Everyone’s talking about “ransom,” but it’s virtually impossible to find anyone who’s trying to figure out how to win the world war we’re facing. The two keystones of the enemy alliance are Iran and Russia, and the Obama administration, as always, has no will to resist their sorties, whether the Russians’ menacing moves against Ukraine, or the Iranians’ moves against us.
Just today, Iranian ships buzzed our Navy, and we sent radio messages and shot off some flares. It would have been more appropriate to sink the Iranian vessels. But there is no will to win the war in Washington.
Meanwhile, Iran has created a new fighting force, the “Shi’ite Freedom Army,” to carry on its war in Syria on behalf of Bashar Assad, as well as the ongoing battles in Iraq and Yemen. It’s a big deal, at least on parchment. They’re talking about five divisions of between twenty and twenty-five thousand men, thus between a hundred and a hundred fifty thousand soldiers, all under the command of the country’s current hero, General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force. (Just why he’s so lionized, when he’s hardly been a big winner in the fighting, beats me, but that’s another story.)
The Shi’ite Freedom Army is not entirely, or even primarily, to be composed of Iranians. The mullahs don’t like to send their own to die in battle; they prefer to pay Arabs to do their dirty work for them. Hence the Freedom Army will be drawn in large part from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq.
This move goes hand in hand with the growing intimacy of the country’s relationship with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which has not received nearly as much strategic attention as it deserves. Stephen Bryen, who knows what he’s talking about, puts proper emphasis on the Russians’ use of an Iranian air base for bombing runs into Syria:
Perhaps the main thing that is new is that U.S. sole power dominance in the Persian Gulf and Middle East is coming to an end. The Russians are now in the game, with assets in Syria and Iran, and growing influence (via Iran) in Iraq. What does this buy for Russia and Putin? For the Russians strategic posture and oil are closely linked, as for the United States. What is, perhaps, bizarre is that both Russia and the United States themselves are self-sufficient in oil, meaning that their attempts to control oil are more closely related to their effort to dominate elsewhere, namely in Europe and Asia. That is why the base in Iran makes strategic sense to Russian strategists and why Washington should be concerned.
Interestingly, no sooner had this become a big story than the Iranians thumped their chests and told the Russians to clear out. Why? Probably because the Iranian people don’t like Russia, and non-regime groups (yes they still exist) actually called for anti-Russian demonstrations in virtually every major city. We’ll soon see if these calls have any real payoff. In the meantime, regime leaders are saying that Russian fighters and bombers might return, pending a new deal.
The most important Iranian objective in the region is the survival of the Assad regime in Damascus, and the Russians concur. So do the Chinese, who are sending aid to Syria. Can you see the enemy alliance? Neither Obama nor Kerry can. And our pathetic excuse for a Middle Eastern policy, best summarized in the single word “retreat,” encourages our enemies to push harder and faster, as we see with the announcement of a Chinese naval base in Djibouti, just down the beach from our own place.
The enemy knows that Obama’s leaving in 5 months, so it’s best to grab while the grabbing’s easy. Bad times indeed.