Beyond the Cusp

April 28, 2019

Anyone Just a Little Tense?

 

May is getting really close. That is the day that President Trump is ready to no longer renew waivers on sanctions against importers of Iranian oil. That is the red line Iran claims will result in their closure of the Strait of Hormuz. That waterway is the chokepoint of almost one-third of the world’s oil. The United States has vowed they will keep the waterways open no matter what it takes. The United States has two aircraft carriers in the region, one in the Persian Gulf and the other in the Mediterranean Sea amongst others including an Amphibious Assault Unit. These have been supplemented with other weapon systems deployed around the region.

 

One has to consider that Iran technically controls all government decision making over an area near that of the United States, from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea over which they can threaten a broad array of countries. Granted, the United States has placed a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in Israel, which can provide a fair-sized umbrella of protection. Additionally, there are any number of support vessels supporting each carrier which includes defensive anti-missile technologies. We hope that everyone has thought this through to a conclusion and realize that, as the WOPR defense computer stated in the movie War Games, “Strange game. The only winning move is not to play.” We guess some in the world have yet to figure out that war is always a loss of resources simply for the destruction of resources already in use. Yes, the rebuilding provides work, providing the workplace is not a smoking, radio-active bombsite. The problem in this scenario is that one side may be under-estimating what the other side has in the way of offensive capabilities. Everyone knows that the United States has almost any weapon system you could ever need in surplus. What is unknown is the extent to which Iran is close to equal in their capabilities. The United States has the brighter, shinier and larger vessels, but Iran uses hundreds of dedicated individuals willing to ram those nice shiny ships and blow both of them up, one completely and the other a great gash in the hull. Iranian missile technology is another unknown as they are known to have ballistic missiles, but what is unknown is whether or not they have ICBM’s capable of striking the United States mainland. “Strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”

 

War Games WOPR Computer

War Games WOPR Computer

 

But that is one of the problems when something such as this is started, one side has to blink before the other and preferably before too much of the planet is destroyed either economically or literally. Living in Israel makes one even more attuned to these situations because we are always a handy target to get somebody’s point across, and Israel will shoot it down anyway. Well, they will, won’t they? Well, we sure hope they can and do. It would ruin a whole week or more if one got through depending on the target and accuracy. There are two more unknowns though the accuracy question is the Iranian missiles can be extremely accurate. But isn’t that why the United States placed a THAAD system in Israel? Actually, that is only part of the reason. Another reason is that the United States often places or provides systems to Israel because we are more likely to need them and thus serve as an actual live-fire testing ground. It was just such testing that provided some vital information about a weakness, a blind spot, in the F-16 fighters. Since then they have all been upgraded with side-view mirrors so they can basically see behind their tail which can be quite vital to not being shot down. OK, so that wasn’t all that high tech, why do things have to be complicated. Sure, they could have placed a camera in the tail and a monitor in the cockpit such that when the picture cuts out, there is probably something on your tail shooting at you.

 

F16 with After Modification Rear-view Mirrors

F16 with After Modification Rear-view Mirrors

 

There have been many other upgrades which have come from Israeli use of weapons such as the around the corner gun, a rifle with remote firing and a camera looking down the barrel so the soldier does not need to stick their heads out to see if it is clear. Unfortunately, when war comes to Israel, the civilians are the target group and the safest place is on an IDF military base. This, amongst a million other obvious arguments, is why Israel has spent so much on rocket and missile defense. We love when people ask why Israel is not spending billions of Shekels countering the anti-Israel propaganda war being fought against her. We simply ask them if they lived here, which would they prefer Israel invest, fighting words or fighting incoming projectiles. When it is put that way, it becomes amazing how quickly people realize that you can really only fight one war at a time and one type of war is always coming and kills people, the other is made up fabrications which truth will hopefully win in the end. We know that is wishful thinking, but we will live with things as they are and be glad should we ever need those defenses.

 

There is one thing which is an integral part of living in Israel, that is becoming nervous when things look as if they may boil over and spill into your own back yard. This is definitely one of those times as Iran has promised that in the case of hostilities with the United States, they intend to strike Israel first. This was the same threat given by Saddam Hussein when he was facing against President George Bush, both of them. They both attacked, Iraq and Iraq launched ballistic missiles at Israel. Fortunately, the vast majority were intercepted and the few which struck Israel did minimal damage and resulted in almost no losses of life. We are not sure what it is that makes these Middle East dictators threaten to strike Israel if the United States does anything as if such a threat would mean anything to the average American President. Their view is that Israel can take care of themselves just as long as they do not attack their aggressor. So, when Saddam Hussein launched a series of scud missiles at Israel, the United States demanded that Israel stand down and they would take care of the launchers of the scud missiles. Needless to point out, they missed a number of them which struck Israel for close to a week during the first Gulf War. President Bush was far more concerned with keeping his Arab allies than having Israel retaliate. There have been rumors that Israel was permitted to strike a single town from which the scud missiles had been launched and even then, only for one day. Further rumors claimed that this town ceased to exist in a single day. We are unable to confirm nor deny these rumors and present them simply for discussion.

