on the rest of Syria, and gaining valuable experience in balance of power politics in the process.  This is a big improvement over the Obama "speak loudly, and flail about randomly with a twig" strategy.
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#47
(02-25-2017, 05:59 AM)Warren Dew Wrote:
(02-21-2017, 01:22 PM)SomeGuy Wrote:
Quote:My argument with Jordan is I see no reason for China to act as Spain did, and start exhausting wars in their interior, when there is an overseas empire waiting to be occupied as the old leader declines. As for the Russians, unlike Portugal and the Netherlands, China will be far stronger than they so there is no percentage in provoking a fight they can't win.  Better to expand in the other direction.

My contention is that I think there are limits on the extent to which China can become a fully maritime power, as opposed to a more hybrid power like France or Spain.  They're not an island, nor are they surrounded by political dwarfs like the US.  They're always going to have to balance their maritime interests with their position on the continent.  Large, autocratic land empires do not make good neighbors, and there is ample cause for competition and maneuver there between them.  Likely a cold war, rather than a hot one, at least at first, but those tensions will be there.

Thus why the Dutch example Mikebert brings up might be the best one.

However, China has always been an inward looking power, not an outward looking one.  They've never had sufficient sustained interest to maintain overseas colonies.  There might be minor border clashes with Russia or on the East and South China Seas, but the risk is accidental escalation, not some expansionary conspiracy.

Quote:*sigh*

Looking at the news, talking to people in RL, and reading some of the posts here from people who should really know better, I am getting worried that the 4T start date may be 2008, not because of the FC, but the Russo-Georgian war.  The level of hysteria over Russia I have been watching over the last 2 years or so is bloody ridiculous.  Trump appears to be the only goddamn brake on that in sight, which is not a comforting thought.

The Russo-Georgian war marked the beginning of actual military adventurism on the part of Russia.  That's something to be concerned about.  You have to admit, there are parallels between Crimea and South Ossetia and East Ukraine on the one hand, and the Ruhr, the Sudeten, and Austria on the other.

Thus far, the US and NATO have been holding this adventurism somewhat in check.  There needs to be a balance, though.  If Europe were to go into full appeasement mode, we might see the rest of Georgia and Ukraine occupied, and then the Baltics and more.  At that point one could easily see Putin's domestic popularity becoming dependent on further adventurism.  And you know what resulted the last time that happened.

That's not hysteria, that's realism.  Now, there has been some hysteria since the election started, but that's just motivated by a desire on the left to attack Trump using any tool they have.  That hysteria is tied to being out of political power, so it won't translate to policy.  The Democrats are not going to nominate someone in 2020 on the basis that he advocates war with Russia.

Thus far, the Trump administration has been doing an excellent job.  The guy who supported giving all of Ukraine to Russia was kicked out, but there has only been lip service on return of Crimea, without actual action.  We've inserted ourselves back into the process on ISIS by proposing concessions to NATO ally Turkey in return for cooperation with Russia on the rest of Syria, and gaining valuable experience in balance of power politics in the process.  This is a big improvement over the Obama "speak loudly, and flail about randomly with a twig" strategy.


Hmmm....    hahahahahahhahaahhaahah Big Grin  I'm wide awake and still going.,..   So, man let's get to brass tacks, OK?

We're both "Jonsers", right?

Let us consecrate the breaking of eggs to make omlets.

1. Radical Islam is the existential threat, OK ?

2. That means that the chose between Russia and crackots is right, which is what I , looking at all the shit going down.  That's one of my "homelands" , along with Scotland, Germany [may Merckel burn in hell] , Native American, [ Koryacks] , and Sweden. Random call to Jonsers...   Let us consecrate the upcoming gateway through history, to the cause of :

1. A fair deal for all working Americans where work is rewarded and rent seeking is discouraged, so as to renew the American Dream for our descendants.
2. Future investments in labor, capital, and effort are consecrated to generations of Americans yet born.
3. Secure the homeland from threats foreign and domestic.
4. Sacrifice now and have an equal opportunity of all, regardless of ideology, race, creed, and colr , or a mix thereisn.
5. The gateway of history is nigh. Are you to march or just stand by?
---Value Added Cool
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#48
Rag, I think I could understand your post better if I knew what "Jonser" and "crackot" meant.
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#49
(02-21-2017, 01:22 PM)SomeGuy Wrote: My contention is that I think there are limits on the extent to which China can become a fully maritime power, as opposed to a more hybrid power like France or Spain.  They're not an island, nor are they surrounded by political dwarfs like the US.  They're always going to have to balance their maritime interests with their position on the continent.  Large, autocratic land empires do not make good neighbors, and there is ample cause for competition and maneuver there between them.  Likely a cold war, rather than a hot one, at least at first, but those tensions will be there.

