The weakening of America 1

Something fishy in the Arabian Gulf:

There is something fishy about how such a high-tech U.S. craft can “stray accidentally into Iranian waters due to a navigation error”, as Defense Secretary Ash Carter described it on Thursday to Univision. The Pentagon had previously claimed engine trouble for an incident that’s humiliated the U.S., as Iranian video showed to the world 10 American sailors on their knees at gunpoint.

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From Investor’s Business Daily:

How can an advanced, ultra-agile U.S. combat boat suffer a “navigation error” that leads to a terrorist state capturing its sailors? Tehran just revealed military ineptitude warranting a congressional probe.

The Swedish-designed Combat Boat 90 can make the sharpest of turns at high speed, stop nearly on a dime, maneuver like magic and, with its Rolls-Royce jet-propulsion system, can speed along at over 45 miles an hour in rivers and shallow coastlines while transporting 18 amphibious troops.

But what good is any of that if it falls into enemy hands? …

A retired operations commander for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, Christopher Harmer, told CNN the capture constituted “a severe failure”,  charging that “either the naval leadership put these sailors in an impossible situation, or the sailors are professionally incompetent”. Harmer has researched the increased lethality of Iran’s submarine fleet for the Institute for the Study of War.

That one of the sailors would appear in an Iranian video apologizing may have actually violated the military’s Code of Conduct, which requires that a detainee give name, rank, serial number and age, but “evade answering further questions” and “make no oral or written statements disloyal” to his country “and its allies or harmful to their cause”.

Harmer told the Washington Times, “The U.S. Navy looks extraordinarily incompetent. … In its ability to transit boats without violating Iranian waters, they look incompetent to know how to deal with a mechanical malfunction, and now that they’ve been taken into custody, they’re apologizing.”

Harmer told CNN there was “no reason for a small vessel to be out that far and especially without escorting ships around it”, and “the Navy has to explain why you have small ships transiting 300 miles of open ocean”.

Iran claims its Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the CB90’s GPS gear and that it revealed U.S. espionage. As reported in Defense News, House Armed Services Committee member Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a Marine who served in the Iraq War, claimed there was no way the Iran military “didn’t reverse engineer, or look at and copy everything that they possibly could” of the two commandeered boats’ high-tech equipment.

In the midst of this disaster did Secretary of State John Kerry make another bad deal with Tehran, following last year’s nuclear pact, to get the sailors released swiftly?

All of this warrants a high-profile congressional investigation. Sailors and valuable equipment get captured, are humiliated on video, and finally one ends up making a statement that serves terrorist propaganda purposes.

“Semper Fortis” — always strong [an unofficial motto of the US Navy] — hardly describes what this incident reveals about the U.S. Navy after seven years of Barack Obama.

When the captured crews were released the next morning, the two boats sailed away with no sign of  “mechanical failure”. Had both boats been afflicted with it? Had it been hard or easy to repair? Who repaired it?

Here is more editorial comment from IBD:

Ten U.S. sailors kneel at gunpoint before Iran’s military, then actually apologize, and while held captive, merit no mention in the president’s speech to Congress. It’s American weakness illustrated.

We don’t yet have the full facts on how a U.S. naval vessel was allowed to be seized by the world’s foremost terrorist state. But as Desert Storm infantry commander Gen. Barry McCaffrey (ret.) warned in an NBC News interview, “this is an affront to our military presence in the Gulf and will unsettle our allies in the region.” …

Images can hurt a global power profoundly. … For Iran, images of U.S. sailors kneeling in submission, and video of one apologizing on behalf of the rest — and, by extension, on behalf of the U.S. — are priceless.

“It was our fault,” the sailor said on camera. “And we apologize for our mistake.”

What a comparison with the tortured crew of the U.S.S. Pueblo, captured by North Korea in 1968, who during their captivity discreetly extended their middle fingers when posing for propaganda photos.

Today, Secretary of State John Kerry says, “I want to express my gratitude to Iranian authorities. …”

Gratitude!

As Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said, “Before we thank the Iranian naval forces and attempt to defend and normalize their behavior, as Vice President Biden and Secretaries Kerry and Carter appear inclined to do, we should demand answers” to questions that include:

“Where exactly were the sailors intercepted? Why were they detained instead of being merely escorted into international waters? What was the nature of the technical malfunctions on both vessels? … Was sensitive equipment compromised? (and) Why were the sailors not permitted to contact U.S. higher headquarters in the region for the 16 hours they were detained?”

Cotton also noted that the administration presumes that Iran conducted a rescue mission, “when Iran has characterized the incident as U.S. ships trespassing into its waters and ‘snooping’.”

He added: “Our sailors never should have been detained in the first place, and blithely accepting such action will only embolden the ayatollahs who wish to do harm to Americans and our allies in the Arabian Gulf.”

This humiliation of the U.S. comes less than a week before we lift sanctions unfreezing $150 billion for new terrorist activities, as promised in Obama and Kerry’s Iran nuclear deal — a pact that Tehran has not even been required to sign.

Our sailors were held as Obama stood before Congress on Tuesday night, but they weren’t deemed worthy of mention in the president’s [State of the Union] address.

He could have included among his otherwise untrue boasts one that is outrageously true: that he has achieved something he always said he wanted to achievethe weakening of America.

The “terror” war escalates 7

We face a military challenge unlike any we have had in the past. Our military was designed to defeat the Soviet Union. Now we face tens of thousands – perhaps millions – of anonymous enemies armed with cheap weapons, but advantaged by the element of surprise and the will to commit suicide in order to damage us. We have entered a new and terrible epoch of war – and the president has announced that the war is over. 

