Reply to American that to Miss Opportunity for Rapprochement with Iran will Have Big Consequences

By Con George-Kotzabasis

It will have even bigger consequences if it succeeds by wishful thinking.  Rapprochement in itself is meaningless unless there is clear and unambiguous understanding and agreement between the parties about the conditions of such rapprochement. It would be a mistake to deduce from the rhetorically conciliatory statements of President Rouhani that Iran has abandoned its desire to acquire nuclear weapons. And to differentiate himself from the holocaustian statements of his predecessor, Ahmadinejad, is hardly an indication that the new regime is repudiating its clandestine goal to develop a nuclear weapon. Only if Rouhani allows open and rigorous inspections in all areas of Iran where Western intelligence cogently suspects the secret development of a nuclear weapon will the experts be convinced that Iran has changed tack in regard to its nuclear arsenal.

It is more probable, because Rouhani perceives a weak president in the United States, he will be exploiting that weakness to achieve Iran’s historic and Islamic aim to enter the nuclear club by persuading Obama about the peaceful purpose of Iran’s nuclear build-up. Rouhani is aware that Obama needs and desires a suspension of tensions so he will have the excuse to take all options off the table and thus as an incompetent and effete president tranquilize himself by false hopes. And Rouhani and his advisors know, that this détente can be achieved on promissory notes that will never be cashed. Thus by providing Obama the confidence that he can come to a reasonable agreement with Iran, Rouhani achieves two diplomatic goals. (1) He defers USA action from resolving speedily and decisively the issue of nuclear weapons by creating the euphoria that this matter can be resolved by prolonged negotiations, a dilatoriness that Obama is most happy to accept as he desires to push the hard options, if they are needed, in the future ahead with the hope that they will never be used, and which also suits Rouhani perfectly as it will give Iran more time to achieve its strategic goal to build the bomb. And (2) weakening Israel’s resolve to unilaterally attack Iran’s nuclear installations, if other Western states are found to be wanting in stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear armaments, by isolating Israel from its major ally, the USA, and from other Western nations, and thus making it more difficult for Israel to strike.

It is for this reason that Clemons should be more restrained in his optimism of the opportunity of reaching a rapprochement with Iran when a more sinister and malign opportunity could be hidden behind the apparently benign talk of Rouhani.

American’s Leftist Bias against Israel Makes him Detached from Reality

By Con George-Kotzabasis

It is not surprising that Kervick after losing so much blood from the hammering nails of WigWag would make such an intellectually bloodless counter-riposte to the latter’s concrete and cogent argument. To back up his phantasms of “Zionists undermining European Unity” and the resurgence of Enlightenment in Europe, what does he bring up, the “Erdogan exchange with Peres” and the “racialist and sectarian haters to alienate Europeans from their Muslim citizens.” The so called “attempt by Zionist activists to drive a wedge between the US and Turkey, to quote Kervick, even if it was true, has nothing to do with the major premise of his contention that Zionists were undermining Europe. Further his argument that Zionists promote conflict among Europeans against their Muslim citizens is staggering in its vacuity and lack of contact with the real world. The Europeans are in conflict with their Muslim citizens not because of racialism and sectarianism but as a result of the great threat of internal and external Muslim terror. To suggest that the reasonable fear and concern  that Europeans have against Muslims after the murder of their filmmakers and threatened lives of their cartoonists by Muslim fanatics has its roots in racialism, sectarianism, and ethnic chauvinism spawned by Zionists, shows how completely Kervick is detached and uprooted from reality.

What is the Message of Massachusetts Debacle?

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The Massachusetts result showed pellucidly that the American electorate-whites in large numbers-has turned into a shoal of piranhas threatening to tear the flesh of Obama and the Democrats. What it craves for is economic and political stability, the preservation of conservative values, not the ostensibly unstable progressive left-wing policies of a picaresque president. In this context, any implementation of progressive economic policies by the Obama administration will solely employ the gravediggers that will dig its grave.

