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Middle East Aflame
Mattis Wants a Political Solution in Yemen
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  • Proud Skeptic

    “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f**k with me, I’ll kill you all”

  • D4x

    None of this is about Sec Mattis’ ‘stock rising higher’. TeamTrump can not be measured, analyzed, or assessed from the point of view “that is not how it worked in previous administrations”.

    It is difficult to understand the difference, but not impossible: “…The means are more than just a strong military. Trump believes in using all the instruments of power, hard and soft. He has unleashed
    Nikki Haley on the United Nations. He has ordered Rex Tillerson to revamp the State Department so that it is focused on the core tasks of statecraft and the effective and appropriate use of foreign assistance. He wants an intelligence community that delivers intelligence and doesn’t just cater to what the White House wants to hear. And he has ordered Homeland Security to shift from being
    politically correct to operationally effective. Further, it’s clear that Tillerson, Kelly, Mattis and Sessions are all trying to pull in the same
    direction.

    The ways of the Trump strategy are not the engagement and enlargement of Clinton, the rearranging of the world by Bush, or the
    disengagement of Obama. The world is filled with intractable problems. Trump is less interested in trying to solve all of them in a New-York minute and more concerned about reducing those problems so that they give the United States and its friends and allies less and less trouble. …”

    http://nationalinterest.org/feature/trump-has-foreign-policy-strategy-20284?page=show

  • ——————————

    Am glad Trump is letting the military run, and make decisions for, the military…instead of non-military politicians.

    A good manager not only hires the right people, but let’s them do their job….

  • leoj

    Unconditionally backing the Saudis could lead them to push a limited campaign too far and try to win the war outright, with the humanitarian situation deteriorating in the meantime.

    Some explanation is in order as to why an outright victory for the Gulf coast forces against an Iranian proxy is bad. Has the region benefitted from other such frozen conflicts between, for example, Israel and Hezbollah? It seems high time we choose a side and see that that side wins decisively. The deterioration in the short-term of the ‘humanitarian situation’ should be credited to the account of our enemies as a price for standing against us. The days of deferring to a State Dept. that has effectively become an advocate for our enemies are hopefully past.

    • D4x

      May an understaffed State Dep’t. become the new normal. How long before the pundits notice that what happens in Yemen is part of the plan, linked, that includes Sinai, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, regarding ISIS and Iran/Hezbollah?

      • leoj

        Did you see Leibovitz’s excellent holiday piece? http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/229995/do-like-the-pharaoh

        What if we set out to simply eliminate those foes who endangered our strategic interests and inflicted untold pain and suffering on millions of innocent human beings? To read the Haggadah literally, it’s quite possible that, crushed by might, our enemies would do what all humans do under similar circumstances and abandon hope for any resolution save for that which arrives from the heavens. And if might can be used for good, hallelujah.

        Iran and its proxies need to relearn their reliance on heavenly powers and harken unto their God. It is time the world teach them this lesson.

        • Isaiah601

          May what you wrote come true speedily, in our time.

        • ——————————

          Yeah, Leibovitz is my kind of guy! Great read, BTW.

          I never believed that ‘winning hearts and minds’ is a permanent solution to conflict…as the left, academia, and the global aristocracy has. It is the antithesis of basic human nature that has shaped us since the beginning.

          Darwinism is the only permanent solution….

        • D4x

          TY, yes, Liebowitz’ read of the Haggadah is excellent! It reveals the way to end the Era of Frozen Conflicts too many have suffered from since 1945.

  • KremlinKryptonite

    Mattis is far more experienced than he needs to be in order to know why Saudi (successfully) was able to form the Arab coalition to intervene against Iranian-backed Houthi and Saleh forces.

    It’s not a coinkydink that Iranians made their move as the US turned its head to Asia. It’s also no coinkydink that the Saudi’s were so successful in setting up the coalition with a huge command center in Riyadh.

  • Fat_Man

    Talking about negotiated peace, and political solutions in the Middle East is just as stupid in Yemen as it is in Israel. Indeed, it is just as stupid as it was when Wilson sought peace without victory in WWI. Peace is achieved when one side is beaten so badly that it knows the only alternative to peace is extinction.

    • RedWell

      That is just empirically wrong for most modern wars (http://www.economist.com/content/inner-turmoil ), which often involve insurgencies, terror networks, ethnic fights, religious mobilization and so on. It’s simple to defeat a state. It’s almost impossible to crush modern insurgencies, without resorting to genocide, of course.

      Take two examples, both of which were not interstate wars and lasted decades. The FARC recently made peace with the Colombian government – after negotiations. The Tamil Tigers about a decade ago lost their war. But only after the government, in effect, committed a massive war crime by slaughtering the all the fighters along with many of their associated civilians.

      Talking tough sounds great, but it’s the easy strength of militarists and authoritarians.

      • Fat_Man

        It is the way the world is. Not the way you want to be.

        • ——————————

          Some people live in a world the way it ‘should be’, not in a world the way ‘it is’…..

          • Fat_Man

            Only in their dreams.

