Category: Bill Schanefelt

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Lord Palmerston, Assad, and Others: Time to Get Real


I stipulate that both leaders are tyrants and that both are war criminals, but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?  That is, as things stand now, neither poses a direct threat to the vital national interests of the United States, nor is unbridled opposition to either nation in the vital national interests of the United States.

Russia’s re-absorption of Crimea was a direct result of the West’s foolish acts in 2014 to force Kiev to choose between it and Russia, politically, economically, and militarily.  Putin, in effect, said “Oh, yeah – two can play that game.”

Russia did not re-absorb the Donbas.  Instead, it supported that region’s bilingual and intermarried population in seeking an autonomous and federated relationship with Kiev, albeit by subversive, criminal, and militarily abhorrent means. 

Y’all need to get over it!  We’re talking Great Game stuff that’s been going on for centuries east of non-Slavic Europe.

Likewise for the Baltics.  Russia ain’t gonna invade or re-absorb those tiny nations, and what Putin is doing there is the result of the same foolish things the West did there as was done in Ukraine.  We should get our troops out of the area and tell Europe to pound sand!

As for Syria: what a mess!  Russia is in Syria in the way it now is because of the West’s foolish intervention in a situation that has obtained, in various iterations, for decades between Damascus’s Alawites and the Kurds and Sunnis in the area between Damascus and the Syria-Turkey border.

Russia has longstanding interests in Syria, and there has been significant intermarriages between Russians and Syrians.

Led by the increasingly foolish John McCain and the Responsibility-to-Protect crowd in Obama-land, the West (including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States) took sides that ongoing civil war in a fashion that would give pride to the Keystone Kops.  That blundering, farcical intervention brought in Russia (and Tehran) on the side of Damascus.

So, instead of Bashar Assad killing a few thousand opponents and razing a town or two (as his father did in the past), we now have hundreds of thousands dead and an additional hundreds of thousands displaced and on the move into Jordan, Turkey, Europe, and here! 

And not only does the civil war go on, but there are now so many factions fighting each other and/or Damascus or whomever that no scorecard could possibly keep track of “Who’s on First.”

And we have Russia now forevermore firmly entrenched in the Middle East, something ten, count ’em, ten U.S. presidents prior to Mr. Obama successfully foreclosed or forestalled.

And we have ISIS.   And we had Benghazi, which was the result of support for “moderate” anti-Assad Syrian forces.  And we have ruin and mass killings in northern Iraq. 

And we have Iran in Syria not only supporting Assad, but also bolstering Hezb’allah in Syria and Lebanon.

And on and on.

Again: Y’all need to get over obsessing on Putin and Assad!  We’re talking stuff that’s been going on for 1,400 years of Muslim-on-Muslim violence.

I know: this is the 21st century.  And I say: If you’re not going to do the job completely and finally, then stay the hell out.  There are no good guys over there to which we can justify aligning or allying ourselves.

Let Russia keep a lid on Assad, or not.  Russia believes, rightly, I think, that it’s Assad in Damascus or radical Islam in Damascus.  The choice is obvious.  There is no alternative, given current realities in the world.  QED!

Right now we face three imperatives: contain ISIS/al-Qaeda, contain Iran, and contain North Korea.  Unless contained, each has the potential to destroy the United States.  That is, each is, demonstrably, a literal existential threat to our national interests and to our very nation.  Full stop!

China and Turkey are problems now, but they do not pose the threat of the aforementioned three.

President Trump says he is intent on destroying ISIS (and I combine ISIS with al-Qaeda), but I’m not sure he can do that short of killing every member and destroying every one of the rings and videos and institutions created by ISIS and ilk.

I’m sure there will be lots of kinetic actions and cyber-actions that Team Trump will be making soon that will begin the process, but we’ll not “be home by Christmas,” as it were, in this war – “for true,” as we say in the West Indies!

I believe that an additional option is to declare, by executive action, that any entity doing financial transactions with ISIS or al-Qaeda shall have no access to U.S. banks, that any bank doing business with such entities shall be likewise restricted, and that any insurer doing business with such entities and banks shall be prevented  from doing any business in or with the U.S.   Again, the lawyers can straighten out the nebulousness.

Similar executive actions should be taken with respect to Iran and North Korea.  Additionally, each nation should be the recipient of a demarche declaring that kinetic actions or cyber-actions taken by either shall be met with overwhelming and non-proportional U.S. actions.

I don’t know how much effect the executive actions and demarches will have on the Twelvers controlling Iran or on the corpulent Mr. Kim, but it certainly will have an effect on their lessers, who wish not to be incinerated – to what end, we can only hope!

I know that large numbers of readers still reading consider me cold, naive, and callous.  Well, tough!

I say we must now act as if we understand Lord Palmerston’s dictum: nations have no permanent friends or allies.  They have only permanent interests.

I have a permanent interest in not being killed or harmed by ISIS and al-Qaeda, Iran, or North Korea.

So should you.

And so should the United States of America!

The author is retired, his profile may be found on LinkedIn, and he usually responds to emails sent to bilschan@hotmail.com.