This makes sense. Where I am coming form is based on the notion the next Macrodecision phase will be settled mid-century-about one typical cycle length after 1945.  By then China could have twice the GDP as the US and twice the military power.  Thus it would be able to simultaneously deploy a land military superiority wrt to Russia AND a sea military superior wrt to the US without breaking a sweat.  A no-longer hegemonic America will still be dominant in its own hemisphere because of logistical advantages.  This still leaves large regions of the globe as China's sphere of interest. 

I still see the current issues not as a precursor to a Global War, but rather to a Supplementary War phase.  China and Russia are really trying to "round off the borders of their empire" as did Russia in WW II, Prussia in the mid-19th century, and Britain in the Seven Years War.
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#50
Quote:Thus why the Dutch example Mikebert brings up might be the best one.

However, China has always been an inward looking power, not an outward looking one.  They've never had sufficient sustained interest to maintain overseas colonies.  There might be minor border clashes with Russia or on the East and South China Seas, but the risk is accidental escalation, not some expansionary conspiracy.


Emphasis mine.  The first part does not match with the second two.  How is a small, outward-looking, maritime power with overseas colony "the best" model for a large, inward-focused continental power with little history of external colonization?  Is China surrounded by larger, more powerful neighbors?  In fear of being overrun by the same?  Do they have a history of overseas colonies, or expanding their influence along their borders?

Quote:The Russo-Georgian war marked the beginning of actual military adventurism on the part of Russia.  That's something to be concerned about.

Really?  Did the Russians seize Tbilisi while I wasn't looking?  Pretty sure even the EU reported that hostilities began in earnest with the Georgian army invading Tskhinvali.  Why is the Georgian separation from the USSR legitimate, but not the South Ossetian and Abkazian separation from Georgia?  Has Putin annexed those countries?

Are we really going to try to lecture people on "military adventurism" in the 21st century?  Not sure we should be throwing stones while living in this nice glass house we've been building.

Quote:You have to admit, there are parallels between Crimea and South Ossetia and East Ukraine on the one hand, and the Ruhr, the Sudeten, and Austria on the other.

I don't have to admit anything of the sort.  Fatuous comparisons to 1938 have been made every couple of years since the end of the war.  As I have commented previously, for some people, it's always 1938 somewhere.

Quote:Thus far, the US and NATO have been holding this adventurism somewhat in check.  There needs to be a balance, though.  If Europe were to go into full appeasement mode, we might see the rest of Georgia and Ukraine occupied, and then the Baltics and more.  At that point one could easily see Putin's domestic popularity becoming dependent on further adventurism.  And you know what resulted the last time that happened.

Yup, HITLER HITLER HITLER HITLER!  Why?  Because HITLER! Rolleyes

What exactly has prevented Putin from annexing Georgia?  They have no security guarantee from the US or NATO (but I repeat myself), no means of militarily defeating the Russian Army.  Hitler had completely annexed several neighboring countries of some size and launched a bid for hegemony within, what, 6 years of attaining power?  Putin has been in charge for 17 years and he has annexed one region that had historically been part of Russia and tried to join it again in the early 90s, and propped up a handful of microstates along its borders.  He hasn't even annexed Belarus, which at one point was amenable to the idea (Lukashenko liked the idea of a bigger stage).  Not really the stuff of which grand imperial bids are made.

As for the EU, they collectively have several times the population, wealth, and military spending of the Russian Federation.  They are more than capable of defending themselves if they truly wanted to.  And if they don't?  If Putin seizes territory in the Ukraine and Georgia which genuinely doesn't want to be part of Russia, they will have an insurgency to deal with, with all the losses in blood, treasure, and political capital that would entail.  If they really want those problems they are welcome to them, I don't see how that impedes American interests at all.

Quote:That's not hysteria, that's realism.  

