Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Trans-Atlantic Defense Spending Gap in NATO

On the eve of NATO’s Wales Sumit on 4 and 5 September, the Wall Street Journal showed critical tables ("As Russian Threat in Ukraine Grows, NATO Faces Thorny Spending Questions"; Wall Street Journal; August 29, 2014). Though the size of the economy of the United States and the European Union, most of which are NATO members, is roughly the same, Europeans spend considerably less amount of money on defense than the United States. Agendas at the Wales summit include the Ukrainian crisis, post ISAF Afghanistan, burden sharing, and so forth. Issues like collective security are supposed to be an exemplary model for Japan that is currently turning toward proactive pacifism. However, stark gaps in defense commitment erode NATO’s role model credential among democratic allies.

Let me talk about the two tables. In terms of defense spending share by member state, the portion of the United States rose from 68% in 2007 to 73% in 2013. Currently, sequestration has drastically cut American defense budget, and policymakers are making every effort to revert negative impacts of it to refinance the spending. Despite that, the European share in the NATO defense spending declined. In view of the rise of diversified security challenges, not just increasingly nationalist Russia and widespread Islamic extremism, it is quite strange why Europeans spend so little on defense. As Robert Kagan argues, the gap between American Mars and European Venus is obvious. See the table above.

For further understanding, I would like to mention the other table as shown below, which shows defense expenditure share in GDP of each member state. While NATO recommends 2% for defense, at least, only four countries, the United States, Britain, Greece, and Estonia, meet this. Some of them, including Canada, Spain, and so forth, spend 1% or less for defense, which is the same level as that spent by old passive pacifist Japan. Startlingly, Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania spend only 0.9% and 0.8% respectively. Both of them are front line nations against Russia, and NATO sends air squadrons there, as tensions over Ukraine grow. Some people argue Europeans need to sustain their welfare states, and they cannot pay for defense so much. That is no excuse. They spent 4 to 5% of GDP for defense during the Cold War, while maintaining the standard of social security.

Whatever the strategies are, and however well-designed they are, none of them can be implemented without sufficient size and quality of defense. In the name of a global NATO as seen in operations in Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, the alliance downsized its military power since the fall of the Soviet Union. Now, NATO is pivoting to Europe, because Russia reemerges a critical threat as seen in the Ukrainian crisis. However, none of the threats, whether regional or global, can be managed by poor defense.

Remember that Pax Americana is based on the alliance of the willing, whether in a unipolar, multipolar, or even non-polar world. The trans-Atlantic alliance is the keystone of it. A split NATO, leads to a weaker alliance and weaker democracy around the world, and in the end, that will give re-rise to the Dark Age, dominated by autocratic great powers and medieval religious fanaticism. Ask what makes the alliance viable. That is a universal question.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Rising Cost and the Delay of the F-35 Project

The problem of rising price to develop F-35is a serious concern on the Hill. In view of ongoing sequestration, the Joint Strike Fighter project can squeeze other defense needs. Originally, F-35 was supposed to be money saving and multipurpose plane. However, continuous engine and software troubles lead to delays in its deployment and skyrocketing price. When an engine trouble happened on June 23 this year, all F-35s grounded for inspection. Senator John McCain calls F-35 as the worst example "of the military-industrial-congressional complex," while other senators, including Sen. James Inhofe, are mostly optimistic with this problem (“The Pentagon’s $399 Billion Plane to Nowhere”; Foreign Policy; July 8, 2014).

Among US allies, proponents for this fighter, such as Professor Narushige Michishita at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, argued that F-35 would be the best option for Japan. "If this was about a Cold War-type competition, then the F-22 would have been better. But if this is a long-term peacetime competition, you need numbers and presence, and close coordination among allies," he says. On the other hand, Carlo Kopp, Defense Analyst at Air Power Australia, an Australian think tank, warned that it would erode defense capability of the United States and its allies, due to complicated technology that would make it costly (“Struggling in US, F-35 fighter pushes sales abroad”; FOX News; January 27, 2012).

Regarding technological problems, some experts see that F-35 is overweight and underpowered. In order to satisfy requirements of the Air force, the Navy, Marine Corps, and allied partners, this single engine fighter has come to weigh 35t, while twin engine F-15 weighs 40t. Even if engine problems can be resolved soon, some analysts worry fundamental design flaws (“Pentagon’s big budget F-35 fighter ‘can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run’”; Reuters News; July 14, 2014). In addition, due to a multi-partite joint project, its software becomes too complicated. As a result, F-35 will be deployed in 2016, ten years since its first flight (“Why Is The US Military Spending So Much Money On The F-35 Fighter Jet?”; Business Insider; February 21, 2014).One fits for all fighter can become overweight and technically halfbaked as seen in the F-111 project by Secretary of Defense-then Robert McNamara of the Kennedy era.