Appease! Appease! Is the Shout of American Liberals

By Con George-Kotzabasis

This is a question that I was to put to Clemons from another thread but at the time I was under the surgeon’s knife. Since my question, however, is not completely unrelated to the present thread, I’m posing it here.

The question is related to Clemons ‘sweet’ emotional rapprochement to the leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashal, in the face of the ‘bitter’ realities of the Middle East. Is the West including that outpost of Western civilization, Israel, and especially the U.S., currently engaged in a mortal fight with a hard core fanatical Islam which includes its terrorist satrapies Hamas and Hezbollah or not? If the answer to the question by the “hybrid” realist Clemons, to use his term, is in the affirmative, then the latter is the grand appeaser toward fanatical militant Islam. If he answers it in the negative, with all the expected equivocations that he is capable of, then he is afflicted by an incurable virus of political necrophilia.

But in my humble opinion, Clemons will go down in the chronicles of American history, if he ever makes its footnotes, as the mini American Chamberlain in contrast to Churchillian mettle and sagacity. Appease! Appease! Is the shout of Clemons and the prophets.

Threesome Debate of American Norwegian and Australian of what to Do about Somali Piracy

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Somali piracy needs speedy, decisive, and relentless action by the U.S. and its European allies. To wait for the ability of Somalis “to police their own territory” and Somali leaders “to take action against pirates,” to quote Secretary Clinton, involved in the only highly profitable enterprise in a poor country, is to fly in the face of reality. In the event that Somali leaders were willing to do so, their military capacity to achieve this would take years to consummate.

Further, an increase of U.S., European, and Asian vessels and a better coordination between them is totally inadequate to police such a huge “expanse of ocean” as Secretary Clinton herself remarks. To pursue such a policy as Secretary Clinton delineates in her speech is to pursue a chimera. What the U.S. and its allies must do is to attack by relentless means, i.e., by air and commando raids the Somali towns from which piracy stems, and at the same time placing the requisite armaments on merchant ships that will protect them from any approaching pirate vessels. No amount of “carrots” will dissuade the pirates to desist and stop them, repeat, from such lucrative business in such impoverished country. Only their decisive military defeat will persuade them to do so. 

Dan Kervick says

 I agree in part with C-G Kotzabasis’s assessment. We certainly can’t wait for the restoration of the ability (and inclination) of Somalis to police their own territory and to take action against pirates. Somalia is the most failed and dysfunctional of failed states. I also agree that the linchpin of the problem is that piracy in that part of the world is extremely lucrative. The piracy won’t end until piracy is made an ill bargain for the pirates.

But, given that assessment, I have a different view on the best means for addressing the problem, and the chances of success of a coordinated international response.

Yes, the area to be policed is very large. But this isn’t a matter of just sailing around hoping to encounter pirate ships, or hoping to be in the right place at the right time. I assume we have the ability to identify and track most of the ships belonging to these pirates, to share the needed information (though not the sources and methods) with merchant vessels, and to direct force where it is needed in a timely way, especially if we have a larger multinational force of ships in the area. I am also assuming that some of the tagging and tracking means available are clandestine, and are unlikely to be discussed in public.

I also suspect that the economic and other hurdles that need to be cleared so that merchant ships can better defend themselves can be cleared quickly with vigorous, multinational government involvement.

I am somewhat shocked that Kotzabasis would recommend air raids on the home towns of the Somali pirates. No honorable man would defend the intentional killing of the women and children of one’s adversaries as a means of deterring those adversaries. I thought C-G was more chivalrous than that.

Maybe it’s an old-fashioned American outlook based on too many cowboy movies, but I was brought up to believe there were certain acceptable and unacceptable ways of handling these kinds of problems with banditry. Arming and funding more people to ride shotgun on the stagecoach is certainly called for. And sending out posses to track and engage the bandits, and either apprehend or kill them, is also appropriate and in bounds. But sending people to shoot up the towns and encampments where the bandits’ families are located? Not OK.