It sounds more like the National Review talking to me, and to those people "realism" is an epithet more than a possible.  True realism entails taking a hard look at the US' actual interests, and the means it has available to attain them.  I don't think that picking a fight with a small, weaker nuclear-armed power over inconsequential scraps of land really qualifies.

Quote:Now, there has been some hysteria since the election started, but that's just motivated by a desire on the left to attack Trump using any tool they have.  That hysteria is tied to being out of political power, so it won't translate to policy.  The Democrats are not going to nominate someone in 2020 on the basis that he advocates war with Russia.

Yeah, those people are scum.  Although, you know, they nominated somebody in 2016 who seemed really enthusiastic about war with Russia.  It's not unreasonable to assume that the 2020 candidate might do the same.

Quote:Thus far, the Trump administration has been doing an excellent job.  The guy who supported giving all of Ukraine to Russia was kicked out, but there has only been lip service on return of Crimea, without actual action.  We've inserted ourselves back into the process on ISIS by proposing concessions to NATO ally Turkey in return for cooperation with Russia on the rest of Syria, and gaining valuable experience in balance of power politics in the process.  This is a big improvement over the Obama "speak loudly, and flail about randomly with a twig" strategy.

I voted for him, and thus far I am reasonable pleased with the result.  McMaster is a huge improvement over Flynn, even if I find the circumstances of the latter's ouster a little questionable.
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#51
(02-25-2017, 09:10 AM)Warren Dew Wrote: Rag, I think I could understand your post better if I knew what "Jonser" and "crackot" meant.

I don't want to put words in somebody else's mouth, but I think in his excitement he simply misspelled "Joneser" (a late '50s-early '60s cohort) and "crackpot" (of which we have many here and in the media).
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#52
Quote:This makes sense. Where I am coming form is based on the notion the next Macrodecision phase will be settled mid-century-about one typical cycle length after 1945.  By then China could have twice the GDP as the US and twice the military power.  Thus it would be able to simultaneously deploy a land military superiority wrt to Russia AND a sea military superior wrt to the US without breaking a sweat.  A no-longer hegemonic America will still be dominant in its own hemisphere because of logistical advantages.  This still leaves large regions of the globe as China's sphere of interest. 

I still see the current issues not as a precursor to a Global War, but rather to a Supplementary War phase.  China and Russia are really trying to "round off the borders of their empire" as did Russia in WW II, Prussia in the mid-19th century, and Britain in the Seven Years War.

I agree with you.  I am simply trying to point out that this does not preclude the coming climax of this 4T being the opening act.  Look at the last macrodecision phase, 2 total wars spaced roughly 20 years apart, with the first one setting the conditions for the second.  Look at the one before that, which included both the Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic ones, with again the second part inextricable from the first.  We can go back further still, with the Glorious Revolution enabled by Louis XIV's invasion of the Palatinate in 1688, which then precipitated the 9 years War, and brief respite, and then another conflict between the same combatants over the Spanish Succession.

A conclusion of the macrodecision phase by mid-century does not preclude a conflict in the 2020s.  This conflict could drag on all the way through, or it could go in spurts, like the last one.  Or we could have a civil conflict of some form in one or more of the contenders, that could set the stage for a great power conflict of some sort in, say, the 2040s.

I agree that China and Russia are just trying to consolidate their sphere of influence as they emerge from the wreckage of Communism (each of them in different ways), but I also think that the US is presently ideologically incapable of dealing with either of them in those terms.  And, given the events surrounding Flynn's deposition, I am concerned with Trump's ability to fully contend with the forces within the US power establishment most committed to "sustaining" (in reality further eroding) the US' hegemonic moment.
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#53
(02-25-2017, 02:02 PM)SomeGuy Wrote: I voted for him, and thus far I am reasonable pleased with the result.  McMaster is a huge improvement over Flynn, even if I find the circumstances of the latter's ouster a little questionable.