Technological complexity in machinery and software snowballs the price. Though F-35 was supposed be more reasonably cost than F-22, the price per plane grown year by year. It is estimated that the unit cost will $148 million for F35A, $232 million for F35B, and $337 million for F-35C in 2015. Meanwhile F-22 costs “only” $150 million per plane. Now, F-35 symbolizes unaccountable connections between the Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin (“How DOD’s $1.5 Trillion F-35 Broke the Air Force”; Fiscal Times; July 31, 2014).

Despite budget constraints, F-35 remains a priority for the next generation fighter as the Air force will focus on high tech weapons (“Air Force Plans Shift to Obtain High-Tech Weapon Systems”; New York Times; July 30, 2014). Though some scale back can happen in the total number to be deployed, Professor Gordon Adams of the American University comments that F-35 program is too big to fail. Since Lockheed Martin operates in 45 states, lawmakers need their presence to sustain employment in their constituencies (“Why Is The US Military Spending So Much Money On The F-35 Fighter Jet?”; Business Insider; February 21, 2014). What McCain calls “the military-industrial-congressional complex" makesthe project increasingly nontransparent.

Considering ongoing troubles associated with the F-35 program and Congressional debates in the United States, American allies need to reexamine the problem. If it delays too much, and its price snowballs furthermore, some of the original plan may have to be revised. In any case, it is most vital to watch Congressional testimonies in Washington very carefully. In addition, allies need to exchange information among themselves. For example, Japan can gather much information from experts in Britain beyond the Cameron administration, because the options for Japan’s FX fighters and Britain’s flight squadrons for the next aircraft carriers overlap: F35, Typhoon, F/A18 Super Hornet. Britain is the Level 1 partner of the Joint Strike Fighter project, and exploring defense partnership with Japan. Also, we need keen attention to the progress of stealth programs in Russia and China.Taking all things into account, American allies can judge whether to buy all F-35s as originally planned, or explore some portion of alternatives for their plans.

Friday, August 15, 2014

How Will America Rebuild Defense from Sequestration?

The 2013 sequestration is inflicting critical damage on US defense for a long term. The Obama administration failed to reach a budget agreement with Congress, but it is an imperative to revert the negative trend. In view of increasingly destabilized global security, the defense budget and burden sharing is one of the key issues in NATO summit in Wales from September 4 to 5. Currently, most of the European allies spend just around 1% of GDP on defense, with some exception like Britain and France. Such low allocation to defense is the level of old and passive pacifist Japan. In order to revert widespread defense cut syndrome in the Western alliance, the United States must rebuild defense from notorious sequestration. Some conservative opinion leader like Charles Krauthammer argues that America’s Declineis a Choice” (Weekly Standard; October 19, 2009), and the defense budget problem is a typical case of this. Therefore, we must watch closer whether the United States will override sequestration or not.

In view of increasingly assertive China, czarist Russia, virulent Islamic terrorism in Iraq and Syria, and other emerging threats like Iran and North Korea, the United States has to rebuild its national defense. The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) by General MartinDempsey, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, tells that the Department of Defense worries fatal impacts of sequestration, which would make US armed forces too small and outdated for missions around the globe. The QDR assesses challenges to US security, and indicates how to manage budget constraints by strategic rebalance and structural reform. Also, it mentioned that further sequestration would constrain US defense missions.

In response to the 2014 QDR, the National Defense Panel of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), chaired by Former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former Commander of US Central Command John Abizaid, released a new report, entitled “Ensuring a strong US Defense forthe Future” to revert negative effects of sequestration. This bipartisan report draws extensive attention and interest from defense policy makers. The panel argues that the QDR does not show long term measures to overcome the sequestration. Also, they recommend reconciliation between the Department of Defense and the Congress. In addition, this report insists on building large armed forces regardless of capability. Quite alarmingly, panel members are more concerned with the erosion of technological advantage than other defense planners.

While the 2010 QDR focused on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 2014 QDR pays attention to 21st century defense priorities, that is, homeland protection, building global security, and overseas power projection. The USIP’s report agrees with the QDR basically, but it raises concerns with the current defense budget. The report warns that the risk of inability to carry out US military strategy will be higher, without managing sequestration.

