Beyond the Cusp

December 28, 2011

How Many Heads Does a Caliphate Need?

The obvious answer is a Caliphate, by definition, has only one head. That then leads to the big question of which country, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or who? This is the question currently leading to much of the posturing and maneuverings of the different Muslim counties and the results are anything but obvious as of yet. Some might suggest that perhaps having a committee of three countries leading the Caliphate with each assigned their own areas of control, then the three current primary contenders, Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia could claim preeminence and such a compromise might allow things to progress somewhat smoothly. I think not, that would never work as none of the three would agree to share power. Then there might be those who would suggest seven. That is too Christian end-times for it to work for a Muslim Caliphate. Assuming for the moment that all the talk about the coming unification of the Muslim World under one leader and the reemergence of the Caliphate is actually in the works, then who has the best claim or chance of taking the lead might be a good question to answer.

Turkey claims that since the Ottoman Empire was the last and longest holder of the title of leader of the caliphate that they are the logical choice. Needless to say, this argument has not exactly inspired any great confidence or following. Iran is claiming that their military superiority, imminent conquest of nuclear power (for peaceful purposes, of course), and the fact they are the only true Sharia Governance under the guidance of a Supreme Leader who is an Imam and is supported by a Supreme Council comprised of Imams making them the most Islamic and thus the preeminent choice for leading the Caliphate. They are also the loudest which also seems to matter. Then there is Saudi Arabia and the Family Saud, the Keepers of the Holy Cities, Mecca and Medina, the Guardian of the Holy Places, and I am sure numerous other titles to do with being the birthplace of Mohammed and Islam. Saudi Arabia also has one of the best armed militaries, even if they have shown little ability to actually use their military hardware, and are the current leadership of the GCC, Gulf Cooperation Council, which is an alliance which will be further defined later in this article. The one thing that needs to be kept in mind is that until the Arab Spring, Arab Winter as we call the change of oppression from dictator to Sharia, finishes shaking out and the new leaderships have taken their positions and cemented their power, we may have additional contestants in this deadly gamesmanship of who is the most powerful and most Muslim within the Islamic realms. One definite entry will be Egypt which has been the central power of sorts ever since Gamal Abdel Nasser became the Egyptian President in January 1955 when the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) appointed him as president. I will assume there are other pretenders to the Caliphate, but time will reveal those with claims of consequence.

Iran and Turkey, both being non-Arab Muslim countries, are pretty much stand-alone entities which are making their claim to head of the Caliphate on simply their own merit and force of will, or force of arms if such becomes their only option, the option of last resort. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is very much an Arab country and as such can use this to their advantage to draw support from other Arab countries in their efforts to claim the title of Caliph. Normally, the contest for leader of the Arab Muslim World usually exists between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. This has usually resulted in Egypt being the face of the Arab World to the West and Saudi Arabia settling for the vast network and influence they have bought though their financing of the Wahhabi movement and network of Mosques and Madrasas, a world-wide network that is spreading faster today than ever. This, in reality, pits the two largest networks of Sunni Islam against each other, Wahhabis and the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia is also taking a secondary route to preeminence through the GCC. They have recently pressed forward with the idea that the GCC should transform from a strictly political and trade organization and become a military alliance using fear of Iranian expansionary threat as a motivating force. At the same time, the Saudi Monarchs are also putting forth an idea of expanding the GCC beyond the Gulf State by offering non-Gulf States membership. This invitation has already been extended to Jordan and an invitation to Egypt is under consideration. Should the expansion of the GCC become the link which allows the Muslim Brotherhood and Wahhabis to unite this would circumvent a potential divide in the Sunni alliance and allow for Egypt and Saudi Arabia to work as allies instead of as separate contenders for the crown.