I am not pleased with his decision to dismantle public education. I am not pleased with indiscriminate travel bans and rounding up people to deport them without adequate hearings. I am not pleased with his decision to pollute rivers and revive climate change. I am not pleased with his decision to cut social security and medicare, or to turn the affordable care act into just more unregulated private insurance companies. I am not pleased with his decision to put a racist in charge of our civil rights laws. I am not pleased with his decision to enforce federal pot laws in states that legalized pot. I am not pleased with his attacks on freedom of the press and calling it the enemy of the people. I am not pleased with his decision to preserve his conflicts of interest with foreign governments. I am not pleased with his apparent collaborations with Russia and Putin, and his appointment of a xenophobic russophile and saboteur as chief advisor and national security team member. I am not pleased with his attempts to interfere with FBI and CIA investigations. I am not pleased with making our NATO allies unsure whether we will keep our commitment to the alliance. I am not pleased with his decision to violate tribal lands and import dirty oil for export through dangerous pipelines. I am not pleased with his decision to waste billions on a boondoggle wall. With the exception of letting the TPP die, I am not pleased with anything he's done.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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#54
(02-25-2017, 05:59 AM)Warren Dew Wrote:
(02-21-2017, 01:22 PM)SomeGuy Wrote:
Quote:My argument with Jordan is I see no reason for China to act as Spain did, and start exhausting wars in their interior, when there is an overseas empire waiting to be occupied as the old leader declines. As for the Russians, unlike Portugal and the Netherlands, China will be far stronger than they so there is no percentage in provoking a fight they can't win.  Better to expand in the other direction.

My contention is that I think there are limits on the extent to which China can become a fully maritime power, as opposed to a more hybrid power like France or Spain.  They're not an island, nor are they surrounded by political dwarfs like the US.  They're always going to have to balance their maritime interests with their position on the continent.  Large, autocratic land empires do not make good neighbors, and there is ample cause for competition and maneuver there between them.  Likely a cold war, rather than a hot one, at least at first, but those tensions will be there.

Thus why the Dutch example Mikebert brings up might be the best one.

However, China has always been an inward looking power, not an outward looking one.  They've never had sufficient sustained interest to maintain overseas colonies.  There might be minor border clashes with Russia or on the East and South China Seas, but the risk is accidental escalation, not some expansionary conspiracy.

Quote:*sigh*

Looking at the news, talking to people in RL, and reading some of the posts here from people who should really know better, I am getting worried that the 4T start date may be 2008, not because of the FC, but the Russo-Georgian war.  The level of hysteria over Russia I have been watching over the last 2 years or so is bloody ridiculous.  Trump appears to be the only goddamn brake on that in sight, which is not a comforting thought.

The Russo-Georgian war marked the beginning of actual military adventurism on the part of Russia.  That's something to be concerned about.  You have to admit, there are parallels between Crimea and South Ossetia and East Ukraine on the one hand, and the Ruhr, the Sudeten, and Austria on the other.

Thus far, the US and NATO have been holding this adventurism somewhat in check.  There needs to be a balance, though.  If Europe were to go into full appeasement mode, we might see the rest of Georgia and Ukraine occupied, and then the Baltics and more.  At that point one could easily see Putin's domestic popularity becoming dependent on further adventurism.  And you know what resulted the last time that happened.

That's not hysteria, that's realism.  Now, there has been some hysteria since the election started, but that's just motivated by a desire on the left to attack Trump using any tool they have.  That hysteria is tied to being out of political power, so it won't translate to policy.  The Democrats are not going to nominate someone in 2020 on the basis that he advocates war with Russia.

Thus far, the Trump administration has been doing an excellent job.  The guy who supported giving all of Ukraine to Russia was kicked out, but there has only been lip service on return of Crimea, without actual action.  We've inserted ourselves back into the process on ISIS by proposing concessions to NATO ally Turkey in return for cooperation with Russia on the rest of Syria, and gaining valuable experience in balance of power politics in the process.  This is a big improvement over the Obama "speak loudly, and flail about randomly with a twig" strategy.

I don't disagree, but I don't see anything yet that can be attributed to Trump to restrain Russia or negotiate over Syria, etc.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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#55
(02-12-2017, 07:07 AM)Mikebert Wrote:
(02-10-2017, 06:57 PM)SomeGuy Wrote: Mike,

Quote: This has been my observation, Russia is mostly assisting Assad.  That means targeting regime opponents be they ISIS or others (mostly others).  That is, Russia does not perceive a threat from ISIS, they only are concerned with threats to their allies/clients.

This is largely consistent with your statement "cooperating with the US against ISIS is something the Russians have been asking about for a while, because it effectively means that the US is helping them eliminate threats to their clients/allies in the Middle East versus trying to topple them".

I am glad that you agree that my statements are internally consistent.