But how should the United States save defense? At the Congress, Buck McKeon, Chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, insisted on introducing a National Defense Authorization Act to urge the Department of Defense to revise the QDR (“Defense Panel: Obama Administration DefenseStrategy ‘Dangerously’ Underfunded”; Washington Free Beacon; July 31, 2014). Though members of the National Defense Panel agree that current underfunding would hurt military capability and capacity, the prospects remain unclear (“Sequestration-liteis slowly undermining US forces”; in Focus Quarterly; July 14, 2014). However, Mackenzie Eaglen, Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, says that the Congress showed a bipartisan initiative with the USIP report to turn back a horrible $1 trillion spending cut, before its recess in August. That is, to repeal the Budget Control Act in 2011, and to return to the baseline of Robert Gates in 2012 (“A Wake Up Call to Washington on Defense”; Real ClearDefense; August 1, 2014).

Former Republican Senator Jim Talent, who is also a member of the National Defense Panel to publish this report, comments that if President Barack Obama were to fulfill the constitutional obligation that the United States “shall protect each of them (the States) from invasion.” in Article IV, the latest QDR is still incomplete (“A Stunning Rebuke of OurCurrent Defense Policies”; National Review Online; August 1, 2014). Insufficient budget will pose critical constraints to execute defense strategy. If that happens, American allies need to redesign their strategies in response. Attention to congressional debates defense spending when the Hill reopens in September.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Is China a Carbon Copy of the Imperial Japan?

I was startled to hear Chinese President Xi Jingping’s controversial speech of “Asia for Asians” at CICA (Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia) this May (Chinapresident speaks out on security ties in Asia “; BBC News; 21 May 2014). The underlying idea of this speech overlaps the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, insisted by wartime Japan. In view of regional concerns with Chinese maritime expansionism and growing self-assertiveness, Xi’s “Leave Asia for Asians” speech is understood negatively in the global community. There are so many points in common between wartime and current Asian powers. Let me talk of them.

In terms of geopolitics, both wartime Japan and current China are anti-West. Wartime Japan tried to expel European and American influence from Asia in the name of decolonization and liberation from White dominance. However, the Imperial Japan, itself was a colonial empire, and Asians found no fundamental differences between White sahibs and a Yellow sahib. Today, China also explores to establish their sphere of influence in Asia by ousting US presence in the region.

More importantly, both wartime Japan and present day China are autocracies to defy liberal world order, and exploring to found an axis against democratic nations. Japan allied with fascist Germany and Italy, while China plots to make the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, and CICA raise voices against Western democracies. Japan’s wartime axis with Germany and Italy was not well coordinated for joint strategy and operations, and China has not made successful axis to stand against the United States and its democratic allies. Nor do both Asian powers advocate universally acceptable values for global public interest.

It is quite noteworthy that Asians do not welcome the rise or advance of both anti-West autocracies. The fall of Singapore may have impressed Asian people, but when the Allied forces launched counter offense under Douglas MacArthur and Lord Louis Mountbatten, they did not fight side by side with Japanese troops to bounce back white sahibs. Likewise, China’s “Asia for Asians” initiative causes high alert among Asian neighbors, particularly those having territorial clashes over the East China and the South China seas. Also, as Asia is politically and culturally diversified, none of regional organizations will be platforms for Chinese predominance (Don'tbet on China's 'Asia for Asians only' vision yet”; Strait Times; 30 May 2014). Today, white ruled colonial empires have gone, and Asian nations shall not be interested in a Chinese-led Asia to oust American influence.

Rather than well being of Asian nations, both autocracies are expanding southwards, in quest of natural resource. Wartime Japan wanted oil, tin, rubber, and other mineral and plantation products in South East Asia. Today, it is widely understood that China’s territorial claims in the East China Sea and the South China Sea are based on its quest for oil and gas in those waters. Their calls for Asian unity to expel the West are strongly associated with their appetite for natural resource.

Quite ironically, Chinese fishery boats dash themselves to attack Coast Guard ships of their maritime neighbors to claim Chinese territorial rights on south sea islands. Attacks like these are pre-modern like Kamikaze raids to US warships by the Imperial Japan. Is China really a carbon copy of wartime Japan? Interestingly, Former US Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank Curtis Chin also compares current Chin to wartime Japan (“Xi Jinping's'Asia for Asians' mantra evokes imperial Japan”; South China Morning Post; 14 July2014).