The next immediate confrontation that bears observation is, of course, Syria, and as a consequence, Lebanon, Hamas, Hezballah, the PLO, and the rest of the alphabet soup of Palestinians terror networks and groups. Syria is the focal point upon which all the rest are balanced. Syria is more than another uprising of the Arab Winter, it is also a contest of wills and influence between Turkey and Iran. Iran is backing President Bashar Assad while Turkey is backing the Syrian rebel forces along with Saudi Arabia, the Arab League, and the West. The importance of this conflict is the affect it will have on the other militarized groups dependent currently on Iran for their support in all areas including arms, finances, training, logistics, political cover, and other sundry supporting factors. Should Syria be torn from its current ties with Iran and realigned with Turkey, or the less likely Saudi Arabia, then the supplying of Hezballah and their stranglehold on power in Lebanon becomes far more difficult. With Syria and Turkey allied and should Saudi Arabia extend their control to include Egypt, all routes from Iran to Lebanon, and also Gaza, even should they gain strong influence over Iraq, something we at BTC honestly expect in the not too distant future, become impossible to maintain. All air routes would be required to cross Syria and likely also Turkey and all sea routes which are tenable would require use of the Suez Canal, thus Iran would lose their ability to supply and thus influence Hezballah, Hamas and any other of their satellite groups who border Israel. This would seriously weaken Iranian influence and virtually remove their current threat abilities against Israel and would serve to inflate the standing of Turkey and remove much of the threat of Iran against Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Sunni Middle East. Such a break might even give Iraq reason to resist Iranian influences and ally with Turkey though unlikely to align with Sunni Saudi Arabia or join the GCC.

Israel is still the main focus for most of the Arab and Muslim World of the Middle East and much of North Africa. I would expect that we should expect that the new leadership in Libya, once that all shakes out and gets settled, something that may take a good while, will take a renewed interest in Israel and aiding the Palestinian resistance, something they have already attempted to do by shipping captured weapons during the civil war in Libya. Egypt has already shown that their peace treaty with Israel is negotiable if not null and void. Jordan has been invited to join the GCC whose membership is currently at war with Israel and might require Jordan to relent and break their treaty. Where this, on the surface, appears to be making things worse for Israel, should the Caliphate actually appear to be an imminent possibility, then the competition for the leading position might distract everybody into chasing the golden throne and forget Israel for a while. That might prove to be a welcome reprieve with a not so wonderful result unless the contesting countries destroy each other along the way, a distinct possibility.

Beyond the Cusp

December 7, 2011

Arguments For and Against American Troops Protecting Israel

Lately Israel has been the target of even more contentious arguments and disagreements than the excessively high level it normally occupies. Much of this stemmed from the Occupy Movement where Israel and Jews were brought forward as agents who were working against the general population and controlling much of the media, Wall Street, banks, businesses in general, much of the machinations of governments throughout the world, and the foreign policies of the most Western countries and the United States in particular. The rest has come out of the Republican Presidential Debates where it has been argued that Israel and those who support her have held an inordinate amount of sway over government policies, especially when the question is foreign aid to Israel and military support for Israel. Somewhere in the blizzard of new items concerning Israel, somebody put forth the idea that it would be a serious mistake and should never even be considered to send American soldiers to protect Israel. This is important now due to the distinct possibility that they may be involved in a war with Iran or any of the surrounding nations, all of which appear to be growing even more threatening towards Israel, as the continuing Arab nightmare vaults Islamist interests into positions of leadership in these countries. With this item getting some degree of discussion, perhaps the use of American troops in the defense of Israel past, present and future should be discussed and clarified.

