This Might Be A Problem For The Obama Legacy

On Wednesday, The Washington Examiner posted an article about Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, a book written by General James Mattis about his time as leader of U.S. Central Command from 2010 to 2013, overseeing military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia. Some parts of the book do not portray President Obama in a positive light.

The article reports:

“From my first day at CENTCOM, I knew we faced two principal adversaries: stateless Sunni Islamist terrorists and the revolutionary Shiite regime of Iran, the most destabilizing country in the region,” he writes. “Iran was by far the more deadly of the two threats.”

That’s not how the president under whom Mattis served saw it, though, and Barack Obama eventually fired the storied Marine general for what Mattis believes were his insistent warnings about the Iranian threat.

Mattis says Washington didn’t even inform him when Iran committed an “act of war” on American soil.

The duty officer at his Tampa, Florida, headquarters on Oct. 11, 2011 told him that the attorney general and FBI director had held a press conference to announce the arrest of two Iranians who had planned a bomb attack on Cafe Milano, a high-end restaurant in Washington that was a favorite of the rich and famous, including Saudi Arabia’s ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir.

As Mattis writes, “Attorney General Eric Holder said the bombing plot was ‘directed and approved by elements of the Iranian government and, specifically, senior members of the Qods Force.’ The Qods were the Special Operations Force of the Revolutionary Guards, reporting to the top of the Iranian government.”

The article concludes:

Mattis says his reaction to the Cafe Milano bomb plot contributed towards Obama’s decision to fire him abruptly.

“While I fully endorse civilian control of the military, I would not surrender my independent judgment. In 2010, I argued strongly against pulling all our troops out of Iraq,” Mattis writes. (Earlier in the book, he recounts a discussion he had on the subject in Baghdad with Vice President Joe Biden, who was in charge of Iraq policy but “ignoring reality” and uninterested in the considered opinion of the general in charge of operations there.) “In 2011, I urged retaliation against Iran for plotting to blow up a restaurant in our nation’s capital. In 2012, I argued for retaining a small but capable contingent of troops in Afghanistan. Each step along the way, I argued for political clarity and offered options that gave the Commander in Chief a rheostat he could dial up or down to protect our nation.”

The commander in chief chose another option: fire the CENTCOM leader.

“In December 2012, I received an unauthorized phone call telling me that in an hour, the Pentagon would be announcing my relief,” Mattis writes. “I was leaving a region aflame and in disarray.”

And the biggest threat in the region, Mattis says, then as now, was Iran. He predicted the Obama administration’s reluctance to punish Tehran for its bad behavior while the two sides negotiated a nuclear deal would come back to haunt the U.S. He concludes that “the Iranians had not been held to account, and I anticipated that they would feel emboldened to challenge us more in the future.”

Unfortunately I think that in the future we will see more situations where President Obama put his own search for a diplomatic victory ahead of the safety of Americans.

Foreign Policy Wisdom

The Center For Security Policy posted the following Secure Freedom Minute on July 26:

In recent days, fast-boats of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have seized oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.  This action has followed a series of other direct and indirect Iranian provocations, including attacks on shipping, Saudi oil infrastructure and U.S. assets in Iraq.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a pair of Chinese long-range bombers joined two of their Russian counterparts and one of the Kremlin’s command-and-control aircraft in conducting a deliberate provocation in the airspace over islands claimed by South Korea and Japan. An extraordinary three hundred warning shots were fired in two separate instances before the intruders departed the area.

Make no mistake: These are probing actions designed to test the readiness and resolve of the United States and its allies. As with any bully, a failure to demonstrate both will result in more aggression worldwide.

This is a lesson we should have learned a long time ago.

Dealing With A Country Whose Economy Is Collapsing Is Not Unlike Dealing With A Cornered Animal

The sanctions placed on Iran by the United States have created severe economic problems for the country. The people of the country are being hurt by the sanctions, the rules are still doing quite well due to black market dealings. A rebellion is brewing. The rebellion will probably be successful if the sanctions continue. The rulers of Iran know that and are trying almost anything to make the sanctions go away. Thus, the recent seizure of oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.