In view of Asian alert to China’s aggressive behavior, I have to cast doubt whether China has any credential to blame Japan on wartime history. In my eyes, it is China that acts unprecedentedly similar ways to those of the Imperial Japan. China may want to behave as a winner of World War II continually, but remember the vital point. It is not the Japanese public that lost the war, but wartime fascism. If China really were to act as a winner of the war, bear this in mind!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Understanding Sunni-Shia Differences to Analyze MiddleEast Affairs

I was surprised to hear that there were virtually no differences between Sunni and Shia as they were both Islam, in s special report of Iraq in “News in Depth” on NHK TV on June 21. That is merely a wishful thinking of passive pacifism. In present day political contexts, the Sunni-Shia division poses critical impacts to national and ethno-sectarian clashes. However, it is not of so much use to argue theological detail for strategists and students of foreign policy. Therefore, I would like to talk about basic historical background and religious behavior.

As widely known, the origin of sectarian chasm dates back to the dispute between the 4th caliph Ali and Muawia. After the death of Ali, the Rushdyn was replaced by the Umayyads which was founded by Muawia. Since then, the Muslim minority objected to the Umayyad rule to insist that only Ali’s successor be the legitimate heir of caliph throne. It was this religious minority who founded the Shia sect, while the majority has become Sunnis. The landmark of the Sunni-Shiite chasm is the Battle of Karbala in 680. Upon request from Shias in Kufa, located in current south central Iraq, Ali’s second son Hussain ibn Ali stood up against Umayyad caliph Yazid I, that resulted in an annihilation on Hussain’s side.

The Battle of Karbala had deep psychological impacts on both sects, and reinforced Shiite identity. The first point is close relations between Shia and Iranian ethnicity. According to Shia, Hussain married Shahbanu, a daughter of the last Sasanid Persian king Yazdegerd III to give birth to the 4th imam Ali ibn Hussain Zayn al-Abidin. Therefore, from Shiite interpretation of Karbala, Hussain’s successors in the early Middle Age were also descendants of the Sasanid royal family. Even though Iranians had been ruled by Arabs, Turkics, and Mongolians, until they found their own Safavid Empire in the 16th century, they maintained their national identity through devotion to Shiite belief. In order to restore the Iranian nation since the Arab conquest of Persia, the Safavid dynasty made Shia Islam as the state religion. Outside Iran, Shias are distributed in the Gulf area, southern Iraq, Lebanon, Hazara habitats in Afghanistan, etc. People in those areas are culturally and spiritually tied with Iran. For example, Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani of Iraq was born in Iran, and his surname is related to the Sistan area in the south east of Iran.

The second point is a mindset of the oppressed. Today, Sunnis account for 85% of the total Muslims in the world, while Shias accounts for 15% (“The Sunni-Shia Divide”; Council on Foreign Relations; 2014). The most symbolic event to show this is the Day of Ashura when Shias mourn for the martyrdom of Hussain standing against overwhelming power of the Umayyads in the Battle of Karbala. In order to share pains and grieves with Hussain and his loyalists, Shiite males whip their bodies by themselves to bleed. Ritual is not just a ritual. It shapes mindsets of community or sect members. The choice of sect is the choice of the way of life. The annual ritual reminds Shias of their religious devotion through pain and plight, and their historical position as mostazafin, which is Ruhollah Khomeini’s favorite word meaning the oppressed.

In view of basic understandings of Sunni-Shiite relations, one of the key foreign policy focuses is the recent rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. As widely known, Iran is a Shiite theocracy, while Saudi Arabia is a monarchy of Wahhabist, ultraconservative school of the Sunni. This May, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif to discuss Gulf security and Syria (“Saudi Arabia moves to settle differences with Iran”; Guardian; 13 May 2014). Will the relationship of both countries improve dramatically? This is unlikely. For Saudi Arabia, “It is therefore prudent for them not to draw Iran’s ire,” as Iran is a powerful neighbor (“What’s going on between Saudi Arabia and Iran?”; Jerusalem Post; June 11, 2014). The problem is, Iran’s Shiite missionary ideology provokes socially and economically marginalized Shias in Saudi Arabia’s oil rich Gulf area. Those mostazafins are displaced and live in poverty, while Sunni majority oil dominates oil business (“Iraq conflict reignites sectarian rivalry in Saudi Arabia”; Baltimore Sun; April 27, 2006). While Israel regards Iran’s nuclear attack as the primary threat, Saudi Arabia is more concerned with Iran’s vision of Shiite hegemony (Next Test for Obama: Soothing the Saudis”; Los Angels Times; March 24, 2014).

