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.
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.
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.
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.