We should initially look at the past in order to quantify the place the United States has held in Israeli history. Initially, President Harry Truman ignored the vast majority of his advisors, especially those from the State Department, when he instructed the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Warren Robinson Austin to vote favorably for United Nations Resolution 181 which would lead to the founding of the State of Israel. President Truman went the extra mile by recognizing the nascent Jewish State, Israel, immediately after David ben Gurion declared statehood. During the two years of war that ensued immediately after the declaration of Israeli statehood by numerous Arab countries including Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, the United States continued to enforce their arms embargo on Israel. Israel depended mostly upon France and Jews world-wide who smuggled arms and supplies to Israel, including some Americans. When Israel allied with France and Britain to free the Suez Canal after Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser had nationalized the waterway stating intent to deny the use of this vital route to Asia for non-Muslim European countries, President Dwight David Eisenhower not only continued the arms embargo on Israel, but also insisted that Israel immediately return the entirety of lands taken in their part of this military confrontation. This demand was made despite the fact that the closing of the Suez Canal from use by any country was considered to be a Casus belli for war by international laws, treaties and agreements. This had technically made the Israeli actions to be committed in a defensive act and not as an instigation of war, thus Israel easily could have claimed to retain the lands in question as the international rules of war at that time.

It was not until after the 1967 Six Day War that the United States altered their relationship with Israel. During the Six Day War the United States was still enforcing that very same arms embargo and Israel was critically dependent on France, Germany, and to some extent, England, for their weapons and resupplies. President Lyndon Baines Johnson was fully involved in managing the United States actions in Viet Nam and thus mostly ignored the conflict instigated by Egypt and Syria against Israel. Despite Jordan entering the war in response to requests and promises of sharing the spoils of victory extended by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Israel managed to defeat the combined armies of these three countries in six days and had taken control over the Golan Heights from Syria; Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt; and Judea, Samaria, and Benyamin (aka West Bank) from Jordan. Impressed, perhaps even amazed, with the seeming ease with which Israel defeated its combined enemies in the six Day War, President Lyndon Baines Johnson made a tactical decision which was the beginning of the Israeli American close ties and military cooperation. Despite the new definition of Israel as a close and vital ally, when Israel was caught flatfooted by Egypt and Syria in 1973 and the onset of the Yam Kippur War, President Richard Milhouse Nixon, under advice from Secretary of State Henry Kissinger designed to make Israel feel vulnerable making future pressures more potent, delayed resupplying Israel with the munitions and other weapon systems to replace the rapidly depleted Israeli inventory until the situation became harmfully critical. Since then, most of the military aid given by the United States to Israel has been made with the proviso that Israel spend the vast majority on systems and armaments manufactured by the United States and that should Israel make modifications to such systems that the plans be made available to the United States if so desired by the United States.

Throughout all the conflicts between Israel and her enemies there has been one vital truth that needs mention, namely that never has Israel requested or expected the United States to supply troops to fight alongside the IDF in any capacity. Truth be told, Israel has actually insisted that American troops never be used and have stated they would refuse any offer by the United States to send soldiers to assist Israel in any conflict. The IDF in all its capabilities has, on occasion, trained in joint training exercises. These training exercises have been held in the United States, Israel, and other allied countries of the United States. In the spirit of complete honesty, yes, there have been soldiers from the United States military who have fought as part of the IDF in the past. Every case of such has not been done as assignments of the military commanders of the United States. In every case the people in question have either been retired from the military of the United States, taken a leave in order to assist Israel (usually having to deny that their leave was taken to facilitate their joining in the IDF defense of Israel and such denials have been blindly accepted in every case I am familiar with), or resigned from their service in the militaries of the United States to join the IDF. The most famous of these people was Colonel David Daniel “Mickey” Marcus who served in the IDF during the 1948 Israeli War for Independence. Colonel Marcus became the first Commanding General of the IDF and died in a friendly fire incident as he approached a sentry at night and was shot suspicious that he may have been attempting to infiltrate the IDF positions. The sentry spoke no English and Colonel Marcus spoke no Hebrew which was the root of the misidentification. His story is the theme of the 1966 movie “Cast a Giant Shadow”.

Currently, there exists a squad of American troops in Israel at the insistence of the United States. These troops are manning a highly advanced X-band radar system, also known as an AN/TPY2, which is a powerful phased array radar that is designed to track ballistic missiles through space and provide ground-based missiles with the targeting data needed to intercept them. The United States refused to allow the Israelis to operate the system as it is considered to be a highly secret system which the United States did not wish to allow the Israelis to have access which may lead to their reverse engineering of this advanced and highly technical system. Israel was, obviously, ready, willing, and claimed able to operate this radar system but the United States insisted that the IDF not have access to the unit and provided American personnel to man the radar. These radar operators are not to be used for any combat mission beyond caring and operating the X-band radar system.