Considering the nature of Tehran’s Shiite theocracy and politics of its Arab neighbors, it is too optimistic to assume dramatic reconciliation of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Nor should we expect Iran to act as the regional guard. Sunni Arab emirates embraced the Pahlavi Iran as the guard, because it was a secular and enlightened state, and a vital ally of the United States. Unfortunately, Iran today is an odd man out in the Gulf like China is in East Asia. Current Saudi Arabia behaves like Britain appeasing Nazi Germany. Had America been more Wilsonian, Neville Chamberlain would have stood much firmer against Adolf Hitler’s ambition. In present days, Saudi Arabia feels itself less and less secure in view of Obama’s engagement with America’s adversaries. Basic understanding of culture and religion is so crucial to analyze current foreign affairs.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

American strategy to overturn Obama’s failure in Iraq

The Obama administration is forced to overturn the complete withdrawal of US troops from Iraq in 2011, due to the rapid advancement of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) early June. Apparently, President Barack Obama and his cabinet members made a wrong strategic assessment of Iraq. In an interview with Larry King on February 11, 2010, Vice President Joseph Biden commented optimistically that Iraq would move toward a stable democracy without gun fights. See the video below.

However, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) warned of radical Islamist attacks to the United Stes and Britain long before the ISIS thrust this June, as they monitored telegraph messages among ISIS, tribal leaders, and Baathists (“Washington and London Ignored Warnings about the ISIS Offensive in Iraq”; Daily Beast; June 24, 2014). More importantly, some Republican senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham warned of Sunni militant uprisings without residual US forces after 2011 (“GOP on Iraq: We told you so”; Politico; June 13, 2014). In the Morning Joe on MSNBC on June 13, McCain even demanded that Obama’s national security team resign, and they be replaced by experts such as General David Petraeus, General Jack Keane, and Former Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Furthermore, he mentioned that residual forces were necessary in Iraq as in Japan, Germany, and South Korea to maintain post occupational stability. See the following video.

Let me examine why things in Iraq have developed so destabilized, and explore strategies to defeat the ISIS and stop geopolitical rivals like Iran and Russia, primarily based on the panel discussion by Senator John McCain and Retired General Jack Keane at the American Enterprise Institute on June 18, because they are the most influential and well-versed policymakers on Iraq as seen in the surge in 2007. With residual forces, McCain argued that the United States could have deterred the rise of insurgents, and even steered Maliki to form an inclusive government to overcome ethnic and sectarian differences. In a recent article, Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations also comments that Iraqi security could have been more stabilized with at least 10,000 military advisors, and America would have exerted more diplomatic influence on Maliki to run more ethnically and religiously balanced government (“Obama’s Iraq”; Weekly Standard; Jun 23, 2014). Apparently, Obama hardly had any intention of driving Iraq to evolve into another Japan or Germany.

How can the United States and the Iraqi government bounce back ISIS and their allies? It is vital to split the insurgents. ISIS is allied with Ansar al Islam, a coalition of Sunni Arab tribes, and ex-Baathists, as the Maliki administration is heavily dependent on Shiites. They are not necessarily cohesive, and it is necessary to explore true causes of non-ISIS militant uprisings, according to Hassan Hassan, Research Associate at the Delma Institute of the United Arab Emirates (“More Than ISIS, Iraq’s Sunni Insurgency”; Carnegie Endowment for international Peace -- Sada Journal; June 17, 2014). The strategic priorities are to defend Baghdad and to launch counter offenses against terrorists. Despite the striking advancement into the Iraqi territory, General Keane commented that ISIS had no “force generation (ARFORGEN)” to capture Baghdad as it was a sprawling city. On the other hand, they are founding the largest realm of Islamic extremism in history from Syria to Iraq. Keane mentioned that they could attack Europe and the United States directly from this safe haven. McCain said even Stalin didn’t pose such threats. Therefore, both panelists stressed the danger of Islamic terrorists.

American option is limited as war weary public shall not approve of sending ground troops. However, Keane says that the United States can help Iraq by the following ways. First, American advisors can provide intelligence service to know the location of the enemy, and give information about Syria and northern Iraq for the Iraqi federal government. Also, American advisors can help Iraqi planning to defend Baghdad and launch counter offenses against insurgents. In addition, American special forces must attack critical targets and terrorist leaders to help the Iraqi security forces. Furthermore, American air operations must be coordinated with special forces on the ground that speak local languages. Though the air campaign is critical for limited and targeted attacks on the ground, Keane stressed that US air power not act as a Shiite air force.

