Russian Horn Grows, Hagel Fired, Iran Enriches More Uranium

World View: After Swallowing Crimea, Russia Goes After Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Russia and Georgia’s province of Abkhazia signed a treaty on Monday that will put a Russian commander in charge of all security forces in Abkhazia. The treaty envisages a gradual, but ultimate merger of Russian-occupied Abkhazia’s defense, security, law enforcement, border, customs, economic and healthcare agencies with that of Russia’s within three years. Many analysts believe that this is a step along the path of Russia annexing Abkhazia, just as it invaded and annexed Crimea earlier this year.

In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia and took control of two Georgian provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Last week, South Ossetia declared that it is negotiating a new “comprehensive agreement on integration” with Russia, which will raise the relationship between the two sides to a “qualitatively new level,” indicating that South Ossetia is on the same path as Abkhazia.

We now have two countries — Russia and China — using military force to annex territories belonging to other countries. This is a very dangerous situation that could spiral into a wider war at any time, just as happened in the 1930s. Russia Today and Jamestown and AP

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel fired by President Obama

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is a Republican, mainly because he’s pro-life on abortion, but he’s well on the political left on defense issues. He and Obama worked together on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the mid-2000s, where they opposed the Iraq war. Obama selected Hagel in January 2013 to be Secretary of Defense in order to pursue Obama’s goal of reducing the military power and footprint of the U.S., and to manage the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Pretty much all of Obama’s foreign policy decisions have been debacles, and those were no exception. The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) has forced Obama to send troops back into Iraq, and there have been several escalations in recent weeks. On Friday of last week, Obama extended the U.S. mission in Afghanistan into 2015.

Pundits have been giving three reasons why Hagel was fired. The first reason is that Obama is using him as a scapegoat for his string of foreign policy debacles.

The second given reason is that Hagel contradicted and indirectly criticized the President. In January, Obama referred to ISIS as a “JV team in Lakers uniforms,” where “JV” stands for “junior varsity.” But in August, Hagel said that ISIS was “an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else,” and that ISIS was “as sophisticated and as well-funded as any group we’ve seen.”

The third reason given by pundits is that Hagel was an ineffective manager of the armed forces.

Whatever the reason, Hagel’s successor is going to have deal with a military and foreign policy in chaos. NBC News and Investors’ Business Daily

Iran nuclear deal collapses, forcing another seven months of talks

For weeks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was saying that a deal to halt Iran’s development of nuclear weapons would be successful by Monday, the self-imposed deadline. Even as late as Sunday evening, Kerry was saying that a deal was close. But apparently he wasn’t telling the truth, since on Monday it was announced that the deal would be postponed for seven months, until June 2015.

Kerry wants a deal because the administration could tout it as a success, breaking the string of foreign policy debacles by the Obama administration.

Iran wanted a deal, because it would mean the end to Western sanctions. Sanctions have already been eased as an “incentive,” and the remaining sanctions have been leaking badly, but the deal would remove the sanctions completely.

As things stand, the sanctions remain, and Monday’s collapse is another debacle.

This is a good time to repeat something I’ve written about several times. There is no doubt in my mind that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. Iran was attacked with weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in 1988 by Iraq, and Iran would already have developed nuclear weapons if Saddam Hussein hadn’t been expelled by the Iraq war in 2003. Iran sees itself surrounded by potential enemies, Pakistan and Israel, both having nuclear weapons. For Iran, developing nuclear weapons is an existential issue.

However, as I’ve described before, Iran takes an enormous amount of pride in not having invaded other countries, even though other countries have invaded Iran. If you look back at Iran’s major wars of the last century — the Constitutional Revolution of the 1900s decade, the Great Islamic Revolution of 1979, and the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, Iran never attacked anyone else. This is now part of Iran’s DNA, and even the top leadership may be repulsed by the idea of a preemptive attack on Israel.

So my conclusion is that Iran will develop nuclear weapons as a defensive measure, but has no plans at all to use them on Israel, which is what is widely believed. USA Today and Foreign Policy

Major Problems With Babylon the Great’s Nukes

The Ideology of the END (Revelation 16:10)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday defended the failed U.S. attempt to rescue James Foley, but warned that the Islamic extremists who executed the American journalist are “beyond just a terrorist group” and “beyond anything that we’ve seen.”

The administration disclosed Wednesday that U.S. commandos had landed in Syria in July in a bid to rescue Foley and other Americans held hostage by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS.

The disclosure came one day after ISIS released a video showing a militant beheading Foley and threatening that another American journalist would be next if the U.S. does not halt its airstrikes on ISIS fighters in northern Iraq.

At a Pentagon briefing, Hagel called ISIS’ extremist ideology “barbaric,” but warned that the group poses a dire threat that must be taken seriously.

“[ISIS] is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They’re beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded,” he said.

“This is beyond anything that we’ve seen. So we must prepare for everything,” Hagel said.

Hagel also said the United States was right to try to rescue Foley and other American hostages, even though the mission was not successful.

“Earlier this summer, the United States attempted the rescue of a number of American hostages held in Syria, including Jim Foley,” he said. “We all regret that mission did not succeed, but I’m very proud of the U.S. forces that participated in it.”

The Pentagon chief said the U.S. would “not relent” in its efforts to secure the safe release of those still held by the terror group.

Some Republicans have criticized the decision to publicly acknowledge the rescue attempt, warning that it could put those still held by ISIS in greater jeopardy.

“Successful or not, such operations are incredibly sensitive, even after they have concluded,” said House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., in a statement. “Disclosure of these missions puts our troops at risk, reduces the likelihood that future missions will succeed, and risks the lives of hostages and informants alike.”

Hagel pushed back, saying a “number of news outlets” were already preparing reports on the failed rescue, and the families of the hostages had also been notified.

“It was the decision — and it was unanimous — that we should, in fact, acknowledge this effort without going into any of the specifics of it,” he said.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added that the U.S. did not reveal any sources or methods in acknowledging the rescue attempt.

Hagel and Dempsey both said the rescue operation was “flawless” in its execution, but the hostages simply weren’t where the U.S. believed they would be when special operations forces arrived.

Hagel rebutted those who have blamed an intelligence failure for the unsuccessful rescue attempt.
“Intelligence doesn’t come wrapped in a package with a bow. It is a mosaic of many pictures, of many factors,” he said. “It’s the responsibility of our government and our leaders to do all we can to take action when we believe there might be a good possibility, a good chance to make a rescue effort successful.”

The two leaders also offered rundown of recent progress in the fight against ISIS, which has stormed across much of Syria and Western Iraq in recent months, gathering recruits and territory.

To date, Dempsey said, the United States has conducted seven humanitarian air drop missions, distributing 636 bundles of food water medical supplies from the skies. The U.S. has also averaged about 60 reconnaissance sorties on a daily basis, and American warplanes have executed 89 targeted airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq.

Those effforts have “helped blunt” ISIS’ advance toward Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, and they were instrumental in helping Kurdish and Iraqi forces wrest a strategically important dam near Mosul from the insurgents’ grasp, Hagel said.

“Overall these operations have stalled [ISIS’] momentum and enabled Iraqi and Kurdish forces to regain their footing and take the initiative,” Hagel said. “The U.S. will continue to support them, but addressing the threat posed by [ISIS] to the future of Iraq requires political reform.”

He commended the “peaceful transition of power” last week that saw former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki step down and a rival take his place, urging the new leader to pursue an “inclusive” governing agenda.

Despite some signs of progress, Hagel warned that an “acute humanitarian crisis” persists in Iraq and Syria, where extremists have targeted thousands of religious minorities for conversion or execution.