Quote:Since Russia, which has a large Muslim population, is not concerned with ISIS per se, shouldn't they wonder why the US says that it is?  Given the lack of "skin in the game" in the Mideast and that Trump is a serial liar, might not Putin decide the less it has to do materially with the US, the better? 

It is best in these circumstances to constrain the level of speculation involved.

1.) Russia IS concerned about ISIS.  As you pointed out, they have a fairly large Muslim population, some of them disaffected and vulnerable to further radicalization.  There is concern about young Chechens fighting with ISIS, and possibly coming back home to apply what they've learned.  It is better to fight them in Syria than back home.  They simply have more pressing concerns, vis making sure their client state doesn't topple first.

2.) The US is already bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and has expressed interest in continuing to do so.  Since they are already there, why not work with them, particularly if the US is bombing one group and Russia in turn can bomb others.  At the very least, a degree of cooperation would allow for "deconfliction" of their separate missions.

3.) They already reached a tentative agreement to cooperate in September of last year, even if it had its issues (US bombing of Syrian troops, the aid convoy attack in Aleppo, etc.)

There is ample evidence to suggest it is at least a possibility, with an overlap in interests between the two.
Except for the fact that the Americans are oppsed to Assad, while the Russians support him. 

The fact is the political culture responsible for Bremer (on the GOP side)  and Libya (on the Democratic side) is deeply entrenched.  Trump is one man.  He has no party, no movement of his own.  He has had to borrow an existing party and make alliances with people like Bannon who do have a following.  Even with the power of the Presidency, there is little he can do that isn't supported by either the party or his allies.  So he can easily cut taxes and benefits.  He can deregulate Wall Street.  And he can take a hard line against immigrants.  He will find it next to impossible to do any of the progressive things he's talked about like insuring everyone, negotiating lower drug prices, bringing back jobs,  etc., because those willing to work with him strongly oppose these things.  This same dynamic will be at work in foreign policy.

Putin may think it obvious that Assad is the only guy who can successful occupy the lands recovered from ISIS and the other insurgents.  Trump may agree with him, but where's his support?

There seems to be an attack on Raqqa shaping up, with Iraqi soldiers participating as well as Kurds and US airpower. I don't know how that works out. Who is going to hold the territory? Syrians don't want to live under Assad. I don't see an end game there for the foreseeable future. Without a viable state to rule Syria, the IS could just revive itself there.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
Reply
#56
(02-10-2017, 06:57 PM)SomeGuy Wrote: Mike,

Quote: This has been my observation, Russia is mostly assisting Assad.  That means targeting regime opponents be they ISIS or others (mostly others).  That is, Russia does not perceive a threat from ISIS, they only are concerned with threats to their allies/clients.

This is largely consistent with your statement "cooperating with the US against ISIS is something the Russians have been asking about for a while, because it effectively means that the US is helping them eliminate threats to their clients/allies in the Middle East versus trying to topple them".

I am glad that you agree that my statements are internally consistent.

Quote:Since Russia, which has a large Muslim population, is not concerned with ISIS per se, shouldn't they wonder why the US says that it is?  Given the lack of "skin in the game" in the Mideast and that Trump is a serial liar, might not Putin decide the less it has to do materially with the US, the better? 

It is best in these circumstances to constrain the level of speculation involved.

1.) Russia IS concerned about ISIS.  As you pointed out, they have a fairly large Muslim population, some of them disaffected and vulnerable to further radicalization.  There is concern about young Chechens fighting with ISIS, and possibly coming back home to apply what they've learned.  It is better to fight them in Syria than back home.  They simply have more pressing concerns, vis making sure their client state doesn't topple first.

2.) The US is already bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and has expressed interest in continuing to do so.  Since they are already there, why not work with them, particularly if the US is bombing one group and Russia in turn can bomb others.  At the very least, a degree of cooperation would allow for "deconfliction" of their separate missions.

3.) They already reached a tentative agreement to cooperate in September of last year, even if it had its issues (US bombing of Syrian troops, the aid convoy attack in Aleppo, etc.)

There is ample evidence to suggest it is at least a possibility, with an overlap in interests between the two.