These extracts are from an article by David P. Goldman at PJ Media:

The collapse of Middle Eastern states from Libya to Afghanistan vastly increases the terrorist recruitment pool, while severely restricting the ability of American intelligence services to monitor and interdict the terrorists. In addition, it intensifies the despair that motivates Muslims like the Tsarnaev brothers or Michael Adebolajo to perpetrate acts of terrorism. That makes President Obama’s declaration that America is winding down the “war on terror” – a misnomer to begin with – the worst decision by an American commander-in-chief since the Buchanan administration, perhaps ever. …

The breakdown of putative nation-states extends across nearly all of the Muslim world. …

The prime minister of Libya “has to cross checkpoints manned by five different militias, on his way home from office”.

In place of regular armies controlled by dictators, Libya is crisscrossed by ethnic and sectarian militias (including the one that murdered our ambassador last September).

Egypt is on the brink of economic collapse and state failure; Iraq is in the midst of a low-intensity sectarian war; Syria’s civil war already is being fought out in Lebanon; and Turkey’s border has become unstable.

A vast number of young men have been drawn into irregular combat. Syria has become the cockpit of a Sunni-Shi’ite war, with Turkey and the Gulf states funneling money and jihadists into Syria while Iran sends Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah irregulars to the aid of the Assad regime. The young men of Libya already are mobilized into militias; Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood cells and Salafists and football mobs are not yet armed, but are organized. Iraq’s sectarians are armed to the teeth, in part thanks to American funding of the “Sunni Awakening” during the 2007-2008 surge. Very large numbers of young men are ready to fight to the death, while the breakup of the fragile civilian society of these countries draws more and more of them into the maelstrom. Terrorism has become a way of life in Syria, where both sides instigate atrocities, in part to intimidate their opponents and in part to bind their own fighters to the cause by making them complicit in such crimes.

If Afghanistan fed the terrorist pool during the 1980s and the 1990s, the sectarian wars of the 2010s will increase the prospective pool of terrorists – young men with no skill except irregular warfare, nothing to return to, nothing to lose, and with no motivation except fanatical hatred. …

America leaned on Arab governments; after the overthrow and execution of Saddam Hussein, it had considerable credibility to do so. Nasty, dictatorial, oppressive regimes usually chose to help rather than thwart the U.S. out of fear that they would be next. That is why it was a good idea to make a horrible example out of one unfriendly regime (I would have preferred Iran), and why I supported the American invasion of Iraq (although not the nation-building commitment that followed).

Arab governments are less states than hotels, where the proprietor rents out rooms without asking too many questions about what happens inside the rooms. It is possible to twist the proprietor’s arm to kick down the doors when the behavior of the guests becomes to troublesome. Now many of the states are gone. There is no-one to lean on. There are no cooperative state intelligence services to control their own unruly elements and do our dirty work.

The result is an enormous increase in the number of prospective terrorists and a drastic reduction in our capacity to control them.

The motivation for terrorism has increased correspondingly. Radicalized Muslims must now contemplate the ruin of their civilization from Tripoli to Kabul. Millions of Syrians are displaced and have no homes to go back to. Millions of Egyptians are hungry. Not only the suffering, but the humiliation of the national ruin of Egypt and Syria leave radical Muslims with little to hope for. The motivation to take as much of the world down with them [as they can] has mushroomed in the context of state failure.

It is not simply a matter of non-state actors running out of control. The remaining states, prominently Iran, have seized the opportunity to increase their ability to use terror on a grand scale. Iran’s open attempt to turn Syria into a Persian satrapy–through Hezbollah as well as the infiltration of tens of thousands of Iranian fighters–is intended to gain control of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal and to turn Syria into a weapons platform from which to attack Israel. The scattering of Middle Eastern arsenals (starting with Qaddafi’s shoulder-fired surface-t0-air missiles), meanwhile, provides terrorists with a quality of weaponry they never before possessed.

There simply is no historic precedent for this deadly mixture of state and civil breakdown. American policy has piled blunder atop blunder. …

America devoted its main attention during the 2000s to nation building in Iraq while ignoring Iran’s expansionism in the region. By wasting resources and credibility on Iraqi nation-building and neglecting Iran’s influence, the United States allowed the Shia government in Baghdad to drift toward the Iranian sphere of influence, compelling Iraq’s Sunnis to respond. Funding and arming the “Sunni Awakening” during the 2008 surge gave the Sunnis the means to respond. And encouraging the Muslim Brotherhood to replace Mubarak was a destabilizing factor. Threatened by Iranian expansion on one side, and encouraged by the Brotherhood’s success in Egypt on the other, Syria’s Sunnis decided that the moment had come to overthrow the Assad regime.

At the moment, Assad is winning, chiefly because he has received and will continue to receive massive help from Iran and Russia.

And meanwhile the US, under Obama’s feeble leadership, is doing nothing except reinforcing the Muslim Brotherhood at home and abroad. Whatever aggressive war it was that Bush actively engaged in, under whatever misnomer, was at least a recognition that defense was needed against the Islamic onslaught on the West. It intensifies, and Obama manages not to notice it.

For those who do notice it, to hope that internal – chiefly Sunni-Shiite – conflict may keep the attention of jihadis off America and the West, or bring about mutual defeat and ruin, is to indulge in desperate optimism.

However unwillingly, America is caught up in the “new and terrible epoch of war”. What should it be doing?  Goldman does not say. John McCain seems to think the rebels in Syria should be actively supported, even though they consist mainly of al-Qaeda terrorists. Secretary of State Kerry is totally absorbed in trying to revive that ancient game in which Israel and the Palestinian Authority talked at cross purposes about making… peace was it, or was it butter out of moonbeams?

So what should be done? Suggestions anybody?