Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . . Reagan’s Vision Lives!
E-Mail Message 141014
Nature Abhors a Vacuum!
By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
October 14, 2014
Former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta and other departed senior officials have stated their misgivings about President Obama’s strategy, that, among other things, helped make possible the rise of ISIS. Panetta recently stated: “When we stepped out of Iraq, we created this vacuum.” ISIS is currently filling the space in the Middle East. Will they succeed? Will they be defeated? Contained? Come here? Hmmmmm . . .
In August, President Obama noted, “We don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS = ISIL = Islamic State = Caliphate). Recent events suggest we are still without a strategy to counter ISIS—at least if the President’s objective really is as he claimed in a September White House speech: “Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”
But no “comprehensive” strategy has been explained beyond what one might infer from repeated commitments by the President and his spokesmen to have no Americans engage in ground combat, while deploying only “air strikes.” Presumably, others among the oft-announced coalition of 60 nations will provide the “boots on the ground” that essentially everyone recognizes are required to meet his announced goal of destroying ISIS. So far as I know, we are still waiting for specifics as to who will play this key role.
Maybe we’ll learn more after his and JCS Chairman Martin Dempsey’s meeting today with Defense Ministers from 20 nations. One can always hope . . . but hope is not a strategy.
The Battle for Kobani and the Plight of the Kurds.
Based on news reports, air strikes—which were dubbed “pin pricks” in August—are still little more than that, because so far there are no “boots on the ground” other than the Kurds fighting for their lives with little support from us. Click here for our August 11th suggestion that the President call this still un-named operation “Operation Pinprick.” Still seems an apt name.
The Kurds have a vested interest—they are under siege, facing genocide should they fail to protect themselves. The astonishing question is, “Will we help the Kurds execute that important mission?” Seems like that objective should fit somewhere in our “comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”
ISIS will murder many thousands of Kurds if Kobani falls. Kobani, a largely Kurdish city on Syria’s border with Turkey, is being defended by Kurdish militia backed by limited U.S. airstrikes. ISIS appears to be winning—over half of Kobani is reported to be under ISIS control.
The Obama “comprehensive and sustained” strategy seems to include losing Kobani as the outcome. Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby last week observed that, “Airstrikes are not going to save the town of Kobani.” And that, “We should all be steeling ourselves for [the] reality” that Kobani will fall. Sounds a bit like self-imposed prophesy to me.
And there are reports that this outcome is more than a possibility, it may be part of the administration’s plan, if they have one. For example, former Pentagon analyst Michael Maloof writes in World Net Daily that a knowledgeable source told him that U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran have agreed to let Kobani fall, jeopardizing the lives of some 160,000 Syrian Kurds. (Click here.)
Now that’s an interesting coalition of the willing, don’t you think? Strange bedfellows . . . must make our Israeli friends frown, wondering how Iran fits?
Still the Kurds fight on—without our visible help beyond air strikes at this writing. I should also acknowledge that some of our initially announced five allies from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are actively supporting these air strikes. (Members of this alliance are noted for playing on many sides of the conflicts with their neighbors—e.g., click here to read a recent Wall Street Journal discussion of Qatar’s tangled web.)
Whatever . . . Kobani still is resisting the ISIS onslaught. The Kurds, who are fighting for their very survival—on the ground—apparently aren’t judged by the Obama administration to deserve formal recognition as members of the coalition to defeat ISIS. Our airstrikes are of limited value now that ISIS has dispersed and immersed itself in the local surroundings.
We at least should be providing the Kurds with arms to carry on this important fight. Not doing so puts us in the same box as our alleged NATO ally Turkey, which has refused even to allow the Kurds living in Turkey to cross the border to fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced Monday that “Turkey has not made any decision on whether to open its Incirlik airbase to the U.S.-led coalition forces in the fight against ISIS.” This statement, formally issued by the office of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, contradicted National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s claim on Sunday’s Meet the Press that Turkey has granted the United States access to its air bases for the campaign against ISIS, including a key installation near the Syrian border.