Putin/Russia's concern over the IS is hardly yet to be demonstrated. He has not been bombing them much, but instead bombing the rebels against Assad. He is propping up a government that cannot rule its country. How is that going to keep the IS at bay? Rebels of all kinds will not go away as long as Assad is in power. Only a partition imposed on Assad has any chance to work, if Assad is not replaced by the Free Syrians. All I can see is a new Kurdistan taking over in most of Eastern Syria, and Turkey won't like that. For now, it's an indefinite clusterfuck.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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#57
The Russians are not going to abandon their client state.  I doubt very seriously that toppling what's left of Assad's government, as repressive as it is, is going to weaken Islamist forces in the region.  

What's the track record of that policy the last several times we tried it?  Wink
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#58
(02-25-2017, 02:56 PM)Eric the Green Wrote: There seems to be an attack on Raqqa shaping up, with Iraqi soldiers participating as well as Kurds and US airpower. I don't know how that works out. Who is going to hold the territory? Syrians don't want to live under Assad. I don't see an end game there for the foreseeable future. Without a viable state to rule Syria, the IS could just revive itself there.

Do you have a reference for Iraqi participation?  What I've read is that it will involve Turks and Kurds on the ground, with US air power, which makes more sense for a city at the geographic center of Syria.  My understanding is that the timing and balance of the ground forces is still under discussion.  Control of the territory afterwards will likely be based on ground participation.

Personally, I'd prefer more Turkish influence, not least because it will be a greater deterrent to infighting with Assad and his Russian and Iranian support.

(02-25-2017, 03:06 PM)SomeGuy Wrote: The Russians are not going to abandon their client state.  I doubt very seriously that toppling what's left of Assad's government, as repressive as it is, is going to weaken Islamist forces in the region.  

What's the track record of that policy the last several times we tried it?  Wink

Have we tried it with a NATO ally like Turkey ready take over administration of the territory?

More seriously, there have been rumblings about replacing Assad and leaving a rump Syria on the coast, which would satisfy the Russians but not the Iranians.
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#59
Quote:Have we tried it with a NATO ally like Turkey ready take over administration of the territory?

More seriously, there have been rumblings about replacing Assad and leaving a rump Syria on the coast, which would satisfy the Russians but not the Iranians.

I am of two minds on that.  On the one hand, something similar to that is how I see things shaking out, eventually.  You'd have an Alawite/Christian? state concentrated along the coast, a Turkish client consisting of Sunni Arab Iraq/Syria, an Iranian client state in Shia Iraq, and an actual Kurdish state (with Assyrian, Yazidi, and some other minorities) coming into existence.  Maybe the Israelis would help carve out a Druze microstate in the Jabal-al-Druze and the Golan Heights as a buffer territory, and some population transfer between Lebanon and the Assad rump state with the Shia Arabs and the Christian ones.  

I just don't see that happening soon.  Assad is still fighting for maximal control of the Syrian territory with Russian/Iranian/Hezbollah support, the (Shia) Iraqi government recapturing Sunni territories from ISIS, Hezbollah and Israel still circling each other itching for another go, and the Turks far more interested in suppressing Kurdish separatists than administering restive Arabs.  The parallels I (and others, admittedly) keep reaching for are the 30 Year's War, or the period in Europe between 1914 and 1945.  It's probably going to take another 10-15 years to burn itself out, and all outside intervention is doing right now is helping add fuel to the fire.
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#60
(02-25-2017, 03:06 PM)SomeGuy Wrote: The Russians are not going to abandon their client state.  I doubt very seriously that toppling what's left of Assad's government, as repressive as it is, is going to weaken Islamist forces in the region.  

What's the track record of that policy the last several times we tried it?  Wink

I don't see much hope for toppling Assad at the moment. The best we can hope for is a partition, as Warren Dew suggested. Assad will not agree to this though, and maybe not Iran.

Toppling Assad would greatly strengthen the anti-terrorist Islamic forces. A new Free Syrian state, if supported by its many allies (unlike what happened in Libya), could roll back the Islamic State easily and hold the territory. Remember many defected Syrian soldiers are in this group. As for other Islamist fighter forces, they were allies, so they could be handled peacefully by buying them off rather than giving them power. They don't represent any government, but just came in to fight Assad.

As of now though, partition seems the answer. Perhaps if the Free Syrians were given territory backed by Turkey, both of them could roll back the IS with help from their allies, and Assad could brutalize his domain without doing it beyond his partition borders. Still an unstable situation, but at least it would be confined to one that people could escape from to a safer area. I don't know if Russia and Turkey will be able to work this out. If Drump gets involved, he would probably just screw it up like he does everything.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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