Remember, 2013 was before Islamic State emerged, before its blitzkrieg dramatically changed the game in Iraq, before the declaration of the caliphate prompted a spike in world terrorism, before Turkey’s military incursions into Iraq and Syria, and before the Eur­opean immigration crisis. His piece is a cracker – a must-read for political junkies and all who are fascinated and frightened by the absurdities of recent US politics. The May Government’s hamfistedness is such that at Year End, many pundits are saying that the public have forgotten the incompetence of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and predict that against all odds, his missus could soon be measuring up for curtains in Number Ten. Africa, where efforts to work through regional coalitions against terrorists are already well advanced, naturally lends itself to this strategy, which could be further enhanced through France and its G5 Sahel regional coalition, which is already operating against Islamic State in northwest Africa. Analysts warned this year that extremism poses as much risk today as it did in 1995. Armed groups have formed across the political spectrum, worsening divisions the coronavirus has exposed in American society. The final new factor is that Pakistan seems to have finally decided its interests are best served by peace in Afghanistan — hence the release of Baradar and the willingness to support talks. Protesters, some heavily armed, are out in force to demand reopening of the economy. The term “Boogaloo” is widely used for the coming civil war. Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains And the act There is no public evidence of any relationship between Nazzaro and Russian intelligence, though his presence in Russia triggered speculation in the media and within The Base itself. Seeing Through the Eyes of the Other publishes a column by indomitable ninety-four year old Israeli writer and activist Uri Avnery, a reminder that the world looks different from the other side of the wire. Starting as rioting in Bogota — driven by pre-existing urban-rural, left-right, class and racial divisions — violence spread to the countryside as the two main political parties, the Colombian Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, mobilised rural supporters to attack each other’s communities. Most Australians are in headquarters roles in Kabul, at Camp Qargha (the officer academy near Kabul), as advisers to the Afghan Air Force, and at the training, advisory and assistance command for Afghanistan’s southern region in Kandahar. This week, as Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and start reimposing sanctions on ­Teh­ran, a chorus of condemnation broke out on both sides of the Atlantic. Then Barack Oba­ma, in announcing his surge in December 2009, also (very helpfully for the Taliban) announced its end date, later extended by NATO but still resulting in a rigid timetable for withdrawal. Kilcullen grew up on Sydney's north shore, the son of academics. by David Kilcullen Oxford University Press, 352 pp. Indeed, the theory of guerrilla and unconventional warfare fits today’s situation all too well. Indeed, it’s possible we might be witnessing the early signs of a new approach with the potential to transform America’s overseas military posture, though also carrying enhanced risk of war and other unintended consequences. and a cavalcade of well cast, well-written and original characters. Saudi leaders also have expressed a willingness to participate in strikes within Syria (making Saudi Arabia a de facto coalition partner with Israel, a tricky political position for Saudi leaders). Picture: AFP From Inquirer 15 minute read The rise of militias and armed protesters across the US is sometimes seen. For political reasons, Israeli and Arab components would operate separately, but Washington would co-ordinate with each and support both to prevent the re-emergence of Islamic State while containing and undermining Iran, ­Hezbollah and Russia (with the emphasis very much on Iran). These criticisms, too, are overblown. But again, the key question is why Assad’s forces felt the need to use the nerve agent in the first place. America may well be in a “pre-McVeigh moment”. 283 kr. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Saudi crown prince seem to have successfully sold Trump on their expansive vision of the Iranian threat, creating the possibility that Washington may be manipulated into decisions that run counter to its own wider interests. When Americans think of modern warfare, what comes to mind is the US army skirmishing with terrorists and insurgents in the mountains of Afghanistan. This would reduce the requirement for Pakistan to tolerate the Taliban, since there would no longer be a strategic rationale to destabilise Afghanistan. And under those circumstances, winning the war was desirable but continuing it was mandatory, since it was the war that guaranteed international engagement. To me, current conditions feel disturbingly similar to things I have seen in Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Colombia. All this means that — after 18 years in which everybody wanted to end the war, but everybody also wanted some other objective even more and was willing to continue the war rather than risk that other goal — things might finally be changing for Afghanistan. On the seventieth anniversary of the birth of India and Pakistan, we looked at this momentous first retreat from Empire with three posts: Freedom at Midnight (1) – the birth of India and Pakistan, Freedom at Midnight (2) – the legacy of partition, and Weighing the White Man’s Burden. Unsurprisingly, doing exactly that has become a major priority for Assad. In the land of the fearful, the home of the heavily armed, matters can very easily spiral out of control get out of hand. https://howlinginfinite.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/51-days-at-waco.pdf, Between the idea That’s why Baradar’s release by Pakistan last October — and his participation in the most recent talks in Doha last month, by far the most productive to date — was such a big deal. Home of the hateful, fearful and heavily armed. The strategy’s other key benefit is its low cost and ability to preserve (or, in this case, restore) strategic freedom of action. Knocking out Khan Sheikhoun from the air would immediately collapse the rebel salient, letting the regime stabilise the front line. These ­decisions, over near-un­animous Republican opposition, made the deal a bone of partisan contention from the outset, a pro­blem Obama’s staff exacerbated through a manipulative media campaign that drew harsh criticism when disclosed in 2016. Vladimir Lenin once remarked that “there are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks when decades happen”. Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion, Red lines and red herrings and Syria’s enduring torment, The Ricochet of Trump’s Counterrevolution, A Brief History of the Rise and Fall of the West, Freedom at Midnight (1) – the birth of India and Pakistan, Freedom at Midnight (2) – the legacy of partition, The Bard in the Badlands – Hell is empty and the devils are here, Why we’ve never stopped loving the Beatles, The Shock of the Old – the Glory Days of Prog Rock, A Middle East Miscellany قصص الشرق الأوسط, A Short History Of The Rise And Fall Of The West, Better read than dead – books and reading, Down Under – Australian history and politics, Foggy ruins of time – from history’s pages, Losing Earth – Tarkeeth and other matters environmental, My country, ’tis of thee – on matters American, Land of the fearful – home of the heavily armed, Race riots spread after death of unarmed black man. A ­series of incidents in the Middle East and the increasing pain of US economic sanctions motivate Tehran to create internal distractions for the US, relieving pressure on itself. The armed, gun-toting element is smaller still, but higher in skill, weaponry, organisation and motivation. Again, there is no public evidence of such activity at present, but ­Iranian operatives watching the US today would be remiss not to consider it. David Kilcullen The deadly Beirut blast might force its corrupt leaders to accept reform. All this put Trump’s punitive strike in the political mainstream, making him look positively, well, Clintonian. This risk is severe in the Middle East, where Iran and Russia are sponsoring their own proxies. There were the latest seasons of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. ; a fiftieth anniversary tribute to Liverpool poets Roger McGough, Adrian Henri and Brian Patten, Recalling the Mersey Poets; and musical settings to two of our poems, the aforementioned Oh, Jerusalem, and E Lucevan Le Stelle. Reference was made to the Soviet Union’s destructive, demoralizing and ultimately debilitating invasion and nine year occupation (some 15,000 Soviet soldiers died, and 35,000 were wounded whilst about two million Afghan civilians were killed) which left the land in the tyrannical thrall of competing warlords; and to America’s own Vietnam quagmire. Here is his latest piece  for The Australian on this subject. If the first wave of the coronavirus tsunami was its health effect, the second — economic devastation — may be worse. There could be a surge in fighting, as warlords once again reassert their influence and as ISIS and al Qaeda take advantage of the situation. The Taliban appears happy to deal – and may be willing to accede to the US’ conditions  to rid themselves of the Americans knowing that if they renege on their word, the GIs are unlikely to return. and here are Those were the years that were : read our past reviews here:  2016   2015. Australia has suffered 41 fatalities, with more than half killed in 2010 and 2011 