The fact is that Israel has not only never requested that the United States or any other country send their soldiers to assist Israel in any manner for her defense. Israel has demanded that nobody who is not an Israeli be made to fight for Israel and that she will fight her own battles. Yes, Israel will ask for aid in the supply and arming of the IDF and has made urgent pleas a small number of times when the Israeli logistics was found to be lacking the necessary depth necessary to meet the resupply demands during times of conflict. The reason for such need becomes evident when one remembers that Israel is barely larger than the state of New Jersey yet has been forced to fight wars on a far larger scale. This is necessitated as Israel exists surrounded by existential enemies sworn to the destruction of the Jewish State and the whole-scale slaughter of her Jewish citizens should they ever lose just one conflict. The fact that Israel has not asked for and has honestly and forcefully refused to accept having soldiers from other countries assist in defending against whatever the odds or the size and scope of the forces which have unified intending their wholesale slaughter is beyond belief, but it is the truth and will always remain truth. Whenever anybody claims that the United States must never send American troops into harm’s way in the defense of Israel, know that they are constructing a strawman argument and are knowingly lying in order to grandstand at Israel’s expense. They are offering their insistence of not getting involved in an Israeli war simply to play on people’s fear of sending our troops into such danger despite the fact such a situation will never ever come to fruition. Those making such arguments need to be outed for the use of a lie that borders on being a blood libel against Israel by implying that there exists an Israeli expectation for others to fight their battles for them. Such has never been and will never be the case. Where Israel may ask for assistance, it would be limited to addressing the situation which presented a threat to more than merely Israel. Such a case is the Iranian nuclear weapons program. But there are those who believe, or at least will claim, that the Iranian nuclear bomb would solely be a threat to Israel and that Iran has no other targets in mind. That is why Iran is working so diligently to produce missiles that are able to carry a warhead to any point on the globe and not limiting their designs on being able to target only Israel.

Beyond the Cusp

September 20, 2011

For What Else will President Obama be Blamed?

All this coming week we can expect to see pundits, editorialists, journalists and others who make their livelihood commenting on politics heaping blame for the events unfolding in New York. There will be those who will claim that President Obama should have worked more diligently to alter the scheduling and subject matter of the Durban III Conference in order to prevent the conference from devolving into simply another blame Israel and Zionists for every evil in the world while ignoring virtually every other culprit all in the name of celebrating the one decade birthday of the original Durban Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. I doubt any actions available to President Obama would have been capable of having any influence to alter Durban III from being anything other than a collective hate-fest against Israel and Zionists in particular and all Jews in general. Simply put, the Durban Conferences will never ever change their discourse or the chosen victim of the vile echo-chamber first set in stone by the first conference held in Durban, South Africa back in 2001 just one week before the horrific 9/11 terror attacks.

The other event for which the blame will be placed at President Obama’s feet is the expected petitioning of the United Nations in both the Security Council and the General Assembly attempting to attain recognition as a nation state with full United Nations membership. Where some of the blame is most likely legitimate to be placed at President Obama’s feet, much of the Palestinian actions were very likely inevitable and the President likely only hurried them along. The Palestinians had probably planned to make such moves to attain statehood and were simply waiting for what they would perceive as the most opportunistic of situations, and President Obama simply made now feel most opportunistic to the Palestinian leadership. Such was bound to all fall into place sooner or later no matter how prudently the rest of the world acted in order to prevent such events. Despite all those placing much of the blame for the Palestinian attempt for recognition internationally through the United Nations enabling the supplanting the need to negotiate with Israel on President Obama, the supportive actions and intent of the vast majority of NGO’s, the human rights experts and proponents, as well as much of much of Europe and numerous countries outside of the Western nations having been pounding the drums calling for the formation of the Palestinian state would have facilitated these same events sometime in the near future. So, President Obama may have made some obviously detrimental moves concerning the Middle East and Israel, his contributions were not the pivotal excuses that facilitated the Palestinians moves this week.