 Kotzabasis says

Dan Kervick

Thanks for your intellectually amicable and positive response to my post. I’m however surprised that you so facilely assume that these raids will intentionally be killing women and children. The latter will be killed only if the pirates adopt the tactics of the terrorists and use women and children as human shields. So if there is no intentional killing my ‘honor’ and ‘chivalry’ are not besmirched.

Moreover, if you are prepared to put ‘stagecoach shotguns’ and send “out posses to track and engage the bandits” then you have to go the whole hog. You cannot exterminate the scourge of piracy by half measures or by chivalric ones.

Posted by Paul Norheim, Apr 16 2009, 7:54PM – Link

A comment to the exchange between Kotzabasis and Dan
Kervick.

Kotzabasis says:

“I’m however surprised that you so facilely assume that these
raids will intentionally be killing women and children. The
latter will be killed only if the pirates adopt the tactics of the
terrorists and use women and children as human shields.”.

Of course no single innocent human being will be killed
intentionally by the Americans (that would be bad PR). But if you
attack by “relentless means, i.e., by air and commando raids the
Somali towns from which piracy stems”, much more innocent
civilians are likely to die than those killed by pirates.

This is an excellent illustration of a certain paradox, namely
between those “irregular” elements who target non-combatants
(or, in direct terrorist operations: civilians), and a regular army
targeting the enemy in ways that inevitably kill a lot of civilians,
not because they are targets, but because the regular army
decides to target the enemy by means that often, and inevitably,
kill more civilians than the irregular elements (pirates/terrorists)
do.

When you look at the tactics and outcome of some recent
events (like the Israeli attack in Gaza, and the Sri Lanka`n army
against the Tamil Tigers), it is indeed very difficult to
distinguish between “terrorists (who) use women and children
as human shields”, and states who send their armies to kill
indiscriminately. If you look at statistics regarding the
percentage of civilians killed in wars during the last hundred
years, you would come to the conclusion that the respect for
civilian lives seem to have diminished drastically – regardless of
terrorists, guerillas, or pirates. The regular armies and the
politicians behind them have their significant share in this
development.

There is no point in mentioning Dresden, Hiroshima, and
Nagasaki to prove that: Iraq is a fresh example.

How many innocent civilians did Saddam Hussein kill? And how
many innocent civilians did Clinton and Bush kill –
unintentionally?

To me it`s always been difficult to distinguish between terrorist
methods and Kotzabasis`”relentless means”. For poor, innocent
women and children, hit unintentionally, I would imagine that
this distinction would make no sense.

Posted by Dan Kervick, Apr 16 2009, 9:49PM – Link

Kotzabasis,

I may have misinterpreted you. There are some people who have recently advocated the *intentional* targeting of the pirates’ towns and kin in order to teach the pirates a lesson. You instead seem to be advocating going after the pirates themselves, and regard whatever happens to the communities around them as collateral damage brought on by the pirates decision to live among other people.

I appreciate that when you talk about “exterminating the scourge of piracy”, you are only logically implying that it is the scourge that must be exterminated, not the people. I hope that’s all you mean. Because as for the people themselves, I think experience with banditry shows that it is by no means necessary to exterminate all the bandits – even if such a thing were possible – in order the deter them from banditry. It is only necessary to change the cost-benefit analysis with which they operate. When it becomes to hard to profit from banditry, and too risky, the banditry ends.

This isn’t a half-measure. It is just a question on of re-asserting the rule of law without inflicting more death and pain on our fellow human beings than is necessary.

Unlike the case with some terrorists perhaps, the pirates do not hide continually among civilian populations plotting their crimes. They frequently float around in boats on the open ocean. Thus, if they are to be targeted for attack, there is no excuse for not targeting them when they are out there on the high seas, away from innocent people. If one can kill or apprehend some transgressor in a way that doesn’t risk the lives of innocents, then one should do so. It is not relevant whether we can pin the “fault” for the innocent deaths on the wrongdoer. What is relevant is that we avoid causing absolutely unnecessary deaths, whom ever is to be assigned the ultimate fault for those deaths.

