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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Notice to Those Nitpicking the 9/12 Rose Garden Speech: Focus on Obama’s ACTIONS, Not His Words

It doesn’t matter one whit what Obama said the day after the attack on our consulate in Benghazi. It matters what he and his administration did in the weeks afterwards. Instead of taking the matter seriously, Obama jetted off to Vegas for a campaign event. Instead of acknowledging that the attack was an entirely premeditated, Al Qaeda-run operation, Obama and his underlings repeatedly insisted that a stupid You Tube video was at fault. One speech cannot erase the absolute clusterfrack that was the White House’s response to the aforementioned act of war, and don’t let the left convince you otherwise.

Co-author’s edit:

The above is completely true, but you don’t have to ignore the Rose Garden speech to come to the right conclusion.  In that Rose Garden speech, Obama excoriated the YouTube video, said they were still gathering information on the Libyan attack, and apologized, saying the government had nothing to do with the video and believed in respecting all religious faiths and said NOTHING reflecting any sort of certainty regarding the Libyan attack as SPECIFICALLY a terrorist attack.  The “acts of terror” phrase was meant “in general” as a warning not to engage in further violence over the YouTube video…clearly he was not calling out Al Qaeda for the Libyan attack or he wouldn’t have been talking about some damned YT video.  To maintain otherwise is to be deliberately STUPID.

Original author’s edit:

Actually, the Rose Garden speech didn’t mention the YT video as far as I know. My co-author may be confusing that speech with the one he delivered at the UN. But yes — context matters. Obviously, when Obama used the phrase “act of terror” on 9/12, he didn’t actually mean that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. He was using words that sounded “tough” and “reassuring,” but if he actually believed those words, he would’ve behaved accordingly.

One More Reason to Unseat Obama: the Middle East

The following video was posted way back in 2009, but I believe it’s still profoundly relevant:

In Which Bill Whittle Discusses Game Theory’s Foreign Policy Implications

Attacking our embassies is, in point of fact, invading American territory. It is an act of war; as such, we are within our rights to retaliate. Indeed, we should retaliate; to do otherwise is to encourage the violent psychos who are pulling the Muslim world into the gutter. (Just FYI, I respect the Islam of Avicenna and his intellectual descendants. I don’t respect homophobic, misogynistic thugs.) I’m not necessarily saying we should turn the entire Middle East into a radioactive glass factory. I’m not even saying we should invade. I do think, however, that our response should be swift and muscular.

Of course, because Obama and his lick-spittle media supporters are disgusting cowards, what we’re seeing instead is more groveling. Despite the experts’ insistence that the embassy attacks were premeditated “celebrations” of the 9/11 anniversary, the left has decided to scapegoat the creator of a dumb YouTube video attacking Muhammad. Look: For obvious reasons, I’m not a big fan of gratuitously attacking a religion from a position of ignorance. Militant atheists do it to us Christians often enough, so I know it’s not fun to be misrepresented and maligned. Still, even if we were to stipulate that “The Innocence of Muslims” is bigoted clap-trap, and even if we were to stipulate – ridiculously – that the video is what “inflamed” protestors in the Middle East, that still does not excuse cold blooded murder. Why is this so hard for leftists to understand?

It is absolutely outrageous that we are talking about anything other than the fact that the Obama administration failed – and failed spectacularly – to protect our diplomats. Why weren’t those protestors shot on sight the moment they breached our defenses? Why weren’t our embassy defenses enhanced in response to intelligence that apparently suggested days in advance that the attacks were coming? If our fourth estate were not the devoted propaganda wing of the Obama campaign, it’d be looking for answers to these important questions.

9/11: The Tenth Anniversary

“As I write in my new book, 9/11 was something America’s enemies did to us; the ten-year hole is something we did to ourselves — and in its way, the interminable bureaucratic sloth is surely as eloquent as anything Nanny Bloomberg will say in his remarks.

And so we commemorate an act of war as a “tragic event,” and we retreat to equivocation, cultural self-loathing, and utterly fraudulent misrepresentation about the events of the day. In the weeks after 9/11, Americans were enjoined to ask, “Why do they hate us?” A better question is: “Why do they despise us?” And the quickest way to figure out the answer is to visit the Peace Quilt and the Wish Tree, the Crescent of Embrace and the Hole of Bureaucratic Inertia.” – Mark Steyn, Let’s Roll Over

My sentiments exactly.

(Sorry. I was going to comment on the last Republican debate tonight, but I think commemorating 9/11 should take precedence.)

Support Israel for the Gays!

“So, in closing, there’s only one country in the Middle East where people are free to worship, protest, women are treated equally, and flamboyantly gays aren’t killed. If you guessed that country is Palestine, well, congratulations: you’re a moron.

Heh.

A Caveat

While the death of Osama bin Laden is definitely something to celebrate – God bless our troops! – I think we have to be careful not to declare this the “End of the War on Terror.” There are still plenty of bad guys out there who need to be stopped; radical Islamism is still a genuine threat to the USA and to Western civilization. We cannot let our momentary – though well-deserved – patriotic glee detract from our resolve or our vigilance. Our message to Osama’s supporters should remain loud and clear:

In Egypt, Skeptics Vindicated

Islamist Group Is Rising Force in a New Egypt
by Michael Slackman @ the New York Times

CAIRO — In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes.

It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment.

At the Times, of course, reporters still hold out hope that the Muslim Brotherhood will help usher in a tolerant, pluralistic democracy. The rest of us know better, though. We may indeed end up with a “one person, one vote, one time” scenario when all is said and done.

Egypt

So – if you’ve been reading the news lately, then you know that Egypt is in the process of burning to the ground right now. Certain leftists on Live Journal would like for me to celebrate this “popular uprising” against Mubarak as an expression of the very “democracy” that we hawks champion, but I’m afraid I can’t do that without pointing out the ways this could go horribly, horribly wrong.

Consider what a recent Pew poll discovered about the Muslim majority in Egypt. While that majority favors “democratic government” (59%), they also support:

  • Gender segregation in the workplace (54%).
  • Stoning as a punishment for adultery (82%).
  • Whipping/cutting off hands for theft (77%).
  • The death penalty for leaving the Muslim religion (84%).

The ballot box does not a liberal democracy make. This is something that the international left repeatedly fails to grok. Over and over again, said leftists have claimed that duly elected socialists are “democratic” even when those socialists are guilty of numerous human rights abuses (see also: Hugo Chavez). But democracy is not established by the mere act of voting. Voting is just a surface feature of liberal democracy. Liberal democracy is a complex system comprised of the following obligatory elements:

  • The rule of law, not men.
  • The separation of powers (so that no one person or group has absolute control).
  • Checks and balances (so that, again, power is not concentrated in one person or group).
  • Respect for the rights of minority populations.

If a government fails to reflect these four key principles, it doesn’t matter whether it was “elected.” It’s still not a democracy.

I honestly want Egyptian small-l liberals to succeed in overthrowing Mubarak and installing a truly democratic goverment. The moralist in me believes we shouldn’t tolerate Mubarak’s thugocracy for another minute. But if, after ousting Mubarak from power, the Egyptian electorate then proceeds to vote for the full enforcement of sharia, that will not be a victory for democracy. If the Muslim Brotherhood is allowed to participate in a future election and wins, that will not be a victory for democracy. That will be the worst case scenario.