Axis and Allies – 2008 to 2014

This post is going to be relatively simple despite the significant research that went into creating it.  I am going to show you two images of the Eurasian/North African realms – one from 2008, as George W. Bush’s presidency was coming to an end and one from today as the 2014 midterm elections begin to loom on the horizon.

On each image, I have color coded each nation according to its diplomatic, political and social affiliation with the United States (and more broadly, with the concept of liberty).

Five classifications are present in each map, and they are:

  • Enemy – A state which is actively engaged in the mission of undermining the United States through diplomatic, financial or military channels or by forging alliances with other existing enemy combatants or by making war against its own people or against civil liberties on a scale large enough to be a global outrage and a particular affront to the goals of the United States.
  • Leans Enemy – A state which is indirectly engaged in efforts to undermine the United States as outlined above, but refrains from actively attacking American interests or maintains even the slightest (productive) diplomatic relationship with the United States.
  • Unaffiliated – A country with no ties to American interests or a muddled relationship with the U.S.
  • Leans Friendly – Maintains a positive working relationship with the U.S. economically, diplomatically or in joint military ventures through the international community, but is not widely considered a significant U.S. ally.
  • Ally – A nation which is unquestionably an ally of the United States through treaty, international military cooperation, deep economic partnerships and common civic goals.
I will admit, upfront, that there is an element of subjectivity in the placement of each nation at any given time and that in some cases, an argument could be made for a different placement.  I am stating this in advance because I expect viewers of this post to approach the analysis with the same realization (that how they’d characterize the situation is also subjective in some sense).
Now – the images.  First from the end of the Bush years:
Now from the sixth year of Obama’s term in office:
The differences here really aren’t all that subtle, but I’ll outline each change I made with a note on why I made the change and leave it up to the reader to decide if I have the analysis right on the whole.  From west to east, those changes are:
  • Morocco – Ally to Leans Friendly
    • Morocco remains one of the most westernized of nations in Africa and maintains strong diplomatic ties with the E.U. and the U.S. – however, during the Arab Spring and on several occasions since, this country has been rocked by bouts of protests, terror attacks and general unrest as the population becomes increasingly radical with time.
  • Algeria – Unaffiliated to Leans Enemy
    • Algeria was never a particularly stable regime, but now serves as a refuge for Islamic extremists who go border-hopping to evade capture and boasts and government interested in forging ties with Egypt (once a good sign…now, not so much)
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – Leans Enemy to Unaffiliated
    • Scars from Clinton’s largest military engagement remain, but Bosnia is in the process of normalizing its diplomatic relations with the west.
  • Tunisia – Leans Enemy to Enemy
    • Tunisia was the second nation to experience a popular uprising during the Arab Spring.  A population that has always leaned toward radical or conservative Islam has become a place where violence and anti-American sentiments run rampant.  Just a few weeks back, a spree of Christian lynchings broke out in Tunisia, with apparent government support.
  • Libya – Unaffiliated to Enemy
    • The US.’s relationship with Gaddafi was never easy – the man was nutters after all.  But in exchange for his personal comfort and prestige within the international community, he was cooperative with U.S. and E.U. interests.  Hardly an ally, but certainly not an enemy, Gaddafi’s deposition in Libya and subsequent death turned the nation over to Al Qaeda affiliated groups, culminating in the incident in Benghazi along with bombings of several other western embassies.
  • Chad – Unaffiliated to Leans Enemy
    • You don’t hear too much about Chad in the news, but it has moved into the red due to a rise in terrorist attacks in recent years and a lack of any significant response from its governing authorities.
  • Ukraine – Leans Friendly to Leans Enemy
    • Significantly, as Bush was on his way out, he promised fringe nations in Eastern Europe a missile defense system.  Obama promptly ended those plans.  In the years since, Russia has become increasingly aggressive here, ending in the attack on the Crimean Peninsula.  This, by itself, wouldn’t land The Ukraine in the enemy camp, but the nation is getting zero support from the U.S. or the E.U. (the U.S. because Obama doesn’t want to get bogged down in any new military conflicts, the E.U. because many of its member states depend on Russian oil exports), and is now forced to accept Russian intervention.  Their government may not WISH to be a Russian puppet state, but that is where they are.
  • Turkey – Leans Friendly to Leans Enemy
    • Much has been said in the press regarding Turkey’s alarming tilt toward Islamic extremism.  In fact, their legislature is now majority Sharia, if not in official affiliation, then in deed.  There remains hope of functional ties with Turkey, but they should be viewed with extreme skepticism.
  • Egypt – Leans Friendly to Leans Enemy
    • Egypt played a key role in joint military operations against Saddam Hussein and has long helped broker lasting treaties in the region, even with Israel.  But the Arab Spring turned the nation over the Muslim Brotherhood (who claimed to be a moderate Muslim organization but whose stated goals included the destruction of Israel and the institution of Sharia Law)…the people rose up against the Brotherhood (mostly because they proved to be completely ineffectual at governing and the Egyptian economy cratered), and the nation is now ruled by the military (at least for now).  Still, all signs point to a nation headed for either chaotic anarchy or Islamic rule.
  • Sudan – Leans Enemy to Enemy
    • The Sudanese have always had a penchant for acts of aggression against the west through embassy attacks, the harboring of terrorists, etc, but now their government has gone to all out war against Christianity.
  • South Sudan – Leans Enemy to Enemy
    • See above
  • Kenya – Leans Friendly to Unaffiliated
    • Here, too, the local population has turned more and more fervently toward radical Islam – though Kenya has yet to be directly involved in anything U.S. related.