 

Iran is a completely different matter as for them to strike Israel, they will need to use some of their furthest reaching and best guided missiles, at least as their current abilities are considered to be capable of launching. Further, these are their most advanced missiles according to current intelligence and they can carry biologic, chemical or nuclear warheads. This will require that every single missile be intercepted otherwise Israel could be facing a mass casualty strike. The entirety of the Middle East, even the Mullahs of Iran, that should Israel be attacked with any WMD, weapons of mass destruction, be they chemical, biologic or nuclear, will be responded to by Israel with the sole Israeli WMD, nuclear warheads. Israel unofficially has a few nuclear weapons capable of serious damage. Many intelligence sources claim Israel has between seventy-five and two-hundred nuclear warheads they could place atop a Jericho ballistic missile and deploy such to anywhere in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and if necessary, Israel is capable of striking anywhere on the globe. But Israel, and most Israelis, would prefer to never need to respond to an attack, especially using any WMD’s even in response to such an attack upon Israel. We want peace and quiet without the threats of terrorism, invasion, genocidal WMD attacks or any other form of violence of which one could think. We would far more appreciate being the source of discoveries, technological developments, cures, vaccinations, hybrid fruits and vegetables, plants capable of being grown in the desert with minimal water needs or a myriad of other advancements for the benefit of all mankind. But, despite the demand to design anti-missile systems such that Israel is capable of intercepting very short range projectiles, medium range missiles and rockets, long range rockets and missiles and ballistic missiles and even ICBM’s plus even the Trophy Systems for all varieties of military vehicles from main battle tanks to the generals field Humvee, there is a video at the link which is short and gives an overview of the Trophy System, and yes, you can add this threat defense system to the list of military advances Israel shares with the United States. The Trophy Systems as well as Iron Dome, Arrow Anti-missile Defense, David’s Sling Ballistic Missile Defense and other Israeli systems are currently protecting Israel and United States equipment and other critical assets.

 

Living in Israel is usually not very frightening and, despite what the news reports, you are less likely to be attacked including terrorism in Israel than one would be in the United States. Just like the United States, one can reduce their vulnerability simply by not traveling through specific areas. Our lives here have been quiet, peaceful and rewarding. We have found groups of friends and many activities which would have been next to impossible in the United States. People in Israel are mostly very friendly and willing to assist others. Charitable giving in Israel would be impossible to monitor as beyond the collection box at Synagogue which goes to charity and would be trackable, people are quite generous to those who are unable of finding employment to such an extent that one could afford modest accommodations and sufficient food from the generosity of others. Even many store owners have developed relations with people such that they are provided with goods. Even the coffee store where we purchase our coffee beans, yes, we are coffee snobs, he gives ground beans to a number of individuals who provide meals for those in need, organizations who have a meager budget and pay what they can and others who are just people of limited means. Perhaps it is knowing that at any moment war can be thrust upon Israel from every direction with the possible exception of from the west, but even the Mediterranean Sea could be part of an offensive upon our very small nation.

 

One has to remember, though Israel is often cast by the media and others as being this powerhouse nation which could withstand almost any form of attack, Israel is not the United States, it is New Jersey in size and when it comes to warfare, size matters. Fortunately, we have a cold peace with Egypt and another with Jordan, though there have been demonstrations in Jordan demanding that they need to attack Israel and be rid of the Jewish menace in the Middle East, plus we are technically still in states of war with Lebanon (Hezballah) and Syria. Syria has more than sufficient problems that attacking Israel is something some of the forces supporting Bashir al-Assad will attempt, especially the Iranian al-Quds Force and Lebanon will not strike at Israel unless instructed to open up a front in order to draw attentions away from Iran. Thus, the main front which remains active is with Gaza where Hamas finds it easier and more profitable for their leaders to keep the people rioting along the Israeli border as they blame Israel for every problem within their society. Truth be told, it has been the misuse of building supplies intended for rebuilding moneys and apartment buildings but instead used to build bunkers, tunnels, rocket launching positions underground, and infiltration tunnels under the Gaza border into Israel intending to use them whenever they press to force another war upon Israel. So, how are Israelis taking the new confrontational situation?