Let’s not build these bandits up into something more than they are. What is needed now is stepped-up global policing of international shipping lanes, and that calls for increased levels of economic, manpower and intelligence commitment. The pirates are not an army, and civilization isn’t crumbling. We just need to invest more resources than we have previously.

Posted by kotzabasis, Apr 17 2009, 1:18AM – Link

Dan Kervick

Of course you don’t have “to exterminate all the bandits,” and your “cost-benefit analysis” is a perfect measure that would end such banditry. But to reach that measure that would deter the pirates from practicing their deadly enterprise one cannot do it by “half-measures.” It would be a half-measure to draw the gun and not shoot at your enemy. However, your “rule of law” is not a half-measure but no measure at all. These are lawless people that no law will ever restrain their actions.

I’m afraid you are too well- intentioned and too replete with humane genes that disqualify you from being a pragmatic strategist in deadly conflicts. No war has ever being fought clinically without the spilling of innocent blood. The price of freedom and the continuation of a civilized society at times is quite high. Nothing of great value is costless. The question always is whether people have the sagacity, the will, and mettle to pay the price.

Paul Norheim

This is a ‘straitjacket’ detachment from reality Paul. An “excellent illustration” that totally destroys your fabricated “paradox” is Iraq that by indisputable statistics shows that more civilians were killed by “irregular elements” i.e., by terrorists, than by the regular army of the U.S. and its allies. And to infer, sarcastically, that Americans don’t kill intentionally because that would give them “bad PR,” is to denigrate shamefully U.S. armed personnel who have been trained not to kill civilians, unlike the terrorists who are trained to kill them deliberately. .

Posted by Dan Kervick, Apr 17 2009, 7:37AM – Link

“These are lawless people that no law will ever restrain their actions.”

You seem to be confusing enforcement of the rule of law with respect for the law, Kotzabasis. Obviously, these pirates have no motivation to obey the law simply because it is the law. They are not law-abiding people.

For such people, reassertion of the rule of law always requires the imposition of harsh, credible penalties. Some percentage might be deterred by the mere credible threat of these penalties. But others will only be prevented from violating the rules of the road on the high seas by the actual infliction of the penalties.

I didn’t say that we should draw the gun and not use it. I said that in this case it seems likely that whatever force needs to be applied can be applied away from land, and away from innocent people. Yes, sometimes innocent people are killed in justifiable actions. But we shouldn’t recklessly endanger innocent lives just to prove our “will” or “mettle”, not when we can bring the required force to bear without endangering those innocents.

While the pirates aren’t motivated by respect for international rules, they are, as you have pointed out, motivated by profit. As it becomes less and less likely for the pirates that they will profit from attempted acts of piracy, and more and more likely that they will lose their lives or liberty, their banditry will be brought to an end.

Posted by kotzabasis, Apr 17 2009, 9:45AM – Link

Dan Kervick

Lawless people are not concerned with what might happen to them if they break the law, but, as you correctly say, by the “actual infliction of the harsh penalties’ imposed upon them, and I would add in this case wherever they are, on sea or land. It would be strategically foolish and inutile to confine one’s tactical operations solely on the “high seas” as well as reveal one’s tactics to one’s enemy. Just a thought experiment. If one had credible intelligence of a high concentration of pirates on land that by hitting them one would have inflicted upon them a devastating blow from which they could never recover, it would be utterly doltish not to use such an opportunity that would shorten the war and overall casualties just because it could entail that some innocent people would be killed.

I used the “draw of the gun” figuratively, not that you said it, in response to your “stagecoach” post, that if you draw it you have to shoot your deadly foe wherever he is, even in a ‘crowded street.’