One America News posted an article today with the headline, “Britain weighs response to Iran Gulf crisis with few good options.”

The article reports:

Britain was weighing its next moves in the Gulf tanker crisis on Sunday, with few good options apparent as a recording emerged showing that the Iranian military defied a British warship when it boarded and seized a ship three days ago.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said she would chair a meeting of Britain’s COBR emergency response committee on Monday morning to discuss the crisis.

Little clue has been given by Britain on how it plans to respond after Iranian Revolutionary Guards rappelled from helicopters and seized the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday in apparent retaliation for the British capture of an Iranian tanker two weeks earlier.

Footage obtained by Reuters from an Iranian news agency on Sunday showed the tanker docked in an Iranian port — with Iran’s flag now hoisted atop.

The British government is expected to announce its next steps in a speech to parliament on Monday. But experts on the region say there are few obvious steps London can take at a time when the United States has already imposed the maximum possible economic sanctions, banning all Iranian oil exports worldwide.

“We rant and rave and we shout at the ambassador and we hope it all goes away,” said Tim Ripley, a British defense expert who writes about the Gulf for Jane’s Defence Weekly.

“I don’t see at this point in time us being able to offer a concession that can resolve the crisis. Providing security and escort for future ships is a different matter.”

A day after calling the Iranian action a “hostile act”, top British officials kept comparatively quiet on Sunday, making clear that they had yet to settle on a response.

“We are going to be looking at a series of options,” junior defense minister Tobias Ellwood told Sky News. “We will be speaking with our colleagues, our international allies, to see what can actually be done.

“Our first and most important responsibility is to make sure we get a solution to the issue to do with the current ship, make sure other British-flagged ships are safe to operate in these waters and then look at the wider picture.”

Seizing a ship in international waters is an act of war. The question is, “What are the western countries going to do about it?” War with Iran is not really a good idea–it’s what the rulers want–feeling that a war would unite the country. We have in the past used military escorts through the Straits of Hormuz. I suspect we will be doing so again. The good news is that America is energy independent and can help dilute the impact of the difficulties in getting oil through the Strait of Hormuz. Meanwhile, I am hoping we have some cyber experts that could make the life of the Iranian rulers a little more difficult.

The Future Of Iran

Yesterday Reza Kahlili posted an article at the Washington Times about what he believes are the intentions of the current Iranian regime.

First of all, the article explains who Reza Kahlili is:

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the author of “A Time to Betray” (Threshhold Editions, Simon & Schuster, 2010) He is a fellow with EMPact America and teaches at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy (JCITA).

He definitely has the insight to look past the obvious and see what is actually going on. Mr. Kahlili reports that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has told the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to prepare for war.
 
The article reports:
 

The radicals ruling Iran have long believed that obtaining the nuclear bomb will make them untouchable and will facilitate the expansion of the Islamic movement in the region and the world in bringing the West to its knees. They also have concluded that because of the troubles in the world’s economy and financial troubles in America, even a limited confrontation with America would benefit the Islamic regime.

As of yet, we do not believe Iran has nuclear weapons, but they do have a lot of conventional weapons. One option (that has been mentioned a lot lately) is to close down the Straits of Hormuz. Another option is to target U.S. bases in the Middle East with their missiles, disrupting the movement of U.S. forces and the operation of the Air Force, which the guards believe will be the main thrust of any attack by America.

The article reports:

The guards also are targeting four U.S. air bases in Afghanistan as the main launching pads for any attacks on Iran. The Bagram Air Base, home to most of the U.S. Air Force presence in Afghanistan, is just 450 miles from the Iranian borders and within range of all of Iran’s ballistic missiles. Other air bases in Afghanistan that would be attacked by the guards in case of war are in Kandahar, Shindand and Herat.

The article also points out that Iran will depend on Russia and China to come to its aid in time to stop any war that threatens the current regime. The bottom line here is very simple–we don’t need a war–we need a regime change!

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