      • leoj

        Of course insurgencies can be crushed–other than the case of the Tamil Tigers which you yourself mention, just look how forces allied to the Houthis are crushing it in Syria. Is there any question that, if they were able to do this in Yemen, they would hesitate for one moment? It seems that the prospect that we may (somehow?) commit genocide is enough to induce quiesence, even if it means decisively ending a war where genocide is already actually transpiring. I expect no one will stop them in Syria, but why allow a similar situation to unfold in Yemen (or Israel), where there is a strong local desire among our allies that the thorn not be allowed to fester.

        As for your talk of the “easy strength of militarists and authoritarians,” I wonder what your ‘hard strength’ is (relative to this situation) and why we might need it. Are you promising more of the sweet fruits of democracy promotion and ‘soft power’ for the region?

        • D4x

          From the joint press conference Sec Mattis and IDM Liberman, in Tel Aviv. a very careful descriptor for Lebanese Hezbollah “…“Iran continues to threaten Israel and its neighbors with ballistic missiles through its maritime and cyber activities and through proxies and surrogates, including Lebanese Hezbollah, a terrorist organization helping to keep [President Bashar Assad] in power in Syria,” Mattis said.

          “Our alliance with Israel is the cornerstone of a larger regional security architecture, which includes cooperation with Egypt, Jordan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf partners,” he said. “My goal is to further strengthen our partnerships in this region to deter and defeat threats and ultimately, to temper our adversaries’ designs.” …”

          https://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/1159485/mattis-praises-americas-security-partnership-with-israel/

          Cornerstone.

          • leoj

            Indeed. Some nice words for the local press? 🙂

            Less cynically, shared values and trust go a long way. Also, competency I imagine. Now, if miracle of miracles the pals issue could somehow be resolved to the benefit of all worthy parties. Not holding my breath.

          • D4x

            The pals should be twisted over the new ME ‘linkage’ for the USA: “Our alliance with Israel is the cornerstone of a larger regional security …”. That’s a huge shift.

            “Lebanese Hezbollah, a terrorist organization” is a big deal too.

            Abbas might be wondering what’s next.

          • leoj

            OT… I think you’ll like this article… http://theweek.com/articles/694355/trumps-first-100-days-not-failure-far-from

            For all the similarities to Davos Men of yore, we haven’t seen anything quite like the Kushner wing in the White House. And with all the fur flying around Trump’s ostensibly reactionary rebellion, we’re apt to miss the real revolution unfolding in our midst.

          • D4x

            TY. We shall see. US media is in deep resistance mode of the Kushner wing. Might be too many stilettoes clacking around. Real Progressives do not wear stilettoes. They DO have a shoe litmus test. ( A bit of sarcasm implied, because of Ivanka being disrespected in Germany)

        • RedWell

          Largely missing my point. I don’t disagree that insurgencies can be defeated, I’m pointing out the fact that such victory is difficult and the other fact that, due to this difficulty, insurgencies have expanded in number and length relative to conventional, interstate wars.

          On power, you are welcome to caricature my points as liberal utopian, but, apparently, that is a projection based upon an inference of what I must be and what my agenda must be.

          My real point is that power and coercion are two different things. And if you have to resort to coercion, you are losing a piece of your power. Militarists and authoritarians rely on the rhetoric and reality of coercion. That’s easier than real power. By contrast, real power flows from legitimacy or, failing that, intimidation. Which displays and preserves power more: getting Saddam to do what you want through intimidation or invading his country. Clearly, the former, as you point out.

          See for example Morgenthau: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/morg6.htm

          • leoj

            I’m not trying to caricature you or your views–you seem like a bright guy who values disputation, so take it as that.

            Power and coercion are different, but not mutually exclusive as it seems you are suggesting. Unless there is some metaphysical distinction being drawn between coercion and intimidation. In which case, what is it? (And don’t tell me to read the Morgenthau piece, which looks interesting but too long for me to read at the moment. Feel free to summarize the relevant points.)

            I would say it is just as likely that insurgencies have proliferated because of international intervention as that they are so hard to crush. International bodies that have been effectively gamed mitigate the risk of starting conflict. Take, for example, this notion of ‘war crime.’ According to the common definition, it is never a crime to start a war, but only to end it in a certain decisive fashion. That is a strange conception of a crime….

  • Anthony

    On April 18, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis paid a two-day visit to the Saudi capital as part of a weeklong regional tour.

    In the 21st century, whose interests are really being served by this Middle East vectoring of resources?

    “In the aftermath of World War II, the United States took over as the Middle East’s great power patron…Washington still needs Riyadh because of the U.S. balance of power strategy…At the very least, the United States does not want to see the Saudis weakened. This would create more room for not only Iran but also IS.” https://geopoliticalfutures.com/us-saudi-alliance/

  • solstice

    The Houthis (like Hezbollah) are appalling people, but (also like Hezbollah) they are doing the West’s dirty work by killing Al-Qaeda and ISIS-type Sunnis. Trying to force a political solution by bombing the Houthis would therefore be a terrible decision. The best policy is to stay out and hope that these rival Islamic factions remain at each other’s throats and bleed each other white for as long as possible.

  • The Houthis are bitter enemies of al-Qaeda in Yemen…and yet the United States seems determined to attack both at the same time, it makes little sense, to be honest.

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