at the peak of our commitment. He contends that war today often resides in liminal strategies, or strategies that “Ride the edge of detection in order to achieve political and military goals without triggering a response.” Conflict resolution expert and mediator Lawrence Susskind encapsulated it thus: when two sides are locked into an apparently intractable conflict, “you must engage the constructive middle. And finally, on a light note, a brief summary of what we were watching during the year. Corporate. Again, this puts pressure on Taliban negotiators to find a solution. Click on the picture below to read the New York Times’ commentary on the negotiations. Between the motion Assad’s reliance on artillery and aircraft underlines his lack of ground assets: despite Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah support, his forces have their hands full consolidating control over Aleppo, trying to relieve the isolated city of Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria, and fighting on the southern front against other rebel groups. During the Iraq War, he served in Baghdad as a member of the Joint Strategic Assessment Team, then as Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor, Multi-National Force Iraq in 2007, … Besides enhanced war risk, the other important concern of an ­offshore-balancing strategy is that it leaves Washington vulnerable to being played by its partners. Underground networks operate using a clandestine cell structure, and communicate via the deep web and tools such as Telegram or RocketChat, secure-messaging apps that have become havens for extremists as more open channels, including chat rooms such as the neo-Nazi forum Iron March, have been shut down. If interference does occur, US armed groups probably would not know it. Likewise, Iran — which lost Qassem Soleimani, head of its Revolutionary Guards covert action arm, the Quds Force, to a US drone strike in January — has been on a path of military confrontation with the US for years. His comment after his trial — that the 19 children killed, of 168 dead and 680 injured, were “collateral damage” — highlighted his military mindset and intent to trigger an anti-­government uprising. Meanwhile, in our own rustic backyard, we are still “going up against chaos”, to quote Canadian songster Bruce Cockburn. Yiddish – the language that won’t go away. Containing the Taliban as a remote, rural threat, grave enough to stop the international community abandoning Afghanistan yet able to be gradually overcome as a long-term national project (with international money and help) would be ideal. For most Syrians I’ve spoken to, the idea that anyone engaged in the uprising since 2011 would sit down again under Assad is ludicrous, and many have told me the biggest winner so far isn’t Islamic State but al-Qa’ida, through its Nusra affiliate. In the dark times, will there also be singing? The recent announcement that US and Taliban negotiators had agreed a framework for peace talks was greeted as a breakthrough in the 18-year war. After the International Security Assistance Force departed at the end of 2014, the Taliban immediately began ramping up its activity, and within a year it was gaining ground, taking the fight to Afghan cities, and projecting force into Afghanistan from its haven in Pakistan. And fear of the coronavirus, alongside the demonstrable inability of government to keep people safe, is driving today’s growth in armed militancy. In the end 200,000 people were killed, two million were displaced and the Colombian Army — after initially staying out of the conflict — eventually stepped in to end the violence, seizing control in a coup in 1953. In the first few years after 9/11 the Taliban was in disarray — its senior leadership group, the Quitta Shura, wasn’t even founded until October 2003, two years after the US-led invasion. If violence does spread, it will not be a re-run of the American Civil War. Before America toppled the Taliban regime, Afghanistan was a violent theocratic despotism. Last month’s coalition strike on Syria sent a similar message in that it avoided targeting the Assad regime’s leadership or Russian and Iranian assets in Syria. Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion juxtaposes Khalil Gibran’s iconic poem against a politically dysfunctional, potentially dystopian present, whilst Red lines and red herrings and Syria’s enduring torment features a cogent article by commentator and counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen. On a lighter note, we revisited our tribute to the wildlife on our rural retreat in the bucolic The Country Life. After 25 years in the military, Dr. David Kilcullen needed a change. The folk who brought you the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan are back, and are keen to attend to unfinished business: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-100-days-in-office-foreign-policy-war-air-strikes-syria-afghanistan-north-korea-a7707946.html, David Kilcullen. And same-sex couples can marry in the eyes of God and the state from January 9th 2018. He bombed a building that housed the federal agencies he blamed, along with a childcare centre. In that case Turkey, too, would play a role in containing Iran and preventing the re-­emergence of Islamic State — the two paramount US objectives. The most important is proxy conflict, which can spiral out of control when more than one external power backs local actors, drawing them into confrontation. David Kilcullen, The Australian, 30th May 2020. Its disadvantage is that interventions, when they do occur, can be extremely costly. See also, Salon’s piece on the subject of America’s militias,  Soldiers of the Boogaloo -the far rights plans for a new civil war and the Washington Post’s  What is antifa and Why does Donald Trump want to blame if for the violence in the US? As such, this is a low-cost approach — something military planners call an “economy of effort” strategy — that reduces exposure and preserves freedom of action. Conservative Christian politicians imposed upon us an expensive, unnecessary and bitterly divisive plebiscite on same-sex marriage which took forever. There are real risks to allied aircraft over Syria from Russian and Syrian air defences, and to special forces and conventional troops (there are now, according to media reporting, as many as 1500 rangers, marines and special forces on the ground in Syria) in the event of strikes against the regime. Other recent signs include statements by Trump to the effect that he seeks to withdraw from Syria while sponsoring an Arab coalition to prevent the re-emergence of Islamic State. How will declining America make itself “great again” in a multipolar world set to be dominated by Russia Redux and resurgent China. Although it’s ship of state is taking in water, Saudi Arabia will continue its quixotic and perverse adventures in the Gulf and the Levant. Unlike Iraq, where recapturing Mosul and crushing the caliphate is a key first step toward stabilising the country, in Syria the greatest threat to stability is Assad himself. By Thursday, militarised police were on the streets firing tear gas and rubber bullets against vociferous opposition. On the Taliban side, winning has always been the ultimate goal but, like other stakeholders, the insurgents have been willing to let the war drag on without a resolution. In Minneapolis, the killing by white police officers of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, brought thousands of protesters on to the streets for several nights of rioting, with multiple buildings and cars burned and shopping malls and restaurants looted. David John Kilcullen FRGS is an Australian author, strategist, and counterinsurgency expert who is currently the non-executive Chairman of Caerus Associates, a strategy and design consulting firm that he founded. Donald Trump is as much a symptom as a cause of America’s toxic polarization. For the first time in years, the Taliban now has a negotiator at the table with the power to deliver on agreements, and the fact that Pakistan released Baradar to participate suggests that Islamabad, too, is serious about finding a path to peace in Afghanistan. Against this background, last week’s strike seems almost laughably symbolic: 60-odd Tomahawk cruise missiles, launched from two US navy ships in the Mediterranean, with allied aircraft kept away from Syrian air defences, and the Russians (and thus, presumably, their Syrian proteges) given plenty of warning to get out of the way. The rise of militias and armed protesters across the US is sometimes seen as a fringe right-wing issue, but it is much broader. For coalition partners, and allies including Australia, the aim has been to demonstrate commitment, strengthen ties to Washington and thereby increase access to the political, economic and security benefits these ties offer. Today, far-left and far-right groups operate within close striking distance of each other in several border states and in “contested zones” including the Pacific Northwest, parts of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the Carolinas. Dr. David Kilcullen is a former soldier and diplomat, and a scholar of guerrilla warfare, terrorism, urbanisation and the future of conflict, who served 25 years for the Australian and United States governments. And it was before the Iranian nuclear deal of 2015 brought a flood of funds, advisers and troops from Tehran to further bolster the regime. A week later demonstrators, some carrying AK-47 rifles, swarmed into the state ­capital in Lansing, Michigan, to confront politicians. No coalition partner would be fighting in Afghanistan without Washington, and none can win or lose the war on its own. 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