 

This current face-off between President Trump and the Mad Mullahs of Tehran does have many in Israel concerned, and rightfully so. We know that both sides have a problem with backing down and that unless one does blink and back down, then there will be another Middle East active conflict. As mentioned, this would be a conflict involving two sides fairly evenly matched for region of direct control as Iran currently has virtual control over Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen and partial control in Syria including the border with Israel along the Golan Heights. Looking at the current situation, President Trump recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel was required in advance of the ending of the waivers for export of Iranian oil. President Trump knew that the first front which Iran would open up would be against Israel just to see what the United States would do as far as reacting to protect Israel. Were the American planners taking the smart road, they would barely react to such an attack at all instead depending on the Israelis to defend themselves and address any threat from out of Syria. Would Iran turn loose Hezballah against Israel with a stockpile of approximately one-hundred-fifty-thousand rockets and missiles, then the United States is likely to assist in the destruction of these threats before they could be fully utilized. One can be assured that Israel knows where these missiles are stored and the locations of their launchers, even including the mobile launchers. That is probably the reason for a carrier strike group sitting in the Mediterranean off of the Syrian and Lebanese shorelines.

 

We are all holding our breath, not really, but hoping that one side backs down, and we prefer for it to be Tehran as, should the United States back down, then Iran would figure they were the more powerful country and thus would increase the attacks they finance across the Middle East and the world. President Trump has placed himself in a precarious position as should the Iranians press the issue over who actually controls the Strait of Hormuz, that would place not only Iranian fast ships against the United States fleets ships but also land-based launchers and artillery against American air-power. Iranians possess both Russian anti-aircraft missiles as well as their own reverse engineered and presumably improved versions of these systems. Additionally, there is a group consisting of Iranian warships and support vessels of undetermined size presumably headed for the United States eastern seaboard. This is their response to the American fleet close to the Iranian shoreline and within the main oil shipping lanes including the Strait of Hormuz. It is entirely possible that some of their apparent support vessels might be outfitted with a system allowing for them to fire ballistic missiles as far as a thousand miles making the majority of American cities along the coastline vulnerable to attack should hostilities begin. Such an attack on the American homeland would cause an escalation with its conclusion as anybody’s guess. Everything turns on one supposition, does Iran already have a nuclear warhead which is usable and if so, how many do they have. Most sources assume that Iran has yet to develop a nuclear capable warhead as they have been unable to miniaturize their system. We believe that this is nothing more than wishful thinking and that any war between Iran and the United States would turn nuclear in a very short period after its commencement. We foresee an Iranian ultimatum for the United States to cease hostilities or else. The or else would be left unstated, but should the brain-trust within the CIA and Military Defense establishment believe that Iran is not capable of having any weapons which could be considered an ‘or else’ and the Iranians have a warhead and the missile with which to deploy it and strike the American mainland, even if it was from a ship in the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans, then such a conflict would become all but uncontrollable as the stakes grow ever larger. Imagine the American response were New York to be struck with a nuclear weapon taking out most if not all of Staten Island or Manhattan. It could be Boston or Washington D.C. being struck at the same time. They might even target West Palm Beach in order to destroy Mar-a-Lago and any of these would bring an American response which is currently unthinkable. This is the risk the world is facing and we advise everybody, especially the two adversaries, to be very uncomfortable and take great care in planning their next steps. This is a situation where one wrong move could start a spiraling confrontation drawing in more and more nations resulting in something well beyond what was initially envisioned. Such underestimations of the strength and capabilities of an enemy have resulted in broader and more damaging conflicts throughout history. But then history is one of those subjects not being taught properly thus most younger people have little knowledge of the past, which is frightening.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

April 9, 2017

Trump and the New Syria Policy

 

Trump has a new Syria policy which, except for one major change, which may not even really be any change, looks awfully similar to the Trump old Syria policy. What we witnessed last Friday was the Trump policy on the use of weapons of mass destruction against civilians. It mattered not whether it had been Syria, North Korea, Libya or any other place where such hideous acts might have been carried out. Wherever there would have been any use of chemical, biological, nuclear or any other weapons of mass destruction against civilians; whoever or whichever nation or leader who would have utilized weapons of mass destruction murdering any number large or small of civilians; would have probably been the recipients of an American strike by Tomahawk Cruise Missiles or B-52 long-range heavy bombers or other long arm of United States military reach to send the message that the United States would no longer stand by and simply twiddle our thumbs or make empty threats setting erasable red lines against such use of these weapons. The message might even have been extended for any mass murdering of civilians using even normative weapons such as barrel bombs or even artillery bombardment. This was President Trump announcing that the United States of old has returned and that nations and their leaders will be held responsible for their actions. We bet that exactly what Trump announced as a challenge to the rest of the world during his short commentary on the Syria attack was the meat that we should take away from the action against Syria, that he desires leading the world in efforts to end the horrors of terrorism by targeting the terror leadership.