Click here for discussion from the Washington Post. Reminds me of her SNAFU on Benghazi and the video . . . but only on one talk show this time. Hopefully, Ms. Rice’s claim that Turkey had agreed to allow moderate Syrian rebels to be trained in Turkey to combat Islamic State in Syria and Iraq is more accurate. Even that would be small help from our erstwhile NATO ally, with a standing army near the border watching all this unfold.
Turkey probably considers the war on ISIS to be counterproductive for at least a couple of reasons. The Syrian Kurds are allies of Turkey’s Kurdish Workers Party, the PKK—a militant separatist group that Turkey doesn’t want to help. And Turkey has supported ISIS in efforts to oust Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Such is embodied in the tangled web weaved by Turkey.
And where does the United States stand? Even the Washington Post, not known for its criticism of the administration, has considerable heartburn with its “incoherent as well as morally questionable” strategy, especially in its focus on blaming Turkey. (Click here for an interesting editorial.)
Maybe the President’s meeting today with 20 foreign defense ministers to discuss the next phase in the war against the Islamic State will provide some clarification. (Click here for discussion of prospects from The Guardian.)
Representatives are expected from Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Lloyd Austin will also attend the meeting at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington.
Bottom lines: Make no mistake, if Kobani falls, it will be a blow to American prestige and a huge recruiting tool for ISIS. The jihadis will claim they’ve defeated an America unable to stop them. The Syrian Kurds are trapped between the President’s refusal to act beyond cursory bombing and neighboring Turkey’s cynical realpolitik.
In northern Syria and across the Middle East, the Kurds are secular, mostly Sunni Muslims and staunch friends of America. The U.S. should protect and strengthen these allies to defeat Islamist terror and restore order in the region.
Click here for a National Review Online YouTube of Charles Krauthammer’s comments on an October 7 Fox News Special Report that are consistent with this view.
Pending Battle for Baghdad?
Hopefully the President and 20 Defense Ministers from his coalition will consider that, while the battle for Kobani rages, ISIS reportedly is also moving steadily toward Baghdad. JCS Chairman General Martin Dempsey reported on ABC’s This Week last Sunday that Apache low-flying attack helicopters were used recently to keep ISIS from overrunning Iraqi defense units, only 10-15 miles from Baghdad.
(By the way, aren’t Apache helicopters associated with and flown by our “boots on the ground?” So, even the NBOG claim is true only in degree—given the capability of our thousand or so “advisors” on the ground.)
Gen. Dempsey noted, “Had [ISIS forces] overrun the Iraqi unit, it was a straight shot to the Baghdad airport. So, we’re not going to let that happen.” (Click here for CNN’s related report.)
However, others warn that this is far from a sure thing—especially for the Baghdad International Airport, which is of significant strategic importance.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and others claim that ISIS is winning the war in Iraq and Syria—and time is running out for America to lead. Click here for Newsmax’s article and YouTube video of McCain’s comments on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. Notably, McCain said that he does not believe ISIS will take over Baghdad, “but I think they can take the airport, and that is crippling. I also think that they can infiltrate into Baghdad with explosives [and] suicide bombings.”
As its self-proclaimed “Caliphate” advances toward Baghdad, ISIS threatens to consolidate its control of the vast Anbar Province, the Sunni heartland of Iraq. Click here for additional information and the source of the figure below.
McCain also emphasized that this “present pinprick bombing is not working.” . . . “You need more boots on the ground in the form of forward air controllers, special forces and other people like that.” And he said that the Kurds, who are “using old weapons that are Russian vintage against ISIS” need to be armed, because ISIS is using captured U.S. weaponry.
These weapons were left behind when the U.S. trained Iraqi army turned tail and ran a couple of months ago—after our advisors left Iraq contrary to the recommendations of most of President Obama’s advisors. And I am told that there are still cantonment sites with left behind U.S. weaponry worth billions at risk of capture as ISIS seeks control of nearby areas in its expanding “Caliphate.”