War has too many imponderables to compute them beforehand with algorithmic precision. McNamara’s “fog of war” is the constant condition. That is why people, and even professional soldiers, avoid it justifiably like the plague. But once one has decided to ‘unsheathe the sword’ then like the feudal knights one has to make “literal mincemeat of one’s enemies, leaving the clergy to handle the morals” to quote the great Austrian writer Robert Musil.

Posted by Dan Kervick, Apr 17 2009, 10:25AM – Link

“Just a thought experiment. If one had credible intelligence of a high concentration of pirates on land that by hitting them one would have inflicted upon them a devastating blow from which they could never recover, it would be utterly doltish not to use such an opportunity that would shorten the war and overall casualties just because it could entail that some innocent people would be killed.”

This sort of scenario paints an unrealistic picture of the pirates as some kind of “pirate army” that is best countered by attrition of their numbers until they surrender. I don’t think it works that way. The pirates are fishermen, who have taken to using their fishing trawlers to mount pirate attacks. Piracy in the Gulf of Aden has become a lucrative profession, and people will continue to pursue that profession as long as it remains lucrative. There is no fixed supply of pirates, just as there is no fixed supply of investment bankers. There is no pirate army to defeat.

We can’t bomb all the fishermen in Somalia, nor would that make sense. There is simply no need for this kind of overkill. The pirates attacked a US-flagged ship earlier this month, and that mistake resulted in an extended nuisance, the rescue of the captain, a week of media pants-wetting, three dead pirates and one captured pirate. This outcome is going to have a deterrent effect, and the pirates were dealt with out on the water. With stepped up resources and commitment, we can turn this piracy business into a non-viable enterprise.

Posted by kotzabasis, Apr 18 2009, 12:22AM – Link

It was a thought experiment and you missed its point.

You are digressing into ‘softer areas’ from your previous posts and I’ve nothing to add. Piracy now has become to you an ‘economic’ issue and merely an “extended nuisance” and an entertaining vaudevillian play, “media-pants wetting.”

Join the debate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reply to American Pessimist about the Gains of the Surge in Iraq

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Andrew Lebovich continues pessimistically to ruminate on his doubts about the surge and on General Petraeus’ counterinsurgency plan. He states, “The strategic outcome of the surge cannot be determined now” as it depends on the establishment of a democratic Iraq “after our occupation…has ended.” And if the gains of the surge are so fragile and can be lost with a resurgence of al Qaeda how can one say that “Petraeus’s counterinsurgency plan is proven,” as is stated by McCain? He is also concerned about the “Sons of Iraq and other local militias’ being integrated “into the Iraqi security forces” and some of the corrupt practices of the Iraqi government.

Starting in reverse of his concerns, it’s decal like clear that he has not learned anything from the mistakes of the Bush administration when in toto disbanded the Iraq army instead of integrating it in the new army of the Interim government that would have forestalled the future insurgency. The Maliki government is integrating the Sons of Iraq and other militias and hence effectively disarming them instead of letting them hibernate until a possible next round of violence. Lebovich also is oblivious of the fact that corruption affects all governments that have not as yet found their point of stability and their members have a strong proclivity to get as much as they can from an assumed short term in office. However, with the stabilization of the government, as it seems to be happening now in Iraq, corruption can no longer be a stable staple feeding the mouths of corrupt officials.

As to the gains emanating from the surge, Lebovich apparently is unaware that one may have a perfect investment plan that will give one immense gains but if one “misinvests” or squanders these gains in boondoggle projects one is bound to lose them. This however does not impugn or diminish in any way the perfection of the original investment plan. And Petraeus’s counterinsurgency strategy falls in this category. The danger lies in squandering these gains, as McCain correctly says, before they reach their stated goal, i.e., a democratic Iraq.

Lastly, Lebovich does not perceive that even the most successful of counterinsurgency strategies can only be effective in a different geopolitical milieu if they make the necessary improvisations and modalities in the new context of their implementation. And this elementary principle applies in Afghanistan.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now…