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

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

This morning’s key headlines from

  • After swallowing Crimea, Russia goes after Abkhazia and South Ossetia
  • Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel fired by President Obama
  • Iran nuclear deal collapses, forcing another seven months of talks

After swallowing Crimea, Russia goes after Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Novoafonsky Monastery Abkhazia
Novoafonsky Monastery Abkhazia

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

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

We now have two countries — Russia and China — using military forceto annex territories belonging to other countries. This is a verydangerous 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’spro-life on abortion, but he’s well on the political left on defenseissues. He and Obama worked together on the Senate Foreign RelationsCommittee in the mid-2000s, where they opposed the Iraq war. Obamaselected Hagel in January 2013 to be Secretary of Defense in order topursue Obama’s goal of reducing the military power and footprint ofthe U.S., and to manage the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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

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

The second given reason is that Hagel contradicted and indirectlycriticized the President. In January, Obama referred to ISIS as a “JVteam in Lakers uniforms,” where “JV” stands for “junior varsity.” Butin August, Hagel said that ISIS was “an imminent threat to everyinterest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else,” and thatISIS was “as sophisticated and as well-funded as any group we’veseen.”

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

Whatever the reason, Hagel’s successor is going to have deal with amilitary 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 dealto halt Iran’s development of nuclear weapons would be successful byMonday, the self-imposed deadline. Even as late as Sunday evening,Kerry was saying that a deal was close. But apparently he wasn’ttelling the truth, since on Monday it was announced that the dealwould be postponed for seven months, until June 2015.

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

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

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

This is a good time to repeat something I’ve written about several times. There is no doubt in mymind that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. Iran was attacked withweapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in 1988 by Iraq, and Iran wouldalready have developed nuclear weapons if Saddam Hussein hadn’t beenexpelled by the Iraq war in 2003. Iran sees itself surrounded bypotential 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 ofpride in not having invaded other countries, even though othercountries have invaded Iran. If you look back at Iran’s major wars ofthe last century — the Constitutional Revolution of the 1900s decade,the Great Islamic Revolution of 1979, and the Iran/Iraq war of the1980s, Iran never attacked anyone else. This is now part of Iran’sDNA, and even the top leadership may be repulsed by the idea of apreemptive attack on Israel.

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

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Crimea, Georgia, Abkhazia,South Ossetia, China, Chuck Hagel, Afghanistan, Iraq,Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL,Iran, John Kerry, Saddam Hussein
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