In addition to military perspectives, American strategy must be explored from political perspectives. Iraqi neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Gulf emirates, worry American disengagement rather than “decline”. McCain told that it was presidential leadership that would persuade war weary public to accept global engagement as Harry Truman did during the Korean War. He stressed US help to Iraq was urgent because ISIS was more dreadful than Al Qaeda as to displace 500,000 people in Mosul, and execute 1,700 of them. In PBS News Hour on June 21, Gideon Rose, Editor of Foreign Affairs, pointed out that ISIS was disowned by Al Qaeda, because of the brutality. See the video below.

Currently, ISIS is richer than Al Qaeada as they took oil fields, and extort tax from the business. Furthermore, they seized money and gold from the bank when they captured Mosul. See the video below.

On the other hand, the shadow of Iran is growing among Shiites. Is it likely that the United States work with Iran? In response to Maliki’s call for the Shiite militia to fight against Sunni insurgents, Iranian proxies moved from Syria to southern Iraq. Maliki could lapse into heavily dependent on Iran (“Iranian Proxies Step Up Their Role in Iraq”; Washington Institute for Near East Policy---Policy Watch; June 13, 2014). Meanwhile, Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei condemned US intervention in Iraq when Obama announced to send 300 troops there. Some watchers see it a warning against the United States not to replace Maliki with someone else (“Iran rejects U.S. action in Iraq, ISIL tightens Syria border grip”; Reuters News; June 23, 2014). Iran’s leverage in Syria, Iraq, and Gulf Arabs, is growing. In view of this, Camille Pescasting, Senior Associate Professor at the School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University, even argues that Iran may act as the Regional Guard as it did under the Nixon doctrine, since Obama is so unwilling to get involved (“Iran, the New Force for Regional Stability?”; World Affairs Online; June 2014). However, General Keane pointed out that Iran was hardly interested in driving ISIS out of the desert in western Iraq, and simply wanted to take the oil rich south. Therefore, Keane told it nonsense to work with Iran, or rely on this country for regional stability.

In addition to domestic and regional power interactions, things will be increasingly unpredictable as Maliki’s purchase of 12 Su-25 ground attack fighters from Russia. Iraq was frustrated with slow delivery of F-16 fighters from the United States. Though Iraq agreed to buy 18 of them in 2011, they acquired the first one this June (“From Iraq to Syria, splinter groups now larger worry than al-Qaeda”; Washington Post; June 10, 2014). Also, Obama ordered drones to protect US personnel on the ground who were on non-combat missions (“Iraq receives Russian fighter jets to fight rebels”; BBC News; 29 June, 2014). Russian instructors came to Iraq along with Sukhoi jets, which is an implicit challenge to the United States. In addition, there is a rumor that Iran will return some Saddam Hussein’s warplane to Iraq, mostly Russian and some French Mirage F-1s, that evacuated from US air attack during 1990-91 Gulf War (“Russian Jets and Experts Sent to Iraq to Aid Army”; New York Times; June 29, 2014). The problem is, the Iraqi armed force has been Americanized in weaponry systems and training after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Even if redeploying Soviet-made Su-25s, can Iraqi pilots use them effectively? In addition, it is quite doubtful whether old Soviet fighters can coordinate with US special forces on the ground in targeted and limited attacks.

As seen in the contract on F-16 fighters and Apache helicopters, the Obama administration withdrew the whole of US forces before building up the Iraqi security forces. McCain told the critical point that Obama was elected in protest of Bush’s long war in Iraq and Afghanistan, at the panel discussion. His non Western thoughts and backgrounds are the antitheses of traditional America. The current crisis is a result of disrespect to foreign policy continuity. Will the United States overturn this negative trend in Iraq as General Keane suggests, and not repeat the same mistake in Afghanistan?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Can Iraq use Sukhoi 25 from Russia effectively?

This is Sukhoi 25 fighter for ground attack. Though it is rather outdated, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki of Iraq was impatient with the delay of F-16 and Apache arrival from the United States. Therefore, he received Sukhoi 25 fighters from Russia to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and al Shaam. Can US-trained Iraqi pilots fly Soviet era fighters, once deployed by Saddam's air force?

See the above video of its combat mission in Chechnya.