 

So, what about this war against Syria everybody claims President Trump just declared? Well, first thing is that, as a number of Congresspersons mentioned, Congress is the body of the government which declares wars and also must be conferred with and approve any sustained military engagements. If President Trump plans an extended military confrontation against Syria, he will be required to get Congressional approval. We would advise not holding your breath waiting for the speech from President Trump before Congress asking for either a declaration of war or an extension for military operations in Syria. President Trump was simply sending a message with an exclamation point. His promise not to enter the Syrian war remains in place as does his promise not to get mired down in any Middle East war. Syria will remain a Russian playground unless Bashir al-Assad has not learned his lesson. Even if Assad is thinking that he might just desire to test the mettle of this new American President and see if this was just simply a one-off and that President Trump simply really is no different than his predecessor, President Obama; the odds are that Russian President Putin likely would advise him against any such stupidity. Even if Bashir al-Assad did not get the message or believes the message which was sent, we can trust that President Putin definitely got the message and that will serve just as well.

 

Donald Trump

 

But what about the long term cost of this military adventure? Has President Trump completely alienated President Putin? After all, President Putin did cancel the agreement where the United States and Russia exchanged information between their military commands so as not to have any misunderstandings or run any risk of their two militaries running into one another as a surprise. That action by President Putin was more posturing than actual anger as that communication likely was used before the attack so that the Russians were advised, likely with insufficient time to warn the Syrians and just sufficient time to get their own people to safety. Even if the Russians were able to warn the Syrians, the message still was received and both leaders, Putin and Assad, likely also know if another such punitive attack should become necessary, there will be no warnings next time. This was a message for more than Assad or Putin; this was a message to the world and most definitely was not a declaration of the United States entering the Syrian war. Those claiming such are simply attempting to be alarmist and are simply people who were not strongly supportive of Trump and were seeking a reason, any reason to run from him and joining those bashing him daily on social media. Those others who would love nothing more than for President Trump to get mired down in the Syrian war and have come out of the woodwork to support this military actions and are calling for more follow-on military actions are not friends of the President and are not seeking the best for him. These are the ones who have opposed President Trump and his non-interventionist policies and are hoping beyond hope that they can finally force him into supporting their policies. They will lose as President Trump if nothing else is his own man and will do as he desires. He signaled exactly his desired path during the campaign and this attack was no deviation.

 

On another front, this attack should remove some of the silliness that President Trump was nothing but President Putin’s marionette. The distraction from the real scandal should be dead and buried and we can now get on to looking for how deep the rabbit hole which starts with President Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice and likely leads right to the President himself. Even if the Russians did actually purloin e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Chief, John Podesta, e-mails and make them public, had the media been worth their salt they would have found this information themselves. The Democratic National Committee e-mails were not stolen anyway as it is already a known fact that they were leaked by somebody inside the DNC. This means that the media was probably given access to this information and decided to sit on it as it did not serve placing Hillary into the White House. That would even include FOX News as many of the reporters and editorialists even at FOX were in the, “Anybody but Trump Camp,” even if that meant Hillary Clinton. It took somebody not so much interested in the election as they are in releasing anything which was factual and the public should have the right to know. Information on a Presidential candidate definitely fell into those criteria. That was likely the main driving factor behind Wikileaks putting out the information which was in those communications. They actually provided a service for the American voters by placing before them news which the media refused to provide despite its obvious importance. These leaks were more of a shaming of the media than it was a shaming of Hillary Clinton, as it was Hillary Clinton which shamed Hillary Clinton. President Abraham Lincoln loved the truth and trusted the people and his words should be revered by the media and rejoiced by bartenders. President Lincoln is quoted having written or said, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.” We too favor his opinion, waitress, another pitcher if you please.

 

Pitcher of Beer

Pitcher of Beer

 

Kidding aside, Wikileaks should be given a great amount of thanks for revealing truths which the American media refused to release. Where we doubt that their releases actually cost Hillary Clinton a single vote, but we do believe that they may have pushed a few wavering voters to change from simply sleeping in and then going golfing to actually voting for Donald Trump. Our friends in Michigan and Wisconsin will tell us that their going for Trump had nothing to do with people not going to play golf; nobody plays golf there except in July or August because the rest of the year the weather and lake effect storms make such an unpleasant venture. Whatever those few people who were swayed by the information, the truths, released by Wikileaks may or may not have made the difference, but we doubt they did sway the election for Trump as the two camps in the United States have drifted to such extremes that there are probably not sufficient people sitting on the fence and the majority of voters are all from each candidate’s base. The problem is for the candidate who does not excite or have the trust of their party base of voters. As far as getting into the war in Syria, that would have been Hillary’s game, not President Trump. We can close telling our friends in the United States and elsewhere, President Trump was taking a shot across the bow of any state actor who might be misjudging him and thinking that they can use weapons of mass destruction or any weapons indiscriminately, and they had best rethink, as that is something he will not suffer. Instead, President Trump will make such a reckless leader suffer and take the side of any suffering people as long as it will not lead to harming the United States. Do not get to thinking President Trump changed as his number one love and devotion outside of his family is his country, the United States of America.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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