I am becoming increasingly frustrated by the idiocy of the obsession by seemingly everyone with Russia and Putin and with Syria and Assad.  It’s nutty (to put it in intellectual terms).

There ar bigger, and more dangerous, fish to fry (speaking intellectually again).

I stipulate that both leaders are tyrants and that both are war criminals, but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?  That is, as things stand now, neither poses a direct threat to the vital national interests of the United States, nor is unbridled opposition to either nation in the vital national interests of the United States.

Russia’s re-absorption of Crimea was a direct result of the West’s foolish acts in 2014 to force Kiev to choose between it and Russia, politically, economically, and militarily.  Putin, in effect, said “Oh, yeah – two can play that game.”

Russia did not re-absorb the Donbas.  Instead, it supported that region’s bilingual and intermarried population in seeking an autonomous and federated relationship with Kiev, albeit by subversive, criminal, and militarily abhorrent means. 

Y’all need to get over it!  We’re talking Great Game stuff that’s been going on for centuries east of non-Slavic Europe.

Likewise for the Baltics.  Russia ain’t gonna invade or re-absorb those tiny nations, and what Putin is doing there is the result of the same foolish things the West did there as was done in Ukraine.  We should get our troops out of the area and tell Europe to pound sand!

As for Syria: what a mess!  Russia is in Syria in the way it now is because of the West’s foolish intervention in a situation that has obtained, in various iterations, for decades between Damascus’s Alawites and the Kurds and Sunnis in the area between Damascus and the Syria-Turkey border.

Russia has longstanding interests in Syria, and there has been significant intermarriages between Russians and Syrians.

Led by the increasingly foolish John McCain and the Responsibility-to-Protect crowd in Obama-land, the West (including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States) took sides that ongoing civil war in a fashion that would give pride to the Keystone Kops.  That blundering, farcical intervention brought in Russia (and Tehran) on the side of Damascus.

So, instead of Bashar Assad killing a few thousand opponents and razing a town or two (as his father did in the past), we now have hundreds of thousands dead and an additional hundreds of thousands displaced and on the move into Jordan, Turkey, Europe, and here! 

And not only does the civil war go on, but there are now so many factions fighting each other and/or Damascus or whomever that no scorecard could possibly keep track of “Who’s on First.”

And we have Russia now forevermore firmly entrenched in the Middle East, something ten, count ’em, ten U.S. presidents prior to Mr. Obama successfully foreclosed or forestalled.

And we have ISIS.   And we had Benghazi, which was the result of support for “moderate” anti-Assad Syrian forces.  And we have ruin and mass killings in northern Iraq. 

And we have Iran in Syria not only supporting Assad, but also bolstering Hezb’allah in Syria and Lebanon.

And on and on.

Again: Y’all need to get over obsessing on Putin and Assad!  We’re talking stuff that’s been going on for 1,400 years of Muslim-on-Muslim violence.

I know: this is the 21st century.  And I say: If you’re not going to do the job completely and finally, then stay the hell out.  There are no good guys over there to which we can justify aligning or allying ourselves.

Let Russia keep a lid on Assad, or not.  Russia believes, rightly, I think, that it’s Assad in Damascus or radical Islam in Damascus.  The choice is obvious.  There is no alternative, given current realities in the world.  QED!

Right now we face three imperatives: contain ISIS/al-Qaeda, contain Iran, and contain North Korea.  Unless contained, each has the potential to destroy the United States.  That is, each is, demonstrably, a literal existential threat to our national interests and to our very nation.  Full stop!

China and Turkey are problems now, but they do not pose the threat of the aforementioned three.

President Trump says he is intent on destroying ISIS (and I combine ISIS with al-Qaeda), but I’m not sure he can do that short of killing every member and destroying every one of the rings and videos and institutions created by ISIS and ilk.

I’m sure there will be lots of kinetic actions and cyber-actions that Team Trump will be making soon that will begin the process, but we’ll not “be home by Christmas,” as it were, in this war – “for true,” as we say in the West Indies!

I believe that an additional option is to declare, by executive action, that any entity doing financial transactions with ISIS or al-Qaeda shall have no access to U.S. banks, that any bank doing business with such entities shall be likewise restricted, and that any insurer doing business with such entities and banks shall be prevented  from doing any business in or with the U.S.   Again, the lawyers can straighten out the nebulousness.

Similar executive actions should be taken with respect to Iran and North Korea.  Additionally, each nation should be the recipient of a demarche declaring that kinetic actions or cyber-actions taken by either shall be met with overwhelming and non-proportional U.S. actions.

I don’t know how much effect the executive actions and demarches will have on the Twelvers controlling Iran or on the corpulent Mr. Kim, but it certainly will have an effect on their lessers, who wish not to be incinerated – to what end, we can only hope!

I know that large numbers of readers still reading consider me cold, naive, and callous.  Well, tough!

I say we must now act as if we understand Lord Palmerston’s dictum: nations have no permanent friends or allies.  They have only permanent interests.

I have a permanent interest in not being killed or harmed by ISIS and al-Qaeda, Iran, or North Korea.

So should you.

And so should the United States of America!

The author is retired, his profile may be found on LinkedIn, and he usually responds to emails sent to bilschan@hotmail.com.



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