  • Somalia – Leans Enemy to Enemy
    • Somali control of the Gulf of Aden has always been a bit dicey in recent years, but they’ve taken to attempts at halting western trade through the Red Sea and support inhumane attacks on trade in with the west.
  • Ethiopia – Leans Enemy to Enemy
    • Ethiopia has long been a country on the edge of self-destruction, with three tribal ethnic groups shoehorned into one border.  But, of late, this has become an even more brutal place to live, particularly for anyone not affiliated with their ruling class.
  • Eritrea – Leans Friendly to Leans Enemy
    • The U.S. has held significant military positions here for decades, but that will soon be at an end if the Eritrean people have anything to say about it.  Recent reports of significant anti-western anti-Christian, anti-military protests and terror attacks have turned this strip of Red Sea coastline into a minor war zone.
  • Yemen – Unaffiliated to Leans Enemy
  • Oman – Unaffiliated to Leans Enemy
    • Both Yemen and Oman leaned much more heavily on Saudi Arabia for economic relations and border security as the entire region has destabilized.  Neither nation is outwardly aggressive toward the U.S. or the West, but as Saudi Arabia has trended further and further toward an alliance with Iran, so too have its neighbor states.
  • United Arab Emirates – Leans Friendly to Unaffiliated
    • Here too, the U.S. used to routinely partner with the U.A.E. militarily (they allowed us to launch our attacks on Iraq from their soil, as did Qatar, for example), but lately, the U.A.E. has been naking noises about expelling our forces and stepping up diplomatic relations with the Saudis.
  • Qatar – Leans Friendly to Unaffiliated
    • In Qatar’s case, their still speak of productive relations with the U.S., but internally, they are becoming a refuge for international criminals and terrorists.  This one bears watching.
  • Saudi Arabia – Leans Enemy to Enemy
    • Although the Saudis still maintain important business connections with the U.S., there can be no doubt that they have become much bolder in their opposition to Israel, to the U.S. and the west.  Not only have they been emboldened by our general withdrawal from the region – they have actively sought dialogue with Iran – a known combatant.
  • Jordan – Unaffiliated to Leans Enemy
    • Jordan has previously been somewhat helpful in defending Israel from the advancing cause of Palestinian militants.  However, the country has recently backed Palestinian independence without conditions (the Israelis wish to be granted the same recognition that they would give the Palestinians – a reasonable request that Jordan does not favor).  On top of this, they’ve become involved in dealings with overflowing Syrian rebels and have been less than helpful in international manhunts for terrorist criminals evading capture.
  • Lebanon – Leans Friendly to Leans Enemy
    • This is a very sad story…Lebanon is in an unfortunate position geographically, and cannot really defend its own borders – they are becoming a war-torn victim of geographic proximity.
  • Palestine – Nonexistent to Enemy
    • The U.N. voted to recognize Palestine as an independent state – a development that heavily complicates peace negotiations with Israel.  Notably, Obama spoke out in favor of this.
  • Iraq – Leans Enemy to Enemy
    • We’re all aware of the recent collapse of the Iraqi army, the intervention of the Iranian military in the conquest of ISIS, and the renewed military aggression from the U.S. in response.  Clearly, Iraq is behind enemy lines at this point.
  • Azerbaijan – Leans Friendly to Unaffiliated
  • Armenia – Leans Friendly to Unaffiliated
    • Both Azerbaijan and Armenia sit in a rather precarious, narrow strip of land between Turkey (and its increasingly radical population) and the Caspian Sean (and other potential U.S. foes to the east and south).  They have, understandably, gotten nervous about showing support for the west.
  • Afghanistan – Leans Enemy to Enemy (in progress)
    • I’m cheating a little bit on this one.  Obama is using the same exit strategy that he used in Iraq and a similar progression of ever-increasing violence has already begun in Afghanistan as the Taliban – once on the run – masses its forces from the western border with Iran and prepares to retake the country once we’re gone.  The government of Afghanistan is understandably annoyed with us over this pending disaster.
  • Pakistan – Unaffiliated to Leans Enemy
    • Meanwhile, Pakistan has drifted away from obligations with the U.S. on the economic and diplomatic fronts and stepped up development of its nuclear program (including a few unauthorized tests to intimidate its Indian neighbors).
  • Tajikistan – Unaffiliated to Leans Enemy
  • Kyrgyzstan – Unaffiliated to Leans Enemy
    • And in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, Islamic extremists are gaining a foothold in local governments and street-level violence is on the rise.
  • Burma – Leans Friendly to Unaffiliated
    • This is more of an economic ding – the Burmese have entered into a number of trade agreements with the Chinese to accept currency other than the USD – a development that threatens U.S. interests.
  • Taiwan – Leans Friendly to Leans Enemy
    • And, here’s an unfortunate bit of news – Taiwan has recently beenn usurped by a military coup supported by the people – likely as a result of increasing aggression by the Chinese in the South China Sea.
Honorable mention: Russia – I nearly moved them into the enemies camp, but held back for now, noting that we still have significant diplomatic contact with Putin…he is certainly a major threat, but I’ll wait a bit before declaring him an enemy combatant.
WOW!  These maps look like the expanding hot zone from “Outbreak” (remember that scene where they projected how the outbreak would spread?) – I don’t claim that Obama is the only person responsible for this.  In fact, a good argument can be made that some of this shifting was a long time coming and that the end of the overarching influence of WWII era land grants to various allied territories (and the subsequent power of the Arab Kings) was bound to yield a turn toward chaos, at least for a time as a power void opened up.  BUT…apologists for the Obama Administration cannot possibly look at the situation today and claim that they had a positive influence in any way.  And frankly, these maps tell a story for which Obama must bear some responsibility.
I’d love to do the same kind of analysis for the beginning and end of Reagan’s presidency. 🙂
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