McCain also observed that “You have to do, I believe, what the Turks are asking and that is we create a buffer inside Syria and a no-fly zone.” Added McCain. “It’s immoral to send Free Syrian Army people into the barrel bombing of [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad.”
Stay tuned and also consider that the future may hold more in store for us at home.
Then there’s the USA . . .
Hopefully, the President and Defense Ministers in today’s meeting will also deal with the broader implications of the growing ISIS presence in Syria and Iraq—into what they intend to be: A true Islamic State, a return to a Caliphate that they intend to extend further.
As I’ve written previously, this is not really an empty promise. ISIS—and/or their compatriot true believers in sharia are already here—and no doubt prepared to aid and abet the extension of the “Caliphate” throughout the world as is sharia’s declared objective. Click here to reread our October 1, 2014 message on this subject.
This past week, Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) claimed that 10 ISIS combatants crossed the Texas border from Mexico—in the context of possibly bringing Ebola virus to America. Numerous others objected to this claim, but none can deny that our borders leak like sieves. And it’s immaterial whether those who crossed in this case were members of ISIS or any number of other sharia true believers who could join in the ISIS gameplan.
And there are other reports indicating that ISIS is currently training to kill Americans on our own border. Inside the USA, there are known terrorist cells associated with al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and other jihadi franchises, already in place and preparing for violence against us. The average American is unaware this is taking place.
We have repeatedly pointed out the most horrific threat scenario would not even require them to enter the United States—they could launch a SCUD (costing a few million dollars) from off our coasts to create an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that would within a year lead to the death of 6-to-9 out of every ten Americans.
ISIS is a growing threat—and not just in the Middle East. It and its fellow travelers present us with a mortal threat that we continue to ignore at our peril. They can pose this threat by direct physical attack (like multiple attacks on a handful of key electric power grid substations) or by more sophisticated means—like cyber-attacks or ballistic missile attacks. Or some combination.
Unless we prepare for these all too real possibilities, we could really return to the centuries of the expanding Caliphate and its alleged end in World War I. (Or was that just a timeout?) Click here for a timeline that traces the Ottoman Empire from 1259 to 1924.
In any case, we permit the leadership vacuum to continue at our peril. Heaven help us if we do. We need to identify our enemy and develop a real strategy to defeat it.
Enough of the President’s leading from behind, if you please!
Nature abhors a vacuum! If we don’t fill it who will?
In my view, the stakes are no less than the future of Western Civilization.
Near Term High Frontier Plans.
Given the lethargy in Washington in countering these threats to all we hold dear, we will continue informing all who will listen, about the existential threat and expanding our work with the National Guard to help them gain knowledge and workable plans to help harden the electric power grid and counter the threat. This work will go hand in hand with efforts of State legislators who are seeking to expand on the excellent work of those in Maine and Virginia, who have passed legislation requiring serious studies of the threat and the needed countermeasures to protect the electric power grid.
The most recent bill passed in record time without a single negative vote in Virginia can be used as a ready pattern.
We areworking with South Carolina National Guard to plan tabletop exercises to help them understand how best to engage constructively with private citizens and their local and state representatives and other authorities to understand and respond to this serious threat. We also are supporting related activities in neighboring and other states.
We are informing SC state legislators and senators about the threat and what can be done to deal with it—hopefully they will follow Maine and Virginia in seeking to harden the electric power grid. We also expect support from Cong. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) whose district includes my SC farm—and who is a member of the Congressional EMP Caucus seeking passage of the Shield Act and the Infrastructure Protection Act, as well as other SC representatives.
We will be working with members of the EMP Coalition and others who are seeking to take our message across the country—especially with Bob Newman, a former Adjutant General of Virginia, to help us link our SC plans more broadly and especially into Virginia and the National Capital region.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage, www.highfrontier.org for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.
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