I guess I should find something different to lay blame at the feet of the President so as not to feel left out of all the fun and the enthusiasm of the Blame Obama movement. In an area fairly removed from the Middle East geographically actually shares a similar form of trouble as does Israel in that countries are facing a problem of an insatiable adversary attempting to infringe on territory they control and further isolate them from the rest of the area and the world by wresting control over these contested areas. The problem concerns the areas around the South China Sea, the East China Sea, the Spratly Islands, and the claims of administrative possession China is attempting to force upon the rest of the countries in the area. Included among these countries are the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, and Taipei which are facing a growing military threat by China to take possession by force if necessitated. The problem is even felt as far away as India as it will affect their extensive trade with other nations in Asia, especially Japan. This problem for India with China is on top of numerous other problems between India and China which are some of the longest running conflicts between any two nations anywhere. In the past, when tempers approached boiling over, the United States would arrange some joint military maneuvers of commensurate size to deal with the expansionist policies China is pursuing against their neighbors. In the recent past, such a show of force has been shunned by President Obama under the guise of the United States international policies taking a less confrontational posture. The somewhat distressful consequence of employing such a policy for the United States has allowed for other countries wishing to expand their standings in the world and extending their control and taking leadership positions over their areas of influence, to spread into many areas where previously the United States had kept a semblance of order through displays of power. China has probably taken the most advantage of the complete lack of containment in their little corner of the world by the United States and sees this as their opportunity to push out the nations from much of the waters in order to take control of some of the outlying contested Islands and many fishing areas. The Chinese moves also are making importation by sea a more difficult and costly endeavor as international shipping lanes are falling under Chinese control allowing China to demand fees be paid by ships passing through their extended claimed coastal areas. The ships can avoid these licensing fees by diverting around the areas China is enforcing ownership which delays arrival times and increases fuel usage which causes rising prices.

This is far from a new problem as China has been applying such pressures for decades with the conflicting claims with Japan and the Philippines over fishing rights or ownership of some of the many small, but vital, islands throughout the area such as the most notable ongoing contention over the Spratly Islands. With President Obama choosing not to oppose China in even the smallest of measures while depending on the Chinese to finance much of his stimulus spending, China has felt free to act without any need for restraint pursuing their self-serving policies. One of the earlier signs of how far President Obama was willing to bend in order to not “insult” the leadership of China was exemplified by delaying a meeting with the Dalai Lama and even when meeting with this revered head of the Buddhists, he met the Dalai Lama outside of the Oval Office using an unnamed room that carried less weight of honors than an official Oval Office meeting would have conveyed. Despite such timidity and slight towards the Dalai Lama, the Chinese still objected and President, true to form, offered his earnest apologies. President has shown equal deference towards Chinese claims to extend their administration over new territories simply by refusing to send any United States naval vessels into these areas to reinforce their status as international waters independent of the control of any nation. The importance of these waters and small islands are actually very critically placed to influence and impact heavily traveled trade routes with great importance for Asia. The biggest potential losers should China continue unimpeded in their quests would be Japan and the Philippines, two stalwart allies to the United States in the past. I dare not extend that the designation of allies of the United States as such preferential titles seem to have all been reevaluated and many of those who previously were allies are no longer valued as such. Chalk this avoidance of assisting our previous allies and containing China, as they appear to be standing in opposition to American interests, as well as those of Southeast Asia, to simply be another small and unimportant step in President Obama and his Administration’s efforts towards lessening American imperialism and allowing other countries, the United Nations, or other international groups and organizations to take the lead as the United States faithfully follows along taking no responsibility for anything, especially if it should require real actions which would display American exceptionalism.

Beyond the Cusp

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